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Community Champion

Term dates no longer effective at preventing course access for students

Hey Admins!  We noticed a change and I'm not sure when it took place.  Our first term on Canvas was Fall 2015.  We spent a lot of time figuring out how to configure our term dates and student access/participation settings to have it work how we needed it to work.  I spent hours with our IC getting this working properly.  We had term dates set up to prevent students from ACCESSING the course prior to the first day.  We do not put dates on the courses since we use term dates to control access to the courses. 


We then left the checkbox for restricting students from viewing courses before the start date UNCHECKED.  What this did was put it in their course list, and if the course was published and they clicked on it, it would say that the course hasn't started yet.  They could not view any course materials such as modules until the first day of class.


However, I'm not sure when, but recently, Canvas made a change in the code that doesn’t restrict students from viewing before the access date.  Before, they would get a message saying that the course hadn’t started yet.  Now, once a course is published, they can view everything, they just can’t “participate” before the start date.

Canvas support is claiming that the documentation listed in the guides:  How do I set up term dates effectively in an account? | Canvas Admin Guide | Canvas Guides

doesn’t specify what “access” means and therefore could mean participation, but before it meant they couldn’t view the course (isn’t that what access means?).  They said it's working as designed.  It's not.

I was told that I could either check the box to restrict students from viewing before the start date OR tell teachers not to publish their courses (which is impossible with almost 1000 instructors a term - they see that publish button and they HAVE to click on it). 

This is not how it was working at the beginning of fall term.  I'm not sure when this change happened but I'm guessing that it would have something to do with the addition of the grading periods features. 

I had to check the box to restrict students from viewing the course before the start date, hopefully temporarily. So students won't see any courses in their list until Monday morning, and they won't see any B-term classes until March, so I’m sure we will be hearing from students until this is fixed.   :smileyangry:  Our students are sort of high-maintenance regarding being able to know that they are registered for the course.  Being able to see it on their list gave them comfort in knowing that they would be able to access it the first day. 

We talked to our CSM during our scheduled call today, so he is trying to figure out if any other schools have noticed this. He suggested posting on the community to see if anyone else is affected. 

Is this something that you have noticed/been affected by?

Tags (3)
37 Replies
Community Participant

Yes, UCF saw this too. 

Moreover I'm not seeing any way to control this behavior in the CSV files we use to provision courses, sections and enrollments. (I'm looking at​ for the SIS formats and options.)



Community Contributor

I just wanted to chime in to agree that this does not appear to be working as intended. I was reading about the Observer role in the guides (What is the Observer role? ) today and came across this verbiage: "Like students, Observers cannot view a course until it is published and the course has started."

I thought that made it pretty clear.

Community Champion

Hi Brent,

Thanks for posting.  UCF is using course and section dates and not term dates, right?

We are using Term Dates for everything except for odd-term sections, which we use section dates for.

So, it looks like this is not working as it used to for any dates - term dates, section dates, and course dates?


Community Champion

Thanks, Ginan.  We don't use the Observer role yet so I was unaware of that issue. 

Community Coach
Community Coach

As an update, it doesn't matter if you use course start/end dates. Students can VIEW/SEE everything in a published course, they just can't "participate." We use term dates as well as start/end dates for our courses (and have the box checked that "users can only participate in the course between these dates.") - see picture below.


I logged in as a student and while their courses didn't show up in their course list, if I clicked to view all their courses the courses showed up in future enrollments and I was able to click on and "view" EVERYTHING for all published courses. This is a pretty big no-no for our faculty. If they wanted their courses to be visible in any way to their students they would have set the course start date to something earlier. I went ahead and checked the global box to "Restrict students from viewing course before start date," but this is also not very effective because now students can't see any of their future enrollments. I foresee a lot of phone calls from confused students wanting to know where their courses are. Hopefully Canvas will recognize this as a bug/issue and get it fixed!!

Community Coach
Community Coach

You might also want to check out the answer erinhallmark​ provided on this question yesterday - What's the expected behavior of the course checkbox "Restrict students from viewing course before st...

Community Participant

Hi All,

We are also experiencing this issue. We alerted Canvas support last month and they are working on it.  Note-if you do not have the courses published and have the term date set in the future, your students cannot access their courses even though it shows active under the dropdown menu.  I hope this helps!



Community Coach
Community Coach

 @millerjm ​,

Here is what we have set up:

We have term dates that come over from Banner.  After we load the course we change the dates that faculty, designers and TAs can access to the day the load happened.  our term dates, Course dates and Section dates are all set to one week before the semester starts.

So even if a faculty member publishes the course, the students don’t see it on their courses list until that date.

We also have the Restrict students from viewing courses after end date/Restrict students from viewing courses before start date selected.


Community Participant

We at K-State are noticing this week the changes in behavior and how that has confused us on our very carefully organized configuration and user access.  Have been trying to untangle/come up with a combo that works for us. 

I am a bit confused and frustrated and seemingly not able to setup Canvas to meet our needs anymore.