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Nickname a course title

Nickname a course title

  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...

At our institution, we don't allow instructors to rename their courses, so they are stuck with long and sometimes ugly course names. We don't allow them to rename because we don't want to mess up courses with new data coming from the student system. Would it be possible to allow instructors to provide a nickname for a course, the way a bank allows users to nickname an account? Ideally, it would be visible to the instructors, students, and admins, but the "real" course name would appear in reports and the nickname would not be affected by the new data coming from the student information system.

 

 

  Comments from Instructure

 

This idea has been completed.  For more information please review the Canvas Production Release Notes (2015-11-21)

40 Comments
scottdennis
Community Team
Community Team

This feature idea is now open for voting.

nuvlg721
Community Member

To clarify: the nickname should be displayed ALONG WITH the regular course title received from the student system.

millerjm
Community Champion

Would this be displayed to only the one user, or update it for every member of the class? 

kkr255
New Member

Would prefer to have this for ALL members of the class including faculty.  Our current assigned course names make it extremely hard to find courses in drop down lists and/or on mobile devices.

nuvlg721
Community Member

Right - thank you, Kristin, for clarifying.

millerjm
Community Champion

Having the ability for admins to turn on/off this permission, or make it for the teacher only, and not visible for the student, would be important to our instituion.  We have make our course names in a very readable, standardized, format and would not want the faculty renaming the courses for the students, but if it were just for their reference, that would be OK. 

csalazar
Instructure
Instructure

nuvlg721​,

Is the core problem here that course names are getting overwritten from SIS imports, or do you not like the way course names are formatted in the SIS which makes it difficult for students and faculty to navigate Canvas? Are there specific places where you think it would be most valuable for teachers and students to see the nicknames?

Also can you describe how you currently use the Course Name, Course Code, and SIS ID#s when referencing courses? I'm sorry for the barrage of questions, but this detail will be very helpful in thinking about the variety of ways we could address the core problem.

Thank you,

Cosme

nuvlg721
Community Member

Cosme:

This will be a two part answer - one now and one shortly.

Two answer the first question, about the core problem: The problem, as I see it, is that course names that appear in Canvas are unwieldy (sometimes) - they can get awfully long. So the home page and navigation area end up looking like this (or worse):

  • Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 9.30.03 AM.png
  • Many faculty refer to their courses by a shorthand - "Conducting 393" or "Chamber Orchestra" - and it would be nice if there were a way they could designate that shorthand, which could then be used in the 3 places you see above (left nav, top breadcrumb, course name) and in their courses drop down list (both in the top nav above and in their inbox/email):
  • Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 9.34.05 AM.png
  • Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 9.34.33 AM.png
  • (for the faculty member in the IMC courses, the shortening of the course names in the email interface means she has to guess which course is which, since the distinguishing factor is the section number, which is hidden by the elipses).

When I use my bank account info online, I'm given the option of seeing account numbers or nicknaming accounts. When I nickname an account, the interface shows me "Account (...1234) Savings" or "Account (...1234) Bobby". Then, when there are multiple accounts, if I need to transfer from Savings to Bobby, I don't need to remember which account is which - I see some of the account number and the nickname I've given it.

I need to check in with the people who wrote the software to bring in the course name information to answer you second set of questions, so I'll get back to you shortly on those.

kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

Isn't this more of an Institutional issue? Not every Institution has this problem and it seems like it has to do with the naming scheme put in place by Canvas Admins/Programmers. Our long ugly name gets reserved for our SIS ID, but we create a nice pretty name (that's standardized) for the course name and course code - which is what shows up for Students and Instructors.

CourseList.pngSettings.png

nuvlg721
Community Member

Cosme:

Here's part two of the answer to your second set of questions:

Also can you describe how you currently use the Course Name, Course Code, and SIS ID#s when referencing courses? I'm sorry for the barrage of questions, but this detail will be very helpful in thinking about the variety of ways we could address the core problem.

Right now, our synchronizer calculates a course code from the SIS information, then concatenates the course code and the course title to make the course name (such as the ones you see in the screen shots above). We don't want this information to go away or be overwritten by the feed.

SIS ID#s do not display in many places (just in the list of all the courses). We concatenate them by using the term number and the course number information coming from the SIS feed. We don't want this overwritten, either.

Let me know if that helps.

ztoups
New Member

Even when the naming scheme looks reasonable, it's still not necessarily usable. Ours fall somewhere between these two examples and faculty cannot change them; they have been decided upon somewhere higher up in the university. Our official names are year-semester-department-number-section-title:

2015 Fall - C S-485-M01-USER INTERFACE DESIGN Fall 2015

Which, from an objective standpoint (guess my background and/or credentials from the course above), is almost the least usable name you could design (which I have argued against). Not only does it lead with information that is already provided elsewhere (semester, year), but it includes information that will likely never be used on a day-to-day basis (course number). Finally, the information that is needed is in all capitals, which is known to decrease readability. Also, since it's at the end, it, in many cases, just becomes "...".

I have finally resorted to wasting a lot of time writing a javascript injector to find the long course names and replace them with quickly human-readable ones, so the above, in my browser, becomes:

UID Fall 2015

However, this frequently does not work, since, like most websites, Canvas uses a variety of styles. Plus, it basically means I have to have an script run each time my browser loads a new Canvas page. It will break any time Canvas updates its CSS. Finally, it doesn't impact anything canvas does on its backend, like sending notification emails.

A reasonable solution is to just let people provide an alias name that appears in the Canvas interface for that particular user (basically a proper implementation of what I did myself). Institutions can operate how they want, users can make their experience usable. The implementation is nearly trivial, it should require one extra database column on the back-end and a little bit of UI work.

csalazar
Instructure
Instructure

I have good news about this request. One of our engineers was able to build this feature in our most recent Hackweek. When it is available in production, users will be able to nickname a course to whatever is meaningful to them. Look for more details in the beta release notes in the next release or two.

kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

Not really happy about this. Will there be an option to allow or not allow this for an institution at the admin level? If I'm (or Canvas support) is masquerading as a user and trying to provide help or figure something out it could be difficult (and a time waster) to figure out which course is which, especially if someone gets cute with their nickname.

Imagine if someone calls for help and when we ask them what class they give their nickname because they don't remember the real course name/number (and yes, this happens now and they have to check Canvas for the real name). This could waste a lot of Help Desk time and add a layer of frustration for everyone. 

This is not an issue on our campus because we designed a solid naming scheme that provides the information students and faculty need to easily know which course is which. In our almost three years of using Canvas we've tweaked things to work best for our faculty/students (based on feedback) and it will be not cool/good if this creates an issue that was previously a non-issue.

PLEASE have this as a checkbox option for admins to allow/not allow at their institution.

P

Stef_retired
Community Team
Community Team

I concur with Kona on this. Our school also spent our first few semesters after adopting Canvas struggling with naming schemes before we came up with something everyone could readily understand and use. I shudder to think of help desks trying to elicit course information from students who have nicknamed their courses, or an admin troubleshooting by masquerading as a student (or as a teacher, hey, it can happen) only to see a bunch of nicknames only understandable to the user ("My hardest course" or "Morning course").

The original feature request reads,

Ideally, it would be visible to the instructors, students, and admins, but the "real" course name would appear in reports and the nickname would not be affected by the new data coming from the student information system.

I like the idea of users--teachers and students alike--being able to "nickname" their courses, but from an institutional perspective, it needs to be in a manner that allows a nickname in addition to the official name rather than a substitute for it. And ideally, it should be an option that is enabled at the admin level.

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

I have to agree with Kona!

As LMS admin and support, we originally let our teachers change course names, then struggled to find those courses because of their cutesy names. We turned off that permission, and life is good. Our primary identifier is our four digit course ID, our naming convention keeps the term up front, which is very important for faculty after a few quarters of courses collect in their Canvas course list. If this feature was made available, I would want the ability to turn it off.

And as a final note, the "Courses" link in the new UI does not truncate the names, so it is hardly an issue anymore.

straussi
Community Champion

I have to chime in here as well. We have worked very hard with faculty and staff to come up with understandable, and Canvas 'display-ready' course names. Any changes by faculty (or especially students) will make assistance and support very difficult. We allow our faculty to use the SIS to 'group' their course sections into as many or as few 'course sites' as they wish already.

120947_pastedImage_0.png

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @straussi ​

Thanks for chiming in. New users and faculty do not grasp what a nightmare changing course names represents for LMS admins and support. I have no problem with nicknames if the functionality can be toggled off at the account level and if the nickname only appears in the user's course list, but otherwise this is very bad juju!:smileyshocked:

James
Community Champion

I agree with stefaniesanders​. If the nickname was in addition to the official name, it would solve the problem and provide the best of both worlds: Usable by the student / teacher and identifiable by support.

It should follow these rules

  • If there is no nickname, then just display the official name as it currently is
  • If there is a nickname, then display it with first with a larger font and the official name second in a smaller font and perhaps a dimmer shade or italics or both.
  • The short name should remain the one the institution picks and not anyone's nickname.

I am not opposed to having it universally turned on as long as the official name is always displayed alongside the nickname.

Are you planning on using nicknames anywhere other than the Course list? We could provide input on whether that was a good or bad idea.

chofer
Community Coach
Community Coach

Deactivated user​...

We allow our instructors to change the name of the course.  However, for us as admins, this starts to "muddy the waters" when we need to help our faculty with course/student questions.  Most of the time, I am asking our instructors for a CRN (Course Reference Number) or the Canvas Course ID number so I can get to a course quickly.  Our course names are pulled into Canvas from our Banner SIS, but inside of Canvas, they do not display a course number next to them (example: 123-456-78900).  So, because we are allowing our faculty and adjuncts to rename their courses, there are a variety of ways they are doing this...with no consistency across the College.  Some append words to the beginning or end of the title such as "online", "traditional", "Monday", "Thursday", "afternoon", "evening", etc. in order to determine which course is which.  I've seen some instances, too, where characters have been added to the front of a title so that it is better ordered in their own course list (but this doesn't mean it's going to be ordered the same for a student).

Like others who have commented here recently, I am not in favor of having nicknames for courses.  It further "muddies the waters"...even after an instructor has re-named his/her course.  I share many of the same concerns as  @kona ​ and stefaniesanders​.

Stef_retired
Community Team
Community Team

Deactivated user, please say thanks to the engineer who used his Hackweek time to develop this!