Optimal Canvas Setup: Modules

Students like modules, if not just as the homepage (Fox 2021). Think of the module as a chunk of your class. This post will show you how to set up a clear module list, so that students can access the content easily without you having to link to a lot of individual pages and assignments.

Setting this up by week is helpful for me as well as my students, and as it synchs well with the traditional syllabus format, it may make more sense for new Canvas users. Note that there is a “Syllabus” portion on Canvas, too. More about that in a later post.

When I first started using Canvas on the regular, I was not sold on modules–I basically had a static home page composed of my syllabus and schedule as the front page. Then, I linked to each assignment that had to be submitted. This worked generally well, but I am now thinking of course reuse and student experience and have found that week-by-week modules with daily schedules work even better.

Let’s take a look at one module. This is from a Composition course Fall 2020:

Instructor View: Weekly Module

As you can see here, I’ve named each day with a Text Header, indicating both day and date for students. I’ve also tried to organize things done in class and things assigned for homework (which will form the basis for our in-class work the following week). I’ve done this by actually titling the activity “In Class:” or “Homework:.” In conjunction with the due dates, this makes it explicit for students, if they access their homework via the modules list (which not all students do), what is due when and what we’re going over in class each day.

I’ve also indicated how the students are to meet up. This was a hybrid course, so Group A was in person, and all the other students, zooming in. I tried to identify that clearly in the zoom link title, which I’ve added to each day’s module.

Finally, at the end of each class, I uploaded a link to the zoom recording, with passcode. This keeps students who couldn’t make the meeting on track about the course content.

In the instructor view of Week 2 module, you’ll notice that one class activity is missing; we ended up not having time to do that, so I unpublished the assignment from the modules list that students see. Be in the habit of noting that the Modules and the Assignments list are different things, though they intersect. However, if I don’t also unpublish it in Assignments, students who look at the Assignments page will still see it. Be in the habit of noting that the Modules and the Assignments list are different things, though they intersect. If you are very good about maintaining your Modules, you might consider restricting access to Assignments. If you are very good about maintaining your Modules, you might consider restricting access to Assignments. More on Assignments and Grades in another post!

Student view of same Module

The students see basically the same thing you see, though they get a little more information–note the red circle on the right. This indicates a point-based assignment that has not been submitted and is now overdue.

Note that students can see the text headers with day/date as well as the topic of each weekly module. Homework is clearly articulated as “Homework Due Next Class,” often with an associated due date.

There are many other great ways to set up your Canvas modules–what are your hacks that work?

Suggestion 1

Use modules with clearly defined weeks and dates

Suggestion 2

Identify the items in your modules by type, like homework due next class/in-class assignments

Suggestion 3

Consider restricting access to the confusing Assignments page to direct traffic to Modules

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