Using Dates to Organize Your Class

It may seem like a small tweak, but adding dates to the items you create in Canvas can make it easier for instructors to manage and organize courses and for students to plan their work. Numerous different Canvas item types can have dates assigned to them, including:

  • Quizzes
  • Assignments
  • Graded discussions
  • Pages
  • Events

How can instructors assign dates?

Quizzes and assignments are probably the most obvious examples of when and how dates are useful. In the case of a quiz, a date and time specifies the period where a student can take and complete the quiz, and for assignments, the date and time specifies the latest time that the assignment can be submitted. Note that if the time isn’t overridden, it will default to 11:59:00 p.m., EST.

Graded Discussions can be used for two purposes. The first is if instructors want to allow students to submit discussion posts/responses for a grade, but a zero-point graded discussion can also be used to push a notification for a discussion post onto a student’s calendar and to-do list.

Applying a date to a Page requires the instructor to select the “Add to student to-do” checkbox at the bottom of the page, which can be useful if you want to help ensure that a student has seen and reviewed a particular page by the date specified.

Instructors can also create Events on a class calendar, which can be useful to show students when something is going to happen, whether a change in course venue or some special happening in the course. Events can be added directly from the calendar and published to any calendar of which the instructor belongs.

What are the benefits of assigning dates?

Greater visibility for students

Every element in Canvas that has a date assigned to it will now show up on all of the students’ calendars, color-coded with the course color. Those same elements will show up on the student to-do list, as well as the student List View, should they enable it. Once completed, dated elements can be checked off by the students, allowing them to more easily track, plan, and organize the work that they have to do in a given day, week, or month. They will also appear automatically on the student’s Syllabus page, if the instructor chooses to enable it in the course navigation.

Students can also add to-dos and events to their own calendars, which are only visible to those individual students.

Flexible organization for instructors

Once Canvas elements have been assigned dates, instructors can see all dated elements on the course calendar, giving a straightforward, simple overview of the entire course’s assignments and graded elements. Instructors can easily drag-and-drop those elements to different days should they see a need, and the attached dates will be automatically updated and propagated to all of the areas where dated content appears.

Happier instructors, happier students

The simple act of adding dates to Canvas elements can make course organization simpler for instructors and can help students organize and plan their work both in a single course and across multiple courses. To learn more, review the official Canvas guide links below: