Master Courses

A Canvas master course is a special course an instructor can use to create a course template, complete with content. A master course includes all Canvas course features. Once all content has been added to the master course, it can be shared with other instructors or imported into another Canvas course.

Benefits of a Master Course

  • You have a space where you can place all course content one time for others to access repeatedly.
  • You can specify who can access a master course, from all people with editor rights in any course throughout the University down to the editor in a specific section of a specific course.
  • Individuals with access to a master course can copy the entire course into their empty course.
  • Using a master course is a great way to help achieve course consistency if the same course is taught by multiple instructors.

Considerations When Using a Master Course

  • Potentially, people who should not have access to a master course might gain access. Although you may have set your master course to be available to other faculty within your own college or department, those faculty may grant course editor rights to individuals unknown to you. An editor has the same access to the course as the faculty member. These individuals may be undergraduate students taking the course, teaching assistants, staff, colleagues from other universities, or anyone granted full access to the faculty member's course. Once such individuals have full access to a course that has access to your master course, they will also have access to your master course. While this is a convenience in most cases, it is possible for individuals to view sensitive course information in your master course without your knowledge or consent.
    If you have any questions or concerns about the security of sensitive material that you wish to make available in Canvas, you can submit your question to canvas@psu.edu and Canvas staff will assist you.
  • If others rely on your master course, it is your responsibility to update and maintain it.
  • Be sure to warn anyone accessing your master course to only import a master course into an empty course. Although it is difficult to do so, you can potentially wipe out existing content in a course if you click several wrong buttons in a row.

Request a Master Course

To request a master course:

  1. On the Canvas Dashboard, click the Request a Canvas Course button.
  2. Select the I want to request a MASTER COURSE in Canvas radio button.

You will then be directed to a request form within the ServiceNow portal. This request will then be submitted to the IT Service Desk staff, who are available 24/7, to process and finalize the creation of the course space.

Add Content to a Master Course

Once your master course is created, it will appear on your All Courses page like a course. In fact, it is a course—just a specialized one. To add content to the master course, select its name to enter it and add content just as in a course.

Import Content from a Master Course into Another Course Space

Caution: You should only import a master course into an empty course. Although it is difficult to do so, you can potentially wipe out existing content in a course if you click several wrong buttons in a row.

To import content from a master course to which you have been granted access:

  1. On the All Courses page, select the name of the course into which you are importing the master course content.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Select the Import Content into this Course link on the right.
  4. On the Import Content page, from the pull-down menu, select Copy a Canvas Course.
  5. From the Search for a Course pull-down menu, select the master course from which you would like to copy the content.
  6. Select All Content to import the entire course, or Select Specified Content to import only parts of the master course into your course.
  7. Click the Import button.

Note: If the course has due dates associated with content and assessment items, these dates can be adjusted before content import. Select the Adjust Events and Due Dates check box to shift the due dates for all items associated with a due date.

Master Course Archiving Policy

A master course will be archived one year after the last time an editor has entered it. Approximately one month before an inactive master course is to be archived, the editors of the master course will receive an email notification reminding them to access it if they wish to keep it active. Archived master courses will be kept in long-term storage for another two years before being permanently deleted.

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