As I create the course, and BEFORE I publish the course, can I publish assignments, discussions, etc. without any notification going to students?
Notifications are not sent until the course is published.
Once you publish a course, then changing things, including publishing items, will send notifications (how quickly, if at all, the students get them is determined by their notification preferences).
That's a good thing, but there is a possible gotcha. You cannot send an email to the class before the class is published either. There have been times I wanted to send a welcome message to the students, but the class wasn't completely ready to publish yet.
I once made the mistake of publishing a course so I could email everyone and then, as I finished the course, my students got lots of notifications to the point that they basically tuned me out. Then when I needed them to pay attention to something, they weren't listening.
Hello Chris Rath Welcome to the Canvas Community. Thanks for posting your question. I've not completely tested this out myself, but here's what my gut tells me... If you take a look at your own notifications settings screen (via "Account" >> "Notifications"), you'll noticed that there really isn't any notifications that would trigger an item in your course being published. Under "Course Activities", there is "Course Content", and if you hover over that, you'd see a description of what items that would affect...but it's not really tied to publishing content. There are some areas of Canvas (such as Pages, Assignments, and Quizzes) where you have an option to check whether or not to notify users that content on the page has changed. But again, I don't believe this has anything to do with published content.
In summary, you should be able to publish the content of your course prior to publishing the course itself.
Hope this helps, Chris.
Hello Chris. One of the things I like about Canvas is the test student, which I use to test each click before I publish a course. That way I can make sure they can see all those published assignments, quizzes, and discussions. And I can test to make sure that my modules are published too as students might see an assignment listed on the Syllabus page but not be able to access it because it's linked from an unpublished module. The test student is usable *before* a class is published, which means that I can use that to see if any *real* students are able to see behind the curtain before I open the theatre doors.
James brings up a great point about emailing students before the class begins. Since the announcements are (by default) emailed to students, I sometimes create a "welcome" announcement that works as an email so that students get something immediately when the course is published.
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