I've been trying to come up with a course template that's easy to use, helps teachers to structure their content, and supports different kinds of learning.
I would really appreciate your feedback.
This is what I came up with:
I've rearranged the navigation menu (on the left).
On the home page I've tried to focus on learning. There are 4 components. The header table, assignments, modules and course content.
The header table contains information about the course. It's just a table with one column and two rows. The top row contains the course title (header 2). The background color is lavender, but it could be any web color. I just use the name of the color in the advanced cell properties. The bottom row contains links to pages with important information about the course.
Underneath the header table I place assignments, modules and course content (header 3). The order is similar to order of the links in the navigation menu.
Assignments only contains the main assignments. It doesn't contain the small sub assignments that are part of another assignment or a module. Assignments can be used for active learning. I did create a template for assignments:
Once the student submits a first revision of the assignment there will be a chatbox with comments on the right that can be used to support the student. Both the student and the teacher can add comments. The student can also re-submit (feedback loop).
Modules can be used for passive learning. The student can start a module and will be exposed to new material in a structured and meaningful way.
The course content can be used for micro-learning. It's like an encyclopedia with information. There can be different topics. I used a table with three columns and two rows. The first row contains the topics (header 4). The second row contains lists with pages that can be accessed with one click. Every page does focus on one thing.
The student can quickly look something up, or pick a topic and do some micro-learning. A page could contain text, images, video,... The pages can be studied when the student is travelling, waiting at the checkout,...
Hi Tobe Baeyens,
I typically do not like to be first to comment on anything, but I'd like to give you some feedback and ask some questions.
I like the FAQ link on the homepage, does this lead to a page with pre-populated tips or does it lead to a discussion where students can ask their questions? In the past, I've done FAQ pages with tips in advance since there were things from the syllabus or the structure of course that would need to be explained in more depth.
I like the idea of putting the Outcomes high on the Course Navigation, I had never considered that before I think mostly because there's been reluctance to use the Outcomes feature with the faculty here. What does the student see when they click on Outcomes? This is whole new territory for me.
I like the idea of micro-learning, but I usually think of modules (lessons) as doing that since they have the built in navigation to go from next screen to next screen. Were you envisioning students navigating to distinct pages and then back out to the homepage, almost like a glossary?
What level of student are you designing for? and how much are faculty expected to be able to make modifications? And finally, have you marked the tables as used for layout so that screen readers do not have problems? Are your tables responsive? You mentioned students consuming content on-the-go, so I am making a leap in thinking the tables resize for the mobile screen.
Thank-you for taking the leap and sharing your course template design ideas with us,
Cheers - Shar
Thank you for your feedback.
This is how it looks like on my mobile phone.
portrait (my phone has a 17:9 ratio):
I think what you did is excellent and thoughtful but necessarily incomplete.
I love the use of tables to show a different organization of the material. I think that's a very clever way to get more information on the page and to get away from lists and scrolling. Better than tabs, even.
The main challenge in what you're doing is: there are several ways instructors like to organize their courses conceptually (big ideas first, foundations then details, historically, etc.), and several ways to organize a site: content types vs. activities, for instance (e.g, Files vs. Discussions).
Thus I tend to think a single template will be less effective than several different templates showing several different organizations.
Even showing the same content as skills vs. principles vs. historically. (This can be done for cooking, with a little research: consider the difference between a course on how to paint vs. the history of painting vs. purely aesthetics vs. socio-political issues in art.)
A second challenge is rhetorical: cooking is a skill, and in higher education, there is a cultural resistance to the idea of teaching skills--as if it's somehow inferior to teaching ideas or concepts. (Of course, you'll never understand anyone's ideas or concepts unless they are built or communicated with some set of skills, but that doesn't occur to many people.)
A third challenge is: how do instructors know what they are looking at? You might consider an annotated version in which, e.g., "Modules" says next to it "[These organize pages, quizzes, discussions, etc. into a clear sequence]" (or the like).
You might be able to create multiple templates in Canvas by creating Groups and giving each Group its own tools, so each Group becomes a mini-exemplar of a different organizational strategy. You may have to log in as several different students using a few emails, or collaborate with some peers. I've never tried using Test Student to create a Group, but that might be an option.
In short, you have created an excellent and terse model for one approach. And your choices are thoughtful and reasonable.
But dictating that one approach may be problematic, and offering choices may be more appealing for your intended audience.
Put in learning terms: if you want the learners to build a mental model of what Canvas can do for them, seeing multiple uses of the same tools may help your learners (instructors) to build a clearer mental model of what Canvas is--which is hard for newcomers to grasp.
I look forward to seeing your continued work on this!
I have also tried to make a flexible template for staff but have taken a very different approach - graphical menu system rather than tables with links - but like yours it works on desktops, tablets and phones as well For details follow link below:
I cannot get the flexboxes to work now that the StyleGuide has been deprecated. In fact, I'm having a hard time doing a lot of things now that its gone. I know that it was never meant for designers but does anyone know of a replacement or what to do for things like tabs, accordion, buttons etc. now that a lot of that code no longer will work? I heard they're using React now but I don't know how to access that. I had just mastered a lot of the content in the StyleGuide when they shut it down. Frustrating.
What is happening to me now is that I type the code into the RCE (on the HTML side) and when I click Save, the HTML disappears. I am going to try again today. I'm hoping maybe it was just a browser issue or something. But for the life of me, I could not get flexboxes to load yesterday.
I have also found that Canvas deletes (or simply doesn't save) html code it 'doesn't like.'