When are Canvas Course Sites Created for a Term?




When Canvas course sites are provisioned and other beginning and end of term information for instructors.


Course Availability

  • Course sites are provisioned beginning 180 days before the beginning of the term, see the Office of the Register’s academic calendar
  • We used to say "six months," but it's exactly 180 days. (Six months can be a variable number of days depending on whether the months are 30, 31, or 28-day months)
  • Canvas course sites for all classes are automatically made available to instructors 

Quick reference for upcoming terms:

Term Starts Course Sites Created
Winter 2024 January 10, 2024 July 14, 2023
Spring/Summer 2024 May 7, 2024 November 9, 2023
Fall 2024 August 26, 2024 February 28, 2024
  • Courses are updated twice a day with enrollment data changes from MPathways.

If you would like a course site to begin building out content, before the official course shell is provisioned, a course site can be manually created, please contact the ITS Service Center. You will need to copy the content created from the manually-created course site to the official site after the official site is created, see the Instructure guide How do I copy content from another Canvas course using the Course Import tool?

1 Section = 1 Canvas Course

  • Canvas courses are automatically created as 1 section = 1 Canvas course, with the exceptions of already-crosslisted courses, meet-togethers, and graduate/undergrad courses
    • In these cases, sections will be automatically combined into a single Canvas course
    • If you think there may be an error in the number of sections, please call the ITS Service Center

Note: You can combine two or more sections in which you are listed as the Teacher into a single Canvas course using the Canvas Course Manager, which is in the left-hand navigation. Click "Need Help?" in the tool for step-by-step instructions. For assistance please contact the ITS Service Center.

Notify Your Unit Contact

  • If this is your first time using Canvas at UM, please notify your department or school’s Canvas Unit Contact
  • Your Unit Contact can provide important information about the adoption timeline for your school/college and can share helpful resources for learning to use Canvas

Reusing Canvas Course Content in an Upcoming Term

If you currently have a Canvas course and would like to reuse the content in a course for an upcoming term, you can use the Canvas import feature

Remember to Publish Your Course

  • Note that even though a Canvas course is automatically made available, you must publish it before students in the course can see it
  • Once published, it will appear in the Wolverine Access Student Center for students registered for the course
  • By default, students can see a published course starting 6 weeks before the start of the term
    • To override this setting, see the Course Start and Course End Dates section below. 

Canvas content items are published independently. Students do not have access to your course until you have published any modules, assignments, pages and quizzes you want them to see, by clicking the Publish button while in edit mode or the publish icon in list view to the far right of the item's name so it turns green.

Course Visibility

By default, course visibility is limited to the course site members.

You have the option (under Settings) to make your published course site visible to:

  1. only members of the class 
  2. anyone with a U-M uniqname (institutional visibility)
  3. anyone with or without a uniqname (public visibility). 

Student submissions are hidden in both the institutional and public views, but extra caution should be taken to ensure that student information is not inadvertently made visible. For example, you have the option to allow students to add Discussions topics. Unlike responses, topics are not considered student submissions and will be visible. Also, an instructor may include student work in a file that would be visible in an institutionally or publicly available course.

For detailed information, see Canvas Course Visibility Options.

Term Dates

  • Term Dates run from 6 weeks before the start of term until 2 weeks after a term ends, see the Office of the Register’s academic calendar
  • Students can access your Canvas courses once you have published it, however students will not be able to participate (will have read-only access) in the course until the term start date
  • Students will be able to participate in the course between the term start and term end dates
  • Regardless of the term start date, students do not have access to your course until you have (1) published any modules, assignments, pages and quizzes you want them to see by clicking the publish icon next to the item's name so it turns green, and (2) published your course. 
  • After the term end date students will have read-only access to course content
  • Read-access means that the course is not available for submitting assignments, posting discussions, uploading files, grading, or any other action-based task within a course

Course Start and Course End Dates

If you would like to specify a date when students can access your course (after it's published), or if you do not want students to have continued access after the term ends, complete the following steps to override the term start and end dates by using the course start and course end dates:

  1. ​While in your Canvas course, click Settings in the left navigation menu.
  2. On the Course Details tab, click the Participation dropdown and select Course (note that you cannot adjust the start and end dates with the default Term displayed)
  3. Adjust the Start and End date appropriately for your course. These are the dates during which students will be able to participate in the course.
  4. Check the boxes to Restrict students from viewing the course before course start date or Restrict students from viewing course after course end date to prevent students from having read-only access to the course before or after the start/end dates.
  5. Click Update Course Details to save your changes.

Course Notifications 

Canvas announcements posts sent before a course is published will not trigger an notification to students. In other words, no notification (email or other) will be sent while the course is unpublished.

Manually Adding Students

In most cases, course participants are added automatically. Academic course sections are synced twice a day with enrollment data changes from MPathway. As students add or drop a course in MPathways, they are automatically enrolled or unenrolled from the corresponding section in Canvas. This is not immediate. Students will be enrolled and unenrolled during the twice daily sync so there may be a delay of several hours.

In some cases you will want to manually add visiting students or observers. U-M affiliates (those with uniqnames) can be added to your course using the people tool, see the Instructure guide How do I add users to a course? Teachers and Designers can add anyone of any role. TAs can only add students to a course. 

If students are added manually before the course is published, those students will receive an email notification immediately after the course is published.

Tip: If you are adding a TA to your course you can improve performance in grading by checking the "Can grade students in their section only" box.

Non U-M Users

Non U-M guest users must be added with the Canvas Course Manager tool in the course navigation. This tool will create a Canvas account for the guest and enroll them into the course.

Friend Accounts

To access Canvas, users must either be sponsored by a U-M school or department, or be added as a Canvas guest using the Canvas Course Manager tool in the course navigation.

Late Withdrawals

Students who withdraw from a course after the drop/add deadline are marked as inactive in Canvas and will lose access to all course content. 

In Canvas, inactive students will still show in Settings > Sections under Current Enrollments, but will be listed as Inactive in the People Tool. The inactive enrollment status allows instructors to view the student's prior activity in a course but does not allow the student to access course content. Other students in the course will not see students with an inactive enrollment status. See the Instructure guide How do I view grades for inactive or concluded student enrollments in the Gradebook?

Additional Information

For additional questions, please contact the ITS Service Center

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Article ID: 276
Mon 4/20/20 8:13 AM
Tue 1/30/24 3:19 PM