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Community Member

Arizona Time and Canvas Students

Not sure if a discussion is the right place for this, but after setting up my Canvas courses, a few weeks later I noticed that all my due dates and times were off. I have my computer set to Arizona time, but didn't realize that in Canvas I had to also set the time zone.

Then once the classes started, and my Canvas dates/times were correct, a number of my students complained that the listed times and dates were wrong (based on what I had told them in class and in other references).  So...

We started doing some checking.  Turns out that the student computers were set to automatically pick up the time or were set to Mountain Time (with no DST - their computer showed the correct day/time) but in Canvas because my turn in times are all 11:59PM, every single one changed over to the next date.

Really something to deal with on both the instructor and the student side.

Would be great to include in Canvas help/manuals perhaps?

13 Replies
Learner II


What is the time zone set at for the entire account?  I believe if you set up your account in a certain time zone it will cascade down to all the courses in that account.  Someone with more experience in Canvas than myself may be able to correct me if I am wrong. 

Jason Schaffer

The time zone was initially set to Mountain Time.  Note that the offset for Mountain Time and Arizona Time is the same, which I think is confusing.  My computer tells me I am in Mountain Standard Time and I do not change time zones automatically.

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 9.41.50 AM.png

Out of curiosity I just looked up Canada and DST and see that some areas of Canada also do not observe DST. Daylight saving time in Canada - Wikiwand

Unfortunately, this is one of the realities of living in Arizona.  After doing it for 30+ years, it almost makes sense, but...

It looks like this is your personal settings.  What has your Canvas Admin set your Canvas time zone to?  What about your course(s)?  Also, do you have users outside of AZ?

Community Member

Gotta love Az. What part of the state are you in, if you don't mind? I don't have a Canvas 2 courses are freestanding.  Or perhaps, I'm the Admin!  The only settings apparently have are my own. 

Grew up in Glendale and Scottsdale, did some undergrad work at UofA, and grad school at ASU.  I left to find work, but I miss it sometimes.  I'm guessing by your account that you're at UofA?

Which server are your courses on?  If it's then that's the "free for teachers", which means there's no dedicated admin, but if it's [schoolname], then there should be someone from your school as an admin.

Community Member

Yes, UA.  Spend a fair amount of time around the state, though as my graduate program is now statewide. Anyway I've been using the "free for teachers" server and spreading Canvas to a bunch of in-service middle- and high-school STEM teachers on a regular basis.  I incorporate lots of things they can take to their students.

I like it so much better than D2L!!! 


Ok - so I think that's the issue - the free for teachers server is owned/operated/admined by Instructure, which is in Utah, so is set to Mountain time zone.  What you'll want to do is set the time zone for your course before creating content.  You can do that by going to your course, then click "settings" (bottom left), then check the time zone there.  If you haven't actually set that time zone, then it's probably defaulting to Mountain, unfortunately.  This is one of the downsides of being on the free server - each teacher will need to set their course like this if I remember correctly, but they can do it while setting up the rest of course, such as the course start/end dates.

Community Member

You are absolutely correct.  Will have to remember that every year, now!

glad that was the fix!  when we were setting up Canvas for a nation-wide online college, we had similar issues.  So I have a couple suggestions:

1 - try to fix the time zone before building anything else.  If you forget, double check all due dates and other times you've entered into assignments/quizzes/etc.

2 - make sure to specify the time zone in your instructions/syllabus.  If you're sure that all users will be in AZ, then adding a disclaimer line somewhere in the syllabus is enough.  "All times listed in this syllabus are based on time in Arizona.  Arizona does not observe Daylight Saving Time, and is part of the Mountain Time Zone".  Ours looked a bit different, but something like that.

3 - be aware that Canvas automatically converts times to be "local" to the user.  So if you have your time zone set to AZ, and a student has it set to Pacific, Canvas will convert the times for due dates and such for that student, so it aligns with all other students.  They won't get a "free hour" due to time zones.