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Teacher, I’m Lost: The Why for a Course Home Page

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Most of us have traveled beyond the confines of our hometowns. Many of us grew up using AAA maps and Thomas Guides to navigate to our destination. As a child I loved using maps to plot out family trips, determining ETA’s and alternate routes if needed. Kind of geeky? Yes, but l learned the importance of having a plan. The trip began at home and then it would usually venture north or south in Interstate 5 to the family destination with stops along the way. All roads led to the destination and back home. Building a course with a landing spot for students is much the same.

Photo by Elina Sazonova on

Mapping it Out

When creating a course on Canvas, the first thing I start with is the home page. Why? A home page becomes the landing point for students when they access the platform. It is there where they can find other destinations for information much like the map used for travels. Of course today everyone uses some type of GPS system that is integrated into a map platform of sorts. When students land on my home page they are pointed to important destinations for my course and school information as well. I used my home page for the weekly schedule, weekly agenda, course description (syllabus), access codes, office hours information and more. I wanted to make sure that this was a one-stop option for students as they navigated the course. Much like mapping a trip, the objective was to reach the destination quickly and without having to take multiple routes.

Canvas Home Page Example from Google Slides

Getting Fancy

The aesthetics of a home page don’t matter much as long as students can access necessary information for the course. However, since teachers are over-achievers there always seems to be a competition of who can create the fanciest home page. The site I worked at had some very creative educators who inspired me to go beyond the basic page. I know that many institutions create a blueprint page and expect teachers to change the basic information if that, but with some quick work using a Google Slide or other linkable document one can build an attractive home page. Here are some basic steps.

  1. Access Google Slides or a similar app where you can create and publish the work

  2. Create your image. Many teacher use pre-made templates from sites such as Slidesgo, Ditch that Textbook, Pinterest, or other sites. These templates include chalkboards, whiteboards and the like.

  3. Add an emoji using Bitmoji. You can personalize the image to fit your character

  4. Add additional images as needed

  5. Create hyperlinks to other pages. These pages can be in Canvas or outside of the platform. I prefer to link directly to Canvas. Make sure these pages are created and published so the links work properly.

  6. Once done, go to file, publish to the web and obtain your embed code.

  7. Navigate back to Canvas, access the home page and embed the image.

So for those who like to get fancy you are at liberty to take off. Just remember the most important concept, the page is for the students so keep it simple.

Photo by Paula Schmidt on

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