In order for students to view your course in Canvas, you will need to Publish your course. When your course is published, students will be able to see the course in their Dashboard. If you plan to make your course available to students prior to the two-week period before the semester starts, then you will need to edit the Course Settings to allow students to see the course before the start of the semester/term. Canvas Guide: How do I publish a course?
What are semester Terms and how do those dates affect my course when it is published?
Each course is identified by a Term based on the semester terms. For example, 2017 Spring, 2017 Fall, 2017, LAS Summer 1, LAS Summer 2, etc. The dates for each term are based on the University’s academic calendar. For example, spring 2017 classes begin Jan. 17, 2017. So the start of the 2017 Spring term is Jan. 17, 2017.
How does the semester Term affect my published course?
If your course is in the 2017 Spring term and you Publish your course, then students can see the published course starting two weeks before Jan. 17, 2017.
If you would like students to access your course more than two weeks before the start of the semester/term, then you will need to edit the Course settings. If you publish your course on or after the start of the semester, then no additional steps are needed.
How do I edit the Course settings so that students can see my course when it is published before the Term starts?
In your Canvas course, select Settings from the course menu. In the Settings tab, edit the Start and End date as desired. Then check the box Users can only participate in the course between these dates. Next, scroll down the Course settings page and un-check the box Restrict students from viewing course before start date.
Be sure select Update Course Details to apply your settings. Be sure to Publish your course.