Cleaning the Canvas Menu

scarecrow directions“That way is a very nice way…”

“It’s pleasant down that way too.”

Providing easy navigation in a Canvas course is a huge factor in reducing the time (and frustration) for students to find resources and participate in the online activities.  Including hyperlinks to an assignment in the syllabus, in an announcement, and with the “Assignments” button, for example, gives students multiple ways to get to the same place.  It is a helpful strategy, except when it’s not.

If you’ve ever spent a day and a half just trying to find the Frito Chili Cheese Pie on a Sonic menu then you understand the pitfalls of having too much content staring back at you.

sonic menu

The side-bar menu of Canvas can be troublesome because it may give students bad paths to follow (like “Pages”, which lists the course pages alphabetically, rather than matching the course timeline), or it may allow them to go where they just don’t need to go (like viewing the course file directory).  The default of Canvas is to include everything possible in that menu, so streamlining it by removing some of the buttons is an easy way to save you and your students some headaches.

To customize the menu, click the “Settings” button and the “Navigation” tab at the top of the Settings page.  You will see a list of all side menu options.  Simply drag them to the bottom of the page to remove them or back up to restore them.  You can also change their order by dragging and dropping.

Just remember to scroll down and click “Save” before exiting, or you’ll have to try again.  Some things like Attendance and Files will remain grey on the instructor menu, but only the items in black will appear to students.

The video below shows how it’s done:


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