During the Semester

Using Canvas Sections to assign different due dates

Are you teaching a course where part of your students will be meeting with you in-person or on Zoom one day of the week and another part of your students are meeting with you on a different day? For example, half the class comes on Tuesday and the other half on Thursday. If so, you may want to give each group a different due date for assignments (i.e. the Monday group’s assignments are due on Monday and the Wednesday group’s assignments are due on Wednesday).

This strategy is also helpful when you have a group of students that have different or additional assignments, such as honors students. If you have a mix of graduate and undergraduate students in a course, you likely already have multiple Sections as the grad students would have registered for a ≥500-level course while the undergrads would have registered for a ≤400-level course. If you already have multiple Sections, see Instructions for adding different due dates to different sections below.

The easiest way to do this is to create additional ad hoc Sections within your Canvas course. Creating Sections allows you to

  • split your students into two (or more) groups (i.e. a Monday group and a Wednesday group)
  • easily assign different due dates for assignments based on the section
  • allow all students in each section to submit the assignment (not like groups where only one person per group can submit for the group)

Instructions for creating Sections

You can add additional Sections in your course settings by clicking on the “Sections” tab at the top. It will show your existing Section and then a space below to add a new Section. Type in the name of your new section and click the “+Section” button. Repeat to add additional Sections as needed.

Instructions for adding students to Sections

Once you have Sections, you’ll need to add your students to them.  You can add them individually if there are criteria you would like to use to divide students or, if you want to split them in half alphabetically, you can add them in bulk.

Adding students individually

  1. Go to the People tool
  2. Click the three vertical dots to the right of each student’s name
  3. Click “Edit Sections”
  4. In the pop-up window, click “browse”
  5. Choose the section that each student should be in
  6. Click “Update”

Adding students in bulk

This will allow you to divide students alphabetically into sections. To follow the example above where you would be separating students into a Monday Section and a Wednesday Section, you would have created 2 new sections (Tuesday and Thursday) which now show up along with the main section for the course.

  1. Go to the people tool.
  2. Click the Photo Roster button at the top right of the page.
  3. Let the photo roster page fully load.
  4. Once the page has loaded you will find a download button next to the title IU Photo Roster between the print button and the “open in new window” button.
  5. Click the download button to get a .csv file with your students’ IU user IDs.
  6. Open the .csv file in Excel, Google Sheets, or any other spreadsheet program. Your students will be listed in alphabetical order.
  7. Copy the user IDs of the first half of your students.
  8. Go to the Canvas people tool and click the “+People” button at the top right.
  9. Click the radio button to choose User IDs instead of email addresses.
  10. Paste in the user IDs that you copied.
  11. Click the drop-down arrow next to “Section” and select the section you would like to add these students to.
  12. Click “Next.”
  13. Confirm the names of the students and click “Add Users.”
  14. Repeat from step 7 to add the remaining half of your students to your other section.

However you added students to their sections, each student should now show up in the People tool with two sections next to their name, the main class section and the additional section for their meeting day.

Once your students are in their sections, you can assign different due dates to each assignment by section. Students will only see the due date for their section. Your gradebook will only show assignments as late if they are submitted after that section’s due date.

Instructions for adding different due dates to different sections

To assign different due dates

  1. Go to the assignment and click “Edit”
  2. Scroll down to the due dates section at the bottom
  3. Click the “X” next to the word “everyone.” A drop-down list will appear with a list of options. You should see at least your first new section towards the top of the list
  4. Click on the name of your section and enter the due date for that section.
  5. Click the “+Add” button directly below the “available” dates.
  6. Click in the “Assign to” box. If you do not see the name of your other section, start typing the name and it will appear.
  7. Type in the due date for that section.

The Assign section of your assignment should now have two parts, one for each section, with two different due dates.

You can now click Save or Save and Publish as appropriate.

You will see a “Warning” message pop up saying that you have not assigned this assignment to all the sections. As you do not want to assign the assignments to the main class section that includes everyone, click “Continue” to finish.

For more, see the Canvas Guides on this topic: “How do I add a section to a course as an instructor” and “How do I assign an assignment to a course section?”



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

A Canvas Semester Checklist Copyright © by Trustees of Indiana University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.