Allow folders in Pages
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.
Great idea. It would also be helpful if the Pages/Files in the Content Selector (in the Rich Content Editor) would minimize into the folders. It is difficult and time consuming to scroll through the entire list of items in Pages/Files when trying to insert a link to one of them.
I would want to use the browser's find feature to jump to a particular page while viewing Pages, but given that all the pages don't show up at first (you must continually scroll down) that's doesn't always work. Folders would help a lot.
When adding an existing page to a module, the pages don't appear in alphabetical order which makes them particularly hard to find. Files are in alpha order and it's fairly easy to scroll down and find the desired file or folder. @williams_r 's idea of collapse all expand all is brilliant (would like that for modules too!). @coulter_m 's search idea also, when adding modules or in the Content selector.
I've only just started developing course content in Canvas and I already see how helpful this would be! My "Pages" section is a mess! I supposed it depends on how you choose to structure your course. Currently, I'm working on developing some best practices for our elementary/primary staff - everything needs to be click/tap friendly for low-readers and non-readers. I've used Pages pretty heavily in my exploration of those ideas (primarily for fluid navigational options using graphics). Folders to organize those pages would be hugely helpful!
Thank you to @ @hasti for renewing this idea.
I love this idea because it empowers designers (and teachers) to control how their course-specific LOR is organized. (Flat file structures are so 1980s.) Just like the modules within modules that is under development, and https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/3413 , and https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/1828 (which was archived), it looks as if this time this very important feature will be put onto the Canvas radar!
On the same subject, please support other user empower ideas including: https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/8263-strengthen-canvas-import-ability-with-qti-files .
I'm all for organization and folders make things easier.
My institution uses Modules to organize content, but for frequently accessed content, we drive students to these modules by using "buttons" from the homepge, therefore reducing long lists of pages. I'm still trying to understand how pages having "files" would be different than the Files system already in-place.
@heather_stockfo , I understand your struggle to process how a page organizational structure would be helpful beyond the Files area already in place. The Files area, as you already know, only contains external component downloaded into the Canvas course. Pages in Canvas, however, are native components without any organizational structure whatsoever. All the content pages in Canvas simply live in the Pages area, organized only by text sorting by metadata columns. In their primary state, content pages are usually part of a lesson or some other logical unit. Few, if any, pages stand by themselves.
The suggestion here to organize content pages by storing them within folders might be less relevant if Modules were able to be nested one within the other. This idea, https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/4636-modules-within-modules" modifiedtitle="true" title="Modul...is currently in the product radar of Canvas developers. In essence, it would allow for selecting multiple items for manipulation, https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/5941" modifiedtitle="true" title="Selecting Multiple Content I..., by moving more than one component at a time.
Being able to organize content pages, being able to organize modules, quizzes, question banks—everything in Canvas—would add structure and logical hierarchy to the disorganized "flat filing" structure that now exists. In other words, the familiar folder system now present in the Files area of Canvas, would be available to instructional designers across the LMS platform.
@Ron Marx, Thanks for clarifying and for the associated links. I can understand the request a bit better with seeing the tiles (as is now on Dashboard). Appreciated.
We also need folders in the Quiz Question bank, I would love to create lots of smaller question banks to draw from, but don't because the question bank is already so massive because there is no good way to organize it. Would love to have folders to help organization.
Question banks are a whole animal unto itself that I hope gets a modern update during the quiz engine rebuild. Folders, question ranking, global search, the ability to 'pool' question groups from any bank on the fly without creating new question banks and linking individual questions put into a quiz with the question bank so that a change can be made in a single place. I could go on and on here, but I agree with you @wcurzi , folders to organize banks is very much needed.
I think folders that are properly used are a great idea, but I have seen design fall apart quickly when they are used. WebCT 4 was a folder based UI and we found faculty burying content several folders deep which made the content hard to find, and when found, a click nightmare for the student. The folder issue even became a nightmare for the faculty managing their course.
We already have Content Page which can act as a folder of sorts for content, but it lacks the ease of dumping a ton of content at one time into it. A folder for a set of files makes great sense to me, or the ability to link to an entire folder of files from the Content Page would work. The content stream, I believe should be no more than two clicks away.
I am not an Instruction Designer, learn best through text, and suffer from computer geekiness, so I may not be the best to have a judgment on folder use, but I can tell you that it can be harmful to course design because I have seen it in action. While I love a great looking course, if the content is not easy to get to in a common sense manner, it is simply not a good course design.
There are my fears. Please keep telling me how you would employ folders to improve course design. I only know what I know and love to stretch my understanding and abilities.
A billion times this @kidsonh ! It would be nice if the pages were auto-folder when placed in a module and still be allowed to create your own organization. Content Pages are really files so they should be handled as files.
@dwillmore Great point about pages as files.
The weird Pages-not-Files and Files-not-Pages system in Canvas is really confusing, at least to me.
I keep thinking I should be able to put Pages in folders... like in the Files area.
I keep thinking I should be able to edit a File ... like I can edit a Page.
And Modules are the only way to provide Navigation...?
It's like they are separate pieces of a content management system... that do not talk to each other. So, if you could unite them, Canvas might make it feasible to do real content development. But as it is right now, I find it a strange mix of partial content management systems that do not align very conveniently.
That's why I do all my real content development outside of Canvas using wikis and blogs. The weird mismatch of the tools available inside Canvas is just too uneven for me to manage my content.
laurakgibbs You stated one of the problems with Canvas far more succinctly than I could have. There is a disconnect between the Modules and the rest of the system and a strange handling of pages.
I wanted to elaborate on why I'm down voting this. To me, one of the attractive features of Canvas is that it curtails certain negative design behaviors in the way its set up. Having worked with instructors in a different LMS, I've had to fight to keep them from nesting folders inside folders inside folders - basically turtles all the way down. Creating actual folders of content on a page would be inconsistent with the overall structure of Canvas, as everything you might want to put in a folder already has a proper place. If the issue is more that you want to create the aesthetic or user experience of a folder, and you don't care so much that it actually is a folder, here are some ideas that could accomplish the same thing in the current UI without opening the floodgates on nested folders:
-If you want the folder to be a separate screen from the page the user found it, try this: Create the page that you want to have a folder. Create a second page to act as the folder, and fill it with links/embedded documents/etc. On the first page, link to the "folder" page. You can even make the link an icon of a folder with something like the Noun Project.
-Grab code from your institution's style guide to create the appearance of a folder, like an accordion. You can access your style guide using a URL like: [yourinstitution].instructure.com/styleguide
-If you want the folder to open without taking the user away from the current page, why not just use an ordered or unordered list?
@jonesn16 , as you might guess from my comments above, I disagree.
There are good ways to use folders, and bad ways to use folders. The Files area seems to survive having folders, right? Folders are available in the Files area, and for good reason.
Can people make a mess of their File folders? Sure. People can make a mess of anything really. If you were to eliminate every feature because it can be used badly, you'd have to stop making software completely.
If you think your faculty will use folders poorly, well, it is up to you to teach them to do better IMO.
I'm sure I'm not the only person who forgoes doing content development in Canvas because the Pages area is impossible for content maintenance beyond maybe a couple dozen pages at most. After that, it's just a mess.
Laura, as I stated earlier, I am with @jonesn16 on this and think he has the same fears that I have. I also stated that folders can be very useful. The bottom line, if folders are always used properly in the course, I would have no problem with them, and I think Nicholas would agree. I doubt that you, Laura, and faculty that put as much time and effort as you do learning the art and science of online learning would ever create the course folder monstrosities that Nicholas and I have seen over the years. Folders outside the student UI, in the file area, content page area, etc. are very needed.
Maybe there is a way to create a folder design that prohibits the nested doll syndrome that I fear.
Let's list the reasons why we want folders to be available in the student UI of the course.
- Avoid modules by putting content into folders
- Add files needed for a topic in bulk
- Nest folders as a design to a new stage of content (I do not like this, but I think many want it.
- Hold a set of pages
- Replace the modules look with a folder look
Please let me know if you have more, or if you disagree/agree with what I have listed.
I think I could live with a compromise. Prevent folder nesting of content. Allow folders of files within a content folder.
Fair point. And looking back at my initial post, I didn't really address the product idea itself. Perhaps this is a better way of explaining my view: I don't think that Canvas just prevents bad design choices; I think it already does the good things people want to do with folders from the perspective of a Student user experience. I agree with this product idea that Pages would benefit from a method of organization, and this product idea seems more about Faculty UX than Student UX. I would just want to make sure that instructors couldn't make that organization in the Pages area public and then try to run their course there; they should clearly be using Modules instead. I still want Canvas' structure to continue to foster good design choices. Maybe these ideas would work:
- allow the Pages area to have folders, but remove the ability to make folders public. (Faculty would still need to link them to make them visible, or incorporate them in Modules)
- make Pages more like Assignments, allowing the creation of different "Groups" of Pages, using the same UI elements as assignments, too.
- use a Trello-style spread of lists, with the Pages as cards that can be dragged between lists
I want to respond to some earlier comments, but I'll be doing that separately to keep this post from becoming a wall.
I think a lot of people have this experience, that Canvas feels mismatched overall. Here's how I try to think about it — areas like Pages, Files, Assignments, and Quizzes are almost like little buckets of individual pieces. I imagine a kid with a bunch of lego blocks that's sorted the blocks by function. The Modules area is where all those lego blocks start getting put together, where the kid says "this piece connects to this piece, then this piece, then..." and so on. Modules is where the overall flow of the course becomes visible to the student.
You and also talk about Pages vs. Files - again, here's how I try to think through it. When I look at anything on a computer I expect that if I want to make changes to something, I have to use the software that created that something. For example, if I'm looking at a Word document, I expect that Word will let me edit it. This is a little simplistic, because we all know that multiple programs can handle multiple file types (I could pop that .docx in Word or Mac's Pages), but I find it a helpful heuristic. More often than not, I need the same program. In some situations I can get away with having the same kind of program, but I risk weird output (opening a Word file in Mac's Pages is not pretty). I'll never go to iTunes to try and edit my resume. So when I look at the Files area of Canvas, I do the same thing. If Canvas didn't make those files, I shouldn't expect it to edit those files. Since I used Canvas to make the content pages, I should expect Canvas to edit those content pages.
Thanks to @dwillmore and @jonesn16 for adding such good ideas to this thread. My guess is that instead of tinkering with the current version of Pages, Canvas probably needs to totally rethink the Files and Pages areas (why are they even separate?) in much the same way that it has totally rethought the Gradebook and totally rethought Quizzes, beginning a process that will probably last a couple of years where they come to users and say "What kind of content development should Canvas try to support and how can we best support it?"
I was at the Project Khaki thing a couple of weeks ago, and I was struck by how there is basically no discussion of Content as an area of concern. I'm not sure why that is, since clearly the Pages/Files/Modules system in place right now is a mess, the result of a not-very-clear vision for Content when the project was launched. But given the increasing emphasis on digital content (not just textbooks) and especially OER, and also personalized learning (which has to mean personalized content, right?), I would love to see Canvas doing a better job, articulating a real vision for Content.
I'm personally hoping that the current emphasis on Analytics (and there is an emphasis on Analytics) will be the excuse for a re-examination of Content, and at that point I would throw Discussions into the mix as well since that is really the only place that student content creation happens... and for me, student content creation is the most important piece of the puzzle.
So, rather than going on about this-or-that approach to folders-in-Pages, I will put in a plea for a serious re-think of Content overall. The current emphasis has been on assessments (Quizzes and Gradebook) and there is ongoing work on Analytics. Surely at some point people are going to step back and take a serious look at Content, right...? Doing Analytics before there is a real content strategy is going to mean having to rework a lot of the Analytics later I would guess.
Pinging @jared for the big picture! And also because "the five why's" would probably be well applied here too. 🙂
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