When should you use Canvas' files, pages and modules for course organization?
Course OrganizationThere are three common methods for organizing your course: 1) Using the "Files" area, 2) Using the "Modules" area and 3) Using Pages. Each of these methods comes with it's own list of advantages and disadvantages. Most importantly, it's important to understand that Canvas was designed to give you the opportunity to use all three features at the same time for maximum flexibility.
Using the Files Area
ProsThe Files area is immediately recognizable to anyone that's familiar with Finder on a Mac or Windows Explorer on a PC. It's a simple way to post files for students to download and it requires no learning curve from Instructors and Students. You can create and organize files and folders just like you do on your personal computer, Google Drive or Box.
ConsThe downside to this method is that it provides little to no context for what the files are or how they relate to the course (beyond the folder and file names). For courses that will incorporate any of the other features of Canvas and have more than a handful of files, it's recommended that you use one of the other methods.
Like the Files area approach, Modules doesn't provide a narrative to accompany the content. In many instances, Instructors want to provide a back-story or rationale for why a particular reading is assigned or how it might relate to another reading, for example. In situations where Instructors want to give students a sense of what's taking place and how all of the pieces of content fit together, Canvas provides even more capability via Pages.
Using Pages (Creating Your Own Menu)
ProsAs you can see in the image above, the Instructor has provided a context for what's taking place this week, what the students are expected to learn and given links to the files, assignments and discussions that they will need to complete. As you can see, the advantage of Pages is that you are able to provide additional explanation that gives them a better understanding all of the content, activities and assessments that are assigned. Pages also allow instructors to use images, tables, charts and embed videos. As you might expect, this level of sophistication is necessary for online and blended courses.
ConsFor Face-to-Face courses that don't need a significant Canvas presence, using a Table of Contents and Pages might be overkill. If your purpose in using Canvas is to post readings and provide a place to turn in assignments, you may prefer to use Modules. Instructors that talk about spending excessive amounts of time on their Canvas courses tend to utilize Menus and Pages with richly detailed descriptions, images, embedded YouTube videos, links to other pages and other features that make their Canvas courses look more like websites or e-Books (a plus for online/blended, maybe not necessary for F2F).
For more information on using Canvas, please visit the Canvas Training Center for faculty or try the Canvas Community for comprehensive resources beyond St. Edward's.