Photo by Pierre Châtel-Innocenti / Unsplash

Simplify Your Canvas

Canvas is complex but it doesn't have to be. By creating the "Strip Mall" version of your modules, users have a one stop shop for all the content and assignment.


Table of Contents

The Importance of Homepages

  • Use existing patterns to reduce cognitive load - Webpages have common patterns. Use those patterns so your students can rely on background knowledge to easily navigate.
  • Use the syllabus as your homepage - Then a kid can just go to the next assignment they need to work on and pick up from there. By using the strip mall version of your module (see below) that gives students a very easy way to remember where they left off.

Remember Jack Nicholson

"I don't want to be a product of my environment I want my environment to be a product of me." -Jack Nicholson in The Departed

Use the Strip Mall Version of Your Module

  • Create a new module.
  • Add only an assignment.
  • Change to the HTML editor and paste the code snippet below.
<div class="enhanceable_content tabs">
<li><a href="#fragment-1">PUT **TITLE** FOR THE FIRST TAB HERE</a></li>
<li><a href="#fragment-2">PUT **TITLE** FOR THE SECOND TAB HERE</a></li>
<li><a href="#fragment-3">PUT **TITLE** FOR THE THIRD TAB HERE</a></li>
<div id="fragment-1">PUT THE **CONTENT** FOR THE FIRST TAB HERE</div>
<div id="fragment-2">PUT THE **CONTENT** FOR THE SECOND TAB HERE.</div>
<div id="fragment-3">PUT THE **CONTENT** FOR THE THIRD TAB HERE</div>

By condensing your module into one assignment page, students can follow the assignments on the syllabus and always know where the content related to the assignment is. It also prevents students from getting locked out of pages or being unable to complete assignments. Once again, this strategy also uses background knowledge to lessen the cognitive load. Students can click the tabs in reading order from left to right to access the content.


  • Your course is your product.
  • Your user gives you the best feedback; don't argue with them.
  • When designing content think, "How can I TL;DR (too long; didn't read) this?" and "Could my customer/user/student do this without me?"

Watch the whole episode below:


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webs was in education for nearly 10 years. she left education and became a software developer. she’s currently a senior product owner at edmentum as well as the founder of studio w on w.