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Explorer II

How to decide an entry point for a course

Are there any recommendations (pedagogy) for selecting the entry point in a course. I'd like a .pdf, knowledge based article, url etc. on how to decide to set my course to open in the activity stream, a home page, modules area, assignments, or syllabus. For example, perhaps use the front page for the first week to welcome students, then after that, set your course to open in the modules area. Or, if your course is assignment heavy, consider using the option for assignment list. I'd like to be able to direct faculty to use the right entry point.

Thanks for any direction on helping me guide faculty to make the right decisions on what the student sees first when entering the course depending on how the course setup.

4 Replies
Community Team
Community Team

 @lbarratt1 ​, I'm looking forward to following this conversation! Because your prompt invites an open-ended discussion, I've switched the format accordingly. I've also added a few tags and have shared the discussion with the Instructional Designers​, Higher Education​, and K-12​ groups to increase its exposure.

Surveyor II

Hi Leona,

I am disappointed that there weren't any responses to this. I have recently begun working with the online instructors at our school. One of the things that I do is log in to their course pretending to be a student and access the experience. The goal is to find ways to improve the experience for both students and teachers. I have seen so many Home pages that were neither informative or welcoming. I am working to put together a resource for our instructors that will act as an idea repository for the teachers and have been looking for something like what you are asking for. Did you ever find anything? I feel like I have been down a Canvas rabbit hole this clicking through links and guides and haven't found anything that explains the pros and cons clearly. Would love to hear if you came up with anything.

Community Coach
Community Coach

 @lbarratt1 ‌ and  @michaels , this is a good question.  I don't have a document or research supporting this format, but I'll let you know what I suggest when working with faculty building courses.  I like to use a page as the homepage during the entire course.  I provide a template for faculty to utilize which includes a welcome, course description, photo of the faculty, officer hours, contact information, etc.  I also suggest that faculty consider creating a short welcome video and embedding a link to this, and provide a few sentences about how they suggest students navigate the course.  

At the bottom of the page are a couple of buttons.  One is for students new to Canvas.  Clicking on this takes them to a page with help resources and information on Canvas training.  The second button is for returning students and takes them directly to the Modules tab.  Faculty can customize this page as they feel is appropriate, but I don't suggest that they remove any of the information left blank for them to fill in.

Faculty that either I or my colleagues have worked have indicated satisfaction with this homepage layout and no one has let us know that students found it difficult to navigate.  We like this type of page as it introduces the course, makes it a bit more personal with a photo or two of the faculty member, and provides an easy place to access contact information on the instructor.  Canvas Commons has made it very easy to share this page institutionally as well.

One suggestion I consistently hear from various Canvas users is to try and simplify the course navigation panel.  If there are too many ways to access assignments, quizzes, files, etc., I have heard that students get confused on where to go and may end up trying to submit an assignment before they access the material preceding the assignment.  In my own classes I prefer students always go to through modules to access course content, files, and assignments.

Hope this information is helpful!  I would love to hear what you and others have experienced.

Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @lbarratt1  

What we typically recommend to our faculty is to use a custom Front Page, and especially so for a fully online course. For a hybrid (or blended course) we also promote making the Modules pages as a home page, but only if the first item in the first module is some form of a "Start Here!" page.

What I do is to create a welcome page as described by ericwerth‌  above, then I also create a front page for each module that I rotate out on the start date for a new module. I have these pre-built so that I can just reassign them each term after a little editing for dates or to reflect changes in the module from previous terms. My module-specific front pages are modifications of my primary front page because, also like Eric, I include some important navigation buttons at the the bottom - Schedule of Studies, Accessibility Info and Syllabus.

I hope this helps,