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Canvas Inbox Messages – Fully Obey Course Participation Settings and Dates

Canvas Inbox Messages – Fully Obey Course Participation Settings and Dates



This feature idea is twofold: 

  • Fully obey the course participation setting “Restrict students from accessing courses after end date” and do not allow replies to existing inbox messages (even for students to reply to their teacher) after the end date.
  • For replies to conversation notifications in outside email addresses, reply back with a message stating that the course has ended and that they need to contact the teacher through other methods (similar a reply to locked discussions).



We have our courses set up to not be visible to students and to not allow course participation past the end date for the course, and when courses end they are not visible to students in the dashboard, or to compose a new inbox message. 


However, there is a loophole that is causing quite a bit of problems for our institution.  Students can reply to an inbox message from their instructor after the course is unavailable in every other way. They can reply either from the inbox or from their outside email if they have a notification from a prior email. 


We give our students access to Canvas courses for 48 hours past the time when grades are due, when our faculty are still on contract.  After that time, they should be unable to contact their instructor. 


Students being able to reply to these messages outside of the course dates is a problem because: 

  • There is no vacation/out of the office rule feature in the inbox
  • Faculty are not on contract, and therefore not expected to be replying to messages while out of the office. They may be gone for the entire summer, or they may be adjuncts who teach sporadically, or who never return to the college at all.


These messages therefore create a dilemma: 

  • they are either delivered to a black hole without a response, leading to potential student complaints
  • faculty feel they are obligated to login to check messages




If the course participation settings and dates were obeyed by not allowing inbox replies when the course is unavailable, this would signal to students that they need to find another method of contacting their instructor outside of Canvas (email, phone).  Regular email can be set up to have a vacation rule and autoreply with alternate contact information for their department.  Phones can be set up to have a voicemail message with alternate contact information as well.  This would allow students to get a response in a timely manner and increase student and instructor satisfaction. 


If a student replies to a message from their outside email to a discussion topic notification that has been locked, this is the auto-reply: 

screenshot of notification 

 A reply after the end date of the course to a previous message should be similar to this. 


Subject:  Undelivered message


Body:  The message titled "Re: Assignment Questions" could not be delivered because the course end dates have passed and the course is concluded. If you are trying to contact someone through Canvas you should contact them through alternative methods.


Thank you,

Canvas Support

If you have any other use cases please post them below.  We really want to help our students get help in a timely manner after the course has ended.  

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Thank you‌ for this idea, including sharing the loophole. We too close out courses at the end of a term and have faculty off contract for various reasons. While Conversations is missing an out-of-office function this is an even better option.


Yes, I felt out-of-office reply wouldn't necessarily fix the problem and would probably take more development.  Thanks for voting and for sharing your use case!  

Community Team
Community Team
Comments from Instructure

Please refer to the Conversations section of the 


Hi Stefanie,

I replied after testing on the deploy notes you linked to above.  It doesn't fix the problem.

Thank you!


Community Team
Community Team

Thanks for commenting on the deploy notes,‌; it's a step toward addressing this.


stefaniesanders‌ - is this considered a bug or a feature idea?  In the 

Erin had mentioned this would probably brought into the next sprint for engineering.  Can you confirm whether that happened?  Thank you!  Joni

Community Team
Community Team, Erin said that her response to you in the Deploy Notes was predicated on the assumption that you've submitted a support ticket, so you'll receive notifications directly on the status of the case.