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I have a table with a column where I want to display enrollment date for a course. My problem is when the course is created, the creator can leave the start and end dates empty.

Name               Enrollment period
Course 1           2016-10-10 10:00 - 2016-10-12 10:00
Course 2           2016-10-29 10:00 - 2016-10-31 10:00
Course 3           2016-10-24 10:00 - Not specified

That is how it looks right now for some scenarios. Where I get stuck is how do I display the enrollment period when the start date is empty (meaning basically from the beginning of time)? Is there a more elegant way to display the dates overall? I feel like I need to display year because near year shifts it's important.

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Consider "self-paced," if that's what a date-less course is intended to be. I've seen the term on EdX for courses that don't have fixed start and end dates.

To be more specific, if there is an end date, but no start date: first column can display "available now" and second column shows the end date or deadline.

If there is a start date, but no end date, then the first column can have the start date, and second column can say "self-paced"

If there's neither a start nor end date, then you could merge the two cells and display "self-paced" and it should be clear that students can enroll anytime.

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The most commonly used abbreviations for times not yet known are:

TBD = to be decided/determined

TBA = to be announced

Unfortunately these aren't entirely universal, but reasonably well known.

// side note: since you're using dashes between dates (I don't know if this is representative of your design, so could be way off here), so should maybe use something more "forward to" in nature for the gap between start and end. Something like

Name               Enrolment Period
Course 1           2016-10-10 10:00 --> 2016-10-12 10:00
Course 2           2016-10-29 10:00 --> 2016-10-31 10:00
Course 3           2016-10-24 10:00 --> TBD
  • The date is not really to be announced. It's basically infinity, meaning it doesn't have an end date. It isn't that the time is not know, it's that the time is not set. – Tn Hn Oct 27 '16 at 9:33
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    @tnhn in that case perhaps you should consider the term "Rolling" which is used to define an admissions process in which there is no defined end/start date, and applicants are processed as they come in. – mtv.vac Oct 27 '16 at 14:06
  • "Rolling" makes sense in a lot of scenarios. "Ongoing" is another alternative too. – vphilipnyc Oct 27 '16 at 14:43
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What does it mean to have no start date? You say "from the beginning of time", but that's not quite true, because I cannot enroll anymore yesterday. So to the user, "now" is the correct term if there is no start date, I think.

Similarly, what is the meaning of an unset end date? I presume the course will start sometime, and enrollment is not useful from that date (or at least the course end date) anymore. Are the course dates somewhere on the same screen, i.e., can you refer to them?

Although I'm familiar with TBD a lot, I do not remember seeing TBA before. Don't use acronyms if you think about usability.

I would also care for the special case when neither date is given. Instead of "now - ongoing", put "anytime".

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