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Prerequisites, requirements and locking in Canvas modules

Watch a quick video on how to guide student progression in your course.

By Tanner Wilde, Todd Wolfe and Alex McDaniel

November 30, 2021

Center for Teaching, Learning and Design logo with Roadrunner logoA successful Canvas course typically involves a great deal of content for your students to navigate. To make life easier for everyone, you can arrange the way your students progress through the course. Defining prerequisites, requirements and time frames for that progression can help students understand your expectations and stay on track.

Prerequisites, requirements and module-locking work by providing access to content only when specific conditions have been met. For example, when you lock a module in Canvas, you set a date and time when the content will become available for your students. Modules with prerequisites require that previous modules be completed before students can access the new content. Requirements specify which items a student needs to complete for the entire module to be considered complete; you can also use requirements to compel students to go through the module sequentially.

You can use any of these systems in any combination to define the order for students to access content in your course. For instance, you can lock a module until a certain date and also require that students complete the preceding module.

You can always choose to manually publish content as your course progresses, but using these tools can automate this task for you and preempt mistakes in publishing content. Automation will ensure that you do not accidentally forget to publish a module and delay progress for your students. Setting prerequisites and requirements will guarantee that your students complete fundamental course and module objectives before advancing through the course. In general, this creates a more predictable and reliable learning experience for your students and makes your life easier as well.

Best practices

  • For courses that are built around a schedule, such as a new module every week, publish the module and then lock it until the scheduled time. Students will know exactly when the next module will be available, and there won’t be a chance for you to forget to publish content that students need.
  • For courses where every assignment and quiz must be completed to a certain standard before the student can progress, use requirements to allow students to demonstrate mastery over simpler content before moving on to more difficult or complex material.
  • Use prerequisite modules to ensure that students don’t move on to later course content without understanding the necessary foundational knowledge. Make sure any modules serving as prerequisites also have requirements set to designate when the module is complete and the student can move on.

Let’s walk through it together

For complete written step-by-step instructions, visit the Center for Teaching, Learning and Design Ready Spotlight tutorial page.

Have questions?

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Topics: Best practices, Center for Teaching, Learning and Design, Student Success, Technology

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