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Color Coding Modules and Assignments

Color Coding Modules and Assignments

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(7)

Please add the ability to color code assignments/pages/quizzes/discussion titles within a module. I am a 5th grade teacher and my students are struggling to effectively navigate Canvas without the visual aid of colors. My colleagues who teach Kindergarten-2nd grade would also greatly appreciate this added support, as their students cannot read yet. The ability for these teachers to be able to refer to assignments and pages within a module by referencing the color associated would be a powerful tool and greatly increase student success. The text within the title is still vitally important and I am not suggesting that color coding take the place of a written title. Maybe there is a happy medium and at one end of the title, there could be a box that teachers could fill with color, but also leave the title written in text with white background to ensure those with vision deficiencies are still being supported

 

 

 

44 Comments
Naomi
Community Team
Community Team
Status changed to: Moderating

Hi @Tulls,

Thanks for sharing this idea. Could you elaborate on the intention behind displaying module items in different colors? Using color as the sole visual means for conveying an intended meaning does not meet accessibility standards, as it disadvantages students who have color vision deficiency.

Please read through W3C Use of Color and What are the Canvas accessibility standards? to learn more—and then let us know more about the use case for colors.

Naomi

Tulls
Surveyor
Absolutely. Thank you for the speedy response. 
I'm a 5th grade teacher and my school has the unique ability to hold a weekly material pickup from the school. Therefore, I am able to incorporate pencil/paper assignments into my teaching, but it has been hard for families to know which assignments are turned in on paper and which assignments need to be submitted via Canvas. I know that you can select "on paper" or "online submission" when creating assignments, but what my families really need is a color coding system within the module to know which assignments are to be turned in on paper or via Canvas before even clicking into the assignment. My vision is that I can flush the background of the title with varying colors to indicate these requirements before students even click into the assignments. My students with study skills included on their IEP are having a really hard time keeping track of all this because they struggle to navigate Canvas and I can only help them to a certain point via distance.
On another note, my colleagues who teach kindergarten through 2nd grade would also really like this as an option because a lot of their kids can't even read yet. This makes it difficult for these teachers to tell students, "click on the assignment that says XYZ," because their students can't read. It would be so beneficial for this age group if their teachers were able to direct them to an assignment by telling them the color of the title within the module. 
For elementary in general, color coding is a necessity. Regardless of whether students can read or have IEP's etc, elementary age students generally do not have the organization skills necessary to effectively navigate Canvas without visual aids and color coding is the easiest support to be able to offer those kiddos. 
I understand that color coding is not an accessibility standard and I read through the documents attached. To clarify, the text within the title is still vitally important and I am not suggesting that color coding take the place of a written title. Maybe there is a happy medium and at one end of the title, there could be a box that teachers could fill with color, but also leave the title written in text with white background to ensure those with vision deficiencies are still being supported.
MattHanes
Navigator

If this helps, we use unicode symbols which you can copy and paste just about anywhere in Canvas. Like you could use the red book 📕 to symbolize on paper and the green book 📗 to symbolize canvas submissions for example. You can copy and paste them exactly like text. Here is a list that you can copy and paste from:
https://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTips/unicode-symbols.html 

Here is an example of what one of my modules looks like:
Module screenshotModule screenshot

Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team

@Tulls 

Thanks for your response! Would you take a moment to edit the idea to incorporate a summary of this last part: "the text within the title is still vitally important and I am not suggesting that color coding take the place of a written title. Maybe there is a happy medium and at one end of the title, there could be a box that teachers could fill with color, but also leave the title written in text with white background to ensure those with vision deficiencies are still being supported"? That would align the request with best practices that provide accessibility for all.

Thanks again!

d_truax
Surveyor

I teach High School and the ability to color code assignment types would be helpful!  All of the grey text just blends together for me and the students.

Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team
Status changed to: Open for Conversation
 
Tulls
Surveyor

@MattHanes @Stefanie The images are a great great idea! In my opinion, solid colors would work better for a few reasons. First, the paper packets my colleagues and I send home are color coordinated by day. This makes it so much easier for students to locate and have the correct materials ready for lessons. Therefore, solid colors within the modules on Canvas would more helpful so they can easily find videos, resources, instructions, etc. specific to the assignment that is being turned in on paper for a grade. This is even more important for teachers who teach lower grades with students who are emerging readers. If students know what color the paper assignment is, they find resources on Canvas more easily. Secondly, the brain can recognize colors more quickly and easily than images. I know it seems like a minute amount of time, but for students who have little to no support from parents at home, the little details like that make a difference. If we are in this for the long haul, I want to be able to do everything in my power to support my students.

Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team

@Tulls As explained in the first comment in this thread, we would not implement a color-only solution because it disadvantages students with color-vision deficiency, and therefore violates accessibility standards. This is why we asked the author of the post to incorporate a proposed solution that is inclusive of these students: color AND images. 

Tulls
Surveyor

@Stefanie I understand the need for color AND images. I was just saying the colors would be more useful than the images for my class specifically. 

msderuyter
Surveyor

I would love to be able to color band the headings in the modules. I would love to have all discussions, pages, external links, and assignments in one model be the same color.  As an elementary teacher, my students get lost between the modules. This would allow just one more level of visual distinction that could help. 

fineman_sarah
Surveyor

I love this idea! The combination of using colors and images would be great for my students! Please do this!

deCheubell
Surveyor

I must caveat this response by saying that I am currently using Canvas to teach distance students during the Covid pandemic. Canvas was adopted as the primary LMS by my school district. Canvas would not have been my first choice of LMS, mainly because it offers so little opportunities for customizing how information is presented and organized. That being said, I think Canvas has the potential to improve and be a more effective platform for student engagement and distance learning.

I understand your reasoning behind limiting color due to accessibility concerns, but I feel like it is rather limited in scope and lacks consideration for the needs of the entire learning community.  As a teacher who has direct student and parent contact daily, color coding is frequently requested as an additional way to organize and access information. The icons canvas uses to differentiate between page types look remarkably similar, with the page icon and the assignment icon looking nearly identical, especially when considering most students are accessing canvas on a 13-inch screen. When labeling is consistent text headers work well, however, students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities are clearly at a disadvantage. Right now Canvas only prioritizes one potential method for creating an organizational structure. Any teacher can tell you that a variety of entry points for students to access information is key. Students benefit when they have the autonomy to access information in a way that benefits their learning style best. Simply put, differentiation is key to a successful and equitable learning environment.

Many students who have different learning modalities or are not strong readers find that color-coding helps them find information, especially when a color-coding system remains consistent throughout the course. Some IEPs specifically identify the use of color-coding as an organizational strategy. Text headers, icons, and color can be used simultaneously, and offer three different ways students can identify course content. 

I am not sure as to why Canvas isn't considering color coding as a valuable option. Why are we limiting this function to accommodate color deficient students, when it could benefit other students? Less than 10 percent of students have any form of color vision deficiency, while The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity states that 20 percent of the population has dyslexia or a reading disability.  It seems like a weak argument to limit color functionality when multiple organizational strategies, that benefit a wide range of students, can be implemented simultaneously.

Additionally, the justification for omitting a color-coding option provided by Canvas Community team members and layout in the Canvas Accessibility Standards seems inconsistent with other customization options available in Canvas. If the use of color is such an issue from an accessibility standpoint, why even offer multiple color options on the dashboard or text color options in the text editor? Even on this web page, there is the use of red to prioritize important features, like submit buttons, and blue for headers, menus, and links. This is a type of color coding for organizing information and resources. Given that the most common type of color vision deficiency falls within the red/green category, it seems that even these colors may not be an entirely appropriate choice to accommodate visual impairments, but do they work for over 90% of the population? Absolutely. 

Keeping Canvas’ Accessibility Standards in mind, compromise may be to offer a limited color pallet that best suits those with vision impairments and those who benefit from additional forms of visual organization strategies. I think it is important to keep in mind that one size does not fit all. Offering options for differentiation is an important factor to provide an equitable learning environment for all students.

Huntalaska5
Surveyor

Please add colors and shapes and pictures to the band headings in the modules.  

 

 

still_michael
Surveyor

I like this idea.  Do something like the board game ticket to ride so that colorblind individuals can still differentiate each header.  Add a differentiating pattern/shape to the color as well.

BinekE
Surveyor

I 100% agree that having color-coding as an option for modules would help elementary students in particular.  I love the idea of adding patterns to help with accessibility.

LisaAlbrich
Surveyor

The ability to assign different background colors in the cells under each module would be beneficial to our diverse group of learners.  Even with the most efficient and consistent labeling system throughout a district, it is not alway easy for students to locate activities.  Students have to sort through so much text just to arrive at an assignment.

Thank you for taking this into consideration! 

cmederos
Surveyor

I would really love this feature as well! Not only would it assist with my organization of all the modules, but it would certainly help the students find their assignments more easily.  As teachers, we know our students needs and IEPs, could the color feature be optional with a default of gray should that need be in our class?  In my case, the primary reason is not for the students but for my planning purposes.  Platforms like Google Drive are so user friendly because they relate to things we would do regularly.  Color coding systems are used everywhere to facilitate planning and execution.  I find it cumbersome to scroll through so many modules looking for something when it would be more efficient to look for the "file" color.   Please consider!!!!

vangarderen
Surveyor

I know this has been suggested, but colors for module headings would be great. I am using a development site to pull together several classes to form a new class BUT we need to be able to delineate among courses. given that module can not be filed "in" another module, having color to organize modules per class would help.

jakhowe
Surveyor

Please add color-coding.  Modules can become visually cluttered.  Also, please add a legend where you can turn off and on the module items by color.  Thanks

jhans59
Surveyor

It would be awesome if there was an option to make the text headers different colors. It would really make them stand out on the home page/in the modules.