To ensure your students can successfully find and access course materials and resources, it is necessary to provide supporting materials to show and explain these processes. Integrating a variety of features and tools to build a course orientation module within Brightspace provides context for your students of what they will learn and experience, as well as resources to promote their success.
To help your students easily navigate your course, consider the following questions when designing and building your course:
To welcome your students to your course, create a welcome message. In Brightspace, you can do this in multiple ways: Announcements, Create a File and Insert Stuff, Email, VideoNote, Welcome Widget and more. The purpose of the welcome message is to greet your students at the "online door" and generate excitement for the course.
You may design a welcome message by creating a short video to generate excitement and curiosity. Make sure to direct your students by including clear and succinct next steps.
After the welcome message, include a section that clearly communicates initial tasks and activities. Often this section is simply named “First Steps.” In this section, explain what you want your students to do, in what order, the purpose for each step and how they can successfully complete tasks. Consider using one of the built-in Brightspace HTML Templates (e.g., Elements) or Checklist Tool to develop this section.
It is important to establish instructor presence at the onset of the course to foster rapport with your students and begin building the learning community. You can use features such as the Brightspace Meet Your Facilitator HTML Template and/or Video Note tool to introduce yourself to your students. This introduction can include brief statements about your teaching philosophy, your experiences or what excites you about teaching, as well as some personal hobbies and interests you’re comfortable sharing.
Develop a section that includes resources that give quick, succinct directions to help students become familiar and comfortable with the course’s online learning environment. In addition to providing resources such as the Brightspace Glossary and Student Learning Videos, consider creating a brief, course-specific, walk-through video showing your students how to navigate through the course.
This section is the course overview. Here is where you help your students understand the what, why, how and when they will learn about. This section deconstructs sections of your syllabus such as your course learning objectives, materials and resources, office hours, guidelines and expectations. Using the Brightspace Accordion Template is an excellent way to organize this information for your students. Creating a video that explains the overall objective of the course is also extremely helpful.
First, ensure your syllabus is accessible, equitable and inclusive. After you review your syllabus, embed it in your course and create a video that succinctly walks your students through it. A great place to store your syllabus is the course overview section (provide link). By adding your syllabus to the course overview section, students can access the syllabus easily for quick reference. Do not read the syllabus to your students, but instead highlight and emphasize key areas such as the course calendar, expectations and policies. Use the walk through as a way to inspire, spark curiosity and get your students excited for the course. Optionally, to ensure your students review the syllabus, you can use an adaptive release condition, as well as a quiz review exercise. The quiz should not be punitive, but instead intended to support your students in understanding how they can be successful in the course and what supports and guidance are available.
Reduce student anxiety and frustration by providing them with helpful resources. Within this section, post resources with direct links to various student support services and give a brief explanation for each resource. Additionally, offer students tips for success. It is important to reduce students’ anxiety by giving them strategies that support their learning and academic success.
At the onset of your course, have students get to know each other through engaging activities to begin building a learning community . Give you and your students’ the opportunity to get to know each other to build respect and trust. Doing so helps maintain an inclusive, supportive and interactive learning environment. For example, use Engaging Your Students in Brightspace and Building Activities to help you create your engaging activities.