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Groups navigation and tools

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I've looked through pages and pages of Canvas community discussions, and can't find anyone else with this question/concern, so maybe I'm just missing the mark, but...

We are a new Canvas school and just getting started.  I am an instructional designer and Canvas admin, working with instructors to get their courses set up, and two issues related to Groups (People) have come up repeatedly.

  1. When a student clicks a link to a group Discussion, for example, they are automatically taken to the Groups tab, and the discussion for that group, with no warning of the transition.  Basically, it feels like the group is almost completely disconnected from the course.  This seems extremely confusing for the following reasons:
    • - It's not obvious that you are no longer in "the class," but are instead in a Group.
    • - The course menu appears almost identical to the course itself, but the links no longer go to the course.  For example, Home now goes to the group Home as opposed to the course Home.
    • - It is very difficult to determine how to return to the course content.  There is a very subtle link at the top of the group tools menu, but otherwise, the student must use the Courses tab, or Dashboard, to get back to the course itself.

  2. There appears to be no way to configure the tools provided for a group.  If I only want to use the Groups tool for discussions, there is no way to disable or hide other tools, such as Announcements, Pages, Files, or Conferences (all of which may also be present in the menu for the course, too!).

The Groups tool seems fully featured, and well integrated into Canvas, but the above issues are a concern.  Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks.

1 Solution

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Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi there, palmarinich@butte.edu​...

Everything you've stated is pretty much "spot on".  In fact, I do recall seeing conversations here in the Canvas Community that the Groups functionality within Canvas should be designed a bit better.  If you take a look at this link, https://community.canvaslms.com/community/ideas/feature-ideas/content?filterID=contentstatus%5Bpubli... , you'll find many Feature Ideas that have been submitted to the Canvas Community about Groups (some of which may relate to what you've posted here.  You'll note that some of the Feature Ideas have been archived due to a lack of needed votes within the three-month voting period, but you can still comment on any of those ideas as to why they are important to you.

It's also true (and this gets at your second question), that you can't easily customize the navigation buttons inside a Group like you can at the course level.  I didn't see a Feature Idea on either of the two pages of the link I gave you (above), so maybe this would be a good time to submit a Feature Idea request to see if other people would like to have more customization options, too.  See How do I create a new feature idea? and How does the voting process work for feature ideas?​.

Finally, I know this isn't totally related to your question, but it kind of ties in...  I have a blog posting here in the Canvas Community that I wrote a while back called Easy Student Group Access for Instructors that is in the Canvas Admins group space on this website.  If you are not part of this group, you might consider following it.  I'd encourage you to read through my blog to see if any of those ideas help you.  Feel free to post any questions you have to that blog...I'm happy to answer them there.

Hope this helps a bit, Chris...

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8 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi there, palmarinich@butte.edu​...

Everything you've stated is pretty much "spot on".  In fact, I do recall seeing conversations here in the Canvas Community that the Groups functionality within Canvas should be designed a bit better.  If you take a look at this link, https://community.canvaslms.com/community/ideas/feature-ideas/content?filterID=contentstatus%5Bpubli... , you'll find many Feature Ideas that have been submitted to the Canvas Community about Groups (some of which may relate to what you've posted here.  You'll note that some of the Feature Ideas have been archived due to a lack of needed votes within the three-month voting period, but you can still comment on any of those ideas as to why they are important to you.

It's also true (and this gets at your second question), that you can't easily customize the navigation buttons inside a Group like you can at the course level.  I didn't see a Feature Idea on either of the two pages of the link I gave you (above), so maybe this would be a good time to submit a Feature Idea request to see if other people would like to have more customization options, too.  See How do I create a new feature idea? and How does the voting process work for feature ideas?​.

Finally, I know this isn't totally related to your question, but it kind of ties in...  I have a blog posting here in the Canvas Community that I wrote a while back called Easy Student Group Access for Instructors that is in the Canvas Admins group space on this website.  If you are not part of this group, you might consider following it.  I'd encourage you to read through my blog to see if any of those ideas help you.  Feel free to post any questions you have to that blog...I'm happy to answer them there.

Hope this helps a bit, Chris...

View solution in original post

Thanks for much for the informative response.  Shortly after posting, I did come across some of the feature ideas related to Groups, and I appreciate the references you provided.  I will work on formulating a new Idea to address some of these concerns.

Cheers,

/chris

Community Coach
Community Coach

To add to what Chris provided, I also know that a number of Institutions have added a "visual indicator" so that students can tell that they are in the group space and can also see how to get back to their course. There's some discussion of this (and the code for it) on the following feature idea -

Community Member

It would be very helpful if there was a way to edit/disable the tools in the Groups. I am developing a course where I need to be able to group students in the course to send some targeted messaging. Initially, I thought this would be something that I could divide the students into groups to do, but once I started exploring the Groups with some of my test students, I discovered there was no way to disable any of the extra tools in Groups. I don't want students to have the capability of adding files or announcements or starting discussions on their own. I'm really just looking for a way to divide students into groups and send announcements/reminder messages. Does anyone know if there is a workaround for something like this?

Surveyor II

Any progress with this - and related - issue(s)?  Group navigation is still too complicated.....there should NOT be a separate Group space.....we should be able to navigate all of the Groups of one course within that course.  Taking my students and me to "Group-land" is not very efficient at all - especially with my four different courses per-semester.  Thanks for any attention to fixing this.

Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi palmarinich@butte.edu

I will add one helpful bit to what others have provided.

The Groups area in a Canvas course were primarily designed for collaborate projects for students, and mirror the Canvas classroom structure in order to provide the tools that are useful for collaborate groups. You can learn more at https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-10460#jive_content_id_Groups 

However, if you are mostly concerned with Discussions that you are limited to specific groups of students, your students do not need to go into the Groups areas to accomplish this. You can set assignments and  discussions to be available to specific groups. You can even create one discussion, assign it to each of your groups, but group members can only see the postings of their other group members. Learn how at:

I hope this helps,

Kelley

I'm not clear how to disable all the other features of groups while still allowing students to use groups for discussion. I'd like students to be able to self-enroll (therefore they need the PEOPLE tab, which gives access to groups?) but more significant is that whenever they go into their group discussion, they are in that insane other-world "group" menu where much confusion and chaos abounds.

Surveyor II

I'm having similar issues with Groups ... the Group Homepage navigation is too similar to the course navigation. (Maybe use another color as background to help students know where they are: group vs course...?) 

Related to another item above ... Why set up group discussions on the course navigation bar when this can be done via the Group Homepage? Seems that would be asking for trouble/confusion with students ... ? Go to the Group Homepage to work on your collaboration project, but go to the course navigation Discussions to discuss it? 

Maybe I'm missing some connections here ...?