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Course Archive Process

Course Archive Process

(12)
TL;DR version:

We need to have a way to archive courses (in batch and individually), so that its hidden from everything.

 

Long version:

At USU we are about to start our 15th semester on Canvas and our instance is starting to remind me of an episode of Hoarders, I'm just hoping no one is killed by a stack of falling courses. I know many of the other institutions may not see a need for it now but in the future this will become a very real problem. With the preservation of student data, these archives would be useful for among other things, grade challenges, letters of recommendation, and accreditation.

 

Over the past year, as the semesters courses keep stacking up, I have thought of several different scenarios that could facilitate this process.

Out of all of them this would be, I think this scenario would be the easiest route:

 

The basis of the archiving process would follow a similar process as deleting a course. The course would disappear from all aspects of Canvas but unlike the deletion process it would be non-destructive. In the spirit of Canvas being a Cloud-based system this is not so much of an archival process but a way to just get the courses hidden from everything. For this to work the deletion process will have to be changed to a non-destructive method. So the engineers could copy the deletion process and modify it so you can still delete a course if needed and those that need to be archived or hidden can use a similar process. Currently when a course is deleted the enrollments are removed from the course so restoration is a two step process. If the deletion method were changed to just a simple active/inactive toggle and it disappeared, we could live with having the course still reside on the system.

 

Control of archiving and restoring should be a task between admins and instructors so we as admins can control this on a term by term basis but the professor has the option on a course by course basis. I recall an archived idea about offline archives but there was a consensus that instructors should not have this ability. Each institution is different and we operate courses on the premise that the course is the instructors IP, so we are more stuarts of course data than having the final say in what they can and cannot have enabled. I think this would best work as a setting that admins can change themselves.

 

Here are some other scenarios I came up with that give the institution the ability to do offline archives:

Scenario 1: A separate custom course export is created that includes the student interactions and is downloadable. This archive would be something akin to a IMSCC package but somehow include student interaction and assignment submissions so that there is a path for restoration if the need arises.

 

Scenario 2: Using Amazon Glacier storage a course could be moved to this system in its entirety. I don't know enough about Glacier storage to know if the course could be replicated to a database in Glacier or if it would have to be similar to scenario 1, but the archive file is stored in Glacier. The price of Glacier storage is significantly cheaper than S3 buckets.

 

Scenario 3: The course export would basically be a static copy of the course as it would appear in Canvas, including student interactions and assignment submissions.  This option would be a non-restorable version but it would be a complete record of the entire course. The ability to export courses as an EPUB file could play into this.

60 Comments
kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

Same here. We've been using Canvas since 2012 and have terms set up through 2018, and still only have 19 of them!

jared_flaherty
Community Contributor

we end up with a lot of terms b/c of different start/stop dates and finaid refunding codes.

jared_flaherty
Community Contributor

we use jenzabar CX for our SIS and have many different session codes b/c of start/stop dates and some b/c of financial aid refunding codes...     we operate in like 20 states and some require different codes in CX according to our finaid dept.    and then also, we have quite a few different mini-terms that require special start/stop dates that need to be in a special term with those dates.     the vast, vast majority of our courses are located in 7-8 terms/year... but there are a healthy amount of these other terms that may have 1-20 courses in them.

if you can think of a good way to consolidate our terms, there's a box of kansas city bbq sauce headed your way..

kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

We're also using Jenzabar and while don't have such a large operation or diversity of courses, I'm interested in why you need a specific term for financial aid refunding. How does that play into your course creation and availability of courses?

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

OMG!

Okay, your issue is way beyond me and I am not afraid to say it (dang it, I love me some bbq).

Have you considered creating sub-accounts to containerize some of these and make them more manageable. I note that you said you operate in 20 states with different requirements, as a start, creating sub-accounts for those states might alleviate part of the problem

You can learn more about sub-accounts @How do I organize sub-accounts?

As for the mini-terms, we are wrestling with that now, but haven't found a great way to deal with them yet. Our driver for this is that we are now using a course evaluation system integrated with Canvas, and as a tech school, have many courses that do not fit our standard terms, even though we have been dumping them there.

I am going to follow this discussion and hope that some smarter folks show up.

Agent K

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @kona ​

Is there a way we can get this part of the discussion moved into a new discussion and out of this feature idea since we have now diverged far from the original request. This is a good discussion topic, and  @jared_flaherty ​ could really use the help.

 @scottdennis ​ can you help us with that is Kona can't?

Agent K.

scottdennis
Community Team
Community Team

researching...

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

Thanks Scott! I saw your reply in the Slack Channel.

blee
Community Participant

The more I have thought about this particular issue a gateway to getting there, even if we don't use "archives" in the classic sense of the term, would be simply to allow the foldering of courses.

jared_flaherty
Community Contributor

hi-

sorry, just now getting back to reading through this...   

yes, we do have subaccounts in Canvas.    In fact, we have just over 5,000 of them.     all courses are stuck into their respective subs and then they are in terms as well, the term dates control access and reporting, etc.

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

Jared:

We have just run into a wall with a couple of our instructors - they cannot course copy, because their course list will not display. We were told by support that this is because these faculty have too many courses (hmmm...... seems we were told four years ago that we would never need archiving because Canvas is cloud-based and we would never run into storage issues - but  that's another story).

What we are doing is running provisioning reports on terms to save a complete list of course IDs with the Canvas course ID number, using that provisioning report to populate a CSV file, then using CSS to delete the entire section. We are working a term at a time, and will keep two years of courses in the system. You can always recover a deleted Canvas course, if you have the Canvas ID number.

Tedious, but it is working until Canvas develops an archive process.

Please Note: recovered courses do not include student data. However, if you re-enroll the students into the recovered courses, then their data is also restored - again tedious, but it would only need to be done very rarely in response to a legal action. In our state, the retention laws specify one year + one term for student grade records (thus the two-year period we keep).

I hope this helps,

KLM

John_Lowe
Community Champion

Kelley, this is a mostly true statement, but things like course group memberships do not get restored when the user enrollments get restored as we've learned the hard way.  Smiley Sad

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

Absolutely, John, so I was admittedly being too general in my response.

But this is part of why we are keeping well outside the statutory retention period. I know that retention periods do not entirely mitigate legal risk, but the exceptions are so small that we have to draw a line somewhere.

KLM

allison
Instructure
Instructure

This is absolutely an issue we want to address! You are correct that the cloud presents new opportunities and approaches to "archive" that will likely be different from the ways we've archived courses before. I agree with voters that there should be some way of removing references to old terms and courses so that admins especially can focus their attention on the current and upcoming semesters. This isn't a project we're ready to dig into quite yet, but we will send an alert when we are.

kbickell
Community Contributor

There's also institutional storage limits to consider. We've been using Canvas since 2012, and our usage is going up slowly but steadily, and we're getting close to approaching our storage limit. We use an SIS import to create 1200+ shells each semester, so managing storage is a huge challenge. I guess the only way to manage this currently is delete course by course by course. Yuck! Thankfully my bank's ATM doesn't dispense cash dollar by dollar by dollar...

And there's student ability to access courses. Read-only is the default, but we don't want students to be able to see course content forever. So I spent days downloading enrollments.csv files for each semester and changing student status from active to inactive, then re-uploading. A necessary evil but no fun.

There's some charm to being the little guy. But not forever. If Canvas really wants to grow, these are the types of issues that need to be automated.

Renee_Carney
Community Team
Community Team
  Idea is currently in Product Radar Learn more about this stage...
rlawson
Community Participant

Course archive process or hiding concluded courses is a much needed feature.

Thanks for moving this request to the next level.

Ray

kbickell
Community Contributor

Product Radar is much appreciated!

However, as an institution that has been with Canvas for 4+ years, this type of solution should be a given. Right now there is no solution, short of purchasing more space - so any solution should not just be removing courses from a faculty or admin list, but clearing space as well.

Thanks!

SHEBENE
Community Champion

I'm hoping that in addition to archiving at the course level that we can freeze old terms to take them out of course lists for everyone. Right now we're working on consolidating old terms into 2 per academic year instead of 6. That doesn't go far enough when you're staring at over 60,000 courses though. The use of term archiving will hopefully be a natural extension of this feature request.

cward
Instructure
Instructure

We're solutioning this at the moment, but its not on our roadmap. This is a huge pain, and we'd love to make this better!