Structuring courses for an improved learning experience.
Organizing courses in a meaningful, clear and consistent way can benefit both the instructor and students. When the structure is pre-determined and systematic, it makes the building process more manageable. Additionally, a well-structured course allows students to intuitively navigate, find course content and submit assignments with ease.
Course organization is particularly important in online classes. However, most in-person classes also have digital components such as a companion course. If no online element is present, there are still organizational considerations that need to be made and should be reflected in the syllabus. When deciding on an organizational structure, it can be helpful to explore how other instructors have configured their courses. Review the Exemplar Courses page for variety of course tours and syllabi examples.
Determine your course’s organizational structure before building. Ensure it is consistent, logically organized, easy to navigate and visually appealing.
Streamline the sections of the course students will need to access. Hide or delete any areas that are not being used (particularly when adopting a template).
Identify which sections will be accessed from the course navigation menu and which items will live inside other tabs. For example: syllabus, content, assignments, assessments, discussions and resources.
Limit the number of places students have to navigate during a given unit or lesson. Develop a unit plan to think through these components.
Set due dates on assignments. Assignments and assessments with due dates will populate in a student’s Calendar.
Navigate the course from a student’s perspective. In UB Learns, this can be done using Student Preview.
When developing an online course, the overall organization and structure are very important. Strategically utilizing the course menu in UB Learns can help both the instructor and students navigate effectively. The structure should be logical, uncluttered and consistent.
Online courses should follow a simple hierarchy structure with no more than two levels of organization (Powell, 2003). This makes it essential to utilize the course menu in a meaningful way. One important consideration is to determine what will be a tab on the course menu and what will live inside a tab or content folder.
Review the following suggestions for maximizing the effectiveness of the course menu:
Consider how this might look for a discussion. Will you have a “Discussion Forum” tab on the course menu? Or will students access the discussion through the weekly content folder or module? This is also a common distinction for assignments. Will students see an “Assignments” tab on the left navigation bar of your course? Or will the assignments be embedded within each week’s content folder or module? Or both? While courses will always use tabs, what they say and where students will go to access material is a choice that needs to be made.
The following are common examples of areas that may appear as tabs on your course menu. As always, these can be customized to best suit your course. Changing tab names is a simple process in UB Learns.
| || |
|Student Orientation|| || |
|Course Content|| || |
|Discussions|| || |
|Assignments|| || |
|Assessments|| || |
|Group Work|| || |
|Resources|| || |
Structure and customize online courses.
A general introduction to navigating an online course in UB Learns.
Change the structure, styles and tools used in your course.
Update and organize your course menu in UB Learns.
Best practices for course organization and practical ideas to explore.