Use Google Sheets to Adjust Due Dates in Canvas
by Aaron Bannasch
Canvas provides many ways to change due dates of assignments. When copying a course from one quarter to the next you can use the Shift Dates feature during a Course Import. If you keep the same due date pattern each quarter, then simply setting a new start and end date for the duration of the course will distribute the dates evenly. Canvas even gives you the option to change the day of the week, so if in Fall quarter discussions were due on Tuesdays but in Spring you want them due on Fridays you can substitute a new day of the week for dates that occurred on a different day before. This can be useful when your schedule changes, or when the start of a quarter happens on a different day of the week. When breaks and holidays occur at different times in different quarters, it’s sometimes necessary to skip entire weeks. To quickly move dates around in Canvas you can use the Course Calendar view to drag items from one week to another.
Still, there are times where these tools aren’t the most efficient way to change dates in your Canvas course. When you need more powerful batch editing of dates, you can use a Google Sheet to set dates. It requires extra work to configure the Google Sheet for the first use, but after that it is much quicker than using the Canvas interface.
Detailed instructions for setting up the Google Sheet to adjust dates in your Canvas course are provided on the Canvas Community site by the author of the Google Apps script that makes the Google Sheet work. You’ll need a Google account and a Canvas API access token (Security Disclaimer: DO NOT SHARE ACCESS TOKENS WITH ANYONE, EVER!) to get started. Also, the instructions are based on the author’s own institution, so in the Configure API step of the process you’ll need to enter your own institution’s URL, in the case of Northwestern users that is canvas.northwestern.edu (not northwestern.instructure.com as I discovered after a few trials and errors).
Are there any creative tools or techniques you’ve found useful when setting up your Canvas course site? Share your experiences in the comments!