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Allow folders in Pages

Allow folders in Pages

(257)

The Files section of Canvas allows folders for organizing files. Pages does not. Why the awful inconsistency in the user interface? I currently have 30+ pages that I've created in - all in flat directory structure. I'd like to be able to organize them, you know, like Files and stuff I have on my computer.

 
Comments from Instructure

Please refer to the update from the product team here

406 Comments
ronmarx
Community Contributor

It's interesting to see the later comments on this much-needed improvement to Canvas that has now garnered almost 1,000 votes. Maybe there should be a "no brainer" category for ideas to be escalated to the current year's feature improvements list?

laurakgibbs‌, Your point about Canvas following a student-centered, top-down structure is a good one. Just remember that what's good for the teacher (one step away from the student) is good for the student too. If Canvas removes the tedium from the development process, then the teacher (or the I.D.) will be more prolific, creating more variations to address multiple learning styles. IMO, this is the developmental strategy Instructure should adhere to: ease of use for the student-teacher as a single user entity.

What's good for the goose, in this case too, is good for the gander!

johnmartin
Community Champion

 @deppeler , Actually, editing ease is why I prefer Google Docs as links (or embedded) instead of creating content in Pages. Once the link is there, there's no uploading or re-uploading with every change. I just change the Google Doc and the change is immediate in Canvas. There's also a (perhaps unfounded?) fear that if Canvas goes down, or is replaced by another LMS someday on campus, my content won't have to be recreated because it's not in Canvas! 🙂

laurakgibbs
Community Champion

I'm with  @johnmartin ‌ on this one: I'm now on my third LMS (Blackboard, then D2L, then Canvas), and I've been teaching  all that time, and I have lots of content I developed back in my D2L days and even during my Blackboard days that I still use because it is not hosted in the LMS. A lot of the content in my recycled announcements is 10 years old or more, but that's fine! It works great embedded in Canvas:

Myth.MythFolklore.net

Yay for distributed content!

That's something I would love to see in an LMS, but I never have: instead of associating content with courses, associate content with PEOPLE, making it easy for people to reuse content across semesters and across different LMS spaces.

And I would include students as people, content creators just like instructors. 🙂

hasti
Community Champion

I create content in Pages for a number of reasons:

  1. the (perhaps out-dated) idea that html is more accessible (to thing like screen-readers) than documents created using word-processing programs
  2. the consistent formatting that creating html allows a website to have (so I don't have to remember, say, the font & weight of my second-level header or learn how create styles which can maintained across a group of word-processed documents)
  3. the ease of making links to other places (pages, assignments, quizzes) within my Canvas site
  4. the ease of creating mathematical formulas (especially since I know LaTeX and Canvas' math formula tool can translate LaTeX)
  5. the (perhaps misguided) assumption that Canvas is responsible for providing an accessible platform and the tools Canvas provides me (like the Page editor) reduce the amount of work I have to do to make/maintain accessible content (for example, mathematical formulas created using Canvas' math formula editor are are automatically translated by Canvas into MathML and don't require any additional work from me to make them accessible).
johnmartin
Community Champion

These are good reasons! One thing that I'm happy to see in Canvas is that if I use styles and/or formatting in Google Docs, I can copy/paste it easily into a Canvas page and it retains the formatting — including styles such as Heading 1,2,3, etc. They come in as H1,2,3 in Canvas!

Of course there is still a lot weird and probably-unneeded HTML that comes along:

(e.g. "<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">")

Perhaps the best practice is a hybrid one of copy/pasting? (though that's not nearly as convenient as the immediate-updating of edits to a Google Doc).

Actually, if there's anything I learned from Canvas Community forums, it's that "best-practice" is almost always subjective 😉 

ronmarx
Community Contributor

I just randomly found your reply here on this topic, and what you wrote to  @jonesn16  on Sep 11, 2018 really rang true for me. What external sites do you host the "... dynamic content ..." you put in your Canvas courses, such as Daily News ? Are you a WordPress user? Maybe your idea is the way to go until Canvas acts on the many, many turnkey-like features so many users are clambering for?

laurakgibbs
Community Champion

Hi  @ronmarx ‌, I'm a Blogger user actually, but any kind of blogging platform works (my students all have blogs also, and they are a mix of Blogger and WordPress). And I have MOUNTAINS of content in my blogs. For me, blogs are the fastest, easiest way to design content for the web that is also mobile-friendly. I've got about a dozen different active blogs that host different kinds of content that my students use for my classes.

I put the Daily Announcements blog inside Canvas because that is a way I can get students to see the announcements as they pass through the Canvas homepage on their way to record their work in the Gradebook (every microassignment in my class is connected with a Gradebook Declaration, so my students do visit Canvas every time to record their completed work). All my other blogs are just out there on the Internet; I have no special need to embed them in Canvas. You can see them all in the right-hand menu of my personal homepage: MythFolklore.net.

I also embed a Padlet which is a compendium of content from my students' blog posts about growth mindset and feedback:

Growth/Feedback 

Plus I embed an HTML view of my students' blog stream (all their blog posts combined):

Blog Stream: Myth-Folklore section 995 - Fall 2018 

And I use a slideshow to feature their websites, also all outside Canvas:

Projects: Myth-Folklore section 995 - Fall 2018 

I'm actually very happy with all of this; I don't want/need to have content in Canvas.

But..... for the people who do want/need to put content in Canvas, I feel very badly about the tools they have to use. It just does not come close to what I would expect to have available, especially if Instructure is going to promote the use of shared content via the Commons repository... but that is another kettle of digital fish! 🙂

ronmarx
Community Contributor

Thank you, Laura, for your detailed reply. Your strategy is definitely not one I considered; it erases or at least blurs the lines I've been coloring inside, and that's a good thing IMO.

Yes, it would be great if the Canvas development leadership went through the hundred or so feature ideas that streamline the content creation process while improving the experience of designers and teachers. Anecdotally, the whole Canvas experience for teachers and students could be dramatically improved by implementing ~100 ideas, from expanding the white list of HTML tags and CSS styles, to adding features in rubrics, selecting multiple instructional components, and nesting components within the modules area. Those 100 most needed feature upgrades are but a fraction of the 1200 updates Instructure makes to the product every year, but the leadership has to be the main driver because they know it's true, not because of the number of votes any particular idea receives in the community.

emonahan
New Member

Yes please!!!

laurakgibbs
Community Champion

I share your impression,  @ronmarx ‌! I'm honestly not sure how this whole process really works in terms of actual implementation. I still feel very let down about the lack of any progress on search; when I attended Project Khaki, search was the only idea among the Khaki array that I had any interest in at all personally. So, when search was one of the features "postponed" without any progress I was disappointed. I was even more disappointed when there was no detailed explanation provided about partial progress, roadblocks, etc. That's when I started to suspect that the ultimate design decisions at Instructure are pretty far removed from the issues as I see them and which drive the decisions I make about which tools to use.

As a result, Canvas is a tool with only very limited value for me, exactly because my priorities are simply not the Instructure priorities. I suspect that will remain the case even after they finally get done with the mammoth amount of resources being devoted to quizzes, grades, and analytics, none of which have any value for me personally in terms of my course design.

GideonWilliams
Community Champion

As a number of colleagues have already mentioned, I would like to see features like these added. Educators can then CHOOSE whether to use them or not. This is how I would like to see a VLE work. I struggle to understand why this cannot be the case for every idea. If you don't want to have folders or sub modules or pages linked to sections then don't have them but the fact that so many people make the requests must surely be telling the leadership something?

If leadership are making the decisions then lets have greater transparency with the whole idea/voting system. What is the purpose of creating an idea and then voting for it. If votes don't count then remove them. I am sure that I am not alone to see some ideas implemented with minimal votes whilst others remain unresolved with huge numbers. Like Laura, I thought idea workshops like Project Khaki were attempts to listen more to pedagogy and how the platform can support this. I am also not quite sure how the leadership can make unilateral decisions about a platform that is used by such a diverse range of users from age 5 to 25 across so many different countries each with their own education system. Is there any form of representation (across these different education stages) to the Canvas Development Leadership?

Two things that drive me to distraction that I would like to see Canvas improve upon:

i. Reply to the ideas posted once they reach a certain size. Give people some update as to what is happening. If the idea is not going to happen then say so and shut it down/mothball it. How difficult is this to do? Some popular idea (in terms of votes) have not had comments for 6+ months! (I notice that this is now being addressed although with the same statement being applied for many)

ii. Separate the technical updates eg the colour/format/style changes from those with teaching and learning value. I struggle to get enthused by a brand change or repositioning of an icon when what I want to see is embedding of Office365 in pages or links made by the External URL feature go directly to that website and not a redirect page! How about a separate section where they address those ones? Perhaps this is/was Project Khaki after all?

laurakgibbs
Community Champion

I definitely agree about CHOICE,  @GideonWilliams ‌: choice is one of the main principles that I use in designing my own courses (students choose when to do assignment, what assignments to do, what tools to use, etc.), and I expect to be able to do the same when using the VLE/LMS.

And I should say that one of the things that really DOES work well for me in Canvas is how easy it is to use it in the minimal way that I do: I like being able to turn off menu items and just do my own thing by embedding, redirect tool, etc. As a result my courses look pretty much the way I would like them to look, which was never true with our old LMS (D2L). Plus, I can SHARE my courses, showing others exactly what I am doing. D2L did not have open course options at all.

This distinction about sameness versus choosing is one I know they debate at Instructure. I remember a pretty intense debate here about an idea feature request to allow instructors to turn the hypothetical grading feature on or off -- I definitely think instructors should be able to turn any feature on or off, especially anything related to grading given how emotionally loaded grading can be for both teachers and students. But there was a very large chorus of people insisting that it was really important to have consistency across all courses, so I think the idea got voted down. Anyway, I voted up on the option to let instructors turn that on or off if they wanted... although what I honestly would have preferred was letting students decide whether to use the feature or not, as opposed to the teacher just turning it off for all.

Anyway: CHOICE. 

Especially STUDENT CHOICE.

I'm a believer. 🙂

develand
New Member

I've heard other LMSs have this feature, where they can allow instructors to add files or even whole folder references to to the pages or layout on the page rather than having to rely on a file structure. It could really help with the use of pages by faculty.

hesspe
Community Champion

And while you're at it, could you include a way to delete multiple pages - including a whole folder - at one time?

Stef_retired
Community Team
Community Team

 @hesspe ‌, that would be a separate development initiative, and you'll find that at https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/4224-delete-multiple-pages 

RobDitto
Community Champion
k_elson
New Member

I used to manage an Episerver CMS for a website, and this is a similar set up essentially, so having a pages hierarchy even like on a website would mean a more logical way of accessing content and the files within 

benjamin_rodrig
Community Contributor

Hi all,

I think that the arguments presented on this idea, both for and against, are valid. I am one of the few who voted no. That's because I believe that a folder structure in Pages can get messy pretty quickly for these reasons:

  • While it think it would benefit designers, not all instructors are savvy with using a folder structure to organize website pages.
  • It's a potential point of confusion between files, pages, and modules.
  • It can take away Canvas' clean and flat presentation system which, IMO, is one of its most appealing features.
  • Slippery slope to a feature of folders IN actual page objects which can make Canvas too similar to other LMS systems.

Here's an example of how I use a prefix to organize pages. Some might say it's aesthetically unappealing for a page title, but I think it's fine in the context of an  course:

naming convention for using a prefix to organize pages.

That being said, I do think it would be worthwhile to have these potential organizational features built into Pages:

  • Pagination,
  • Categories,
  • Tags, 
  • Search by author, title, keyword, and the aforementioned category and tag. 
  • New column to indicate which Module(s) they correspond with.


Best regards,

-Ben

laurakgibbs
Community Champion

Your system would be greatly enhanced if another feature were put into play, allowing people to rename Pages later on to enhance those organizational features. But right now, you rename Pages at your peril. 
I would prefer to see ALL these options: folders, tags, search, etc.

But if we are only going to get one, folders is better than nothing.

The apparent total lack of progress on search makes me think that is not coming anytime soon.

And the lack of tagging in Canvas already makes me dubious that we will see a tagging solution.

But since there are folders in the files area, and somehow that has not produced an apocalypse, I am guessing the world will not come to an end if/when there are finally folders for pages too. 🙂

hasti
Community Champion

Of course there's still the issue that not all of the pages load at once, so if you find yourself needing to find a page that come near the end in display order, you are stuck waiting (and waiting and waiting and sometimes having to give up waiting) for more pages to load each and every time you want to edit/update the page (I, for example, unfortunately named a page "Weekly Schedule").

How about this: since Canvas is big on giving admins permissions to turn on or off features for their entire institution: why not make allowing folders in pages something admins can decide. That way, if the admins think the instructors at their institution are too "unsavvy" to use folders in Canvas "responsibly", they can disable it for their institution (or maybe even on an instructor by instructor basis).

It seems to me that if you think folders are so bad, you should educate your instructors why they shouldn't use them in web design. But why deny those of us who have legitimate organizational needs to have something that is fundamental to every computer-based organizational system.

I mean, Canvas is supposed to be an LMS not an LS.