Course Sections and Canvas

Burton Barr Library, with Tree (Canvas)

Burton Barr Library, with Tree (Canvas) (Photo credit: cobalt123)

Yeah I know…the title sounds like an episode of Monk.  “Mr. Monk and (enter the episode title here)”.  And you might be right.  Because as we get going full tilt boogey into Canvas, there are lots of things we are finding out.  And so I will be sharing our experiences here.

Today, the topic is sections.  In our organization, we use the SIS batch enrollment method to get courses, users, and enrollments into Canvas.  It is much easier than trying to enter everything manually, keeping spreadsheets with CourseID numbers so we do not duplicate things and so forth.

This week I ran across several things that were happening that perplexed me.  We had several teachers who created assignments and quizzes that worked perfectly for them.  But there students could only access the start page, not actually participate in the activity.  Then there was the case of the instructor who could find some of his students in the course roster, and some that he could not.

As I started looking at the courses, the only commonality between the three cases were that there were two sections in each course.

The first had a long name that matched the actual course name as it was submitted in the SIS batch.  This section had no users in it, BUT, you could edit it from the section tab, and change the section name. If you clicked on the section to enter it, you could see there is actually one user enrolled:  Test Student.  The test student is automatically created by Canvas the first time you click Student View in the administrative sidebar.  There is no way around this.  This is a function of the Canvas application.  When you edit the section to look at the section info, you find there is no start or end date, nor is there an SIS ID.  This is because it is a non-existent user-generated by Canvas for you to see your course as your student sees it. You CAN delete this section if you want, but Canvas will automatically add it back every time you click on Student View

The second had a different name, with what I could tell was an identifier from our in-house user management system.  This section HAD users in it, but you could not edit the name from the section tab.  When you click to enter the section, you immediately see the section name, the SIS ID and the dates the section is open.  This is generated by Canvas via the SIS Batch enrollment. LEAVE THIS SECTION ALONE.  If you do ANYTHING other than verify dates in this section, your students will be removed from the course, and you will have to re-enroll them

If you are the instructor, and enter your course shell and can not see any students, or they are not able to view any content, the first thing you need to do is go to settings in the course navigation menu, and check your course settings.  Make sure the course END date is later than the course START date.  The class should start Aug 1 2013 and end May 31 2014, not May 31 2013.  If the end date is earlier than the start date, the course will never be visible.

Once you have checked course dates and verified them as accurate, click on the Sections tab, and do the SAME THING for both the sections that are created by Canvas.  Be sure that the end date does not occur before the start date.  If it does, simply change the end date to reflect the proper end date, and everything should be fine.

I hope you find this information useful.

By the way. the image at the top of this post….it has nothing to do with the post.  Just something I threw in to catch your attention and make you go hmmm!  I still have my sense of humor.


3 thoughts on “Course Sections and Canvas

  1. Pingback: Canvas Weekely Update for Week Ending August 30, 2013 | MDE Canvas Support

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