[Modules] Accurate Breadcrumb Trail in Modules

It would be great if the breadcrumb trail would follow your navigation correctly when you are working in modules rather than switching to "page", "discussions", "assignments" or whatever you click on. Would it be possible to add a "modules" breadcrumb?

Community Novice

I agree, it is way too easy to get lost.  Breadcrumbs would be a big improvement for navigating through a module.

Community Explorer

Agreed!  I encourage my students to work from the Modules, but it's easy to get lost.  I would love to see this change.


Community Novice

This is definitely needed!!!    Our students and faculty get confused all the time while using Modules especially.

Community Novice

Not only do our students get confused, but I got confused when I first started using the system! Smiley Happy The current method is cumbersome and less intuitive than it would be with the proposed method, especially since we encourage our students to work via the modules.

Community Novice

Yes - currently to get back to the same page in the modules, I have to go back into the module and re-navigate.  This gets very confusing for students.  Canvas is supposed to be "simple and intuitive" - Module breadcrumbs must be fixed!

Community Champion

 @barbaracoen ​

I agree with your statement entirely.  I have pages and assignments with links to files.

the breadcrumb for one of those pages may be Course > Assignments > Project

When a file is left clicked on the page, the breadcrumb becomes

Course > Files > filename

What it should be is: Course > Assignments > Project > filename

Community Champion

Breadcrumbs are fraught with issues.

What I'm seeing is that you want want path-based breadcrumbs that illustrate the path that you followed to get to that point: I went to module 1 and then assignment 1 so the breadcrumb should read Module 1 >> Assignment 1. What do you do with the next click, which takes them to a page that isn't listed in the modules?

A problem is that path-based breadcrumbs are less functional and less popular than other forms.

What Canvas is using is a location-based breadcrumb. One that indicates where you are in relation to the hierarchy of the website. In other words, it shows what type of content you are viewing. There is an interesting final quote from the UI Patterns Breadcrumbs Design Pattern page: "The term ‘breadcrumb’ is deceptive, as it implies the history of how the user got to that page. A more correct term would describe the current location’s place in the hierarchy of the website."

Those best practices are what Canvas is doing. They are also more widely implemented, which means that more people will have an idea of how to use them.

The "How did I get here?" approach fails quickly. Example. I have lecture notes for every section in the course. They are only accessible from another index page and only the index page appears in the modules. Some of those lecture notes have links to assignments or files. A student clicks on the index page, then goes to section 4.3, which isn't in the modules, clicks on the calculator tips page, which isn't in the modules, and then clicks on the file that downloads a handout on how to use the calculator. What should the breadcrumb say? Now, another student went to the page called course syllabus (not the navigation link on the left side) and went to calculator tips and downloads the file. What should the breadcrumb say?

The notion that breadcrumbs should display structure of the website makes the assumption that there's only one way to get some place. If you have a page that isn't part of a module, then how do you display a breadcrumb? If I go to page A, then page B, then page C, should I show A >> B >> C in the breadcrumb? What if the pages are interlinked and a student bounces A >> B >> C >> A >> C >> B?  Should it restart with the second A and read A >> C >> B or the entire path A >> B >> C >> A >> C >> B?

Path-based breadcrumbs have issues. Let me rephrase that: breadcrumbs in general have issues. Path-based breadcrumbs have more issues and are less useful.

The idea of fixing the breadcrumbs to display modules is thus related to the   feature request. If you have a location-based breadcrumb, students can get to pages through the breadcrumb. If you have path-based breadcrumbs, you have no sense of where you're at in the larger picture and what other things might be around them. Kind of like the Guides in the new community when it first came out.

Community Novice

If I'm understanding correctly, I think what most people are asking for is not a "path-based" breadcrumb, but to have more control over what the breadcrumb displays, to coincide with the control we have of the (perceived) course structure through the Modules tool. (At least, that's what I would like to see.)

E.g., when I am viewing a Discussion or an Assignment that is included in Module 1, the current breadcrumbs looks like this:

[course title] > Discussions > discussion 1

[course title] > Assignments > assignment 1

But what I would like to see is this:

[course title] > Module 1 > discussion 1

[course title] > Module 1 > assignment 1

So, the easy fix seems to be a toggle for turning off breadcrumbs.  But I would also like the ability for them to be driven by the Module hierarchy.

Community Champion

 @James ​

Thanks for a great post.  I liked the link on breadcrumbs.  It did a very good job of explaining the breadcrumb concept.  You made some good points and I really liked "Let me rephrase that: breadcrumbs in general have issues" .  I did not use breadcrumbs in ANGEL, so this is my first real use of breadcrumbs within an LMS.  My earlier explanation was for how I would use breadcrumbs - all my paths are pretty much dead ends with no loop backs and very little branching.  It just made more sense to me to keep from deciding - can I use the breadcrumb or do I need to use the browser back button.

After reading your post, I can see the functional use of the way breadcrumbs are currently implemented.  I can also see the benefits of what  @dlaber ​ posted as well.  It would make sense to me that if I went to a module and selected a file from it that I might want to see the module in the breadcrumb and not Files(or pages or whatever) listed in the breadcrumb.

Maybe we should put in a request for a forked breadcrumb trail:smileylaugh:

Community Champion

 @dlaber ​,

If one course uses modules and another one doesn't (some courses use a front page to link everything from, rather than modules), then your course-structure approach would provide no breadcrumbs at all for the second course. And what if a piece of content were in multiple modules - which one do you put it with? And before you say whichever one they clicked on to get there, what if it was just from the assignments page, which doesn't have the module structure applied to it?

The other issue is that part of good UI/UX design is consistency. What works in one course should work in another course within the same institution. Breadcrumbs are Canvas-wide, even though they're displayed within below the top header and within the course. You can't have Biology 101 using the default breadcrumbs and Biology 102 using the modules approach. If Canvas is going to provide a common user experience, they have to be used consistently throughout an account.

If you can get all of your faculty to buy into using modules and that every single page, assignment, file, or other piece of content must go into a module so it belongs somewhere, then I would fully support module-based as the best use of breadcrumbs since they are correctly being used to organize and display structure.

But any option to disable would need to be at the account level (possibly sub-account), not at the course level. And I'm not saying that disabling them is a good or bad idea, just that it needs to be at a global level.