How do term dates, course dates, and section dates work in Canvas?
Term dates, course dates, and section dates are very symbiotic. All of them flow together in all aspects of Canvas. Various dates allow different users to participate in the course.
The hierarchy of dates include the following:
- Section dates can override course dates
- Course dates can override term dates
Additionally, some overrides may leave the course open for participation.
Term dates, course dates, and section dates can also be added through SIS imports.
In conjunction with this lesson, to see an example of how term dates, course dates, and section dates work together, view the Terms, Courses, and Section Enrollments PDF.
View Term Details
Term dates define a fixed period of time for an institution where users can participate in a course. Term dates can also be used for semesters, trimesters, or quarters. In this example, the term runs from July 2, 2018, to December 23, 2018.
Administrators have control over when specific users can participate in the courses. Unless otherwise specified, Students inherit the term start and term end date, while Teachers, TAs and Designers dates inherit a whenever start date to the term end date. Whenever means that these user roles can always access a course before the term begins.
Warning about End Term Dates
Unlike other dates in Canvas, term dates do not support times. Setting a time as part of a term date does not apply. By default, user access is cut off at midnight on your indicated end date, meaning the previous day is the last full day that users have access to the term.
Again, in the example about access dates, the ending dates would be as follows:
- Instructors (teachers)  can access courses until 12:00 am on December 31, 2018 (last full day is December 30).
- Everyone else with a term end date  can access courses until 12:00 am on December 23, 2018 (last full day is December 22).
When a term has concluded, associated courses are placed in a read-only (archived) state. Read-only means that a course is not available for submitting assignments, posting discussions, uploading files, grading, or any other action-based task within a course.
Note: Canvas currently does not generate a warning about term dates as it does for course dates.
View Future Enrollments
Once a user is added to a course, terms set default dates for when users have access to courses assigned to that term. Access relates to published courses.
If a course is unpublished , students cannot have access to any course content until the start date of the term.
If a course is published , students are able to view content before the start of the term. However, they cannot fully participate in the course, such as submitting an assignment or contributing to a discussion topic. On the start date of the term, students can fully participate in the course.
Some institutions may choose to publish their courses on the same day as the term start date, so prior access to course content is not an issue. However, some prefer to allow instructors to publish their own courses ahead of the term start date and restrict student access to the course completely before the course begins. Students can also be restricted from being able to view a course after it has ended.
View Course Dates
Course dates default to the term dates. However, course dates can be set to override the term dates or compliment the term dates. Both admins and instructors can manage these dates.
In the start and end dates , course dates can be set within the term or extend past the term . Adding a start or end date adds or removes the course to or from the Card View Dashboard (if the course is marked as favorite), and students can still participate in the course by accessing their Courses list until the end of the term.
To override the term dates, select the Users can only participate in the course between these dates checkbox . This checkbox ensures that students can only participate in the course between the specified dates (instructors and admins are not affected). After the course end date, students can only view the course in a read-only state.
For example, if the term dates were July 2, 2018, to December 23, 2018, the instructor could set access to the course a week later and end the course a week earlier. By shortening the course end date, and selecting the student participation checkbox, students will only have read-only access to the course after that date. The instructor can still manage course content and grades before the term end date set for instructors.
View Section Dates
The Section dates are the most mobile. Sections can be moved from term to term or course to course. If section enrollments need to be moved, such as for cross-listing a section into another course, section enrollments should be moved before students submit any coursework, as course participation cannot be transferred across sections.
Section dates default to the course dates, unless you also set up section override dates.
Sections can have various start and end dates. For example, Section 2 could be set with a start date of start date of September 26, 2018, and an end date of December 14, 2018. Sections within the same course can share course material and have varied due dates.