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Difference(s) between an Assignment and a Page

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I'm just starting to develop modules for a course, but it's still not clear to me as to the difference between a Page and an Assignment.   I realize that there are different types of "Assignments," but practically/pedagogically speaking how/why would one use a Page and/or an Assignment/Assignment? 

Specific examples/suggestions would be very much appreciated!

Thanks.

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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Howdy Howard!

Thanks for sharing your question. A Canvas Page is an area where you can add content. While you can make a Canvas Page have a student to-do date, its primary function isn't a task (ie assignment). It is to share information.

The primary function of an Assignment item is for the learner to do something and potentially turn it in for review/grade/feedback.

How do I create a new page in a course?  (there is a section on this page "Edit Page Settings" that shows where to set a student "to-do date" for a Page)

https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-9873-415267003 

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have particular questions,

Sky V.

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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Howdy Howard!

Thanks for sharing your question. A Canvas Page is an area where you can add content. While you can make a Canvas Page have a student to-do date, its primary function isn't a task (ie assignment). It is to share information.

The primary function of an Assignment item is for the learner to do something and potentially turn it in for review/grade/feedback.

How do I create a new page in a course?  (there is a section on this page "Edit Page Settings" that shows where to set a student "to-do date" for a Page)

https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-9873-415267003 

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have particular questions,

Sky V.

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Thanks, Sky V.

So, given that, an Assignment/Assignment page would give students a specific assignment, e.g., read an article and respond to the following questions, and a Canvas Page, in this case, would have the article itself?

I guess my question really is what’s the advantage/necessity of having two “tools,” to deliver an assignment and content?

Looking forward to your answers. Thanks!

Howard

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Hi howardmichaeldavis@gmail.com Thank You for posting your question.  I would agree with svking@fiu.edu about the different between "Pages" and "Assignments" in Canvas.  I also wanted to provide you with a couple video tutorials that should help shed some light on these tools:

It's certainly possible that you could have a separate page (as Sky has suggested) for informational content.  But, if you are providing information as part of your assignment that your student should complete and submit to you, that information can be included directly in the assignment itself.  That's how we build our courses, and I suspect that's how other instructors at other schools do it, too.  It's also important to keep in mind that your students are probably using mobile devices...so the length your content could get quite long...especially on smart phones where scrolling is almost impossible to avoid.

Or, another option is to add your assignment directions to the assignment, and then link to an article (such as if the article was on a website or contained within a Word document or PDF file).  Those are also possibilities that I've seen before.

I hope this information will be of help to you, Howard.  Sing out if you have any other questions...thanks!

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Hi Chris,

Thanks for the suggestions and the links. If I have links/readings/images to accompany a given assignment, would it be better to use Pages? I want the assignments to be easily accessible/readable, so that’s part of my consideration of how to set it up in the Module.

Howard

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Good evening, howardmichaeldavis@gmail.com...

This is just my own personal opinion, and also keep in mind that I do not teach courses in Canvas (I'm a Canvas admin at our school).  But, I have built many, many courses for our faculty.  If I were building a course for myself, I would want to have all relevant content for a given assignment available on one assignment page....not spread across multiple pages. If links to documents (Word docs, PDFs, etc.) are needed, I would link directly to them: How do I insert course files into the Rich Content Editor using the Content Selector as an instructo....  If I needed to include an image as part of the directions, I would embed that image in the directions (see How do I embed images from Canvas into the Rich Content Editor as an instructor? or How do I insert course images into the Rich Content Editor using the Content Selector as an instruct...).  The same would apply for videos, too.  I would embed them in the assignment...harvesting the embed code from a site like YouTube, and then pasting it into the assignment.  Of course, like I said, it's important to keep your mobile users in mind as you design your content...so that your content isn't so long that it's going to cause a lot of scrolling on smaller devices.

It's really a matter of personal preference how you choose to design the overall look and layout of your content.  There are some great resources here in the Community regarding course design (see the Instructional Designers‌ group here in the Community).  Also, there's a ton of shared resources out in Canvas Commons.  You can look through Commons and preview content to see how others are designing their pages.  Maybe that will also give you some other ideas on how you would want to design your own content.

I hope this helps, Howard.  Keep the questions coming!

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In my statistics course where there are lots of assignments, I take the opposite approach of chofer@morainepark.edu. He knows a lot about instructional design whereas I teach but don't have the instructional design background.

I put the information about the assignment on a separate page and call it something like Introduction to the Carbon Dioxide Analysis or Instructions for the Veritasium Discussion. The assignment itself is called the Carbon Dioxide Analysis or Veritasium Discussion. Another example is Study Guide for Quiz 3.1 Understanding Probabilities and Quiz 3.1 Understanding Probabilities. Each assignment has a link to the corresponding instruction page and each instruction page has a link to the corresponding assignment.

My instructions tend to be lengthy and I found these problems with putting them in the assignment themselves. 

  • Most of the time that I fetch a Canvas page that involves an assignment, it includes the assignment description. When I was fetching discussions, it included the discussion question as the assignment and the as the discussion so it was in there twice. There was also an issue, probably resolved now but this started the process, where pages with lots of mathematical content in a discussion were timing out because of the double inclusion. My Canvas seems slower than everyone else's. I've had Canvas people masquerade as me and have confirmed that it's slower, but we don't know why. Anything I can do to speed it up gets consideration.
  • Many of my students were skipping the study guide when I had it at the top of the quiz. I had no way of knowing if they were reading the instructions or just ignoring them. By placing them into a separate content page, Canvas would register when they looked at the study guide and when students do poorly, I could tell whether the student had actually looked at the study guide.
  • The lengthy instructions in the discussion question caused people to have to scroll a long way to get to the response. Now, the responses are near the top without a lot of scrolling because the instructions for the discussion merely say to see the other instructions. It also forces students to go look at the instructions in an intelligent manner because there is no way they will be able to answer the discussion without doing so.
  • For discussions, I have the original due date for when the initial post is to be completed by and the available until date as when the discussion wraps up. They are to be posting during that time, but the discussion disappears off the calendar and to do list once they have made their initial post. I add a non-graded assignment near the final date that reminds them to continued posting. This assignment contains a link to the instructions and the actual discussion. This isn't a problem per se as I could link to just the discussion and I do that in other classes, but I get to highlight that there are instructions they should read before they start the actual assignment.
  • For regular assignments, my instructions are just about turning in the assignment, which is what they're ready to do when they get to that point. It takes out the instructions about the assignment, which is something that they should have done before they ever get to the submission part. The same philosophy applies to discussions where they are required to do some work and prepare something before they make their actual discussion post.
  • I used to put the study guide for an exam as part of the exam assignment in Canvas. This makes sense at face value because the study guide is essentially the guide to the assignment, but the assignment is collected on paper and pencil and I needed the due date to be the date of the exam. In some of my calculus courses, we have time for a review day before the chapter test and I want students to have looked at the study guide before they come to class. With the study guide on the assignment, I cannot have two due dates, but if the study guide is its own page then I can have two dates.
  • Splitting up long projects that culminate in a single submission also allows for separate manageable instructions and different due dates for each section. If you want the students to be working on the introduction one week, the methodology the next week, the analysis the next two weeks, and the conclusion the week after that, then putting all of that into a single assignment is bad. Many students use the To Do list as their sole source of what to work on and you can only have a single due date. That means that these students don't start working on the project until the final part is due.
  • I also use headings to separate sections on my pages. Heading 2 for the section headings and Heading 3 for sub-section headings. I try to not go more than one sub-level of heading deep if at all possible. This is based on some of what I've read of Edward Tufte's designs. See the Fundamentals section of Tufte CSS where a quote is "If you feel the urge to reach for a heading of level 4 or greater, consider redesigning your document." I sometimes have lengthy assignments that get turned in as a single assignment. When my instructions become too lengthy, students start missing parts of it. Breaking it up into smaller sections makes it easier for them to get all of the steps. For example, three lists of five things is better than one list of fifteen things. When I feel the page is getting too long and I should violate that design principle to properly organize it, I create separate pages with instructions for a particular aspect of the project on each page. It also helps because the less scrolling that students have to do, the more likely they are to get the information.

The Canvas approach to assignments has been an issue of confusion for some. There have been more than one feature request to change the wording on the buttons. I've seen Assignments 2.0 demoed at InstructureCon and it will address some of the concerns as it broke the assignment into phases so students didn't see the submission part until they had completed the first part (that may change before it gets released).

Like Chris, I do not put instructions in external Word or PDF documents unless it is designed to be a handout. Having the content inside Canvas natively makes it easier and more accessible for students.

You can (now) assign content pages to the to do list. That wasn't always the case and I often forget to do that. One place I have done that is in my calculus courses; I assign the study guide for the exam to be due -- even though it's only a content page -- before the review session in class. You used to have to trick Canvas into putting stuff on the to do list by making it a non-graded assignment and treating it like a content page.

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Hi James,

Thanks very much for the detailed description of how your course is laid out and your suggestions. This will help me as I develop my course!

Best,

Howard

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Actually, I have another question about setting up the Assessment. I’ve set up an end-of-course assessment, which is now published, but I’m having two issues:

First, students have to click on “Profile” to start the assessment, and when they click on it, there’s a message which says something like "this is a profile of the published course."

Second, the assessment is anonymous, but a message pops up at the beginning which says “correct answers are hidden.”

I’d like to get rid of both of these system messages, but not sure how to do it.