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Edit Section: Restricting students to see own section only

Edit Section: Restricting students to see own section only

(1)
When enrolling students to a course section, there is a small box for you to check to restrict the student to seeing only his/her own section and responses from other students only from his/her section.  If you miss checking this box upon enrollment, the only way to enable the feature is to go into each individual student's profile and make the change.  This should be an option on the "edit section" page.

      

Comments from Instructure
Sometimes, with the volume of ideas we have coming in, we miss a duplicate.  This idea has a duplicate with Course-Level Setting: Restrict Users to Their Own Section(s).  Both threads will receive the same updates.
35 Comments
mjennings
Advocate

To learn more about why this is important check out  @John_Lowe ​'s post New FERPA requirements for cross-listed courses!

biray
Community Champion

This idea has moved to the next stage and will be open for voting among the Canvas Community, from Wed. July 6, 2016 - Wed. October 5, 2016.

Check out this doc for additional details about how the voting process works!

hensonj
New Member

Thanks,  @mjennings ​

Nancy_Webb_CCSF
Community Champion

I can only hope this change gets approved and acted on soon.  We have many cases where the instructor has several sections cross-linked into one online class, and currently the teacher would have to change up to 100 (sometimes more) individual student settings - so many clicks!

FERPA specifies that a student's enrollment in a section is a privacy issue as per New FERPA requirements for cross-listed courses! Without this setting to limit users to view only students in their own section, Conversations allows students to see students in all sections.  Since Conversations (Inbox) is not on the course navigation menu, it can't be hidden the way Conferences and Chat can. Restricting students to viewing only those in their own section is the only way to go. 

Unless someone knows another way?

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

Nancy:

One small correction, in the admin panel you can restrict students from posting to other students in the Inbox. Not a good solution, mind you because students should be able to communicate with each other, but it does make it it possible to restrict access.

KLM

Nancy_Webb_CCSF
Community Champion

Thanks  @kmeeusen ​ - that's good to know. Doesn't it change the permission for all students? I don't know if all teachers would want us changing that setting for all students when it is only the cross listed sections that need it.  But we might have to resort to that option.  My fingers are crossed that this idea will get enough votes.

kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

Yes, you are correct that it would change it for all students... Which is why we haven't used it. Many instructors (with non crosslisted courses) want their students to be able to communicate with each other like that.

herriott10ad
New Member

I approve, and would love to expand this idea to match the similar use case in this feature request:

Students, yes, but also TA access may need to be restricted to individual sections. We manage massive lectures that break into individual recitation sections; it would be helpful to keep the recitation feel for our students as well as functionally remove the chance of an accidental grading event via a sleep-deprived TA. These courses can house hundreds of students and dozens of TAs each, so a restriction at the course level, and applied *by role* would accomplish both outcomes.

Nancy_Webb_CCSF
Community Champion

This is the first semester we're cross-listing courses so it's a learning process.  Another procedural difficulty has arisen - before the semester starts it is tedious but do-able to change the setting on every single student, if you're careful not to skip somebody.  However new students can add during the first few weeks of class, and isolating those new students to change their settings isn't easy.  Instructors will have to keep a list of adds and check off when it's done.  If a student is overlooked, it's not easy to find them since you can't see the "restrict user" setting unless you open every student's User details.  (We are lucky that not all courses need this setting.)

I can only hope this is fixed before next semester.  For us, I can't think of any situation where only a few students in a section need this setting, it is always the whole section, or rather all sections in a course.  I hope our vote isn't being split between this section control idea and the whole course control idea at .  I voted for both.

miltonv
New Member

Can the enrollment API be used to restrict student access to his/her own section?

https://canvas.instructure.com/doc/api/enrollments.html

The following is an excerpt from the enrollment API.  I'm not clear on the text, "Applies to Teacher and TA enrollments." 

// User can only access his or her own course section. Applies to Teacher and TA
 
// enrollments.
 
"limit_privileges_to_course_section": true,

Nancy_Webb_CCSF
Community Champion

I just want to add that a further difficulty is that we don't allow teachers to see the students' full information, so they can't change this setting, it's up to an Administrator to change.  Good grief.  Hey, we need a simple checkbox next to the section where you can change this setting for every student at once!  Or however the programmers decide we should do it.  Perhaps it could be individually changed after it's set to everyone with the checkbox; the details can be worked out.  A status message?  *some individuals have been changed from the default*

John_Lowe
Community Champion

For FERPA and Title IX compliance, this is a necessary option.  See my comments here: New FERPA requirements for cross-listed courses!

John_Lowe
Community Champion

Also, I plugged this request in my recent blog post - The Need For Privacy: FERPA and Title IX .

arovner
Community Contributor

miltonv​ Has anyone responded to your question yet?  It's a great one and I'd love to know the answer.

Thanks,
Amy

RobDitto
Community Champion

miltonv​ and  @arovner ​,

I played with that API briefly just now in Postman and found that I could indeed create (POST) a student enrollment with request parameter enrollment[limit_privileges_to_course_section]=TRUE.  This had the effect of enrolling a student with "this user can only view students in their assigned course section(s)" already specified.

As the documentation implies, I didn't find a way to edit (PUT) an existing enrollment to change that parameter.

curtain
Community Member

we do this now for all our sections via the API.  It works only on new enrollments as indicated.   We have found that the setting remains intact after cross-listing via the UI.      So as long as we have it automated for all courses when we create them via our SIS integration, it keeps us in compliance.  If we have an exception we want to make (such as dual-enrollment course like Human Development with students from Ed, Biology, Psych, etc able to sign up in their respective depts) that is when we lament the one-student-at-at-time UI click through to 'unset' this setting.

erlend_thune
Community Contributor

The idea above relates to

https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/5584

https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/2366

https://community.canvaslms.com/thread/5934

We've had some problems with the section restriction configuration (we used configuration TC3 below), and I thought what we've found could be of interest to others.

The way Canvas is working per October 12. 2016, only the configurations TC1, TC2 and TC4 below are safe. This means that if a teacher is restricted to her own section,  students should also be restricted to their own section. Otherwise there will be a chance of miscommunication, i.e. messages will be reported as sent but are silently discarded by the server.

Configuration and consequences

Testcase (TC)

Teacher configuration

Student-innstilling

Hjelp->Ask Your Instructor A Question

Conversations

1

No restriction

No restriction

All teachers receive the question and can answer it.

Anybody can send messages to anybody and reply to these.

2

No restriction

Restricted to own section

All teachers receive the question and can answer it.

If a teacher i section 1 replies to a student in section 2, the student can answer even though the student is restricted to her own section.

The student kan send messages to all the teachers, but only to students in her own section.

3

Restricted to own section

No restriction

All teachers receive the question. If a teacher is in another section than the student and the teacher answers the question, the message will be reported as sent, but it will be discarded somewhere on its way to the student.

The student can send messages to all teachers and students. Teachers (and students) in other sections that are restricted to their own sections will experience that answering such messages will seem successfull, but the messages will be discarded somewhere on their way.

4

Restricted to own section

Restricted to own section

Only teachers in the same section as the student will receive the question. They can answer the question.

Both students and teachers can only send messages to users in their own section.

Changing the configuration, consequences:

Testcase (TC)

Configuration before

Configuration after

Hjelp->Ask Your Instructor A Question

Meldingsoppførsel

5

TC3

No restriction

TC4

Restricted to own section.

Only teachers in the same section as the student will receive the question after the configuration change. They can answer the question.

If the configuration change is done in a course where there are existing conversations across sections, i.e. student conversations, new messages on the thread will be reported as sent where as in reality they will be discarded by the system.

There are in total 12 different configuration changes possible: TC1->TC2, TC1->TC3, TC1->TC4 etc., but I have only tested TC3->TC4.

I have suggested the following possible fixes for the TC3 configuration for Canvas, in case number 01612121:

Expected behaviour:
Alt 1. The teacher should not be allowed to send the message and some sort of error message should appear.
Alt 2. The teacher should be allowed to answer the message since the student has "revealed" his identity.
Alt 3: The teacher should not receive the message in the first place, since he is not in the same section as the student. I.e. "Ask your instructor a question" should only be sent to teachers in sections that the student belong to.

Alternative 2 would go for any user receiving a message. If you receive a message you should be allowed to answer it, even though the user is off your limits, since the off-limit user initiated the conversation.

arovner
Community Contributor

WOW!!   @erlend_thune ​ what a great job you did testing and explaining the various scenarios!!  THANK YOU!!!

erlend_thune
Community Contributor

Thank you Amy Smiley Happy Here is another scenario I just tested which is maybe more serious than the one described in TC3 in my table:

1. Restrict student 1 to section 1. Restrict student 2 to section 2.

2. Student 1 writes a post in a discussion.

3. Student 2 sees the post written by student 1 and clicks on student 1's name. This opens student 1's profile.

4. Student 2 clicks on "Send message" on student 1's profile and sends a message to student 1.

5. The message never arrives to student 1.

So the main problem seems to be that you sometimes are allowed to see users outside your section and send messages to them. Then these messages are discarded without notifying the sender.

But maybe I have misunderstood how one is supposed to use sections? Maybe you cannot have "global" discussions in a course when you use sections and that you have to have groups reflecting the sections exactly and only use group discussions? How are you using sections?

arovner
Community Contributor

 @erlend_thune ​,

At this point our president directed us to stop allowing cross-listing in fully online courses and our college has come up with a list of all the various scenarios that occur on campus with hybrids, labs, cohorts, etc. and whether cross-listing is ok or not at this time.

RE: your question re: Discussions.  In reading through a bunch of the posts from others in the FERPA discussion in the Community, I think it's necessary to create separate Discussions for each section and assign them using the "differentiated assignments" capabilities.  This may, or may not, address the issues you raise.  I think creating Groups should also do the trick but there are pros/cons to using Groups.  Please, Canvanistas, correct me if I'm wrong as I haven't tested any of this yet.

Best,

Amy