Streamline the experience and reduce the cognitive load of modules

Theme Overview

This theme prioritizes the learner's experience when using modules, supporting student-driven learning with a simplified user interface and addressing common pain points for both learners and educators.

What value could this provide to users?

  • Learners have an improved user experience that offers more guidance and visibility into progress 
  • Educators have a simple and flexible user interface that adds controls and saves them time 


Why was this theme chosen to open for voting?

October 2023 • Modules are essential to good course design, but students find a long list view overwhelming and want more guidance and visibility into progress. We want to improve modules to help students progress through their course while creating a flexible and simple user interface for educators.


Referenced Ideas (34)

Status changed to: Open for Voting
Community Member

Hi, does this include "Educators will be able to selectively release modules to individuals and sections, further enabling differentiated instruction and personalizing learning content for students.: which is on the road map or is this Streamline the experience and reduce the cognitive load of modules a seperate thing?


Great question @GraceHill. This is a separate initiative. The current roadmap item is focused on adding the ability to "assign" students and sections to modules. This theme is focused on the student experience navigating modules (e.g. a more focused view as opposed to a list view), which would have the added benefit of solving some UX issues for educators.

Community Participant

I did not see Simplify bulk course tasks  in this theme but it applies. Selecting and moving multiple items within in one Module or bult moving into another  is super important for faster content design. 


Community Coach
Community Coach

Being able to quickly navigate to the appropriate module would be a great benefit when there are a lot of modules.  There are a few ideas that sound interesting for how to help handle this like the jump to module, hiding modules upon completing requirements, and date based visibility. 

If certain modules are hidden from Student view by default in this new design, I would hope to still have an area for students to view past modules where they could view modules that are older and/or they completed in case they need to review content that was in those modules.  This is especially important if modules are used as the main access point for students to content and the Assignments, Pages, Quizzes navigation tabs are hidden from them.

Community Contributor

Here's some thoughts I have on possible module behavior options related to the ability to collapse (close vs open) a module so that its contents are not visible, just the module title. This feature currently exists, but what if there were teacher-selective options that control the collapse state?

How about these options as settings for each module:

  • Open by default (user can close many, but they reopen on next class access)
  • Closed by default (user can open many, but they close on next class access)
  • Context default (when module is accessed, it opens and all others close)
  • Locked open (cannot ever be collapsed)
  • more??

One could have an all-important module that is locked open but others are set for context, opening only when they are being viewed.

Having modules in a closed (collapsed) state can help reduce cognitive overload.

Community Participant

A common denominator among our Canvas users, regarding Modules, is their request to make Module items searchable. Specifically, a Search tool with filtering options will help them easily find the items they need to complete or review. 

Community Contributor

Here are several ways that modules might be improved:

1) Please make the modules more visually appealing to engage students and help them better navigate multiple modules. Instructors would appreciate it as well, who enjoy being creative and aren't impressed with the bland module design. This could be done either by adding color options and banner images for each module.

2) It would be interesting to be able to convert each module item into an expandable/collapsible accordion that displays the entire (or at least the first several lines if there is a lot of content) of the page or assignment. This would keep students on the modules page so they don't have to click to go back or use the previous/next buttons (which can make it easy to get lost in the module list sequence unless the teacher has specified the item's order using a number in the item's title).

3) Let non-elementary schools have elementary feature options for the modules page. Specifically, being able to have a sticky/pinned course banner image at the top would help spruce up the modules page design.

4) Make the course title and top module buttons (Collapse All, View Progress, Publish All, +Module) all sticky/pinned at the top so that instructors don't have to scroll all the way to the top of the page to add a module or see the title of the course they are in.

Community Contributor

There are wonderful suggestions related to the entirety of the module tool, but how about this thought regarding accessing the contents of a module: Allow for Immediate Navigation to Any (available) Element Within a Module.

A simple solution would be to add a drop-down list to the footer of a module page (where the Last and Next buttons appear) that provides the list of (allowed) items in the module so a user can quickly jump to another item without having to go back to the "Modules" view.

The drop-down list would have to obey the publish status of an item as well as any Mastery Paths, thereby only offering the items each user should have access to. The list would have to be dynamic enough to adjust when Mastery Path allowances are met.

Showing this drop-down list could be part of module-level options, turned on by default.

Having the ability to navigate within a module in this manner makes it easier for students to control their own learning and without jumping around to other views to get to the item you want.

Community Contributor

If this Theme is selected by Instructure, then I'd like to suggest looking at ways an instructor can easily bypass Module Requirements or Prerequisites on behalf of a particular student. This theme includes the reference idea: Module prerequisites and unpublished module items. That idea is about not counting unpublished items in module requirements.

My suggestion is similar to that, but would allow the instructor to determine if a specific module item can be bypassed for a specific student. @kona posted a workaround in 2017 Bypassing Requirements/Prerequisites . I just thought I'd mention this if Instructure ended up working on any changes in modules.

Community Novice

We are struggling to create INTERPROFESSIONAL activities in Canvas for our learners in different programs.  They are 'enrolled' in a Canvas course, but required content resides in two OTHER Canvas courses - so students have to continually click out of their "parent" course and into the "child" course to course information and to complete assignments. 

If modules could be assigned to sections or groups we could eliminate the need for separate canvas courses.   

Community Novice

There is a great need for INTERPROFESSIONAL Canvas capabilities at Healthcare Institutions, so that learners can start working as high performing teams.  Thank you @DianeSeibert for bringing up this need in academia.

Community Member

I look forward to helping our students better manage their coursework and understand how our courses are organized. 

Please consider using the Calendar as inspiration for a new Modules area or even a course home page. I've found a way to use text headers, emojis, and generous indenting to make the Modules area a bit more visually appealing and organized. However, so many students still like to use the Calendar to manage their coursework. But they miss (or purposely skip) the learning content in the modules. Adding a "To Do" to module pages is okay, but would work even better if it could be checked off as done. (By the way, if students could see the entire assignment instructions when clicking on the assignments through the Calendar, that would help so much.)

Also, I read a comment about modules going away if the student has completed them. Please consider that some of our students work on essays that expand multiple modules and weeks. 

Please also consider that whatever updates are done, I really hope that I would not have to entirely redo my courses. 

Thank you

Community Member

Please PLEASE modify the "remove" option in Modules so that users get a popup asking if they want to remove from modules or delete from course!

  • Module level: users have the option to either remove the module but keep items in course OR remove the module while also deleting all items from course
  • Module item level: users have the option to either remove the item from the module while keeping in course OR deleting item from course
Community Member

I would like Canvas to have the capability/option for instructors to be able to build their courses in either the current module format, or using a more GUI-like learner experience, similar to the way the Canvas CCE program is set up. While they are both designed using modules, the customized "buttons" save time and have a more user-friendly look/feel than simply "stacking" modules on top of one another.

I know custom "buttons" can be designed and imported, however it takes numerous steps to actually do it, which most faculty do not have the time or the expertise to do. As an instructional designer and Canvas admin I can do it, but it would be nice if faculty could do it for themselves, since they are able to build out their own courses without an Admin having to do it for them.

Community Explorer

Rendre les modules visuellement engageants pour les apprenants influencerait leur motivation. C’est toujours plus sympa de naviguer dans ses cours lorsqu’ils sont esthétiquement agréables.

J’espère aussi voir un système de visualisation de la progression dans le parcours en un clin d’œil. Pour qu’un apprenant se repère par rapport à ce qu’il a déjà fait, au pourcentage effectué ou restant par exemple pour la session ou le semestre. Quand on suit une formation même à l’âge adulte, c’est encourageant de voir ainsi son avancée.

Community Participant

Of all of the feature ideas included on this theme, I am hopeful that Canvas will prioritize the following:

  1. Removing the "Next" button from the last item in a module so that users know they have finished and don't just keep on clicking through. Our students are not Dory and definitely don't need to "keep on swimming" without any notice of where they should be in a course at a given point!
  2. Fixing the breadcrumb trail so that it is an actual breadcrumb trail for where the student has navigated.
  3. Adding elements to spruce up the Modules page. We can make gorgeous content pages, but when students first click the the Modules (which is the main bucket for all course content), it is boring gray and text. Yuck! It would be awesome if there could be a RCE at the very top (at least), or even better with each Module heading so there is an opportunity to provide context in an appealing way for the content in the Module.
  4. Lastly, allow differentiated pathways through modules based on a section or group. Yes, I know we can do this with mastery paths, but making a student have to select an answer to a quiz question to provide the path where one of the answers has to be marked "wrong" when it is really just being used to create the mastery path is not good for student engagement and mental well-being.  
Community Team
Community Team
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Status changed to: Identified

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