Canvas Spotlight

Prerequisites, Requirements, and Locking in Canvas Modules

Last updated on May 14, 2024

Guide student progression in your Canvas course

A successful Canvas course typically involves a great deal of content for your students to navigate. Establishing the order in which you wish your students to progress through the course and then defining prerequisites, requirements and timeframes for that progression can help students understand your expectations and stay on track. 

Prerequisites, requirements, and module locking work by blocking student access to specific content until certain conditions have been satisfied. For example, when you lock a module in Canvas, you set a specific 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 as 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 simply publish content as your course progresses, but using these tools can automate this task for you and preempt mistakes in publishing content. In general, this creates a more predictable and reliable learning experience for your students. 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.

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 that 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 students need.
  • For courses where every assignment and quiz must be completed to a certain standard before the student can progress, use requirements to compel the student 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

  1. Go to MSU Denver’s Faculty and Staff Hub.
  2. Click Canvas in the Teaching & Learning section.
  3. Log in to your Canvas Account.
  4. Select the Course you’d like to work in.
  5. Click Modules in the left-hand navigation menu.
  6. Find the Module that you would like to lock or add requirements or prerequisites for. 
  7. Click the More Options (3-Dots) icon to the right of the module name.
  8. Click Edit.

Lock the Module Until a Date and Time

  1. Click the checkbox next to Lock Until to lock the module.
  2. Enter a Date and Time in the text box that appears below once you check the box. 
  3. Click the Calendar icon next to the text box to select the date and time from a calendar.

Set a Prerequisite for the Module

  1. Click + Add Prerequisite to designate a module that must be completed before the current module is available to students.
    • Note: This option will not be available for the first module in a course, as there are no preceding modules to serve as prerequisites.
  2. Click the drop-down menu that says [ Select Module ] to choose another module that must be completed before the selected module is made available.
  3. Click the X to the right of a prerequisite module if you would like to remove it.
  4. Click + Add Prerequisite again if you would like to add another prerequisite module.

Add Requirements for Module Completion

  1. Click + Add Requirement to add a requirement for this module to be considered complete.
  2. Select either Students must complete all of the requirements or Students must complete one of these requirements.
    • Click the checkbox next to Students must complete through requirements in sequential order if you want to prevent students from jumping through the module out of order.
  3. Click the Left-Hand Drop-Down Menu to select a content item to mark as required. This can be a Page, Quiz, Assignment, etc.
  4. Click the Right-Hand Drop-Down Menu to select what a student must do with that content to meet the requirement. The options here will depend on what kind of content item has been chosen:
    • View the Item means the student will need to simply click on the item and open the webpage.
    • Mark as Done (Pages and Assignments only) means the student must also check a box on the page to signify the item is completed.
    • Contribute to the Page (Pages and Discussions only) means the student has posted to the discussion or made an edit on the page.
    • Submit the Assignment (Assignments, Quizzes, and Discussions only) means the student will need to submit work to meet the requirement.
    • Score At Least (Graded Assignments, Quizzes, and Discussions only) means the student will need to receive a minimum score on their work. This also means the student cannot meet the requirement until you grade their work, so this should not be used if work is not going to be graded promptly.