Canvas Course Sites: 

Creation and Availability

Course Creation

There are a couple of ways that courses are created in Canvas: automatically and by request. Here is a brief explanation of each:

When a course is assigned a CRN in Banner it gets a Canvas course site prior to the start of the semester. This site is sometimes called a “shell” because the site is empty until you add content. Content is added by importing, uploading, or creating the content within the course site. It’s important that every course taught at SLCC has a Canvas site so that students can access (at a minimum) the course syllabus and current grade book.

By Request
As a faculty member, you can also request additional Canvas sites, called development (DEV) sites. DEV sites contain all of the same features as a Canvas course, but they never contain students and never go live. The DEV sites act like a "play place" where instructors can experiment with features or store course content for an upcoming term. You can build out content in a DEV site and then transfer it to your live Canvas site. We encourage instructors who want to prepare materials in advance to request one.

For instructions for requesting a DEV site, see Development Site Request Form.

Course Availability

Before the Term
New course sites are created for every course long before the semester starts, but an instructor will not have access to their site until they are listed in Banner as the instructor for that course (this timeline can vary by department). Additionally, when course shells for the upcoming semester are finalized by SLCC Canvas Administrators, the soonest you are typically able to access your assigned course is four work weeks before the semester begins (with the exception of the spring semester, where the course sites are available in early December). At that point, you can begin adding content to your Canvas course. Lastly, when students register for the course, they will be auto-enrolled or added as students into the Canvas shell.

During the Term
Just because you see the Canvas course does not mean your students see it. By default, a course site is unpublished (unavailable) until the start of the term and it is up to the instructor to publish it (i.e., make it available). Once a  course is accessible to the instructor, however, the instructor can change a setting in the course to allow students to access it earlier if needed. We will talk more about how to publish a course in a later module. For more information, see: How do I publish a course?

After the Term
After the school term has ended, Canvas course sites are not archived but are available indefinitely. This serves as a stored record of course evidence. By default, each Canvas course has term start and end dates within the course settings. Outside that date range, most functions are limited to “view only.” Some components are not easily accessible after the term end date (grades, group pages, etc.) To help manage and keep course sites from continuing to build up within your course list, especially classes which are taught semester after semester, Canvas removes teachers periodically from courses that are a year old.


Accessing closed courses: Course shells that have been created by request are always accessible to those who requested them and those who have been added manually, regardless of term starting and ending dates.

Extending course dates: As an instructor, you have can adjust the course dates once the course has begun, to allow some flexibility with your schedule (and your students' schedule). Sometimes you may need to extend the course end date to allow a few more submissions at the end of the term. It is important to note that you are only able to do this while the course is still live, as you will not be able to change the course dates once the end date of the course has passed, so any changes must take place before it ends. Please see How do I change the start and end dates for a course? for more information.

Open-entry/open-exit courses (SATTS): The course access criteria stated above apply to the majority of courses facilitated at SLCC, which are primarily semester-based terms. There are exceptions to this, such as with open entry/open exit certificate courses, and courses that remain open throughout the year to accommodate the enrollment structure. Usually, SATTS instructors have access to courses for the whole school year (from July 1 to June 31). Also, students can get access as soon as they enroll in their CBE courses. These exceptions are managed by the appropriate department and program coordinators.