Getting Around in Canvas ‚Äď An Exploration of How One Moves Around in the new LMS

When you¬†log into Canvas you land on the Dashboard. The main content area [a] of the Dashboard is where you will see a card view of all Published and¬†Unpublished¬†courses you are an instructor for. [b]¬†The “Card View” is the default view for the content area view but it can be changed to “List View” or “Recent Activity View”. [c]¬†The purple menu on the left is the Global Canvas menu. The menu on the right¬†[d]¬†lists “To Do” items, what is coming up on the Calendar, and “Recent Feedback”. Grades are also accessible for instructors and students.¬† To enter a course, you simply click on the course card[e].Canvas Dashboard overview

When you initally arrive in a course you will notice that there is an additional course menu on the left [a]. This brings us to a difference between Canvas and Blackboard.¬† The course menu in Canvas cannot be edited the way it could be in Blackboard.¬† You don‚Äôt have the option of adding items or renaming the menu items listed in the course menu.¬† The purpose of this is two-fold.¬† First ‚Äď it creates a more consistent experience for the student from course to course.¬† Second ‚Äď it promotes course navigation through modules (which are¬†really flexible!)¬†Just as in Blackboard, we suggest the first page in the very¬†first module you create should be a Welcome page where your orient your students to the course.¬† This is a great place to get your students off on the right foot with some basic tasks. (Note: there is a NEXT button at the bottom of each page in Canvas to help guide your students through your curated content to course success.)

By default the modules area [b] is designated as the area students in the course will go to first, this can be changed and set to the Course Activity Stream, Course Modules area, Assignments List, the Syllabus page tool¬†or you can create what Canvas refers to as a “Front Page” (which can be set to any Canvas page) then designated as the “Home” page. You‚Äôll also note that some of the menu items have an eye symbol [c] with a line through it.¬† As you may suspect, these items are not visible to your students.¬† As previously mentioned, you want to direct your students to navigate the course through the modules. They will have a consistent experience, not just in your course, but in other courses they are also enrolled in.¬†Canvas Navigation first glance

Does this mean you should¬†hide links to content area like Assignments, Discussions, Quizzes, Pages, and Files too? Yes, as you can provide that linked content to a discussion, assignment, etc directly inside a module, which gives students a better, and more linear, experience. Visibility for items listed in the course menu can be adjusted by selecting “Settings” and then the “Navigation” tab. Simply drag the content areas like Discussion, Assignments, Quizzes, Pages and Files to the hide area at the bottom of the list and click Save. ¬†

How does this align to Canvas training materials?

Canvas logoPriming the Canvas: 1.2 Getting Started: Canvas Basics and 1.3 Getting Started: Modules, Content, & Discussions (Short videos highlighting the Canvas Interface and Modules are available in the Priming the Canvas pages referenced.)


Additional Resources: 

Our next article will highlight Notifications and Preferences; visit Canvas Blog to see all our Canvas articles.