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Where are the permissions/access in Commons coming from?

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How is the list of sub-accounts to which an instructor has access in Commons determined?

We are hoping to implement Commons this spring. To that end, we have this turned on in our Test environment and are seeing some strange behaviour. A recently hired instructor is only seeing his Phys Ed departments/sub-accounts listed as options - as we expected. However, an instructor who has been here for many years appears to be seeing ALL departments/sub-accounts, including ones in which he has never taught. It is the same list we see as administrators.

In addition, we have Shared two items in particular sub-accounts to which none of these people should have access. The new instructor does not see them on the Canvas home page, but the long-term instructor does.

We cannot figure out why this is happening - can someone offer guidance as to where these permissions are coming from?  biray@instructure.com​ ? Deactivated user​ ?

Thank you!!

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For those of you following this issue - we have an answer. The permissions/structure is behaving as expected - instructors are seeing sub-accounts for which they have enrollment records in Canvas. We were absolutely certain that this could not be the case, since (for example) a History instructor was seeing Dental Hygiene courses. Doesn't make sense, right?

Well - as it turns out, we were operating under the assumption that our sub-accounts were pretty clean. In fact, they aren't as spotless as we thought. :smileyblush: We have now found several courses that were set at the root level - thus giving users with any enrollments in those courses the entire list of sub-accounts within the structure. The good news is that correcting the Department on those courses fixes the problem and the users now see only the list for their college/department.

Two good things to come out of this - we now feel a lot better about moving forward with Commons, and we have identified an issue with our data that will be addressed.

Thanks for the input!

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7 Replies
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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Hi ccalderon@ewu.edu​, I can see from your profile that you are quite the Canvas veteran, so I hesitate to ask such an obvious question, but did you check your ADMIN Settings page to make sure this long term instructor was not (for whatever reason...) made an account admin on your server?  My experience so far (having recently started Commons here in our production environment over the winter break), has been that any subaccount admin will have similar rights in Commons, though they should certainly not be as broad as yours unless also made a full admin.  Did you try masquerading as the long term instructor to see if he has had admin access all along with even realizing it?  Could someone have possibly made him an admin on your Test server for some reason?  (Are things different now over the weekend now that Test has been reset with this weekend's production release?)

(We've been on Commons for a few weeks now.  Not too many faculty are participating yet, but I think it shows great promise!)

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Hi kblack@dom.edu​ - thank you so much for the well-thought response. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Our practice is to limit sub-account admin access to an extremely limited number of users. Following your suggestion, I did try again after this weekend's release and met with the same results: long-term instructors are seeing ALL departments and newer hires are seeing their designated areas. Weird. We will keep digging!

Thanks again!!

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ccalderon@ewu.edu​, have you been able to figure this out yet? If not, you might consider filing a Canvas Support ticket and see if they can help straighten things out!

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Thanks kona@richland.edu​! We haven't solved this issue, so I think I will go ahead and file a ticket with Support.

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Very good! Let us know what you find out!

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Will do! We are waiting to implement Commons in production based on this issue - because if an instructor wants to share an item within their department, the presented list is a bit overwhelming for those affected. Hopefully, there is something obvious we are missing!

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Community Member

For those of you following this issue - we have an answer. The permissions/structure is behaving as expected - instructors are seeing sub-accounts for which they have enrollment records in Canvas. We were absolutely certain that this could not be the case, since (for example) a History instructor was seeing Dental Hygiene courses. Doesn't make sense, right?

Well - as it turns out, we were operating under the assumption that our sub-accounts were pretty clean. In fact, they aren't as spotless as we thought. :smileyblush: We have now found several courses that were set at the root level - thus giving users with any enrollments in those courses the entire list of sub-accounts within the structure. The good news is that correcting the Department on those courses fixes the problem and the users now see only the list for their college/department.

Two good things to come out of this - we now feel a lot better about moving forward with Commons, and we have identified an issue with our data that will be addressed.

Thanks for the input!

View solution in original post