cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Student-Directed Home Pages

klundstrum
Community Coach
Community Coach
16 27 1,650

Today, the first day of a new semester, I asked each of the classes I teach,  "What would your ideal home page look like?"

During the five years our school has had Canvas, I've done a fair bit of designing because I've taught 10 different semester-long courses. Because I've actively sought design feedback from students before, I had a general idea of what students would say. This semester, I wanted to fully include the class in this process and not just ask a student here and there throughout the term. With this change, I hoped to create a list of key components so I could customize a home page for each unique group of students. (This is possible because I teach each of the five courses only once during a day.)

What made me the most excited about this extra step is that the resulting page would be helpful to their learning and not just something that I thought was well-designed.

After some amazing organic collaborative conversations, I learned that every group wanted buttons that lead to specific modules. From that view, they can see the content for the entire module and jump around as needed. They did not want a fancy button that led to the Syllabus, Assignments, or Discussions. ONLY buttons that went to the modules. Why? They felt that the left-hand course navigation was there and that it was silly to repeat it in the middle. Students want to keep things simple and they are aware of design redundancies. They know where to go, so place the essentials in the place that warrants the big visual. It will help them get to their learning activities more efficiently!

Because the students asked to keep many of the items in the left-hand course navigation active, I will continue to use the Content Selector passionately. The more I can link the course's activities and resources together that way, the more connected the students' navigation will be, no matter how they arrive at the item.

This all made sense to me (and aligned with my hopes, luckily)!

With more conversation, each group was very drawn to a concept like this -- module labels, color-coding, and access to most frequently visited "subsections" of Canvas so they can navigate in multiple ways depending on what they're doing:

322196_pastedImage_1.png

Now, I have some work to do! It's always fun to design with a goal in mind. This semester, the goal is bigger because more people are invested, and I think that's pretty awesome.

If you asked a group of students about their ideal home page, what would they say? Each institution is so unique, I would find it fascinating to hear how different groups of students would organize their learning.

27 Comments
Bobby2
Community Coach
Community Coach

I totally agree  @klundstrum  Not only does this open the teaching and learning up, it also creates buy-in for the students to use something they have helped to design.

Our grade 2/3/4 classes appreciated being asked for ideas about how to improve our learning experiences online. And I'm sure it helped with giving them even more reason to get in there and using it. 

GideonWilliams
Adventurer III

Great post and agree with all the points made.

Getting students ideas and hearing their voice is very important and something we probably don't do enough of. Think I am going to try the following this year:

  • A Canvas suggestion box in a prominent location
  • Encourage feedback from class representatives as part of our Student Council
  • A link to a whole school Feedback Discussion page on each course?

As for course design, the students are spot on in their thinking. I try to encourage our staff in training to:

  • Reduce the Navigation menu to just the key elements is essential (now hopefully made even clearer with the latest release showing teachers which items are seen/unseen by students
  • Engage the learners with a standout and visually engaging home page - I like buttons to key (Module) locations
  • Manage resources in Modules making sure this is an ongoing task hiding/releasing modules as when needed 
  • In my school we have also tried to get students to change their Dashboard to the List view so they can keep uptodate with homework tasks via the calendar
  • Keeping the 3 click rule in mind always good
kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

Right after we talked about this yesterday,  @klundstrum  , one of my Automotive Technology instructors dropped by our office to chat about Canvas. Now our Auto faculty have been very resistant to online learning, except this bright young new faculty member we got a couple terms ago. He started experimenting as soon as he knew it was available, and has completed several of our training courses.

Anyways, he came to talk to me about Modules. His students, who have academic courses which do use Canvas, asked why he didn't organize his content in Modules like their other teachers do. He said he was new to Canvas, and just had not experimented with them yet; then, he asked them how they thought his modules should be organized!  He took note, came to talk to me, then went back to office to get busy organizing his content into Modules as advised by his students (with a few of my tips thrown in).

There is a dang good teacher inside this young automotive tech!

Kelley

sfrizelle
Explorer III

I love this conversation and it's so timely for us as well. Thank you so much  @klundstrum ‌ for sharing. And thank you  @GideonWilliams  for your points on design. I might use those (with attribution) in my next Monday Minute with Canvas.

One question for you all, which I also asked on Twitter, but is probably better asked here, is how do you organise your modules so they don't become a scroll of death? Our teachers put A LOT of content in Canvas, and the feedback we are getting is that students get 'lost' in the modules because there is so much stuff. I know we need to do more PL using headers, and indenting - which helps - but with our younger students - the modules are still a list that they struggle to navigate. 

Bobby2
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hey there sarafriz‌, great to hear from you!

With the K-6 world I tend to link my homepage buttons to the first page in a module rather than the module lists. They tend to get a bit lost  when being directed to the modules list, I've seen adults get lost there also. So, I usually make the first page they link to in a module an index page. This way they can either start at the beginning or dip into where they left off, or wherever they fancy. 

sfrizelle
Explorer III

Brilliant! I never thought of doing that - but will give it a go. Thank you so much  @Bobby2 ‌.

klundstrum
Community Coach
Community Coach

I've done this too, but I tend to add/modify items and forget to go back and change my index page. Smiley Wink  It's an awesome idea if your curriculum is set.

With the links from the home page, I link to each specific module, not just the big module list itself. That way, it "jumps" directly to the topic the students need. There, they can see the items within the module, centered on the screen.

One other thing that I try to do is add an emoji star next to the title of our current module. It stands out in a long scroll, AND it provides a little reassurance to students as they click the button from the home page.

sfrizelle
Explorer III

I've been meaning to explore how to add images to the module text. How do you do that?

klundstrum
Community Coach
Community Coach

Inserting an emoji is as simple as "copy and paste".  I use https://getemoji.com/ and https://emojipedia.org/ , but there are other options too.

With Windows, a quick Windows Button + .  will launch an emoji library too. That makes adding emojis even faster! (Keep it simple though! Too many of these, and they lose their impact)

Image result for window . shortcut emoji

Here's a quick demo for you:

This video is currently being processed. Please try again in a few minutes.
(view in My Videos)

Bobby2
Community Coach
Community Coach

That's a grand idea  @klundstrum 

Sometimes when newbies get directed to even the most obvious specific place in the module list they still end of scrolling without realising they've been directed to the right spot already. An emoji could help with this. Like it a lot! Thanks. 

GideonWilliams
Adventurer III

Having a Navigation menu page as Home page works well with our students and has been adopted by many departments.

Creating buttons in Da Button Factory: web button maker (or adapting their examples) is very easy to do.

Some staff also making buttons using Drawing tools in PowerPoint then snipping them

klundstrum
Community Coach
Community Coach

Canva and Google Drawing are my favorites. Smiley Happy

fox
Learner II

Great and thoughtful application of student-led design for your home page. In the higher ed world, This is my favorite insight: “They felt that the left-hand course navigation was there and that it was silly to repeat it in the middle.” I think about home page real estate a lot — what’s valuable to the learner, especially if they are accessing it from their mobile device?

Thank you for sharing!

tellison
Explorer

 @klundstrum ‌ thank you for sharing your thoughts and observations.  Over the last several years of using Canvas, I also have changed my format, tried new things to recommend to faculty, and so forth. Through this we have found that our student like the Syllabus page because they can go directly to the assignment (Jump to Today), thus creating a Home page on the Syllabus page.  

klundstrum
Community Coach
Community Coach

Families using the Canvas Parent app like this too! They can't navigate to Pages through the app, but they can see the Syllabus page. (The only downfall to this is that instructors can't use the Canvas Teacher app to make edits currently.)

m_garcia1
Surveyor II

Hello,

Thanks for sharing this. I am quite new to Canvas and I am trying to create my first course template.How do you actually displayed the 'subsections' in the landing page of your course? By subsections I mean the images and the text. 

Is it in 'Settings' -> Course sections?

Do you need to install a specific course format add-on, like you do in Moodle?

Many thanks.

Mari Cruz

klundstrum
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi Mari Cruz --

I created each of those (images with text) in Google Drawing and then saved the files as individual .png files. When I use them in Canvas, I can make them each unto "buttons" which then redirect the students to the correct location in the course. The Content Selector which is part of the Rich Content Editor simplifies this, or you could click the image (while editing, of course), and press CTRL+K or Command+K to open a dialogue box that allows you to copy and paste a URL.

There's nothing additional to install. It's all part of the Rich Content Editor. If you'd like me to create a screencast, let me know! I'd be more than happy to show you how I make this possible.

m_garcia1
Surveyor II

Many thanks for the information, very useful

webemojis
Community Member

Great services!
I still use this site for copy and paste emoji where everything is very conveniently done in categories. And all emoticons will be displayed correctly.

joelce
Community Member

I love how you set up a visual home  page.  Would you mind sharing the instructions?

Thanks.

klundstrum
Community Coach
Community Coach

For my buttons, I first collected images. I used pictures from pixabay.com and unsplash.com. Next, I built the images in Google Drawing (I changed the document size to approximately 2.5" wide), and saved them as .png files. Then, after inserting them as images on my home page, I linked them to the module using the Content Selector along the left-hand side. 

I can go in more detail, too. Let me know if that'd be helpful. Smiley Happy

If you're looking for a quick start-up, see the free templates that were made available by the Instructure Instructional Design Team: Teacher Appreciation 2018 | Home Page Templates 

joelce
Community Member

Hello Kristin,

Thank you so much for responding to my inquiry. The steps you gave me are perfect. The only problem I am having now is finding the RCE feature in settings. Is this something IT would have to give permission to use?

Cynthia

klundstrum
Community Coach
Community Coach

The RCE is the built-in editing tools that are included in the window where you create content. Smiley Happy

Rich Content Editor (All Users) 

joelce
Community Member

Hi Kristin,

Thank you. I am becoming familiar with the nomenclature for Canvas. Our quick move to online learning is forcing me to learn all I can to create an efficient shell. You have been a great source for me.

Thank you so much!

I pray you and your family are safe and healthy!!!!

Cynthia

klundstrum
Community Coach
Community Coach

Oh, you're so kind! Good luck with your designs. :smileygrin:

s_j_beale
Explorer III

@klundstrum Thanks for this.

My initial question would be how does this approach work for staff who have no image editing knowledge? Do you do the editing for them and provide the source images so that they can overlay the text? 

Also, how does the tabular layout for images handle the student app/mobile devices? Is it fully accessible, e.g. for students using a screenreader or other assistive technology?? I thought tables were only for data/text, not images as per accessibility guidelines.

We are looking to revamp our home page so welcome any/all suggestions.

Thanks

Steve

klundstrum
Community Coach
Community Coach

@s_j_beale --

When we rolled out our template with image buttons, we created everything using Google Drawing. I have heard that it also works well to use Google Slides! With that, I created a video on how to easily replace the image that was in place with their own and how to save the file as a png. Most people were confident with a short and repeatable process! People can then make a copy of this "template" without affecting the original file. 

For those who wanted assistance, we had an open collaboration time in our computer lab, and it worked well.

I also shared links to copyright-free websites to help with image collection. Every image in the example page is completely unedited -- some were cropped, but no Photoshop!

The example I showed with my initial post is done completely without tables. (Unless it's for data, I don't use them.) Each image has a small white edge on the background of my templated item so the images are right next to each other (no spaces) and each has its own alt-tag! 🙂 The image header is set to respond to the screen size, but the buttons "stack" when viewed on a mobile screen.

I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have any follow-up questions. I'll do my best to clarify, connect, or share.