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Community Member

Department Based Activities

We've had some interest from our faculty to create discussion and collaboration opportunities for students in their larger department in our college. These students are not necessarily in the same courses, and so we don't want to lock down the activities to a specific course.

Anyone have tips or suggestions on how to best accommodate this? Are there any Canvas site wide engagement options that I'm not aware of? Is creating a special course for this and enrolling the students the only option? I'm hesitant to use a third party tool as that would require students to use yet another login/tool, likely resulting in non compliance.

3 Replies
Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Hello‌ - It depends on how much control the department wants and what the purpose is, as well as how much administrative work your Canvas administrator is willing to do.  One possibility, depending on how your accounts are set up, might be to create a group, which an administrator can do and is covered here and here in the administrator's online documentation.  In that case, of course, it's like any other group where students can post things, exchange files, etc. 

Most of our departments here have tended to want to have a bit more control, so I have indeed created "course sites" for departments upon request.  While these sites are set up so that faculty can "invite" students to attend the course site, I am usually willing to go the extra mile and enroll the students via a CSV file IF the departments can supply me with their ID numbers, which is what our enrollments in other classes use.  Obviously, this will require several email exchanges as students get added and dropped or graduate from the program, but to be fair a similar amount of work will be required if account-level groups are established.  Additionally, this way faculty members are "teachers" of the course site and the students are...well, students.  Faculty post the documents, alert students to things, etc.  By my enrolling them, there is no issue with students potentially missing valuable information because they never accepted the course invitation.

The advantage for everyone, of course, is that they are working in a familiar environment of the Canvas LMS.  I'm not saying this is the best or only way, of course, but just to let you know that we, at least, do the "special course" route for this.


Thank you so much, Ken, this is incredibly helpful. I'm going to look into the Groups feature a bit more, as if not for this use, I can see us using it down the line for more site/school wide initiatives.  Really appreciate it!


Glad I could help a bit, Jenny.  (Don't forget to use the Test or Beta servers! Smiley Happy )