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Allow wrap-around text for content items in a module

Allow wrap-around text for content items in a module

  This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas

 

  Idea will be open for vote Wed. July 1, 2015 - Wed. October 7, 2015  Learn more about voting...

 

Dear Canvas

 

Recently you updated the number of characters visible in the module main page.  Now all of my assignments are truncated and end with ....

 

Why would you do this?

 

Does this look informative to students?  Why is there so much white open and available space between my assignment name and the number of points it's worth?

 

http://puu.sh/ipNcq.png

 

Now, I heard it was to make things easier to read on phones and tablets.  Except it's not. Here's my tablet.  This is awesome.  Totally - I like being able to see 10 letters of an assignment.  And since you can't hover on a tablet, why have you done this?

 

I would like to know who, in their right mind, looked at this and said, yeah.... that looks great!

 

http://puu.sh/ipNmy.png

 

I would like to vote on increasing the display size of assignment names in the modules.  Whatever it was before was even too small.  So I don't know if this is a vote on increasing the allowable text letters, or if it increases the width of the pixels used in that category.  No, I don't use the app for Canvas because I don't like how it's set up or organized.  It looks entirely different than the web based version, nothing is indented and so on, so that's not a reasonable alternative request Canvas.

 

Thanks

 

April

 

  Comments from Instructure

 

For more information, please read through the Canvas Production Release Notes (2016-08-27)

86 Comments
kent
Community Member

Hi April,

I'm not exactly sure this is a problem that canvas has caused by limiting the characters for a module item. Or, at least not exactly. It looks like it's a screen resolution issue where you aren't able to stretch beyond your current resolution, and, because of that, you aren't able to see the whole title that is blocked out by white space canvas likes to add in. Which is actually necessary to keep the interface as clean looking as it dose compared to some other learning management systems. And, yes, it is truncated a bit much in some cases -- but, at least in my experience, I've had no problems with it. 

Granted, I could be totally wrong -- but, at least at my university, the character limit dose not seem so short on my screen at 1920x1080. But if I make the browser window narrower, the module item will start to become too truncated for me to read it effectively.

On your laptop you can probably get around this at least a little bit by zooming out in your web browser. (Command or Ctrl and the [ - ] key on your keyboard... [ + ] to zoom in). This, at least in the meantime, will help you identify the module items easier. If you zoom out too much, you may have a hard time reading it though.


It's also helpful - and this is just a preference thing, I understand - to not add the same beginning to the module items unless totally necessary.

Instead just append it on the end which will also help students dig into the canvas course a little deeper to see what is required and what isn't if they also struggle with the screen resolution problem you seem to be having (that I could totally be wrong about). Because, at least I would assume, most module items should be read by the student. So I don't totally understand why it says "required" or "read me" at the beginning of most modules in your course. So maybe that could be an easy fix by moving those to the end of the module item name.

Of course, you're more than welcome to run your course  how you want to run it.

But, I  hope this helps a little bit.

Also, that looks like an ipad screenshot for the second one, would turning it landscape help? Just a suggestion, I'm not sure if it would.

Hope you have a wonderful day.

amixon
Community Member

Kent

Neither of my monitors go to that resolution - both are newer laptops (one is less than a year old, my Mac is less than 2 years old).  My Mac is set to retina display preferred resolution - I won't be changing that.  This was a change - about 2 weeks ago I could see more characters - now I can't.  I reported it and Canvas admitted it was a change and was intentional - to allow more characters to be seen on the mobile app.  However, I don't use the mobile app (I think it's also horrid as you can't see your calendar, only one module at a time, nothing is indented) so that increase in character use at the expense of the desktop set up was a poor decision in my opinion.  So I would like my characters back!

April

amixon
Community Member

Sorry - I forgot to add that online best practices state that you should differentiate what action to want students to take with assignments.  If I put required at the end, a student won't see it at all with the current character/pixel count! 


April

kent
Community Member

I understand not wanting to change your preferred resolution on your mac. And, in fact, your mac resolution goes beyond 1920x1080 if it is a retina. Or at least I'm pretty sure. Your browser renders it as though it was a normal (13 inch?) display. So, just to clarify, my option was to zoom out in your web browser to help see the titles. And, thankfully if you're on a mac with retina display, the text would remain pretty sharp as you zoom out.

As far as online best practices, I don't really know what that is. I'm just coming from a student and course designer perspective saying I don't feel it's always necessary, especially if you're having trouble reading the titles.

I can understand you're frustrated. I'm just trying to provide a temporary solution to help you out.

Best of luck.

amixon
Community Member

Hi Kent

When I switched my online class from Moodle to Canvas, I spent a lot of time retitling everything to fit (or at least almost fit).  Moodle allowed for wrap around text - so you could type in whatever info you wanted and it would render properly).


Canvas had a pixel/character limit, so I edited every title and header that I had, every assignment name.  Now they changed it again.


I did cntrl- out.  In order to see things, I have to get down to about font size 8.  That's not really a work around per se.  And not something I feel comfortable asking my students to do - nor should I have to ask them to do that.  I had a 65 year old woman in one of my classes - do you think she wants to set her browser to font size 8 to read things?

I get the work arounds. I have been playing that game with Canvas since day 1.  We are still playing the game since I teach in the sciences and almost every quiz type didn't allow for proper formatting (super or subscripts) it has been a dance I have been doing for years. 

From a course design perspective.  I teach my courses online, I have a required quiz, and then a quiz, exactly the same, for practice.  This is why I lead with those words, so students can tell which one is which quiz.  Without the words, they have, in  the past, tried to take the practice quiz for their grade (and it doesn't get graded).  You can imagine their frustration.  From a best practices perspective it is important when teaching online, to be clear with what is required, extra credit, not required, and what action students should take with assignments in the module.  With a f2f class using Canvas to disseminate info, it's not as important because you see them and can refer to it, and show them.  Online, they have to be able to clearly see what they need to do.

I'll probably just dump everything into content pages now.  Again, redesigning my course for a third time in 4 years.

When something was set up reasonably, and they change it, that is why I have asked for this.  To please change it back.  If you didn't notice a change at all, that's great.  You have a monitor of ample size.  I have two laptops (13 in Mac and 15 in PC), and noticed a change immediately.  Many of our students have the cute little netbooks from Acer and HP.  I can only imagine what it looks like on their puny screens now.  These are things that Canvas needs to consider and think about.  I have a 2000.00 retina display Mac, and the change in pixel width has negatively affected me.  I know what each assignment is, I made it, created it, so if it's bothersome to me, how do you think a student feels when looking at a change and they are new to the course and haven't done the assignments yet?    It has to my colleagues (and one has the large screen MacBook Pro from several years ago (non retina) and it changed on her screen also.  This is why I have submitted the request.

If nothing changed for you, then you could vote for it to change back, and it has no impact on you at all!

April

700958421
Community Member

I agree with April. I got a request similar to this from one of my faculty members at Delaware. Having the Modules tool to wrap the long titles would be ideal. See screenshot below of what the current truncating does, regardless of the resolution of the screen.

CanvasSnapshot.jpg

laux
Community Member

Hi, and thanks Mathieu. I agree! I am the faculty member whose page Mathieu was nice enough to write about.

It really is distressing to see that the text headers in my course Modules are now truncated. The Modules page is the main navigation structure for my course, and I use the text headers to separate subsections within each Module, and sometimes to provide usage information.

Actually, the situation is even a little worse than Mathieu described---the number of visible characters varies with the zoom level I choose in my browser. That means I cannot manage how much my students can see by even by counting characters.

I understand every LMS must make choices and tradeoffs. I am sure there is some reason for reducing the number of characters I can show. But it has caused a communication problem in my course. After working hard to "get it right," now I find myself beginning with a new group of students by apologizing for the appearance and lack of communication on my key Modules page. This is frustrating and counterproductive, and sends exactly the wrong signal about the care I have put into my course.

Canvas, please consider changing this appearance back, or at least give me an option to do so. More generally, I encourage you to avoid making changes in appearance without compelling improvement as the reason.

Thank you.

Paul Laux, University of Delaware

chofer
Community Coach
Community Coach

I, too, wish the titles went back to being longer.  I did find a response about this from erinhallmark​ over here: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-3803#comment-9882

amixon
Community Member

Thanks for that link!  I wish they did wrap-around as well - at the very least let me know how many characters/spaces I am going to be given..... On larger screens it wraps around, on smaller screens it doesn't given their allowed width.   I do miss the wrap around text in Moodle.  I understand that huge chunks of text can make it hard to wade through - but at the same time, I don't want to "hide" everything in content pages.  Click, click, click, click, ohhhh there's what I am supposed to do today.   I polled my students and they said that they want as much as possible right there - they can see what is expected of them, they know where things lie in the order of assignments, they can just work their way through the module top to bottom.  I didn't have a single student miss an assignment when my course was structured this way last term.  Not one.  I think that's sort of amazing.

biray
Community Member

Hi  @amixon ​ - thank you for your idea submission. It will be available for vote in the next voting cycle.

In the meantime, in order to make it easier for users to find this idea, I've updated the title to better reflect your idea and the conversation that is developing. From "Increase number of characters in assignments in modules" to "Allow wrap-around text for content items in a module"

Please let me know if this change is not reflective of your goals.

biray
Community Member

Here's another idea (posted after this) that brings up similar concerns:

Adam_King
Community Member

I am getting a lot of complaints about this from users and believe it will get worse when things ramp up for Fall. The point at which Canvas is cutting off text is too aggressive now, even for me on a 1920 pixel wide monitor and the majority of users do not have devices with that high of a resolution. When I brought this up to Instructure support, the justification for this change is that it helps tablet users and in any case you can hover over the text and see what you are missing. Unfortunately, even more of the text gets cut off on tablets and you cannot hover to see text on android and iOS devices and you can't click on the text headers like you can on file links or assignments. It would be much better to wrap the text. Students will miss information, instructions, and not be able to find items in the modules.

scottdennis
Community Team
Community Team

This feature idea is now open for voting.

Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team

I second  @Adam_King ​'s observation about tablet users not being able to utilize hover text. This design change effectively hinders the users it was initially intended to help.

cjennings1
Surveyor

I'm having all of the problems stated above.  Please change it back!​ I believe this issue is really going to blow up when educators start looking at their courses for fall semester.

BKINNEY
Community Member

I think this is a great example of how developing for mobile hurts users. I'm not saying Instructure should give up on mobile, not at all. But I hate, hate, hate to see the browser experience degraded in any way because of the need to support mobile. I know how hard responsive web design is, and Instructure does an incredible job. But, I feel very strongly that 'mobile first' is the wrong priority. I wish we could have a referendum on that issue. How much full browser usability should users have to sacrifice at the altar of mobile compatibility? How much tablet usability should users have to sacrifice at the alter of phone compatibility?  My answer: none. And none. Now, I'm at an extreme, I know, which is why the question needs to be asked more broadly.

I'm not sure that text wrapping is the right answer in this case. Certainly text wrapped at the current width would cause it's own problems. You could easily end up with three or more lines for some titles. I think one line of text is sufficient, as long as you make the best use possible of that one line. Maybe you could reduce the font size of everything that sits to the right of a colon or period, and then still leave a reasonable right margin. The goal, IMO, should be to allow the most text possible, while still retaining readability. Yes, you need a healthy margin, but the margin doesn't need to be as wide as the text.

I hear you saying that the 'clean' look is an important selling point for Instructure. I get that. But once you are in the trenches, and clean becomes the enemy of functional, functional  has to win out. Instructors who prize the clean look can keep their module titles short! You've removed the option for instructors who prize functionality.

700958421
Community Member

One thing I don't quite understand is why this is a new idea for a new feature. To me, that's a regression (even if it's by design). At what point would an idea like this be treated like a bug to be fixed?

BKINNEY
Community Member

If the page is working as the developers intend, it's not a bug. We need to

convince them that their intentions are misguided. Plus, someone already

tried to submit it as a bug and got rebuffed. So, even though it's not

truly a new feature, the feature request process is the only one available.

Becky Kinney

Academic Technology Services

Project Blog <http://sites.udel.edu/bkinney/>

lcoburn001
Community Member

i would like to know more about this subject

jmccarth
Surveyor

I originally posted the following to a new idea.  Then, I found that the issue was already raised on this thread.  So I have deleted my new idea and will contribute to this thread.

The issue is truncated text in the first column (field) on the modules.  This is not only a screen resolution problem in that no matter the resolution, some truncating will occur.

I created this picture, but realize now that the blank space or column is sometime used,  (see next picture)

The "blank space" column I referred to above is sometime used, but you can still see a lot of wasted space:

Apparently this truncation is the result of solving a problem with mobile devices:  You can scroll down and read Erin Hallmark Jun 15, 2015 3:37 PM (in response to Adam King) at this link: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-3803#comment-9866

So . . .  the fundamental issue is how to make each of the fields (columns) on this screen wide enough so that the maximum number of characters -- in the first field -- show both on regular computers and on mobile devices.  (Since most of my students use desk/laptop computers, not mobile devices - it is regrettable that functionality on the computer has been sacrificed for mobile devices.)

Our goal, as instructors, is to make the user interface as friendly and understandable to students as possible.  This truncated text on the module items greatly interferes with our ability to deliver complete, easy to read-and-follow guidance to our students. 

The goal, at Instructure, is different.  My guess is that the truncated issue is not a teaching method issue to the Canvas developers.  It is just a mechanical issue needed to solve a problem regarding visibility on mobile devices. Unfortunately, the solution they have landed on interferes with our ability to provide useful titles and labels on the modules.  I hope Instructure and Instructors can come together on this.  I would settle for text wrapping in the first field (column) - although this would be a lame solution, I am for any solution wherein students can see all of what I want them to see without ellipsis . . .

(PS: I hope this thread does not die in the archives with "Great idea, but it is not in our 6 month plan.")