Course Organization – Angel vs. Canvas

I’ve been using Angel for a while, and I have a fairly set way I organize each course. Typically my courses are organized week-by-week, or chapter-by-chapter, into what you might call “units”. Because of the way Angel seems to work best for me, I create a folder for each unit, and then put content within that folder. Often each unit folder contains separate content items for objectives, readings, assignments, videos, and dropboxes. Because of my organization, a student has to open the folder, then click to open each content item, then return back to the folder, then click the next item… again and again and again.  This is what my typical Angel “unit” looks like:

Angel - one unit

I have to confess… now I’ve discovered the Canvas learning platform.  And let me reassure all of you – YES, you *can* still organize your content by units in Canvas. They’re called “modules” and you can create just about exactly what I’m showing you above.

However, Canvas has a different way. I *think* it’s better?  In Canvas you have a course home page – what your students first see when they enter your unique course. As a teacher, you can choose what shows when a student enters your course – and one of these is “by course modules”. But that’s not what I’m here to write about today. Right now, I’m totally thrilled with the option to have my course home page show “my assignments with syllabus“.

When I pick “my assignments with syllabus”, Canvas will give me a two part page. The top part is where I can put anything. I could paste in my entire syllabus; I could have a link to my syllabus document; I could put in a large image; all three things I just mentioned; or more!  In my case, I decided to put a large image and a link to my course syllabus, in Word.

So what goes in the bottom part of the “my assignments with syllabus” page? WOW! As you create assignments, Canvas will automatically (alert – Canvas vocabulary:  automagically!) add your assignments to the bottom of this page, in due-date-order (this is in addition to automatically adding assignments to the calendar too).

Now here is the big difference, compared to what I did in Angel.  In Canvas, I make an individual assignment – it’s really just a like a page you create using the rich content editor; you can add text, links, images, embed videos, etc.  This is one of my (admittedly, fake) assignments in Canvas (notice the rubric at the bottom!!!!):

Canvas Unit 2 assignment - screenshot

See how this compares to the same “unit” in Angel?  In Angel I have a folder with many content items inside. In Canvas, my students have ONE PAGE with everything they need for that “unit”. No forward-backward clicking for them. This one page is called an Assignment – but you can see that you can put all kinds of content into this assignment. Obviously, this might not work well for all teachers and all disciplines, but it sure fits the way I teach.  It’s easier for the students, and easier for me as just about everything is in one document. If needed, I can add more in-depth details with links to separate documents, websites, or pages in Canvas.

What does the opening page of my course with “my assignments and syllabus” look like now?  Look below and you’ll see my image, a link to my syllabus, and the automagic links to my assignments!

Excel in Canvas

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