Styled Blocks in Canvas

We have a few different Virtual Learning Environments in FMS. You may be familiar with Canvas or the Medical Learning Environment (MLE), but you may not be familiar with Ngage.

Ngage was used in tandem with Blackboard, but since the move to Canvas in 2020 the system has slowly been phased out and will be decommissioned in the next academic year.

A feature used quite extensively in Ngage were the activity elements. These elements were styled blocks which highlighted an actions was required.

Q&A block in Ngage

We did not want to lose these call to action blocks when we moved to Canvas so we recreated the most popular elements using the HTML editor in Canvas. We built on the original idea by using different colours and styles to represent different tasks or actions. By using the same styled blocks across all courses and modules students can navigate the content with ease, and at a quick glace know what is expected of them. They also help to make the content more visually appealing.

Reading Activity block with pale green background and uppercase title
Optional reading block with grey background, dotted border and lowercase title
Q&A block with pale green background, solid grey border and interactive button

To add even more colour and visual interest we agreed on an emoji for each task and added them to the blocks as well.

EmojiActivity
💬Discussion Board
📖Reading Activity
🎦Watch a Video
🎧Listen to a Podcast
🔎Research Activity
Q&A or Quiz
📝Journal Activity
👨‍👨‍👦‍👦Group Activity
💻Blog Activity
🗒Padlet Activity
📅Timetabled Event
Our chosen Emojis

We decided to use emojis instead of icons as emojis can be placed in page titles as well. Adding emojis to page titles gives students a broad idea of what is to be expected that week.

Example of using Emojis in page titles

Having the emojis in the titles also allows Instructional Designers and Module Leaders to view the distribution of tasks throughout a course, and quickly know which pages may need updated for the following year. Padlets, for example, need to be remade each year and a quick scroll through the modules area is all that is required to locate all the pages that contain padlets.

Want to make your own blocks?

You may first want to speak with your School or Programme team to come up with a shared theme or design. The blocks work best when used over multiple modules.

If you would like help designing blocks for your School, please get in touch.

Coming Soon: H5P

From August 2021 all colleagues will be able to create interactive content with H5P. No coding or software is required, all you need is a web browser.

Take a sneak peak at what content types are available on the H5P website (please do not create an account just yet) . Read more about the launch on the LTDS Blog.

If you would like to get early access to H5P, receive updates, or help our evaluation please Join the H5P Community.

Branching Activities

Following a request to create branching activities for the BMS Health and Safety Course, we have added an example of a branching activity to the FMS Community so that others can try these out. These activities can be used to present a scenario with a range of options for students to follow, like a choose-your-own-adventure book.

A branching activity was included in the Health and Safety course this year to guide students through a scenario where a fellow student becomes unwell. At each stage, some information and a set of choices is presented. The student clicks through to discover the consequences of their choices, and finally, an outcome is presented. Students can run through the activity multiple times to try out different paths through the scenario.

These activities are built by setting up pages in Canvas to represent each stage and adding buttons that link pages together in the right order depending on the choices.

You can try out an example branching activity in the FMS Community. This example has 13 different pages, including a landing page where students start the activity. The number of pages you need to create will depend on how complex you want your scenario to be.

If you’d like to try making your own branching activity, you can find instructions here: https://ncl.instructure.com/courses/30988/pages/creating-branching-activities.

Creating Buttons in Canvas

We have recently added a page to the FMS Community showing how you can add buttons to your pages. To add a button to your page, you just need to add a little snippet of HTML in the required place, and alter the specifications to suit what you’d like.

You can view the full instructions on the FMS Community page.

The button code is simple to edit following the instructions above, and buttons can be used for a range of purposes, such as navigating forward and back through a course, or links to external resources.

They come in a range of predefined colours, and are automatically formatted to look in keeping with the rest of your content.

Buttons can make your content more visually appealing, and can improve ease navigation through content. If you have a link that you want to stand out, try adding a button to your page!