Believe it or not, the organization of your online course makes a major impact on the success of your students’ learning.
Online courses are a shared experience that requires careful planning and guidance, so that students can reach the learning goals successfully.
Without the proper organization and facilitation, an “online course” is little more than a shared cloud space. Furthermore, students lacking the immediacy of the face-to-face classroom become disoriented, unmotivated, and even anxious if there isn’t some clear and consistent organizational structure in place. The organization of your course should serve as a pathway for students to follow so they know what to do, when to do it, how it all fits together, and why it is important.
Begin by thinking through the structure of your course. What is the teaching sequence? How might you group the content? The grouping of content or modules may represent one week at a time or longer periods of time centered on a specific concept, theme, or topic (such as a unit or chapter).
While the inclusion of instructional content, assignments, and assessments within a module is obvious, it is also important to include an introduction, conclusion, and other activities as well. The use of overviews, to-do lists, wrap ups, and similar pages within your modules provide ‘trail markers’ to guide students through the course content. Students will feel better supported and more motivated to work within your course when they know where to go and what to do.
The creation of these “extra” pages for each module might be overwhelming. Luckily, there is a tool provided within each Canvas course at CBU to reduce the time required to create these pages – The course template.
What It Might Look Like: The Course Template
Regardless of your content area or audience, the template provides a shortcut to the course planning, designing, and building process. Instructors are able to modify and customize features within the template to create a new course rather than starting completely from scratch. The template includes:
- A generic module-based navigational layout, easily adapted for weekly, topical, or chapter-based units.
- A customizable course home page, instructor page, course overview, and online learning orientation to strengthen social, cognitive, and teaching presence.
- Pre-built pages designed with Universal Design in Learning (UDL) and adult learning best practices in mind. This includes the necessary pages needed to guide students through the content within each module: An introduction, to-do list, sample student activities/assessments, and conclusion.
Check Out the Template
Open any of your future production shells to get started OR follow this link for a read-only example: https://cbu.instructure.com/courses/4087
Want More Information on Online Teaching?
Did you know the OLET team offers a completely online training related to teaching an online course? Our Online Faculty Training (OFT) course dives into:
- How to navigate the online classroom, both as a student and as an instructor.
- How to create a community of inquiry among online students.
- How to have an effective teaching and human presence in an online classroom.
- How to create courses in our Learning Management System (LMS), Canvas.
Instructors complete OFT with the first module of their new course completed and reviewed. Participants that finish OFT and teach their course online also receive a stipend!
_______________Tyler Isbell is an Instructional Designer and Trainer for the Center for Digital Instruction at Christian Brothers University. He holds an Educational Technology Master’s Degree from Boise State University and masters-level certification in Technology Integration and Online Teaching. Before coming to CBU, Tyler was a trainer and instructional specialist in secondary education.