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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

I appreciate your advocacy as much as I, and a thousand-plus others, like the https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/7532-allow-folders-in-pages  idea.

benjamin_rodrig
Community Contributor

Hi laurakgibbs‌,

I agree, you should totally be able to rename pages, or any other object, on the fly. It would be great if there were an identifier that links pointed to rather than the name of the object.

-Ben 

laurakgibbs
Community Champion
benjamin_rodrig
Community Contributor

Dear  @hasti ‌,


The option to turn that organizational feature on or off isn't a bad idea. 

Best regards, 

-Ben

benjamin_rodrig
Community Contributor

Laura, I up-voted that. Thanks!

garrett_william
Community Participant

I agree with Ben. Folders can be problematic. They can be very cumbersome to navigate. One thing I noticed is that sometimes there are loading lags with Pages as well. You could, however, add groups similar to the assignments section. I think SEARCH needs to be a part of this as well. Feature parity with the Assignments page would be a good start. Grouping and searching in the Assignment section of Canvas makes it very useful. Why not add it to other sections of the course like Pages.

laurakgibbs
Community Champion

Search would be great, but don't hold your breath. Despite the commitment at Project Khaki, the global search has been indefinitely postponed. I kept hoping they would commit to some smaller search project (search in Pages, search in Discussion, etc.), but nothing has been forthcoming since the announcement at InstructureCon that global search is indefinitely postponed.

Having search would definitely obviate the need for folders, although there are still some real advantages to folders/labels. In both GoogleDocs and Gmail, I rely both on search and on labels/folders, and if people do want to do serious content development in Canvas Pages (a mistake IMO, but that's a separate discussion), then I think they need both folders and search to make that work. 

jonesn16
Community Champion

First, wow this topic is still generating discussion!

Second, I heard you on the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast recently, which was really neat! Its great to be able to put a voice to the text now. You've referred to the problems with content development in Canvas, but could you point me to where I could learn more information on your perspective? I understand if you don't want to elaborate on that here (like you said, its really a separate conversation), but if you've written/talked about it somewhere else, then I'd love to be pointed in that direction.

laurakgibbs
Community Champion

I had so much fun doing that with Bonni,  @jonesn16 ‌ ... she and I met in person for the first time ever at InstructureCon this summer!

About content, it's nothing complicated:

1. I create too much content to manage in Canvas; I need real tools like Google tools to manage my content.

2. I want to use the same content creation-and-sharing tools side by side with my students; they use Google tools, and I do too.

3. I don't believe in content inside the LMS; I prefer to create and share on the open Internet (unless there are copyright restrictions that require otherwise). That's both a philosophical and a practical matter.

Here's how I explain this to students since they are sometimes surprised by my LMS-minimalist approach since the classes I teach are 100% online:

Online Course Wiki / Tools 

(that is one of our Orientation Week assignments)

That PBWiki is starting to show its age, but I've used it a long time, throughout three, count 'em, three different LMS regimes at my school. I'm debating about whether it is worth migrating that PBWiki content to another platform. Since my school is in the process of layoffs right now and I suspect I might be laid off after next year, I'm taking a wait-and-see approach on a big time investment like that. The content management features at that wiki are the kind of thing that I think Canvas Pages could/should aspire to... and as I said, that wiki platform is ancient; they've had these features for 10 years or so. It's not rocket science.

hkpatt
New Member

Our training tells us to "hide" as many items from students as possible.  So I had originally hid files.  But then since I need them to be able to download 30+ .abi files (sequencing results), and the easiest way is to have them download the whole folder, I had to open files back up.  Please!!!!! make this an option, its part of best practices.

Thank you!

benjamin_rodrig
Community Contributor

Hi  @hkpatt ‌,

Why not have the students DL a zip file if you need them to pull so many files at once? This way you can still keep that files link hidden.

Ben

SHEBENE
Community Champion

Or reveal Files but lock the folders of files you don't want them to access?

tlampley
Community Contributor

Greetings!

This is a noteworthy idea.  In fact, it wouldn't be a poor idea to incorporate files within Modules, as this would better accommodate storage of materials--for a single course, i.e. Math100, into a development shell (for increased manageability by instructors and admins).

ronmarx
Community Contributor

I think you meant folders within Modules, right?

rfrench
Community Member

Could not agree more. Thank you,  @hasti ‌, for this. My 100% online courses have on the order of 175 pages and it's an absolute nightmare to load the "Pages" page, let alone finding the right page on it. I've developed a pretty structured naming scheme to help me out but still...holy cow. It's kind of ridiculous that this isn't an option.

ofelia_mangen
Community Member

Want to add a thought (but didn't read every single comment in this thread, so apologies for redundancy): 

What about the standard tree or subpage or parent/child structure that would also be reflected in the navigation (sidebars, breadcrumbs as appropriate)? This would help with both organization as well as "wayfinding" within the course itself. 

develand
New Member

I have a colleague who works at an institution that uses something called Sakai and she says they've had this ability several years now in their pages. Whenever they go to add something to a page like this, it creates a folder just like you've mentioned  @ofelia_mangen ‌ - and it works really well. Why doesn't canvas get this to work. It just seems like a simple thing to implement. I wonder if it's just not high on the priority list.

ofelia_mangen
Community Member

Maybe an optimal configuration in Canvas would look something like:

  • hierarchical page structures (i.e., parent and child pages)
    • which are visible as a page tree or other kind of site map via the pages tool
      • and are reflected in the course site navigation/ breadcrumbs
    • which can also map to folders in the files tool (optional)

___________

Additional explanation, logic:

I used Sakai for years and, imho, the grass really is greener in Canvas in many ways. The page structure and navigation/ breadcrumbs is an exception.

  @develand ‌ — Want to clarify between organizing pages in folders (which is what you would do with documents in, say, Google Drive or Dropbox) and site maps (that display different information depending upon the configuration; e.g., index for alphabetical list, site "tree" for hierarchy, etc.). 

While I can understand the interest in having folders (i.e., to organize the content of/on the pages in a course site), the pages are indeed web pages and a sitemap would, I think, be 1) more appropriate, and 2) be very useful in the course design process as well. 

In Sakai, auto-creation of folders (in the resources tool) happens conditionally (i.e., when you add certain content to an existing page using certain paths). It's similar to files in Canvas, but different. Regardless, there is still a distinction between the sitemap/page tree and the folders in that the sitemap/page tree organizes the pages and the folders organize the content in/on the pages (and not the pages themselves). 

I look forward to everyone's thoughts... 

hasti
Community Champion

A site map would be of no use to me whatsoever. I need folders so that I can keep all the weekly discussion solutions in one folder, all the assignment written descriptions in another folder, all the exam1-related info in another folder, etc. or everything related to unit 1 in one folder, unit 2 in another folder, etc., so that I can quickly and easily find pages I want to edit.

Note that my interest in folders is completely from the instructor's side, for internal organization purposes. I do not (and would not) make the Pages index (or the Files index) visible to students. I use Modules for the student interface organization (and work within the limitations it imposes) and would like to have a way (like in Files) to create an organizational structure for my content pages.

garrett_william
Community Participant

I keep going back to the idea that Pages be structured like Assignments. Pages should be searchable, first and foremost. You could then create groups that toggle open or closed when needed. I hate "folders" in the Google Drive/ Drop Box format because it is really hard to surface what you are looking for. The files section of Canvas is pretty solid but I would hate to look for pages in this way. Just being able to search pages from within Pages would be a great improvement.

I'm not sure I want it to work like a site map either. If you have ever used the old Google Sites this approach can be maddening as well. Trying to surface what you want to use should be obvious. It is one of the reasons I like Canvas's Modules and Assignments design. One improvement to their systems (which are similar in approach) would be to nest assignment groups or modules under category titles. That may be a better approach to placing more structure around the organization of these areas of Canvas.

Mostly I want all of these different sections to work in a consistent familiar manner. This would ultimately make Canvas easier to learn, teach and use.