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Sections and activity date behavior

Question asked by Helen Carmichael on Oct 28, 2019
Latest reply on Nov 5, 2019 by Eric Werth

Hello All - so we have run into an issue that is quite well hidden and was wondering if anyone else has noticed these behaviours?
Bit of Background:
We pull user and course information into Canvas through an automated sis feed, this includes enrolments. Our students are enrolled on sections (e.g. Lecture, Tutorials etc.). Students at the start of the academic year have the opportunity to swap sections (so if a tutorial doesn’t suit, or there is a class with another course). With the automated feed they are made inactive on the previous section and then active on the new section.
Canvas allows activities such as assignments to be assigned to sections, this can be through differentiated due dates or individual set up.
The Issue:
An activity had been set up within a course per section which used differentiated due dates, essentially this allowed each tutorial group the same amount of time to complete the activity. A student had noticed that the activity had been made available earlier to them than expected and raised this to their lecturer. After investigations it appeared that the student was previously on one section (but made inactive) and had moved to a new section (now active). This results in providing the student with the earliest ‘available from’ date and the latest ‘available to’ date, thus unknowingly providing more time for the student to complete the activity than their peers.

I’m sure you can understand the concerns we have around this, my main questions are:
How are you using sections for the enrolment process (are they for groupings such as tutorials)?
Can students move between sections for a certain time and how do you record this in Canvas?
Has anyone else noticed this behaviour and if so how are you addressing it?
If you use an alternative status (for example deleted) what issues have you come across? In particular we would be interested in understanding if this could concerns relating to data retention or any other technical considerations?