The automatic Canvas course site creation process began in Summer 2020 – a time when Canvas usage increased because of the transition to online learning. The configuration of the course sites changed slightly each term as course delivery modes were modified and the Registrar’s Office clarified FERPA policies with respect to Canvas course usage. This post hopes to answer many of the questions instructors pose each term about the current implementation of automatic site creation.

Course Creation

Canvas course sites are created each term when made available by the Registrar’s Office. Although there is no fixed schedule, two years of course creation provides a pattern.







late July/early August

early/mid November

early/mid December

late April/early May

A Canvas course site is created for each scheduled section offering. If your course has one lecture section, one discussion section, and one lab section, you will have three Canvas course sites. How you use those sites is up to you. If you choose not to use all sites, leave unused sites unpublished. Students will not see unpublished sites on the Canvas Dashboard. If you have many unused sites and want to declutter your Dashboard, you may wish to customize your Dashboard using favorites. Unused sites cannot be deleted but will be eventually removed through the Course Data Retention Process.

Course Combinations

Some course sites have multiple sections because these sections have already been approved by the Registrar’s Office for combination. In general, the sections respect FERPA guidelines because they have the same physical meeting pattern. Multiple-section Canvas sites have a parent site, the site that holds all the course content and submitted student work. You and your students will only see the parent site on your Dashboard, and it is important to update the course name and code to reflect multiple sections to avoid student enrollment confusion. For example, a student enrolled in a cross-listed course offering such as PHIL/WOMS210 will see, just like the instructor, the WOMS210 parent site on the Dashboard and may interpret it as a mistake in enrollment. You can rename your course to best suit your needs, but a simple change in the course name and code to PHIL/WOMS210 is sufficient.

If you are unsure if your site has multiple sections, check the list next to your name in the People tool or check the list under the Sections tab in Settings. For more information, please review the Canvas@UD blog post, How to Confirm your Canvas Courses.

If you have multiple sites for a course offering such as a lecture and several associated discussions, these sites cannot all be combined together. Due to potential visibility issues in course sites that have combination exceptions, it is policy not to combine sites across component. Lecture section sites can only be combined with other lecture section sites, discussion section sites can only be combined with other discussion section sites, etc. If you wish to differentiate assignments or other materials based on section, you can request the associated discussion sections be combined and use that combined site instead of your lecture site. The student enrollment in the lecture site and the combined discussions site will be the same. If you have elected UD Capture on your lecture section, you can either publish videos manually to the combined discussions site or note the automatic publishing of the lecture recording to the combined discussions site in your combination request.

Course Combination Requests

If you expected a multiple-course site but received separate sites or if you wish to combine sites that were not already approved by the Registrar’s Office for combination, please submit the course combination request form. The form link is always available under the Forms menubar option on the Canvas gateway page. If your request requires combination exception permission based on FERPA guidelines, you will be contacted by the Registrar’s Office with more information about the steps you must take in your Canvas site to ensure student privacy to be considered for approval. These steps must be completed in your site before publishing, and visibility changes must be maintained through drop/add and any other enrollment changes.

If you have been granted a combination exception and use UD Capture for each section in the resulting combined course, please review the UD Capture FAQ, FERPA and Sharing Course Recordings for guidelines to consider.

When the volume of requests is high, it may take a few days to complete your request. While awaiting, you can add content to the requested parent site of the combination. Adding the enrollment from other sections will not affect content. However, do not publish any of the sites to prevent submission of student work. Student work and grades cannot be moved to another Canvas site.

If you have other questions about your Canvas course sites or the course creation process, IT-Academic Technology Services staff is always available at the IT-ATS Welcome Bar. Or you can send your questions to