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Allow folders in Pages

Allow folders in Pages

(169)

Greetings all.
Conversations in the community unthread after 100 comments, making the conversation difficult to follow, and official comments hard to find. For this reason we're posting our most recent update here:

We know this is an important topic to many. We appreciate all of the use cases (pros/cons) that have been presented and the ideas for solutions. We are working toward a longer range strategy that we envision solving many of the struggles you've expressed here. We do not have an immediate solution. Stay plugged into the Canvas Ideas space to watch this strategy unfold (beginning with Assignments 2.0)

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.
389 Comments
mwolfenstein
Explorer II

I totally get where you're coming from, but I think in terms of realistically understanding Instructure's development priorities with Canvas it's worth recognizing that 2,250 is a tiny fraction of Canvas users with the teacher, designer, or an equivalent role.

This isn't to say that I don't personally think a method for searching and organizing pages/content in Canvas isn't important. I think it's pretty essential, although maybe not quite as important as a few key feature enhancements for discussions to bring them on par with other LMS's.

However, my point isn't actually about what I think is important, but that as Instructure is prioritizing the combination of bug fixes and new feature development, even top vote getting ideas in the community don't represent that many users. Just for a point of reference, I work in the California Community College system. The 2018 headcount for full and part time faculty was 63,320. 2,250 is somewhere around 3% of the faculty users in our system alone. Our whole system is on Canvas and almost all of those faculty are now using the LMS to teach under COVID-19. As a system we're a big client to be sure, but we're also just a fraction of the total Canvas user base. In 2018, there were over 8 million students at campuses that use Canvas. I'm not sure how many faculty were serving those students, but it's a lot more than the 63K plus in my system, and the Canvas LMS marketshare has grown since then.

All of this is to say that unless a vote getting idea is being evidenced as a strong need in the usage data, I'm guessing that it's not that likely to tip into development prioritization for Instructure. I'm guessing this is especially true if the idea, like this one, would be a major change that involves not just UI development, but has serious implications for the back end of the system.

mstimers1
Surveyor

@Moses Wolfenstein

Excellent points, Moses, sample size is surely important as well. Your argument then begs the question, why even have voting at all if: (a) they're likely not listening very closely, and; (b) the votes have no statistical significance? They could just do what @Renee Carney stated, read the narratives and use that info if they decide it's useful.

hasti
Learner II

@Moses Wolfenstein

Also, keep in mind the number of people who have tried to interact with this popularity non-contest to get bugs fixed and ideas implemented and given up. I know that I represent not just myself here, but basically all my colleagues who have given up on this forum.

Ideas with far, far fewer votes have been implemented, yet the most popular ideas sit and sit for years and years while Instructure continues to claim they care about our experience with using their buggy, clunky, slow LMS. 

Yes, please fix bugs -- how about making it so that text files display accurately (that's been around for years as well -- and we're talking plain-text files, so this should be a no-brainer: just display exactly the ASCII characters that are in the file, no more, no less).

mwolfenstein
Explorer II

 @mitchel_stimers ‌ That's a good question. I think to some extent this is a hold over from when they were a smaller company, but there are other top vote getting features that are seeing development. I've heard that even though it hasn't been announcedhttps://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/1555-multiple-due-dates-checkpoints-for-discussions is going to be developed and https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/3663-notifications-by-course and https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/2214-adjust-all-assignment-and-quiz-dates-on-a-single-page have been developed. It's worth noting that both of these also have less impact on the system than something like this idea, and aren't met by a product that plugs into Canvas in the way that something like https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/2086-create-question-banks-from-msword  is through Respondus.

sbailey
Surveyor

Why have a vote at all?  So they can pretend to consider faculty input, and they can market the LMS to other institutions promoting how flexible to change and faculty requests they are.

garrett_william
Learner II

While I enjoy this lively debate, Instructure's prioritization is suspect. There are many UI inconsistencies that remain unresolved but guess what . . . you can get a confetti drop when you turn in an assignment on time : ) There a lot of features people are forced to pay for (like Search of all things from Atomic Jolt) that should be native to the LMS. I think the user preference is pretty obvious if people are willing to go to another company and pay for it. New features aside, maybe one day Canvas will have a delete option that is the same for discussion forums, pages and assignments. Sometimes you hit edit, sometimes you don't. Why is that inconsistency allowed? I think it speaks volumes for the larger issues being discussed here.

mwolfenstein
Explorer II

The fact that Search isn't a native feature is, frankly, ridiculous. I'm 100% with you on that.

Instructure does state that they don't prioritize features where the need is met by a product in their ecosystem, and I'm willing to accept that as a justification in relation to Respondus and quiz authoring (even though I still think that my https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/16311-markdown-like-view-for-quiz-creation?sr=search&searchId=...‌ is the appropriate solution), but for search? That's just really not okay, especially given the notion that in theory there's wiki architecture on the back end of Canvas. This is also why it's insane that we can't apply tags to content elements in Canvas. Like search, it's a feature that should have been there from the beginning given the nature of the platform.

I'm not sure what you're getting at about the delete thing though. You can delete all three of those content types (as well as quizzes and announcements) from their respective pages after clicking the kebab icon. I seem to remember this not always being the case, but it has been for at least a little while.

garrett_william
Learner II

The kabobs have improved over time. Based on memory, assignments/ quizzes kick you back to the section, most now give you a pop up warning, one of them used to act like you did nothing at all:

https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/12784 

Assignments - select edit to delete

The others - Kabob to delete 

But then again all the drop downs are different, with discussions having the most choices.

mcovill
Surveyor

In addition to being able to organize Pages into folders, there needs to be a better way to access images from the folders they are stored in (e.g., when inserting images into a quiz there is a tiny window to interact with the folder in and and it always defaults back to the base folder directory rather then staying in the folder I'm drawing images from (which have been organized by topic for the purpose of creating quizzes).  Organization and retrieval of content in Canvas leaves much to be desired.  The more I use Canvas the more it seems that the creators don't have much of a feel for how instructors use/will use the platform.  I hope they are getting feedback on the "longer term" solution they are developing rather then unloading something that doesn't fit the needs of the people using the platform. 

nsweeten
Explorer III

 @mcovill  Your related comments are ripe to be shared in several other feature requests and groups as well.

User Group: New Quizzes‌. or the other ideas that discuss the inconveniences of building lengthy quizzes, etc. in the existing interface. These are tiny glitches that waste mega time and patience for those of us who encounter them.

No, New Quizzes doesn't address this glitchiness either, to my knowledge.  I believe you are describing subtle and irritating UX user experience issues.  These kinds of complex user interactions are deep in the code and are expensive to 1.) notice, 2.) track, and 3.) change. 

Understandably, Canvas programmers aren't in a rush to fix something they don't realize is broken.  They also don't want to accidentally create new problems or alienate existing satisfied users catering to a vocal (assumed) minority.  

(Consider: Both Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney have said in interviews that sometimes the fans know their songs better than they do. The fans have actually sung the songs more in some cases and listened to the songs more often outside performances, etc., sometimes every day for years.  So, for this metaphor/analogy, Canvas is Paul McCartney?  Yep.)

Takeaway: The institutions, teachers, and designers who use Canvas daily know more about those irritating little things that can detract from the success of the experience. We are the beta testers and the ongoing user base.  Most of us aren't programmers who are saying we can do it better--and we don't think Canvas is created best by committee and voting--we just want some of the same magic inspiration that created the original product to be included in the fine-tuning "mix" after the sale is made to keep the well-being on track.  Is that so much to ask?  

Answer: Yes. It is a lot to ask because the same skill set that created a wonderful product also created the problems. It requires questioning the one to question the other.

I propose that Instructure's genius pool could benefit from a grey-haired bun-wearing school-marm consulting on staff, or perhaps at least some carefully curated spot check case studies and videos of user scenarios in action to convey the fine-tuning needs to programmers. 

GideonWilliams
Adventurer II

 @sweetera  This is brilliant

I am concerned that Canvas has lost some direction over the last 18 months.

Over a year ago, we were promised a re-focus on supporting teaching and learning with more programmers/developers and I am yet to see this realised. Something really needs to be done to the feature idea. You sense a growing frustration as ideas continued to be voted on in large numbers yet remain in the community (some for up to 5 yrs) with no evidence of any developments or comment. The core product has stopped becoming agile and the sheer number of Ideas and comments seem to inhibit effective changes/improvements.  

I like many users would like to see more attention paid to developing and improving the core product. With no InstructureCon this summer we are missing any statement/comment from Senior Product Managers as to future plans - this is a worry! Some of the road maps on the site are very vague indeed. I get very frustrated when I see core developments on other LMS committed to monthly timescales and then carried out.

Recent news from Instructure is a concern with the PE takeover and recent large number of redundancies (including development teams). I would really like to get some reassurances from the company that they will continue to make a great product even better for our current learners, not those ''at some time in the future''.

UPDATE: So this appeared in my timelines - https://www.instructure.com/canvas/blog/laying-out-canvas-product-roadmap-we-continue-through-covid-... - A response from Mitch Benson about the Canvas timeline. Personally speaking I would actually like to know what these new developments/features will be!

garrett_william
Learner II

I think the delete thing has slowly been fixed. It used to be a real annoyance. I don't want to hit edit every time I have to delete an item. It would be nice to able to publish, delete and move items in bulk using some type of multiple selection method.

kerry_abbott
Community Member

YES YES YES!!!  I would love to see the folder option added for ALL areas of Canvas (Pages, Assignments, Quizzes, etc.) . As an elementary teacher, I use pages with links to assignments, etc for my students to navigate.  I tried then using Modules to organize my materials (only for teacher to view).  BUT . . . it then gave students the "back" and "next" buttons which I did not want them to use since the modules were only set up for my own organization.  Not for student use.  

nsweeten
Explorer III

 @kerry_abbott ‌. It sounds like your approach to modules is working for you, though, just in case: I'll share this.

Faculty design training for Canvas modules (excerpt):

  • Use the Modules feature exclusively for the benefit and user needs of the students.
  • Arrange (and hide) the Assignments tab for the exclusive benefit of the teacher, ie,. to calculate the grade book correctly and to match the weighted percentages promised in the Syllabus.
    • This looks something like categories/groups in the Assignments tab: Discussions worth 20% of total grade, quizzes worth 20%, Final Exam worth 20%, Assignments worth 40%. Much better than reverse-engineering points to some magic number that always ends up needing to be changed. 

It seems that my faculty left to their own devices would constantly attempt to do this the other way round! Using the tools the exact opposite of the way they are programmed.   SO, obviously not intuitive, but my approach above does not "fight" with the Canvas software programming.

Organized modules will serve as an extension of the Calendar and a Lesson plan somewhat, for a substitute teacher and also for students to review previous week's materials.  It helps to start every module with a Weekly Overview Page. (Each overview can be consistently patterned with headings like : This week:, Topics covered:, When you complete this week's material, you will be able to...)

My workaround for organizing private teaching materials--besides the student view of modules with a weekly overview page--is to have a dedicated page with the Lesson Plans/outlines, Canvas files, .ppts , whatever, all linked in a Canvas content page.  I label the first module in my lineup Instructor Materials *DO NOT PUBLISH*.

It eliminates a lot of hassle and confusion to pre-build all this. Then, any teacher can pick right up and nothing is stored in anyone's head. 

ParksELA
Surveyor

This feature is definitely something needed

kathyliddle
Surveyor

Yes, please, please, please. I didn't really notice a need for this before. Now that we've moved to online teaching for the year -- and mostly asynchronous -- the number of pages that I have to create is huge compared to anything I've done before. Plus I have to import modules created by other units at the university so I'm also scrolling through their pages which I would like to just dump into a folder so I don't have to be sorting them out.

lmackenzie
Surveyor

I vote for a better way to organize pages. Sometimes you want to have your pages organized by type rather than module, like all the Summary pages grouped together or all the Overview and Introduction pages grouped, so you can see what you have built already and what's missing and can easily copy and edit from an already existing page. It is frustrating to have to open and look at each Module to find what you are looking for or spend so much time scrolling down your entire list of pages to find what you are looking for. 

Teeee67
Surveyor

Yes PLEASE!  For the love of everything good, PLEASE allow folders to organize pages!

spalmberg
Surveyor

PLEASE!!!!!! I have so many pages and folders would help get me organized!

lh2020
Surveyor

I would LOVE to have a folder option.   I have a page for each day and create links on the page.   But I have to look through all of my quiz links or assignment links to find the link I want to use.

It would be nice if I could put all of my quizzes from one topic in a folder, and all of my assignments from one topic in a folder.   That way I am not scrolling through all of my assignments or quizzes looking for the right one.