Releasing Modules to Students and Sections

AllisonHowell
Instructure
Instructure
61
11183

Canvas.png

As you’ve seen in previous blog posts, we’re working on being more transparent about what’s happening behind the scenes as we work to deliver value to you. I’m excited to share an update with where we are on a Q2 roadmap item you all are looking forward to –– the ability to release modules to individuals and sections. 

What’s the feature?

We are leveraging the existing “Assign To” functionality available for assignments, including graded discussions and quizzes, and applying it to modules. This means you’ll be able to use the same workflow across multiple learning objects and modules. Once this feature is released, you’ll be able to “assign” individuals and sections to modules. In addition, we’re improving the existing user experience for assignments, quizzes, and graded discussions, and adding the functionality to ungraded discussions and pages. 

We are also looking at leveraging this functionality for Files, but are not including them in our initial release so that we can ensure we deliver value faster and get the design and functionality right.

Why are we doing it?

In addition to the fact that you all have asked for this functionality, as evidenced by many community ideas (see here, here, and here) and in numerous calls with our product team, we wanted to deliver this to you so that you can unlock new workflows that will solve a lot of your existing problems while delighting you with new possibilities. The most common use cases we heard were that you needed to: 

  • Assign alternate curriculum versions based on learning needs while maintaining privacy
  • Increase learner choice by providing elective content
  • Achieve desired learning outcomes by providing extra support and practice
  • Allow more advanced learners to move ahead or take on more advanced content
  • Allowing a learner to skip content once competency has been achieved
  • Easily slot learners that join a course mid-year into the right place in the course
  • Allocate updated content to the correct learners in rolling enrollment courses 

What’s taking so long? 

If you’re an active member of the community, you are likely thinking that this all sounds great, but you told us you were starting this over six months ago – where is it? Well, what was unclear in the roadmap item is that we are actually delivering three new features at the same time. For this feature to work effectively for you, we needed to make sure that you could also assign pages and ungraded discussions given that these learning objects, along with assignments, quizzes, and graded discussions, are the most common content types in modules. So, what has been talked about as one feature is actually three! 

What’s this going to look like?

We are excited to give the existing “assign to” functionality a makeover, moving it into a tray that will fly out whenever a user clicks “Assign To.” The new design will also save you clicks by giving you a direct shortcut to “Assign To” from the modules index page. 

The module will default to everyone, just as it does in Assignments today. 

AllisonHowell_0-1711396039850.png

Users can select “Assign To” to assign the module to students and sections.

AllisonHowell_1-1711396069247.png

Module content will automatically be visible only to those who have been granted access at the module level. If an educator wants to make assignment changes to content within the module, they can drilldown from the modules index page (or can do it directly from the relevant assignment edit page) and alter at the assignment level.  

AllisonHowell_2-1711396092261.png

 

AllisonHowell_3-1711396105637.png

We know you probably have a lot of questions about how this is all going to work. We plan to share a lot more about the rules, use cases, and other details as we approach the release so that you’re able to properly prepare and get excited! 

Looking forward to sharing more soon!

 

61 Comments
dkpst5
Community Participant

I'm excited to see how we can utilize this. A lot of people have asked about it for sure!

I'm, personally, also hoping that the slight visual refresh of the "assign to" box for the dates and times is being applied to the assignments page (and elsewhere it's used). No more mis-alignment and tiny half-sized boxes you can't read the full text for the from and until because they're crammed into one line!

AllisonHowell
Instructure
Instructure
Author

Good news @dkpst5! The visual refresh applies anywhere you can "assign to" in Canvas. 

ProfessorBeyrer
Community Coach
Community Coach

Thank you @AllisonHowell for sharing this awesome news! This looks especially promising for those situations when I want to share material with certain students and not others.

I hope that the differentiated release for Modules allows for availability dates for different students. The use case that I have in mind is a student who wants to get early access to the content in a module because they will be unable to access Canvas at the time that I set for the module to be available. Most often in my experience this happens when a student has travel plans in the middle of the semester and wants to get ahead of their coursework instead of falling behind.

An ideal option would be to give that student early access while yet allowing their classmates access at a later time, which we can currently do using the Assign to options for assignments and discussions. The second screenshot in your post does not appear to include an Available from setting. Without that, it seems like I will need to manually change the Set Visibility back to everyone at the appropriate time.

AllisonHowell
Instructure
Instructure
Author

@ProfessorBeyrer Hello! You may not remember, but way back in 2022 we talked about some of your needs for differentiation and seeds were planted for pursuing this idea! You're correct in noticing that we do not have availability dates at the module level. We actually had them in our original designs, but when we showed them to others in the Canvas community, we had only a small number indicate they would be useful. Given that they introduced significant complexity (e.g., the possibilities for conflict if availability dates set at the assignment level need to be updated to match the module availability dates), we opted to remove them from this initial release and wait for feedback on whether or not this is something we should add in as we continue to iterate. While not perfect, an option for a student getting early access could be to copy the module and assign it to the student so that you don't have to worry about setting the visibility for everyone else at a later time. I am noting your vote for adding them!

canvas_admin
Community Champion

I'd be interested in know how this feature (about which I am excited) interacts with and affects course pacing. All of our online courses are rolling enrollment so we have just started using course pacing, and I want to make sure that this exciting new feature will not negatively impact the way course pacing works.

lgarmire
Community Coach
Community Coach

This would be a great feature to implement. We have modules where students opt out of the content. Think health courses and parent permissions for K-12. It would be easier to assign or unassign a whole module rather than just the assessments!

Laura

BethCrook
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi @AllisonHowell I am excited about this functionality and watching it further develop and roll out!

rmartini
Community Participant

I am definitely looking forward to this!! This functionality is a frequent request from our instructors. To add to @ProfessorBeyrer 's comment, in the long run, we'd likely be interested in having availability dates added to this functionality. The use case ProfessorBeyrer described is something we encounter often enough and it would be helpful to be able to limit things based on dates (despite the complexity). I can appreciate holding off for the moment though and I'll be interested to see how often (if at all) it's requested by our faculty once it's available!

AllisonHowell
Instructure
Instructure
Author

@canvas_admin Great question and very glad to hear you're utilizing course pacing! For this initial release, we have opted not to integrate with course pacing so that we could get it out faster. We do have integration with course pacing as next up and are vetting designs now. Any interest in giving us input since you have an interest in both features? 

AllisonHowell
Instructure
Instructure
Author

Thanks for the input @rmartini. Making a note of the request and will also be interested to hear if you start getting those requests from faculty. 

canvas_admin
Community Champion

@AllisonHowell I'd be more than happy to give what input I can. We are a pretty niche institution but I'm happy to help however I can.

patricia_lemos3
Community Explorer

Very excited to see this being implemented as it will be very useful for course delivery at our school!

JamesSekcienski
Community Coach
Community Coach

@AllisonHowell 

Thank you for the update and we are definitely excited to see this coming soon too!

I would also like to vote in support of being able to set dates at the module level in the future.  In most cases with our template designs, all assignments within a single module are due at the same time.  While there is a bulk edit assignment dates feature, it doesn't support bulk editing Assign To dates and it doesn't show the module an assignment is in.  Being able to update due dates in bulk by module would make it clear which assignments should be updated and it would be nice to update Assign To dates in bulk.  Perhaps a checkbox option would be needed to determine if it should override existing due dates that may be set at an individual module item level.  Nonetheless, the current new enhancements look promising and I like the quick menu to edit due dates for Assign To on individual Assignments from Modules.

Another option that would be nice is the ability to Assign To no one.  This would make it so only Teachers, TAs, and Designers could see the content.  This would be useful when a module is added that contains resources/content only meant for Teachers like answer keys or teaching guides.  This would also help when building a new module and you don't know who should/will be assigned to it yet.  While it could be left unpublished, the bulk publish modules button raises concern of accidentally publishing modules to students when they shouldn't have access to them.

Are there any future plans for groups (or perhaps a new grading groups/sub-sections feature) to work with Assign To as well?  If you need to differentiate content within a section, it could become tedious to specify each individual student.  It may also result in some students accidentally being missed.

Also, for the point about "Increase learner choice by providing elective content", are there future plans to allow students to self-assign select modules/content rather than needing the teacher to use the Assign To?  This would likely need the ability to Assign To no one or something like the initial Mastery Paths Assign To setting.

adam_c_voyton
Community Participant

I am impressed with this innovative feature and its potential. The fact that screenshots are already being shared indicates that Beta access might be on the horizon, which is promising. 

This feature offers a straightforward method to personalize course content without requiring additional effort. It simplifies the presentation of course materials and assessments to specific students or sets of students (via sections). It would be advantageous if it could also accommodate assignment by groups, allowing faculty direct control over creation and enrollment.

I'm unsure about rationale for excluding groups from the Assign to for Modules feature. Perhaps the aim is to streamline the Gradebook format and avoid performance issues with an excessive number of columns. However, this phased rollout strategy suggests they're prioritizing client satisfaction and system performance.

This feature aligns with the idea of providing individualized attention to students, which is a key priority for the institution I work for full-time and teach for as an adjunct instructor. It enables teachers to create personalized curriculums effortlessly. 

Instructure's commitment to improving core features of the Canvas LMS is commendable. This feature's potential for enhancing teaching and learning experiences in an LMS is significant. 

The Assign To by Module feature could facilitate structured, time-based learning experiences tailored to individual preferences.

It's reassuring that this feature is not being monetized. Canvas continues being the industry leader in LMS innovation. 

vancej
Community Participant

Glad this is coming; surprised it was not already available as part of the conception of Canvas.

AllisonHowell
Instructure
Instructure
Author

@JamesSekcienski I've noted your vote for that functionality and appreciate you adding your voice here! Regarding your idea around assigning to no one -- I've definitely got this on my radar as we've heard this request quite a lot since releasing bulk publish of modules. I am hoping to figure out the best solution to this soon and get it into our roadmap, but can't promise a timeframe on that yet. 

Regarding assigning to groups -- yes, we very much want to add this functionality. It was another tradeoff that was made in order to get this out faster, but we know this has been a need for a long time and there's even more of a need as we expand the assign to functionality to modules. 

On your last question, we don't have specific plans on that yet, but it's an idea that we are interested in investigating further, especially as we turn our attention toward modules as a whole in the coming months.

AllisonHowell
Instructure
Instructure
Author

@adam_c_voyton really appreciate the feedback! A little clarification around the exclusion of Groups. We opted to expand the Assign To functionality so we could provide a streamlined, cohesive workflow, meaning we focused on getting the existing capabilities (students and sections) into modules. We absolutely see the value in allowing educators to differentiate by groups and hope to address it in future iterations.  

JamesSekcienski
Community Coach
Community Coach

@AllisonHowell 

Thank you for the additional information!  I'm glad to know you are already planning on working on most of those areas and understand needing more time to investigate, plan, and develop those additional ideas.  In the meantime, I'm looking forward to being able to use the new features that will be available in the initial release.

BradMoser
Community Coach
Community Coach

What an exciting update for modules and differentiation for teachers. This is going to be a game changer for accommodations and for when we create professional development courses for the whole staff but want to assign certain modules to specific sections. Love it! 

apr
Community Member

I'm truly excited to hear about the upcoming release of the ability to assign modules or assignments to students independently for different sections.

It's a feature we've been waiting for for a while now and it's fantastic to see it arrive. Now allows us to unify and structure more courses and students into one.

Thanks for the update!

mbmacdonald
Community Participant

I really appreciate this development (although I hadn't been following this one, so it was a pleasant surprise for me!)

I'd like to add my support for "Assign to Groups" - sort of. In their current forms, neither Groups nor Sections provides the exact feature that some of us need: the ability for instructors to segment their class for the purpose of differentiation (a very simple functionality). Sections would work better for this purpose, but to allow teachers to add/remove students from sections, you must allow them to add/remove from the course entirely, which we can't do. Teachers *do* have permissions to create Groups, but Groups have waaaay more functionality than is needed in many cases (in particular, the "Group Homepage").

So I think some additional fixes that go hand-in-hand with this development are:

1. Adjust granularity of Section-related permissions ---AND/OR----

2. Allow more customization in the management of Groups - many of these ideas are addressed in Automate and Streamline Group Membership (see the comments, especially), particularly my own idea [Groups] Groups without Group Homepage

vancej
Community Participant

@mbmacdonald,

Just curious, have you inquired with your  institution on how students get  populated into your class shell. If enrollment is controlled/handled by your institution's student information system, then you are limited as to what you can do with Sections. So, I agree and understand about granting more customization/configruation options to teachers regarding Groups.

AndrewDwyer
Community Explorer

Really looking forward to seeing this rolled out , and how it will work.

We are in the VET environment , and particularly our course that have trainees, have large numbers of elective units, which are visible to everyone. We are hoping to utilise this feature so we can assign modules to the ones they are enrolled in only

mbmacdonald
Community Participant

@vancej yes our courses are SIS-rostered, so I understand that Sections permissions may be a dead end. But right now I don't recommend Groups to instructors unless their use-case includes the need for student group work. Basically what I want are "invisible" groups, that only the teacher is aware of (especially in cases where the grouping may be based on different ability levels, support needs, special cases etc). If we had that, I would 100% want "Assign To Group" available for modules

KathyPalm
Community Participant

Really looking forward to using this feature! 😃 Thanks for the update!

BethCrook
Community Coach
Community Coach

+1 for @JamesSekcienski idea of allowing Assign to No One. 


@JamesSekcienski 
...Another option that would be nice is the ability to Assign To no one.  This would make it so only Teachers, TAs, and Designers could see the content.  This would be useful when a module is added that contains resources/content only meant for Teachers like answer keys or teaching guides.  This would also help when building a new module and you don't know who should/will be assigned to it yet.  While it could be left unpublished, the bulk publish modules button raises concern of accidentally publishing modules to students when they shouldn't have access to them....

 


 

kailey
Community Participant

@AllisonHowell Has there been any thought to how the Student View would work with releasing Modules to specific students/sections? Would Student View just see everything? 

kristen_statt
Community Member

@AllisonHowell I am anxiously awaiting the Assign to groups feature for quizzes.  I have 4 classes of students on IEPs, and in order to differentiate without making the students feel singled out, I currently have to type in 150 names each time I give a quiz.  

nwilson7
Community Champion

@kristen_statt I would highly recommend you (or if you admins have blocked it, have them help) add those IEP students to a Section in the course.  Students can be in more than one section so you can have your normal "everyone" section as well as the IEP students or any other way you would like to differentiate as sections as well.  Then you would be able to assign the unique quizzes to them.

If a group quiz works like a group assignment or discussion, it is not going to function like you are hoping.  A group assessment, means the group submits one artifact for the entire group so that would mean the whole 150 (I am guessing you mean 150 spread over the 4 classes but just using that number as an example) would be submitting 1 quiz that represents what the 150 think the answers should be.

I know there are other comments about this throughout this thread as well. Another concern with using groups though is that it creates a group homepage that has a people section that the students would see.  This is a FERPA violation to use these as IEP groups as each student would be able to see the other students that have an IEP.  There are some ways to hide all of that with custom JS but you would need to work closely with your Canvas admins as I am guessing those functions are being used by others at your institution so you would not want a blanked block of those features.

Hope this helps!

-Nick

BethCrook
Community Coach
Community Coach

@kristen_statt as @nwilson7 is correct! You want to set up those students in a Section. To do this, click on your course Settings and the Section tab. Here is the course guide to help you with this:

https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Instructor-Guide/How-do-I-add-a-section-to-a-course-as-an-instruc...

mbmacdonald
Community Participant

@nwilson7 , @BethCrook - as I described in my comments above, my institution does not allow Teachers to add students to sections. I would love to, but in order to do that, we would have to allow them the permission to add students to the class as a whole (ditto with "remove"). I've been through the permissions settings many times looking for a workaround.

So yes, I suppose instructors could reach out to me to do this for them (which they do, sometimes), but that is not a sustainable solution, which is why I recommend the changes I described above.

nwilson7
Community Champion

@mbmacdonald I believe both @BethCrook and I were specifically addressing Kristen's post about asking for a Groups feature to quizzes for IEPs.  

Your points are valid though and I completely agree!

-Nick

kristen_statt
Community Member

I appreciate the feedback.  Unfortunately, I checked and while I can create a section, I don't have the power to add anyone to it!

dbrace
Community Contributor

Curious to know how this will impact "Student View".  We receive inquiries from faculty asking how they can make sure their accommodations (additional attempts, extra time) and differentiated dates are working properly without reaching out to either institutional technical support or Canvas Support.

Will this also mean that there will be enhancements to "Student View"?

AllisonHowell
Instructure
Instructure
Author

@kailey @dbrace great questions about student view! We have given this some thought, but additional enhancements were deemed out of scope (again, to get this to you faster). This means that the student view will show everything; however, the workaround until we are able to enhance student view is to masquerade as students so that you can see what they will see. I understand this extra step is a pain, but we thought this to be a good tradeoff to get this functionality to you. 

dbrace
Community Contributor

Thank you, @AllisonHowell.  I understand that enhancing "Student View" (along with other aspects) would have slowed the release down and that masquerading is a workaround.

The main downsides to the workaround are:

  1. faculty are not able to do it on their own (which can lead to delays and frustration)
  2. masquerading falsifies user account activity (unless API page views are reviewed by an admin to see who the "real_user" was)
MARISSASCHRADER
Community Participant

I'm sure I missed this somewhere, but is there a release date? I have tech coaches asking when they can inform staff this is available for use. Thanks in advance! 

AllisonHowell
Instructure
Instructure
Author

Thanks @dbrace, I appreciate this response. 

@MARISSASCHRADER we haven't shared a release date yet, but it is currently on our roadmap for completion in Q2. We will keep the community updated as we get closer to finalizing our release date. Thanks!

hollands
Community Contributor

This is great and a much needed feature!

Just some wish list thinking

Is there any way to incorporate assigned to in the Modules area? meaning can we see if it's individually assigned via the Modules view?

Could there be a way if you choose in an assignment (for example) to "Assign to" you can check a box to mass assign via a module there?

 

~Shaun

 

 

NoahBoswell
Community Coach
Community Coach

I can't wait to see this feature enabled! I have been hoping for a feature like this since I started using Canvas back in 2020. 

paul_fynn
Community Coach
Community Coach

We'll be interested to see this exciting development in BETA @AllisonHowell 

We have a couple of challenges around 'assign to everyone', specifically at the point of import of activities and assignments.

On importing of / copy to content from one Canvas course to another published Canvas Course and published module Canvas appears to take an executive decision to override the wishes of the instructor on two counts:-

  1. Canvas appears first to allocate the imported asset to every student in the course, even where the course is differentiated by sections / crosslist, when the safe-fail option might be to not assign it at all
  2. Having automatically assigned the imported asset to all students irrespective of section, Canvas further appears to immediately publish the assignment and make it available to all. This is problematic for us where
    1. there may be a need to withhold the asset from the students until a later date (eg in the case of summative assessment)
    2. the asset may be imported because it is close to what the instructor requires in the destination Canvas course, but may still require further modification and update before it is released to students

Of course there are ways around this, and I can understand that the current Canvas mode of operation may be driven by a desire to avoid content being imported then overlooked;

in our case the two imperatives above are more important than a failure to publish something, and it seems that the 'failure to publish' issue has been incrementally adressed over the last couple of years.

Perhaps this could be revisited ?

NoahBoswell
Community Coach
Community Coach

@paul_fynn I agree, I would like to see this in Beta someday, and I also agree with the fact that this could be revisited. 

I feel that many educators would benefit from this feature.

Ashley15Harden
Community Member

I am excited to explore the possibilities. Will this feature be available to assign modules within Mastery paths?

cannaday_ra
Community Participant

+1 for @JamesSekcienski 

I would also like to see dates added to the access for modules.

AllisonHowell
Instructure
Instructure
Author

@Ashley15Harden Yes, this feature will be compatible with Mastery Paths! 

jcox1
Community Coach
Community Coach

I am excited for the feature to be released! I feel that this will solve a lot of problems in cross listing some of our courses. Teachers will love being able to assign a different module to sections in their course. I love to deliver exciting news to our teachers!

AllisonHowell
Instructure
Instructure
Author

@paul_fynn Thank you for sharing these challenges. I'm going to share with our team that owns this behavior and see how we might be able to solve this. 

AllisonHowell
Instructure
Instructure
Author

@hollands Good news is that we are incorporating assigned to in the Modules area so that you don't have to click around to get that info. Your second item is an interesting idea. Right now inheritance goes one way -- from the module down to the assignment level, but not back up. It'll be interesting to see if others want that functionality once we release and it's tested out more!

 

Leslie_MLT
Community Member

This is excellent news! Is there a release date for this feature? 👏

DaGIFT222
Community Participant

hey @BethCrook I've noticed since becoming a panda, you are all over instructure helping individuals left and right. Keep up the great work!

 

GIFT