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Dynamic Home Page Content Based on Date

Dynamic Home Page Content Based on Date

(1)

The home pages are a critical part of any course as they offer students guidance on where to begin when they first log in to a course. For many of our faculty, these pages serve a very specific purpose during the beginning of the semester, but, once students have familiarized themselves with the content of the course, the content on this page is then deprecated. At that point, faculty may change the page/content that they have set as the Home page.

Many of our instructors do things like this:

TimeframeHome Page
First week to two weeks of courses"Welcome" page or "Start Here" page or "Syllabus" page
Remaining weeks of semesterModules page

My idea is to give instructors the option to set multiple pages in their course that would act as the Home page, and set dates for when each of those pages would become the Home Page. This automation would make it so that Instructors could make their courses somewhat responsive to the timeframe of the semester.

If only one Home page was specified, then the default state of the home page would be set for the entirety of the course.

However, if the instructor sets multiple pages as the home page, then he or she must dictate timeframes for each page, with the first page having a starting date that matches the date of the creation of the course, and the last page having no ending date, and being the page that would exist permanently for the duration of the course. Below is an example of the start and end dates for a collection of home pages in this proposed structure:

Home PageStart DateEnd Date
Syllabus PageStart of course08/14/17
Exam I Main Page (First page of Exam I Module)08/15/1709/15/17
Exam II Main Page (First page of Exam II Module)09/16/1710/16/17
Exam III Main Page (First page of Exam III Module)10/17/1711/17/17
Final Exam Main Page (First page of Final Exam Module)11/18/17End of course

   

I know that this would require a lot of modifications to the way that Canvas handles home pages, but it would make the courses far more dynamic and versatile, with little need for manual manipulation by instructors beyond the starting date of classes.

12 Comments
laurakgibbs
Surveyor

I have 110 homepages... 🙂

Blog-as-Homepage CanvasLIVE Slides – Teaching with Canvas 

But seriously, I agree with you about the problem of stale content on the homepage. (I'm worried about content that stales out over the course of a day, hence the dynamic content in the sidebars: new content on every page reload). So, that's why I opted for my blog solution. And for faculty who want a solution now (since the odds of Canvas implementing this are probably low, and, even if they do, it will be a long wait), a blog option does work because you can queue up blog posts with future dates, no problem. That's what I do for my daily posts, and of course that would work for any time interval; I just happen to prefer daily because I teach fully online and my students are all on different schedules, not a regimen of fixed dates like in your example.

screenshot of http://India.MythFolklore.net

homepage screenshot

thompsli
Learner II

I would definitely use this. Right now, I have my Home Page set up with the various required things that my school asks me to put there (office hours and such), and then a table that links to each week's Module by date for all weeks in that quarter. (I organize my Modules as numbered weeks, with one week's worth of content per module)

I'd like to have the homepage instead display that week's tasks, but I am unwilling to edit the homepage for 6 classes every Sunday night just to accomplish this. 

Desired home page would then look something like:

Welcome to Math 8!

Assorted required course info that doesn't change

New dynamic section (I'd create a page for each week of my course by copying and pasting the above stuff and then changing this part for each Work Week):

This week (Week 10) you need to:

  • Study Lesson: Solving One-Variable Equations Using Addition and Subtraction (Monday or Tuesday)
  • Complete Exercise: Solving One-Variable Equations Using Addition and Subtraction (Due Tuesday)
  • Study Lesson: Solving One-Variable Equations Using Multiplication and Division (Wednesday or Thursday)
  • Complete Exercise: Solving One-Variable Equations Using Multiplication and Division (Due Thursday)
  • Complete Problem of the Week #10: Competing Ice Cream Stands (Due Friday)

What I'd really like is the ability to embed existing Modules (with the same look and feel as they have on the Modules page) into arbitrary course Pages on a per-Module basis and then use that in conjunction with this feature request to accomplish that weekly task list, but that would involve additional functionality beyond this suggestion.

msgarcia
Surveyor

Thank you for sharing this Laura. Yeah, I could see managing 110 home pages in my suggested system as being way too much of a hassle. Using a blog is a great solution, and I will certainly file it a way as an alternative solution. I also completely understand that with your course being 100% online, you wouldn't want to have to create three to four month's worth of "Home Page" shifts, and in that case a blog makes so much more sense. Again, thank you for sharing this!

GregoryBeyrer
Adventurer III

Sometimes ideas get posted and I think, Why isn't that already included in Canvas? This is one of those.

nhatch
Community Member

Agreed. I actually submitted this very idea yesterday, and was directed here. I use a different Front Page for the Home Page of my course each week. I like the element of dynamism it adds to the course. I realize I could put that page at the top of each week's Module, and make the Course Modules the Home Page; that doesn't exactly achieve the same effect though, and still relies on the student to actually scroll down and click on the page. Instead, I just manually change the Front Page at the beginning of each week. It's not a huge deal, but it would be nice (and more consistent), if I could just set each week's Front Page to become the Home Page on a certain date/time. We can set Announcements to post at a certain date/time; I would like the ability to do the same with Pages.

msgarcia
Surveyor

An update on all of this. I am currently working with my team at Collin, and I believe that we have developed a potential solution that would allow users to do something similar to this. Essentially, we are allowing the user to build a single page in Canvas, and have content on the page that will display during different date ranges. We have already done the initial tests and the conditional displaying based on dates works perfectly. Now we are working on the UI/UX pieces to ensure that it looks good. I will report back if and when we deploy it.

frazies
Surveyor

It would be great if we could pre-set the dates a particular homepage is available to students. We could have the homepage change each week with new information. 

JPettler
Surveyor

Yes, I would love for faculty to have the ability to schedule Canvas Homepage changes. 

I create a new Canvas page to display on my Homepage each week. Right now I manually update it from the current page to the new page on Sunday mornings. It would be nice if the Homepage could be scheduled to change at 8:00 am on Sunday morning at the same time that I schedule my new module to automatically become available to students. 

martin_sierocin
Surveyor

Please allow for scheduling of front pages to change. I typically use a new frontpage for each unit in my canvas course. I do not like worrying if I will remember or rushing to work to change it.

montgomery1
Surveyor II

I would also like to have the ability to release weekly home pages and preset the release dates.

@msgarcia your idea would work for my needs as well. Thank you for working on this feature.

 

KyleReynolds
Surveyor

My school uses "pages" to give our daily lessons, but there is no easy way for students to find the current page each day.  Could Canvas have a "current lesson" button or something similar that could direct students to a certain page?  We use our "Home" page to feature the syllabus and other relevant course materials, so there is no easy way to link to the "page" that features the plan for the day.  Currently, some teachers make an "announcement" for each class with a link to a page, but it is clumsy to set up daily and the students are often confused by the "Announcement" heading and don't think to look for a link to the current lesson in that spot.  Thanks for considering!

KyleReynolds
Surveyor

Anyone else looking for an easier way to direct students to daily pages that change?