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Add Next Button Option to Syllabus Tool

Add Next Button Option to Syllabus Tool

Please consider adding the option for a "Next" button to appear at the bottom of the Syllabus tool.

Now that we can finally turn off the assignments list, it would be great to have the option to add a "Next Button," like what already exists in module content.   

The goal is to make sure vital content is un-missable. 

12 Comments
Community Member

Hi, nsweeten@bruinmail.slcc.edu. To move forward for voting, idea submissions need to be singular as described in How do I create a new feature idea in the Canvas Community? I'll place this idea in a moderating status to provide an opportunity for it to be modified. However, if left as is, after a period of time we will need to archive it.

Learner II

A full loop of compatibility between the calendar, the Syllabus, and the modules would be highly useful and would allow the Syllabus to make a desirable homepage without dead ends or an immediate need to train users on the sidebar navigation before they encounter the course content at all! This only adds to overwhelm, when ideally content is un-missable.   

Navigator

nsweeten@bruinmail.slcc.edu‌, what's your vision for where the Next button would bring the student?

Learner II

dittor@wharton.upenn.edu

My vision was modules.  I was asked to simplify this idea so it is as bare as possible. 

Learner II

dittor@wharton.upenn.edu‌.   The issues with the Syllabus tool:

  • Previously it had the forced assignments list at the bottom that allowed students to skip actual course content, so many of us developed workarounds to not use the Syllabus tool at all. 
  • Now if we want to incorporate the Syllabus too for its benefits (clearly labeled, preview feature, etc.) there are additional UX hurdles to address.
    • How do we make the Syllabus unmissable without leaving students lost at the end.
    • How do we familiarize a new user with the Course Navigation immediately--without distracting from the actual course content or overwhelming the user?
    • How to we make the content unmissable?

Yes, of course, I can add buttons myself at the end to the RCE in the Syllabus tool. 

My goal in asking for this feature is to, hopefully, inspire Canvas UX to look for good built-in navigation options that faculty can't easily break, and that will be compatible with future Canvas updates. Thinking through ideal course navigation options and ensuring they are built-in would be a good implementation feature for new faculty as well as new students.

Navigator

I've been deleting homemade buttons from courses, because it takes too much time to fix the broken links after every course import.  A next button that would automatically point to the correct course would be better than making your own buttons, unless there's a trick I haven't learned yet. 


I've found the most effective alternative is a very prominent note on the homepage to start at the top of the modules page.  Combining that note with due dates in the first day or two of class for ungraded (or zero point) activities that are part of a start here module with navigation instructions, gets most students where they need to be and gives me a list of those who have not participated yet.  Many reminder emails go out in the first days of class! 

Navigator

I use modules to organize my courses.  However, what about courses that do not use modules at all?  It was not long ago that I did not have a purpose for modules in my face-to-face courses.  Perhaps an optional next button that the instructor could target to any other tab would help more courses.

Learner II

I like your idea steven‌ of making a customizable Next button to go wherever the designer/instructor wants it to go.  

The strength of the Syllabus tool is that it is clearly labeled.  The weakness is that the Canvas interface can be overwhelming to first-time users (and I, for one, am required to account for first time users.)

Ideally, design would be self-training, natural, and obvious. (Think Steve Jobs circa 1987, or this awesome book The Design of Everyday Things.)

My preference has been to place a big "Start Here" button on a simple Homepage to launch students right into module content. Unmissable--for anyone who can locate the Canvas homepage and read English. 

Another option is to begin by training people on the uses of the sidebar navigation buttons and help them build a mental map of how the course is laid out.  I usually do this when training faculty, because it is excruciating to watch users get stuck on a dead-end and not be able to see the course menu, forget to scroll back up, etc.  Countless times I've seen faculty and students log out entirely and return--just to make the menu appear again because they are lost in Canvas levels.  

The difference between list view and detail view in assignments, quizzes, and even modules is a significant navigation hurdle.  It makes perfect sense--to web designers and Canvas experts. Not so much for new users.

Navigator

If you build your modules pages so that everything students need to get started is there, and the only content you include on your homepage is an instruction or button to start at the modules page, you could just choose the modules page as your homepage.  That makes the modules unmissable, and the syllabus and grades and other tabs are something students have to choose to navigate to.  I set up a specific homepage (in part because it is the preference of my school) that lists important things to know before starting the course and then directs students to begin with the modules tab. I'm considering putting most of that in the start here module, and just setting the modules page as the home page, but it would mean some content I've set to automatically from various web sources would no longer be on my homepage.

List view makes everything harder to find when I try to view two windows side by side.  I'm not that new anymore, but I wish I could turn that off - at least in my own view for a current session.  I'm sure there are students who feel the same way.  It might help mobile device users with narrow screens, but I already have to advise students not to try to take the course on a cell phone for other reasons.  There is an idea open to address at least part of that problem: https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/16468-keep-global-navigation-menu-visible-on-list-view-when-wi... 

There is also an idea open for keeping access to the side bar menus that disappear when you scroll too far.  https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/6112-make-course-menu-sticky

Learner II

Obviously your personal preference might be different.

In my designs, the Homepage is simple but not blank.  In accordance with good UX (and QM rubric requirements for complete online courses), it is a soft landing for students before they are hit with an overwhelming list of everything they will have to do. The homepage confirms the course name and instructor--so students know they are in the right place. It includes the format (online, lecture or hybrid) and the course times and locations for at-a-glance confirmation.  Then an image or graphic and a Start Here button.

My observations and assertions are aimed at Higher ed. specifically. I cannot speak to K-12.  I will clarify that in those areas where I may appear to be mouthing off a personal opinion, I feel it is hard-won from years of relentless, tedious course support (fixing non-functional courses) and faculty support (fixing faculty in tears over Canvas).

Since these courses now safely number in the thousands, I have a relatively large sample, so my personal preference is informed by functionality and non-functionality patterns I wouldn't have believed any other way. 

Caveat* Now that the Syllabus tool has the option of turning off the forced assignments list--a lot of new, UX design possibilities have opened up where previously I hid that Syllabus tool and placed the syllabus in modules--along with everything else students would ever need to click.