Survey Says: Consistency, Please!

Site Navigation

Consistency Family Feud game board with Navigation as the first item.

The menu and home page for a course site are the first impression students get of your content and organizational process. Course site navigation is a vital component to the student learning experience. When students are interacting with your course outside of the physical learning environment, the course site and its menu are an extension of your classroom. 

When a student first enters your course site, they’re going to have an instant, visceral reaction when they log in that says, “Where is everything and how can I access it?”

This first impression will set the tone for their ongoing opinion and mood about the course. They’ll take in everything from usability to aesthetics, and compare the user experience between sites.

“Make it super simple for them to get started. They should know exactly where to go and what to do first.” 

Monique Muro How to Make Your Online Course Navigation 10x Better

Editing your course navigation “Reduces confusion, provides students with only the tools they need, directs students to where course content is located…”

Make Your Course Easier to Navigate

Our students expressed similar sentiment in their survey feedback about the site navigation in their recent courses:

“When there would not be too much information on there it was easy to navigate.”

“I found that professors who put in the time to clearly organize their canvas menu made it much easier on me to stay organized and learn more effectively.”

“The entire system was entirely helpful as it helped streamline and organize all my work for me, as well as making all the necessary materials very easy to access.”

The course menu (navigation) is an easy way to start your students’ experience off right. Here are some examples of course navigation settings:

Site Navigation examples

Example 1 on the left hasn’t been edited to remove tools that aren’t being used, or streamlined the number of places students need to go to complete tasks: Assignments, Quizzes, Modules, and Discussions. It also isn’t clear where students should go to find materials – Modules, Pages, or Files.

Example 2 on the right is a simple navigation setup with only one place for students to go to access content and tasks: Modules. All other task and content tools have been hidden or removed to avoid confusion and wasted time for students. Syllabus is in the menu to provide easy access to the document, as well as the only list view of course-specific tasks available in Canvas. 

Trimming down and organizing your site navigation saves you time as well. It cuts down on the number of tools you need to keep track of, both from a building and maintenance perspective. You can build, edit, and delete assessment items like assignments, quizzes, and discussions from the Modules tool without having to open them individually. You can also save time worrying about what tools or items students have permission to view if you minimize the menu options to limit the access points. We’ll go into the benefits of using the Modules tool more in an upcoming post.

Look for Canvas Week training sessions on these topics being offered through the PDC!

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