Term End Dates in Canvas

Posted in Announcements News

What is changing in Canvas?

On January 15, 2022 all terms more than a year in the past (Spring 2021 and earlier) will automatically have an end date assigned. As future terms are created, they will also have end dates about a year after their terms officially begin. As you will see in the descriptions below, this change means little to faculty or student access to these courses, and mainly will affect how the courses are displayed on the Canvas dashboard when you log in. Some Georgetown schools and departments have always included end dates in their Canvas courses, and this change will put all courses on the same footing, similar to the way Blackboard used to work and the way Canvas functions at almost all higher education institutions.

More users are coming to us with problems finding their courses, because they have accumulated so many Canvas courses over the previous semesters. End term dates are the natural and obvious way for universities to manage courses, and give all faculty and students easy access to the material they most need in their daily lives. No one is losing access to any materials through this change.

By default, students and faculty will be able to access all the materials as before. By default students will not be able to submit new work after the term end date. However, faculty have always had (and will continue to have) the power to override these defaults. Some professors opt to deny students access to the course after the semester is finished. Some professors may need or want to extend access to allow a student to finish an incomplete grade. By default, courses with an end date in the past disappear from the Dashboard (usually the first page when you log into Canvas). However, you can always find your past courses! See below for details.

How courses currently work in Canvas at Georgetown:

At the end of the term the courses continue to be available for students to view and to turn in assignments, unless the instructor or department has set up a course end date. The courses continue to be available in the dashboard. By default, students can continue to submit work and post in discussions years after the course is over, even after they have graduated. However, instructors have the ability to restrict student viewing and participation at whatever dates they see fit.

How courses will work after term end dates are added:

At the end of the term the courses continue to be available for students to view and to turn in assignments, unless the instructor or department has set up a course end date. The courses continue to be available in the dashboard. However, about six to nine months after the end of the term, the term end date will take place, with two effects:

  • Courses in the affected term will no longer appear in the Canvas Dashboard by default
  • Students will not be able to submit work in courses in the affected term

Both effects can be overridden by the instructors of the courses. Instructors continue to have the ability to restrict student viewing and participation at whatever dates they see fit. However, by default even when courses are not on the Canvas Dashboard, students can still access and view them in the Past Enrollments section of their Courses page, unless a faculty member has restricted viewing.

The default dashboard displays all current courses a user is enrolled in. Without term end dates, all courses are “current” and appear in the dashboard. This situation is manageable for a first year student or new professor, but after a student has been here for eight semesters, there can be 32 courses on the dashboard. Law faculty who have been using Canvas since 2015 can have similar numbers. Department chairs and administrators can have 100 or more courses in their dashboard.

Some users fix this situation by favoriting the courses they want to have in the dashboard. If any courses are marked as favorites, only the favorited courses will appear on the dashboard. Other current courses will not appear unless they are favorited. As new semesters begin, the user would have to manually favorite the new courses and un-favorite the past courses.

If any courses no longer appear on your main Canvas dashboard, you can find them on the list of All the Courses. For all users, the direct link is here: https://georgetown.instructure.com/courses

You can reach it by clicking on Courses in the far left main menu, and then scrolling to the bottom and clicking “All Courses”. Past courses that are no longer current are in the section “Past Enrollments”, after the list of your current courses.

Faculty members can use the Course Settings page to change at least three settings that affect how students can interact with the course:

  • The course end date (which overrides the term end date)
  • Student access before the course start date (typically there is none by default)
  • Student access after the course end date

If you want to allow students to submit work in a course past the term end date, or want to close off participation or access before the term end date, you can enter a course end date. Some programs and schools at Georgetown already enter a course end date, but instructors in Canvas can still change those manually. Course end dates override any term date settings.

However, the course end date and the term end date by themselves will not affect student access. They only affect whether students can still submit work and whether the course will display as current or as a past enrollment. If a course end date is in the past, students by default will be able to see and access the course, but will not be able to submit new work or comment on graded discussions.

You can restrict students from viewing course information after the term or course end date.

Typically, before the term begins, students can see a course they are enrolled in if it has been published. Most professors publish courses when they are ready to be viewed and do not have a course start date. But it is possible to use the course start date to manage course access.

Some schools at Georgetown have courses that last two full semesters. In addition, faculty often teach the same courses in the Fall and appreciate easy access to the previous iteration of the course. Since courses are created between six and three months before their semesters start, ending the courses over a full year after they begin will give faculty plenty of time to find and easily copy material from the past courses to their new courses. And of course, it is easy for faculty to find and copy courses even after they have “ended.”

As long as faculty have access to Georgetown Canvas, they should be able to access their past courses. As long as students and alumni have access to Georgetown Canvas, they have access to their past courses by default. However, some faculty limit access to their courses after the term ends and the last material has been turned in and graded. If you need access to materials from a past course and it is not available, please reach out to the faculty member who taught it.

Faculty members remove access for a number of reasons or combination of reasons.

  • Some teachers have shared within Canvas copyrighted texts, articles, images, audio files, or videos under the Fair Use provisions of copyright law. Legally, these materials can no longer be shared after the course is over.
  • Some teachers wish to keep their materials private after the class, so that former students are not tempted to pass on information about their exams and assignments to future students.
  • Some teachers spend years developing and modifying their course materials, and wish to keep them private as they continually adjust and improve them.

Do you have questions about how Canvas end dates function? 

Write to: canvas-help@georgetown.edu