Course Conclusion in Canvas

Previous, Inactive Canvas Courses

As a result of course conclusion, Canvas courses become inactive. These courses are concluded at two different points, depending on when the course was offered. Summer and Fall semester courses are concluded in June the following year. Winter and Spring courses are concluded in January of the following year. For example: 

Course Semester/YearMonth/Year Concluded
Summer and Fall 2021June 2022
Winter and Spring 2022January 2023

If you are looking to access information from a previous Canvas course and your course shows as read-only, your course has likely been concluded. You can review some of these frequently asked questions about accessing information from previously concluded courses if you’re not sure where to go next.

Course conclusions...

Courses are concluded at two different points, depending on when the course was offered. Summer and Fall semester courses are concluded in June the following year. Winter and Spring courses are concluded in January of the following year are automatically concluded the first working Monday of January (Summer and Fall courses) and June (Winter and Spring courses)…

…if the course is set to conclude after the semester ends in ISU AdminTools > Additional Course Settings…

This image displays the two toggle options for course conclusion in Canvas, containing both a red and green toggle switch for collaboration and conclusion.

…and the course or term end date specified in the course Settings has passed.

Photo displays the way to specify the course end date in Canvas to specify when the course should be concluded.

Student access

Instructors have full control over student access to Canvas courses. Student access is determined on the Settings page in a Canvas course. After final grades are submitted and before the course conclusion date listed above, instructors can specify that students have…

  1. Go to Settings on the course menu.
  2. Locate the Participation dropdown.
  3. Choose to use the provided Term dates or your own Course dates.
  4. If using Course dates, enter the end date of the students' full access — the date they should be changed to read-only access. This date should be approximately 1 week after grade submission concludes.
  5. Ensure Restrict students from viewing this course after end date is unchecked as it will remove all student access at the specified end date and time.
  6. Click Save.

Any courses changed in this manner will switch to a read-only state — for students only — at the specified end date and time.

Concluded courses display as read-only for all users. To limit only students to read-only, see the “Prevent conclusion” section above.

  1. Go to Settings on the course menu. 
  2. Locate the Participation dropdown.
  3. Choose to use the provided Term dates or your own Course dates.
  4. Enter the end date of the students' full access — the date they should be changed to read-only access. Choosing a date 50 years in the future allows students to maintain access throughout their time at ISU.
  5. Restrict students from viewing this course after end date removes all student access at the specified end date and time. Check or uncheck this setting as appropriate for your situation.
  6. Click Save.
  1. Go to Settings on the course menu.
  2. Locate the Participation dropdown.
  3. Choose to use the provided Term dates or your own Course dates.
  4. If using Course dates, enter the end date of the students’ full access.
  5. Check the box to Restrict students from viewing this course after end date.
  6. Click Save.

Prevent conclusion

Prior to the end of the semester, instructors may choose to prevent a course from automatically concluding...

  1. Navigate to ISU AdminTools via the course menu.
  2. Choose View Additional Course Settings.
  3. It is essential to click the Course concludes after the semester ends toggle to NO.

This will keep the course active in the Canvas Calendar, Courses menu, and Inbox for all course users.

However, students automatically change to a read-only state unless an instructor explicitly allows full access as described in the “Student access and conclusion” section below.

  1. Go to Settings on the course menu.
  2. Locate the Participation
  3. Choose to use your own Course
  4. Enter the end date of the students' full access — the date they should be changed to read-only access.
    1. Once the end date has passed, the course will also be flagged for automatic conclusion the next semester unless the instructor chooses to prevent conclusion entirely.
    2. Upon conclusion, the course will be removed from Canvas Calendar, Courses menu, and Inbox for all course users.
    3. Instructors can still copy content from a concluded course to a future course.
  5. Click Save.

View missing information

Course conclusion will archive course content, which can be mistaken as student information having been deleted. Within the Canvas course, follow the steps below to view "missing” information such as…

  1. Navigate to People.
  2. Click the 3 dots in the upper-right-hand corner to display the popup menu.
  3. Select to show view prior enrollments.
  1. Navigate to the Gradebook.
  2. Locate the Student Name column.
  3. Click the 3 dots next to Student Name to display the popup menu.
  4. Select to show concluded enrollments.

Note: If concluded students are no longer with the university, they will also have an “inactive” status and could still be hidden from the gradebook. To see all student work, follow the instructions above to also view inactive enrollments. See the ‘How do I view grades for inactive or concluded student enrollments in the Gradebook?‘ guide for more information.

Manage users

Note: If you want to restore access, you must alter the course dates after you add yourself back into the system.

To restore access to the course for…

  1. Navigate to ISU AdminTools via the course menu.
  2. Choose Additional Course Settings.
  3. Switch the Concluded toggle to NO. You may need to click it twice.
  4. Return to the Canvas course and specify the type of access as described in the “Student access and conclusion” section above.
  1. Navigate to ISU AdminTools via the course menu.
  2. Choose Manage Additional People
  3. Add the netID to the appropriate Section and Role.
  4. Verify the user has access to the course. Teachers and Co-teachers will return to the expected level of access in the course. Access for students and other roles must be specified as described in the “Student access and conclusion” section above.

To add a new user for course administration purposes, as…

  1. Navigate to ISU AdminTools via the course menu.
  2. Choose Manage Additional People
  3. Add the netID to the appropriate Section and Role.
  4. Verify the user has access to the course. Teachers and Co-teachers will be given full access to the course. Access for students and other roles must be specified as described in the “Student access and conclusion” section above.
  1. Inside the Canvas course, go to Settings on the course menu.
  2. Locate the Participation
  3. Choose to use custom Course 
  4. Edit the year of the end date to the future.
  5. Click Save.
  6. Navigate to ISU AdminTools via the course menu.
  7. Choose Manage Additional People
  8. Add the netID to the appropriate Section and Role.
  9. Verify the user has access to the course. Teachers and Co-teachers will be given full access to the course. Access for students and other roles must be specified as described in the “Student access and conclusion” section above.

Accessing Previous, Concluded Canvas Courses

Student and instructor users can access past Canvas courses in the read-only mode which allows browsing past content. Instructors are unable to add new content and change grades in past Canvas courses; students are unable to interact with discussion and assignment items. All student data remain in past Canvas courses, but are hidden from student and instructor view. When a past course is in the read-only mode, it is concluded.
The behaviors listed below occur when an instructor uses the default settings in Canvas.
  • Concluded courses are removed from the Dashboard, Calendar, Courses menu, and Inbox for all users, making it easier to find current courses.
  • Courses remain accessible through the All Courses link in the Course menu.
  • Students are changed to a concluded enrollment status and their access becomes read-only in order to safeguard against accidental content changes. For instance, if assignments are left open (no defined availability) in an unconcluded course, students could potentially continue to submit to assignments, view previous quizzes, or post to discussion threads.
  • Instructors are changed to a concluded enrollment status and maintain read-only access. They are able to copy content from a concluded course to a future semester’s course but are safeguarded against accidental content changes, such as deleting an assignment or resetting the entire course.
  • Fewer active courses results in an overall faster loading speed, greater accessibility of current courses, and a reduction in course naming conflicts, such as when courses are named the same from semester to semester.
Past Canvas courses are concluded to improve overall user experience:
  • Uncluttered dashboard – concluded courses are removed from the dashboard for a clean presentation of new course tiles
  • Easy-to-navigate course calendars – events from concluded courses are removed from users’ calendars in Canvas
  • Manageable inbox – messages from past courses are archived for streamlined communication
  • Course completion – course content and student data are locked and stored in the archival mode
  • Dashboard:Concluded courses are removed from the Dashboard, Calendar, Courses menu, and Inbox for all users, making it easier to find current courses.

Courses in Canvas are sorted and managed by the terms’ pre-determined duration of times and dates; thus, Iowa State University-affiliated Canvas courses will be concluded in June or in January.

  • Summer and Fall courses will be concluded in June the following year.
  • Winter and Spring courses will be concluded in January of the following year.

Instructors may need access to student data from concluded courses for accreditation and/or scholarly research purposes. Instructors may also need to access concluded courses as part of managing incomplete students in a concluded course.

To view student data from concluded courses, review the section on Viewing Missing Information.

To handle an incomplete grade, review information on the Manage Incomplete Students web page.
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