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URL Library

URL Library

  Idea open for vote Wed. December 2, 2015 - Wed. March 2, 2016  Learn more about voting...

 

It would be wonderful to be able to add URLs to Folders on the "Files" page just as you add documents.

 

 

  

  Comments from Instructure

 

November 2016 update

Again, we thank you for this submission and your votes.  This idea will not be moving to Product Radar, and will remain in archive.  The conversation thread above provides many high quality solutions.  There are no plans to create our own version of a URL Library at this time.

39 Comments
Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team

cholling, I'm a big fan of Modules, and I never enable the Files page in the left navigation. My solution to this would be to embed the 15 PDF files in a page (and to be mindful of space considerations, I make sure that the default for embedded files of not having files auto preview inline is in place). The top of the page could provide students a link to the appropriate discussion, and the discussion would then contain a link to the relevant page--just to keep all the bases covered. I'd then drop the relevant page into its corresponding weekly module. Using this design approach, you wouldn't even need to enable the Discussions link in the left nav--although students would probably prefer that it remain there. I usually keep the Discussions link hidden for at least the first few weeks of a course, so that students must go through modules to access content. As active discussions become more numerous, I then decide whether to enable the nav link or not, and if I do, I send a message to students letting them know that I've done that.

In case you need it, here's the guide link for auto inline preview of files: How do I set the auto-open for inline preview for Files using the Rich Content Editor?

Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team

Also, cholling​, since this feature idea is about URLs, not PDF files, I'm not sure how the use case you described pertains to it. Could you elaborate?

cholling
Community Champion

Yes, I failed that explanation. As often as there are PDFs stored locally, there are additional / alternate ones that use URLs either from our own library or from online databases or websites.

Sorry.

Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team

Aha, cholling, thanks for providing that clarification. Under that scenario, you could still use my suggested remedy, namely embedding both the PDF files and the URLs to the PDFs in a dedicated page for each week.

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi Cynthia:

Thanks for the explanation and example.

I would approach your scenario entirely differently, and would do so using modules. And, just judging from your brief description, I would probably only use a single module with text-headers for each week. Week One, instructions, a list of articles and the week one discussion. Repeated for each week.  I run several discussion only courses that are quite similar to what you describe.

Or, 16 weekly modules with the appropriate articles and discussions in each. One of the advantages of modules is sequencing and controlled access - both of which are hard to accomplish is files without changes being made by Instructure.

Quite frankly, the only differences I see between a "Files" area folder and a module, is that everything can go into a module - discussions, instructions and articles (which can't be done in Files; and the ability to sequence. Modules offer a one-stop-shopping approach you just can't get with Files.

KLM

olexar
Community Contributor

Late to the party here. I submitted and was referred here. I link to a lot of information on my cloud storage account. Using the cloud storage allows me to easily update the information across all sections (and even between two colleges).

Having the ability to easily refer to these links in announcements (e.g. I've updated the notes for X), pages (e.g. A link like refer to the notes for lecture x in a lab instruction page), etc would be most helpful.

allison
Instructure
Instructure

Hello all,

Thanks for your comments around this. It's an interesting set of problems. Here's what I'm hearing:

As a teacher, I want to:


1) quickly link to commonly-used URLs and have a single place where I can update URLs if the link changes;
2) include URLs to outside reading material but have it sit along side "local" files material (in a hierarchical files paradigm, since that’s what many of us are used to); and

3) curate a a library of URLs as resources that is easy to share and visually compelling

I would like to explore further what the URL as an object in Canvas provides for users. On one hand, I think we can all see that as common as URLs are today (a part of our every day life), organizing them in some fashion can feel a little old school. On the other hand, I think the voters on this thread have hit on a real problem that revolves around managing frequently-used and linked-to resources that happen to be URLs and I don't want to lose that in the conversation.

I've reached out to Deactivated user​, our Product Manager for Commons for her ideas around this, since she has been working very hard on the problem of multiple resource types. In the meantime, I would really appreciate additional thoughts/comments around these questions:

If you could manage a "library" of URLs inside of Canvas:

-- where would you expect to share that library with students, if at all?

-- how often would you see yourself updating or adding to the library?

-- how often would you see yourself linking to objects in the library?

-- how important would it be for those objects to have a visual (button-like) interface, similar to Symbaloo?

-- how important would it be for those objects to exist in the same folder as uploaded content?

-- how important is it for links to exist within the context of a lesson/unit versus as a standalone resource at the course level?

Any additional insight here would be much appreciated! Also, if there is anyone on this thread that would like to chat about this, please reach out and I'll set up a phone interview (allison@instructure.com).

Thanks again for your ideas!

cholling
Community Champion

Deactivated user​, thanks for a good synthesis of this long conversation and a multitude of perspectives. Well done from my perspective. Here's my personal take (and as a lead support for 100+ faculty and staff at our school in Canvas for over 10 years).

I would expect

-- to share the library with students from within Files and alongside other content resources if I chose to expose that tool, or from within Modules pointing to folders (it would be nice to have the ability to have an overarching web folder that could be subdivided if desired by subject matter and to point to, say, a content folder called "ebp resources") or individual files if the Files tool was not exposed.

      A word of explanation might help: Our faculty will often create a list of say, 20 pdfs from library databases on a particular topics like evidence-based practice. Then the assignment is for each student to choose and read 3 of the articles and summarize them in a discussion post for their classmates to read. It would beneficial to be able to provide access to the entire folder that the students could scan through in order to make their selections rather than needing to link to each of the 20 files individually or to link to the main folder and explain to them to find the ebp folder then make their selections.

-- to update extensively just prior to the beginning of each semester and periodically throughout the semester as web links change or new web resources are brought to my attention to be shared with the students.

-- to continue links from semester to semester for permalinks (in order words, to have the tool import in to the new course intact) and periodically for others as necessary to support content (if new resources are located).

--not to need any visual interface although if it were a website with a recognizable corporate logo it would be absolutely awesome to have it pull in automatically (think iTunes album covers Smiley Happy )

-- not to have residence in a folder alongside uploaded content to be absolutely critical; however, I can see instances where it might be beneficial so that all documents and URLs related to the same module (I am certain that this would be the viewpoint from my faculty, but their trainable Smiley Wink ) would be together. From an ongoing maintenance viewpoint, I would much rather go to a single folder to update URLs without the need to navigate from folder to folder looking for things. The last point would also be beneficial in that I think it would curb duplication because if faculty needed to go to the same folder in order to add a web resource, they would be more apt to see if one already existed; if in different folders, they would simply add the "new" one. (Yes, I realize this somewhat contradicts my previous point about folders, but the former is my organizational nature and preference; the latter is based on how I know many of my faculty work).

-- it to be absolutely imperative to be able to link to any web resource from within any Canvas tool such as quizzes, assignments, pages.

Hope this helps -- feel free to reach out if I need to clarify.

chofer
Community Coach
Community Coach

After reading through several of the postings again, I'm still not sold on URLs being a part of course "Files".  When looking at the example I posted back on November 25th, the "Webliography" of eCollege was a separate screen vs. the "Doc Sharing" (similar to Canvas' "Files") area of the LMS.  When I build courses for our faculty, I frequently see Learning Activities that ask students to visit a website to watch a video, read a passage, search for topics, etc.  Most of the time, the URLs included in these activities point to websites I'd consider "external" to the LMS...in that they reside on another server somewhere in the world.  Of course, URLs can point directly to documents, too, which can be downloaded/saved to a computer.  So, I completely understand the argument that URLs which point to documents/files (no matter if they live on your school's .edu website, on a blog website, etc.) should be listed in the "Files" area of Canvas.  But yet, technically it's a URL pointing to somewhere not within your Canvas instance.  It's "external".  This is where the "Webliography" in eCollege was nice.  It clearly distinguished URLs from a repository of files for the course.

-- where would you expect to share that library with students, if at all?

A couple thoughts here.  The first is to create a new button on the left course navigation specifically for URLs.  The button, like other course navigation buttons could be hidden or visible via the course "Settings" screen.  Not everyone would need to or want to use it.  The second thought goes off of the idea some have suggested here of having a "Resources" area instead of just "Files".  The "Resources" screen might have a tabbed interface where one tab is "Files" and another is "URLs" (or "Links", or whatever) that users could easily switch between.

-- how often would you see yourself linking to objects in the library?

As an admin and someone who builds courses in Canvas (but does not teach), I guess this would be up to the faculty member on how he/she prefers students get to the URLs.

-- how important is it for links to exist within the context of a lesson/unit versus as a standalone resource at the course level?

IMHO, the less clicks the better.  When we still had eCollege, I always tried to link to websites within the Learning Activities of the course...rather than to first send them to the "Webliography" first.  The "Webliography" was there for our faculty to use to share additional URLs with students that were not originally included with the curriculum when we received it to put in the LMS.

My two cents...hope it was helpful.

dperpich
Community Participant

I have more than two cents to contribute to this conversation.  If I was limited to just a handful of coins, here's what I'd offer.

  • What a great topic to convene a group to "workshop" at InstructureCon 2016.  Folks that aren't attending the conference could perhaps participate via the Canvas Conference tool.
  • Interestingly enough, there is already a placeholder for a Link Library in the guise of the "Validate Links" tool.  The validator tool is currently serving as a Broken Links Library. What if the Validate page returned all links used at the site, with green checkmarks and red x's? The validate script must be running through the whole set already anyway.
  • There is already a "Links" tab in the "Insert Content" column of the editing view.  What if, in addition to listing Canvas links, the External Link Library appeared below.  I suppose these objects would be generated as content creators evoked the Insert Link widget in the rich text editor.

Again, mostly looking forward to talking in person to folks about this sort of thing.  Hope to see some of you in July.

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emily
Community Champion

I like how you think! Especially adding the Links Library to the insertable links area...

emily
Community Champion

From my perspective, a URL "library" is not very important, though being able to upload a URL into Files/Resources is critical.  What I want is one place where students can go and see a list of files, URLs, and videos, organized according to content or date, or unit rather than media type. 

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi Emily:

I am also not interested in a URL library, but I am also not interested in students accessing the course Files area.

All files I want students to access are loaded into modules, and are sequenced in the order in which I want students to encounter them. I actually close the Files area to my students.

KLM

emily
Community Champion

We may have to do that, too. We moved from Sakai, and students were trained to look in "Resources" for everything. So they're still looking there, even though the files are listed chronologically elsewhere (the Calendar, in our case). But they still want them in Files. we may try Modules and see how that goes.

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

Emily:

First, welcome to Canvas!

Having helped myself and the faculty of two schools make four LMS transitions, I have learned that the biggest challenge is teaching new users new workflows.

Modules are where it's at in Canvas! The entire structure of Canvas (for the most part) is centered around displaying course content for the students in modules.

I have actually recently submitted a Blog in the Community discussing modules. the Blog is actually meant to present UDL design tips for modules, but is does provide a great general perspective on how modules can be used in Canvas. You can find my blog at Share UDL Course Design Tips, Tricks, and Techniques

I have a related article - The Importance of Modularization - that I am now thinking I should post somewhere.

Also, The Community has a group that you might want to join. It is focused on new users of Canvas, and includes some great discussions. You can find this group at Canvas Engagement Strategies

Anything else any of us can do to help, just ask!

KLM

makraft
Community Contributor

Our faculty are used to putting URLs in a Resources tool, along with files. They'd like to continue that practice without having to make pages, put URLS in a different tool, or put the URLs in docs that are uploaded to Files.

Renee_Carney
Community Team
Community Team

Thank you for all of the follow-up information you provided on Allison’s questions.  We now have a substantial amount of uses cases to review when/if we tackle this project.  We do not have plans to build this within the next 6-18 months, so we are going to archive it at this time.  Please make sure you are following this thread to receive notifications of updates when they are made available.

Renee_Carney
Community Team
Community Team

Again, we thank you for this submission and your votes.  This idea will not be moving to Product Radar, and will remain in archive.  The conversation thread above provides many high quality solutions.  There are no plans to create our own version of a URL Library at this time.

danielleG
Community Member

Hey all!  this was discussed in 2015-2016, but it's a question still in 2020.  The suggestion in the history here to add a page with links seems to me to be pretty clunky work-around.  

Having a way to store cool resources and so forth that are web-based in the place where all other course resources are housed could make life easier for teachers and thus instruction richer for students.  If that matters. 

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