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New Member

Dont's in Canvas?

An administrator in my K-12 district just asked me a great question -- and I need your help answering it! :smileyplain:

Question: Is there anything that one should NOT do in designing and developing a Canvas course? 

Some Considerations:

  1. The instructor is developing this "in-service learning" course for adults (faculty)
  2. This will be the instructor's first Canvas course (or LMS course of any kind).
  3. The course instructor has (mostly) completed our online instructor training course.
  4. The course will be blended: about 2/3 face-to-face, 1/3 online.
  5. Many of these teachers have no familiarity with Canvas, but others have some. (We've only rolled out Canvas to our 9-12 high school so far).
  6. The instructor hopes to maximize student-to-student online collaboration.


71 Replies

That IS a very good one,  @garciah ​! I'm going to mention it (and you!) in tomorrow's Canvas Live event. Hope you join us!

Community Champion

wow -- now THAT's a panda!

Community Champion

 @jomontuori ​ - Nice session yesterday.

Nope, that's a super Panda!

Thanks so much, cholling​! It was a first for me, so I'm glad you got something out of it.

Amen, cholling​! Many of my colleagues don't even look at this great tool. The lack of consistent naming adds confusion and deters wider usage. 

New Member

I organize my courses by modules and those contain the assignments so I don't give access to the "Assignments" link to students. Otherwise they see the assignments in two places. Students only have access on the left panel to the six links I want them to access.

New Member

Don't load your syllabus as a .docx file, use .pdf  Some students don't have Word. Haven't run into anybody yet who can't open a pdf, and they can't edit the pdf

Community Member

So, I know that this thread has already served its purpose, but there are some things that struck me as I was reading through:

Re: Navigation and hiding links--When working with adults, I leave access to the Assignments, Quizzes, Discussions, etc. I also organize in modules. And I require completion of an orientation module to access any other content in the course. In that orientation, I explain clearly how the course is organized, and that the course navigation will allow one-click access to different kinds of content, while the modules and calendar will provide the structure. Because I can't control how people think, I want to give them flexible ways of navigating the course content. I also want to embrace and subsume any previously-established ways of navigating an LMS that may have developed in other spaces. I make sure to pair this with robust use of the module requirements and prerequisites. So I guess the don't here is Don't assume that there's one best way to do things.

And on the subject of an orientation module: Don't assume that modules are intuitive and Don't assume that the starting point is obvious (aka, Don't hide the Welcome Mat.) Providing a low-stakes orientation that requires students to complete all of the different kinds of tasks that will be asked of them later in the course can go a long way toward building confidence in the use of the LMS. Plus, it irons out the problems before they become real problems.

And to echo Don't get all texty, yes: Canvas makes it easy to include many types of content. Make use of that ease. Provide the instruction in text and in video. Use screenshots. Sing a song and provide the sheet music. All the things.

I actually use both strategies. I provide the document version, linked on the syllabus page at the top, so that students can download and have a copy of the syllabus for offline use--I don't set it to auto-open. Then I copy and paste the full text of the syllabus into the Rich Content Editor. When doing this from Word, use the following options when creating your Word doc:

  • h2, h3, h4
  • Bulleted lists
  • Numbered lists
  • Bold, underline, and italic

That's it. Don't adjust font sizes manually--just use the semantic tagging features in Word. Indent and outdent might also copy in--I'd have to check. Using just these style options in Word will give you a clean copy/paste without stray code in the mix. Tables come in okay, but they usually need a little love to clean them up. Complex tables for layout in Word will likely choke on the copy/paste, and they most likely aren't accessible in Word, anyway.

Once it's all in the RCE, I create a table of contents at the top and add anchor tags for the relevant sections (internal anchors don't work in the iOS app, unfortunately). This is nice, because then I can direct students to the exact relevant section of the syllabus if there are any issues or questions. Having the RCE version also makes the syllabus much more useful in mobile. The auto-open function for documents doesn't work in mobile. So, having an exposed, readable, HTML version is a huge help to mobile users.