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hmrozarb
Community Contributor

Can the student to-do list be disabled?

I would like to know if it is possible to hid the to do list from the student view.  We are having an issue with some students clicking on the assignments from the to do list instead of following the order of the modules.  It would be less confusing for our middle school students to see less on the homepage of their course.  Thank you!

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37 Replies
kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @hmrozarb , this isn't an option on the front end of Canvas. It might be possible on the backend with some custom global JavaScript, but that area isn't my expertise. To help with this I'm going to share this with the https://community.canvaslms.com/groups/canvas-developers?sr=search&searchId=5af56aac-cade-4913-9816-...‌ group in the Community to see if they can assist. 

bruni
Community Contributor

Many, many thanks, Kona! Let them know that many of us don't appreciate being force fed how to manage our website and our students. When a new feature is available, Canvas has to automatically include an off button for that feature. The "To do" list is a nuisance for many teachers. Make it go away now, please.

don_bryn
Community Champion

I am with you,  @hmrozarb , I have to repeat SO many times each semester to look at the home page instead of the To-Do list because I have many things in the course that the students need to see or read that they skip over because they just keep looking at the due dates in the To-Do.  This would be a great feature.

 @don_bryn  

Ditto! Like you, I repeat that refrain too many times during the term, and students still don't recognize the connection between living from the To-Do list and their poor course performance.

From a fully online teacher perspective, I would hunt down the To-Do list, rip its heart out and leave it laying in a gutter if I could!  Alternately, I would love a bit of code that would hide it based on role.

Agreed!

 rip its heart out and leave it laying in a gutter if I could!  So many of my students write to me and say "I can't open assignments" and I realize it is all because of the "To Do" List.  They can access my assignments although I do not let them see the Assignment Navigation Link.  Ugh.  I hide assignments on purpose, and so many students get confused by clicking on the To Do List and finding that an assignment is there-then they get shocked when they see nothing in the assignment.

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dombroskim
Community Participant

Exactly!  The students go straight to the assignment without going through the lesson (a page on Canvas) first.

Robbie_Grant
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @hmrozarb ,

Were you able to find an answer to your question? I am going to go ahead and mark this question as answered because there hasn't been any more activity in a while so I assume that you have the information that you need. If you still have a question about this or if you have information that you would like to share with the community, by all means, please do come back and leave a comment.  Also, if this question has been answered by one of the previous replies, please feel free to mark that answer as correct.

Robbie

No, I do not consider this question answered.  It has been a year.  Can the to do list now be disabled?  

davidh1
Community Participant

If a question has not been answered, marking it answered makes no sense. Disabling the to-do list so we don't have to perform all the workarounds people have to do (see below) would be much appreciated. And giving us that option would be a good answer.

 @davidh1 , use of the "Assumed Answered" status for questions in this forum is explained in https://community.canvaslms.com/groups/community/blog/2019/10/08/how-we-keep-your-questions-flowing 

 @david_hurst1 ,

I completely understand the frustration of the to-do list issue (I have a number of faculty at my institution that would like to be able to turn it off) but marking an item as "Assumed Answered" does not mean that there is actually a specific answer.  See this posting for a deeper explanation https://community.canvaslms.com/groups/community/blog/2019/10/08/how-we-keep-your-questions-flowing 


Robbie

David, I found this open for voting if you would like to go vote the idea up. https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/15601-disable-the-to-do-list 

This is still a problem as of August 2021.

COME ON CANVAS this has been a problem in this forum since 2017, it is now 2021. CANVAS is being used more and more because of the current COVID situation. Parents are being asked to facilitate courses, students are expected to be responsible for their own learning and the "TO DO" list looks like a short cut when it actually makes the course more difficult for them both!  Give us a way to disable this feature in our courses! The temptation of the "TO DO" list is too great! 

Sadly, it's now 2022, and this problem remains unaddressed. 

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andrew_sheppard
Community Participant

The "To Do" list is problematic for many reasons. We need to have the ability to hide the "To Do" list. The "To Do" list is the digital equivalent of a staff member standing in a classroom door telling the students to not enter the classroom and go do their homework. We have tried countless ways to direct students to ignore the "To Do" list, but students are understandably attracted to it. The "To Do" list feature is well-intended, but does not serve students well. 

profcrane
New Member

The To Do list has been a nightmare for my students. I have two different deadlines for submissions on discussion boards (one for the student's response to my prompt and one a couple of days later for their responses to classmates' postings), but the To Do list only shows the latter of the two. Similarly, I have a full credit deadline on exams and a 75% deadline a couple of days later, but the To Do list only shows the latter of the two. I would love to be able to disable the To Do list as it has caused so much confusion!!!

James
Community Champion

 @profcrane  

Sounds like you could benefit by leveraging the To Do list, rather than disabling it. A lot of people struggle with this and I've experimented with different things and finally came up with what I feel is the best solution.

Make your due date for the discussion the day the initial post should be done. This will disappear from the To Do list as soon as the students make their initial post. By making the due date the day the discussion ends, then students don't get the first date (unless they pay attention to other things you say/write) and once they complete their initial discussion, the item is gone from the To Do list and there's nothing else to remind them to go back in.

After changing the due date to the date the initial post is due, then go into the Assignments page and create an assignment for the second due date. For the description, make a note that they need to do the follow-up responses to the discussion and provide a link to the discussion. Change the "Display grade as" to "Not Graded". This will keep it from appearing in the gradebook or having a grade, but it does place it on the calendar and on the To Do list. The only way for the student to get rid of it is to X it out as having been completed. The item will show up in the To Do list with the prefix of "Complete" so I change the title to match that. "Complete Discussion 2 Response" would be called "Discussion 2 Response" as the assignment title.

I would also set the Available Until date to be the last date you want students to post, the one used in the non-graded assignment. This way, students cannot post past the time when the discussion closes.

Switching things around does not work. Putting the due date as the end date removes it from the To Do list as soon as people post, so having a non-graded reminder of the initial due date doesn't disappear when they post, so they're like "What happened? I posted that?" and the second reminder (the due date one) disappears at the same time.

I tried adding events to the calendar rather than non-graded assignments. Those show up on the calendar but not in the To Do list. My students who used the calendar were fine, but those relying on the To Do list didn't get the message and struggled. Make it a non-graded assignment so the To Do list users get the message.

On a non-related issue, I set the students to not be able to see other posts before they do their own and then disable the ability for them to edit their posts. That keeps people from putting in gibberish to see what others have done, then editing it to look like it was their original first post.

That is the best technical solution I've found. Getting students to be more responsible or work ahead of time is something that it doesn't fix. Trying to trick the students or setting due dates before the real due date doesn't work well -- mine just figured out how to figure out when it was really due and then waited until then to attempt it. Instead of making them fight Canvas, help Canvas work for them.

You can do the same thing with your other issue, but then it would show up to everyone, including those who have already done the exam. If the exam is in Canvas, then a better way would be to go into the Gradebook for that assignment and choose "message students who" and send those who haven't completed it a reminder. That way it keeps it out of those way of those good students who did it on time. You could use a differentiated assignment (too much work) to assign to just those who didn't turn it in. Or in the instructions for the second assignment, just make a note that they should ignore this reminder if they have already completed the exam.

This is a great way to design discussion board posts and responses. It's not exactly the subject at hand here (disabling the To-Do list), but I'm always happy to stumble upon useful tips and tricks. Thank you for that! 

andrew_sheppard
Community Participant

James, I appreciate your efforts to find a practical solution. But, the workaround you outline is very difficult for novice Canvas users to follow. (And adjunct faculty turnover is a wide-spread problem across colleges and universities.) That's the basic problem with the "To Do List." - it creates an unnecessary barrier to student learning. It creates visual clutter and can overwhelm students, among other drawbacks noted here. It's even more problematic for hybrid/blended courses wherein some activities take place in the classroom and some activities take place online.  

colsen
New Member

I, too, would like to be able to disable this function!  

aaron_bahmer
Community Contributor

 @James ‌ - I appreciate your guidance on how to deal with the multiple dates for discussion responses, those were very useful.

However, we still need a way to manage what is available from our courses on the to-do list. Any ideas posted for this? I'm not sure what it would look like, though. From the student POV, I see the importance of having such a list. I see the convenience of having items in the list link directly to the item; assignments, discussion, etc. Perhaps some logic that determines if the item lives within a module and then have the link take students to the module instead of the item? Any other brainstorms?

James
Community Champion

 @aaron_bahmer ,

I'm sure other people will have suggestions, but my current method is to put the instructions on a separate page than in the assignment itself. If a student goes to the assignment page because they've clicked on a To Do list item, it doesn't provide them with any guidance about what to turn in. It normally has exactly one sentence that says "Read the Instructions to assignment name before submitting this assignment." The "Instructions to assignment name" is a link to the instruction page. The instruction page has a link at the top that takes them back to the assignment as well as all of the information they need to complete the assignment.

I also did that with quizzes where I used to have all the resources listed at the top of the quiz, but found that student's weren't reading them. Now I have a page called "Study Guide for Quiz 1.6 Categorical Data" to go along with "Quiz 1.6 Categorical Data". The study guide has a more organized format than what I had in the quiz and it also has links to videos and other things they should watch. When a student misses a question because they didn't give the right number of decimal places, I asked them if they read and took notes on the study guide before taking the quiz. Of course, I knew the answer ahead of time, because it would have told them on the study guide how the answers were supposed to be entered.

I didn't start this process with an intent to force students to jump through hurdles. It came about for a couple of reasons. One was an issue Canvas was having with really slow assignment load times if you used equations in your assignment instructions. It was acerbated by discussions because it would load it once for the assignment and once for the discussion. Doing this allowed me to put lengthier instructions without incurring the slow load penalty for them being in the discussion or the assignment description. The other reason was that I was finding a bunch of students who were skipping the instructions completely on quizzes or complaining that there was too much information in the assignment. Maybe it's a mental thing, but when it's a "page" rather than an "assignment", they seemed to be more willing to read it. In my mind, a submission is what you do after you've prepared the submission -- the last step. It should not be something that students just jump into and complete on the fly. For discussions, they're supposed to do things ahead of time and are actually hindered if they start their discussion before they upload their image to Canvas.

There are some cases where there may be better solutions, this is just where I'm at right now. Like I said, it really wasn't an issue of trying to force them to go into modules. However, if they use the To Do list and bypass the modules, I wanted an easy way for them to get to the information and then make it worthwhile for them to go there.

aaron_bahmer
Community Contributor

 @James ‌,

Building a separate instruction page was my reply back to the concerned faculty member the other day. Those are great additions, adding the direct link to a) the instruction page from the assignment; and, b) to the assignment item from the instructions.

...another thought. Logic currently exists to restrict access to an item based on its inclusion within a module that has restrictions. Assuming an item lives within a module, I think that IF clicking the item from the student to-do list (or calendar?) took them to the Modules view with the parent module in focus were possible, it might be a suitable solution.

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smurphy12
Community Member

According to my app I have 1427 things on my to do list... I am a TA in many classes, not a student. I would love to do a mass delete of all 1427 ( no I am not kidding) and then disable this item within my account, as I do not need to see it. 

Please PLEASE make this an option. 

lwalker5
New Member

I agree -- please allow ability to remove to do list!  Students use it and then don't read any of the pages created related to how to respond to the assignment.  Ugh Smiley Sad

bruni
Community Contributor

Has this ever been answered?

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No, this question has not been answered.

Lori

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snelso01
Community Member

Thanks for reminding Canvas to take a look at this To Do List more closely.  I work with 6th graders, and these poor kids and families are getting completely overwhelmed by the To Do List.  They originally think it will be the best way to see assignments and then start clicking into assignments out of order from the Modules.  They also begin to get access to assignments that aren't released for viewing yet, and they start emailing me asking why they can't see the assignment.  If I could turn off the To Do List for my 6th graders, I could decrease clutter on their pages and slowly teach them how to work through modules and assignments, etc.  

Kevatron3000
New Member

Teachers NEED to be able to disable this confusing tool. My middle school students click on the links, which take them to some strange page with only a submit button instead of taking them to the actual assignment page. I don't even understand the point.

vancej
Community Participant

I am curious if you considered playing with the Module Prerequisite and/or Assignment availability dates? It is a constellation prize, but a prize none the less.

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andrew_sheppard
Community Participant

That's a decent "workaround" for people that have both time and knowledge. Unfortunately, most educational institutions have turnover and thus new educators are trying to learn Canvas as they are actively teaching.  As others note, it would best to have the option to hide the "To Do" list for the multitude of reasons my colleagues outline here. 

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Shann823
New Member

Has this been answered yet??  I WANT to disable to-do list for students!!! PLEASE

nwiggins
Community Member

YES! This is STILL a problem! Come on CANVAS, this problem was brought up in 2017. With students taking classes from home now, more than ever it's 2021 and we'll still fighting to hid the "To Do" list! HELP

gspooner
New Member

Holy crap! 5 YEARS ago this problem was brought up and still hasn't been fixed? How come EVERY time I google how to fix something in Canvas I find out that hundreds of educators for YEARS have made them aware of the problem and NOTHING is ever done about it?! I almost didn't google this one as I was pretty certain there'd be no way to disable it, and sadly I was correct.