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Canvas Spotlight

Using Sandboxes

Last updated on March 17, 2022

When creating or editing a course, having an unpublished location to test out various tools and settings without fear of altering or deleting content in a live course is beneficial. This location is known as a Sandbox as it is a “playground” for content creation. In addition, Sandboxes can also serve as a backup location for your live course. Everything you can do in your course shell, you can do in the Sandbox, making it an ideal location to practice and test the functionality of a variety of tools and settings. Importing content into a Sandbox first also allows you to clean up your course before importing the sandbox into your shell.

Interested to see what certain third party applications will do? Are you wanting to know how the content will look when importing? Are you wanting a backup location for your course content? The Sandboxes are a great playground for experimenting and creating backup information without editing your live course.

Best practices

When should I use this?
  • Sandboxes are best utilized for creating or making edits to a course before importing into your course’s shell. 
  • Sandboxes should also be used when you are experimenting with various tools and third party applications, without impacting your live course.
  • Incomplete grades? 
How do I get Sandbox shells?
When should I not use this?
  • Certain items such as groups, wikis, blogs, and journals will not get pulled over during importing. These items should be added to your live course instead of the Sandbox to avoid re-entering the content. For more information on importing content, please refer to our Course Copy Guide and Post Copy Guide.

There is a lot of nuance associated with sharing materials in Canvas courses, so we invite you to take a deeper dive by reviewing the following presentation.

Let’s walk through it together

Where can I find my Sandbox?

All MSU Denver instructors are automatically enrolled in five Sandbox courses. You can find these Sandboxes located on your Dashboard in the Global Navigation Menu. Let’s go ahead and walk through the steps if your Sandboxes are not listed on your Canvas Dashboard:

  1. Click Courses in the global navigation menu on the left side of the screen.
  2. Select All Courses.
  3. Locate your Sandbox Courses. They are called “Sandbox Course [#] – [Your Name].”

What Can I Do with a Sandbox and Who Has Access?

A Sandbox has all of the capabilities of a regular course shell; it just doesn’t have any students enrolled in it. Sandboxes can be used for creating course content such as modules, pages, assignments, discussions, and quizzes. A Sandbox is a great place to experiment with different settings, such as notification settings and module prerequisites and requirements, as well as advanced features, such as third-party app integrations. Want to add another instructor into your Sandbox to review any information or settings? The course must first be published. Lets go ahead and walk through the steps to allow access to your Sandbox for other instructors:

  1. Locate the Sandbox you wish to allow access to. 
    • Follow previous step if you can not locate your Sandbox
  2. Select Home from the navigation panel on the left.
  3. Navigate to the right side of the Home page. Under Course Status, you will see if the course is currently published or unpublished.
    • Course already published? Skip to step 5.
  4. Select the “Publish” button to the right of the “Unpublished box”. This will change your selection from “Unpublished” to “Publish” and then turn green.
  5. Your Sandbox can now add instructors.

Can I Move Content to my Sandbox or from My Sandbox to My Published Course?

Yes! Many instructors choose to build their course in a Sandbox then copy the content into their published course shell when it is ready. One benefit of this method is that the Sandbox can then serve as a backup course with copies of all content. Also, if you are importing content from another platform (such as Blackboard or D2L) into Canvas, we highly recommend that you import the content into a Sandbox to edit and clean it up before moving it into your published course. This import process can be used again to get the sandbox into your course. Let’s go ahead and walk through these steps to import your content to a Sandbox and from your Sandbox into your course:

  1. Click Settings on the Navigation menu to the left.
  2. Click Import Course Content from the menu to the right.
  3. Click the Content Type Drop-Down List.
  4. Select Copy a Canvas Course.
  5. Select the course from the drop down menu or type the Name of Your Existing Course into the search bar.
  6. Select the Name of the Course you want to copy.
  7. Click the button next to Select Specific Content.
    • Note: This step is important to avoid creating duplicate Blueprint modules or accidentally bringing over outdated content from an older version of Blueprint. Do not choose All Content as this will negatively affect the settings in your new course.
  8. Select Import 
  9. Click Select Content next to the Course Copy under Current Jobs.

For more information on copying content into your course, please refer to our Course Copy Guide and Post Copy Guide.