Basics of Course Layout in Brightspace

An intuitive course navigation includes an overall course orientation or “Getting Started” module as well as overviews that outline expectations, assignments and due dates, among other pertinent information within each module.  By providing course and module overviews, you further provide support for your students.

Even if you teach an in-person class and discuss the same materials with your students, an additional point of reference in your online environment is helpful. In addition to organizing your course layout and its features, you can also personalize your Brightspace profile to share your picture, tailor how you receive notifications, adjust your account settings for accessibility and more.

When building your online course, look for ways to benefit both the students and yourself. One approach to building your online course is to use your syllabus as a guide to how you organize information and decide what should be shared at the course or module level. You can use the Brightspace Course Builder tool to visualize your course as you begin building.

On this page:

Personalizing Your Brightspace Profile

Establish your identity in Brightspace and set up how, and the frequency with which, you receive notifications.

Setting Up Your Course Homepage

The course homepage is where students will land when they first access your course. You can customize the homepage and Course Navbar in a variety of ways to make sure your students have access to components you feel are important and/or that are high touch points. Depending on how your course is delivered (e.g., synchronously or asynchronously) and the extent to which you plan to utilize Brightspace, the way you organize your homepage may differ. 

The course home contains three main areas:

  • The minibar, across the very top, where you can access your list of courses, messages, notifications and account settings.
  • The Course Navbar is across the top of the course, presented in blue.
  • The remainder of this page provides space for widgets (resources like the calendar, announcements, work to do, etc.) you want you students to see regularly.

Setting up Your Course Navbar

Using the Course Navbar is an efficient way to move between the content, activities and tools in your course. The UB default Course Navbar includes the most utilized course tools. Alternately, you can customize your Course Navbar to fit the workflow of your course. Your Course Navbar should streamline the course navigation for you and your students, bringing access to the high touch points of your course, such as the content, discussion boards and assignments into one place. In addition to being one of the primary methods for navigating within Brightspace, the Course Navbar can also include links to resources outside of Brightspace. Depending on how your course is delivered (e.g., synchronously or asynchronously) and the extent to which you plan to utilize Brightspace, the way you organize your Course Navbar may differ. Keep in mind, however, limited space is available. Adding too many links will force the links into an overflow. To avoid overflow, add links to groups. This will allow for a dropdown to appear, creating better ease of use and improving course organization.

Note: Your department or program may have recommendations for Course Navbar layouts. Please check with your department before customizing your Course Navbar,

Course Tools

Course materials you post in your modules can include documents, images, media files, CaptureCast presentations, URL links and existing course activities. You can ensure users fulfill specific course requirements and learning expectations by adding release conditions, grade items and learning outcomes to course materials.

Additional Resources