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Driving Canvas: Modules vs Pages

When is it best to drive Canvas courses via Modules or Pages can differ depending on needs, but driving via pages is usually down to the skill set and understanding of Canvas features that a Teacher will use pages.

Using Pages without Modules

When you use only pages you loose out on so much within Canvas. Yes you might simplify some aspects, mainly the creation of content but you lose the student experience elements such as ‘mark as done’ and a flow through different content types unless you link via URLs within pages. You may have noticed I talk a lot about creating a structure for each week that encompasses active learning that also has a the ability to be flipped. By using pages to drive all of your content you have to make certain that a page contains it all, and where you have to complete the page completely before you publish the page.

Find out more about pages here: Canvas Pages Guides

Using Modules to structure the content

This is, in my opinion the best way to structure a Canvas course. It allows you to create the active or flipped learning sections one by one, allowing you to publish the sections one by one, so students can at least complete some weekly content whilst you create the rest. In an ideal world, you would have all of your content completed weeks in advance, but lets face it, that doesn’t always happen.

Find out more about Modules: Canvas Modules Guides

Using Module Requirements

This can only be used effectively when you use multiple module items. I say effectively, you can still use requirements for only one item (this might be a page) but when multiple items are sued within a module you could use different requirements for different activities within a module. As an example you could use the following requirements:

Item Name & TypeRequirement
PREPARE: PageMark as Done
ACTIVATE: DiscussionContribute to Discussion
NAVIGATE: PageMark as Done
DEMONSTRATE: AssessmentScore at Least 70%
ARTICULATE: DiscussionContribute to Discussion
Example of module item types and module requirement

Find out more about Module Requirements here: How do I add requirements to a module?

Using Module Prerequisites

This goes hand in hand with requirements. By using requirements, and essentially having a completion target you can now add prerequisites for a another module. You are creating completion goals that say “Hey, you need to complete all that is required of you before you gain access to the next set of resources.” Combine prerequisites of completing a module with a date that a module is available, repeatedly throughout the weeks of a Canvas course and you have a nice structure that students can see and follow (visible learning).

Find out more about Module Requirements here: How do I add prerequisites to a module?

Using Rubrics

These are great. they help to make goals and expectations visible and actually enable you to apply an outcome very quickly to an activity that is gradable and has a rubric attached. These are a wonderful thing and are really under utilised. I would encourage the use of rubrics within Canvas, even alongside a zero point score activity.

A complete Rubric

Above shows what you can do with a rubric once attached to an activity. You can simply click on the desired outcome and/or a grade. Using a rubric alongside individualised feedback goes a long way towards increasing motivation and participation (we love student engagement!).

Click to find out more about Adding a rubric here.

Making Learning Visible

So what does this all mean? Why wouldn’t I want to just add pages and links to and from pages to form a course structure? Well, nothing is stopping you, but don’t you want all the goodness that Canvas can bring? By using the tactics above you are also making the learning visible (Hattie). Students will see logical paths and and reasons for doing certain things in your course.

Motivation, Progression and Participation

Out of the three elements towards better student engagement of Motivation, Progression and Participation, there sits Goals and Expectations with Progression. Using the structure as suggested above or similar you can easily create this without the hassle off adding it one big page.