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Canvas Course Navigation

Canvas Course Navigation


Course navigation is crucial to instilling confidence in your students as they orient themselves in the new world of your course and curriculum. Your students should experience a navigation that is intuitive and free of clutter.

According to the VCU Online Course Quality Rubric, a VCU online course should have clear and logical organization of content, with any unused items or tools hidden from student view (VCU standard 2.5). In many cases, especially in online courses, a chronological ordering of your course content and navigation, one that follows the specific semester schedule, is the most straightforward approach.

Typically, when we talk about course navigation, we are talking about three major course components: the course’s Home Page, the course’s Navigation Menu, and the course Modules, along with the content items within each module.

In the video below, Dr. Ray Pastore, an instructional designer and professor at UNC Wilmington, goes over the best practices for course navigation (13:34 minutes).

For accessibility reasons, it’s also important that all hyperlinks are functional (VCU standard 2.8) and that hyperlinks rely on descriptive text, such as the title of the resource you are linking to, rather than saying “click here” (7.28). For more on accessibility, check out VCU Online’s “Accessibility in E-Learning” faculty resource page.

Below you will find a model that covers these elements of good course navigation.

A Model

The series of screenshots provided in the following pdf from an online VCU course that exemplifies best practices in course navigation.

Course Navigation PDF

The Nuts and Bolts

The How To videos below are provided by Canvas and cover the technical aspects of creating your course’s navigation.

How to create your course’s Home Page in Canvas.

How to customize your course’s navigation menu and other course settings.

Other Things to Consider

To help your students quickly acclimate to the layout and design of your course, it can be really helpful to provide a tour of your course’s navigation somewhere in the Home Page or Welcome Module. While the professor below might not rely on a course layout and navigation you would use in your own course, the video tour itself is a good model to consider.

Hungry for more?

Please check out our website for more details about course and support services. For any other questions please contact onlinefaculty@vcu.edu