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Allow linking to a folder (instead of just individual files) in Modules

Allow linking to a folder (instead of just individual files) in Modules

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Adding links to files that students will need to access or download in Modules is useful.  But sometimes there are multiple files needed for the same lesson.  In that case, it would be helpful to be able to link them to a folder (e.g. Files / Lesson 3) where they could go to get to all of the files they need.  This would make the Modules lesson for each listing considerably shorter when there are multiple files required.  Thank you.

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2 Comments
James
Community Champion

Interesting idea, @ScottNestler. I played around with this a little and can see the difficulty involved. 

Do you have your Files visible in your navigation scheme? If not, students wouldn't be able to see the folder, they would get a "That page has been disabled for this course" message and returned to the home page.

I tried a work-around. From the files section, I grabbed the URL for the folder and then created an External URL to that page. I didn't have high hopes since it may not be updated when you copy the course to a new course, but it was worse than I expected. It loaded the full Canvas navigation system inside the iframe so there was a Canvas inside of a Canvas. If you tell it to load the page in a new tab, then it didn't do that, but it looked like you were still in Canvas with all of the navigation, include the file navigation visible.

There is a working alternative that provides more flexibility. That is creating a separate content page that links to the files. You are essentially recreating the contents of a folder within a page.  It does require more work in setting up, but I think the benefits for the student outweigh the extra work for the instructor. It removes the extra navigation and folders that you may not want the students to see (if you want them to see any) and allows you to change the order to the order that you want them to view the files in, which may not be alphabetical. It also allows you to  provide a human-friendly text of "Randomization Hypothesis Testing of Two Independent Means" when the file might be called "lesson3a.pdf". It also has the benefit that you can add extra instructions that aren't easily available in a list of files (let's not go back to the days of README.TXT) since they're not automatically displayed in a folder (that could be a different feature idea).

If I was the kind of person that created folders for each lesson and named the files alphabetically so that they appeared in the right order and I used descriptive names that didn't need modification (I'm not any of those three), then I would write a program to take the list of files and create pages, named after the folder, with them links to the files autogenerated based on the folder's content.

You are probably right from a performance perspective about having one link instead of three, though. One semester I tried having a link for everything and then making it a module requirement so students could check it off the list. My modules got really long, my modules took too long to load, and most students didn't check them off anyway. The students who did check them off said they liked it, but they were the ones who would have been successful even if the module items weren't there at all.

I've since gone to one page that contains all of the links to the resources for the week or project in one place. I used to have that as the first page in the module but still had students who weren't seeing it because they would just go to the To Do list and then jump straight to the assignment. This semester, I started making that resource page the home page for the course and then rotating it each week. I still have students that don't find it, but at least all they have to do is hit the Home button or go into the course and there it is.

If your course is structured in a way that students need to progress sequentially through the requirements, a single resource page wouldn't work, but you could have one for weekly readings and make them complete that before opening up the next module item.

KristinL
Community Team
Community Team
Status changed to: Open