Organizing Course Materials
The lesson will discuss the importance of organizing course materials.
CFCC Course Essentials
- 1.4 Template information has been customized by instructor.
- 6.3 Navigation throughout the online components of the course is logical, consistent, and efficient.
After completing this lesson, learners will be able to:
- Create an outline of a course structure that is logical and easy to navigate.
- Create a visual map of course activities
What to do?
Once you have your introductory materials developed and organized, you should give careful consideration to how you will organize materials in your course.
Why do it?
Having a well-organized course will decrease student confusion and stress and will make learning more enjoyable.
How to do it?
Think of your course organization as a file cabinet, with different navigation items as hanging file folders (staff information, textbooks, lessons, etc.). Within each hanging file folder, there might be other folders (lesson 1, lesson 2, etc.). Inside these folders will reside separate items, such as "lesson overview", "objectives", "readings", etc. You might choose to have assignments (quizzes, papers, etc.) in their own "hanging file folder" (i.e. "Assignments") or have them included in the appropriate Lesson folder. The idea is to keep things well-organized, consistent, and easy to find. Students (and the instructor) should be able to easily develop a mental model of where things reside for easy access.
Try not to create too many levels of folders and subfolders since this can be confusing and users can get lost after so much clicking. Keep things no more than three clicks away from the main page, if possible. Here is one possible arrangement for your course structure (items in the navigation menu of your learning management system):
This area is generally the course entry page and includes announcements posted by instructor and sometimes the system administrator.
The course introduction includes a course overview, information on requirements and instructions on how to get started.
- Staff Info:
This area includes contact information for instructor and departments important to online learners.
Check with your department to determine if there is a standard syllabus. Include the course description, course goals and objectives, grading scale, netiquette and computer access policies, academic dishonesty policies, ADA information, etc.
This area list required and supplemental textbooks and other required course resources (Website access, etc.)
- Class Schedule:
This link includes a list of each week, module, lesson, etc. and activities due with dates.
- Lessons or Modules or Course Documents/Materials:
This item includes a lesson overview, objectives, readings, activities, and can include assignments if these are not housed elsewhere.
This area is optional if assignments are not included in Lessons, Modules, Course Documents, etc..
- Discussion Board:
This is a direct link to the discussion board, also available in Course Tools.
The Resources area will include links helpful to students at the college and any additional links you would like to add related to the course content.
The glossary is a list of definitions relevant to the course.
- Send Email:
This quick link allows students to send email to the instructor and is also available in Course Tools.
- My Grades:
This quick link enables students to access their grades and assignment feedback and also available in Course Tools.
- Course Tools:
This area includes links to all available tools for grades, communication, collaboration, etc.
It might be helpful if you create a flowchart of your course structure and/or of main areas in your course. You can use something like Microsoft Word's SmartArt tools or the free web-based Mindomo to create your flowchart. The sample below shows the organization of some course lessons (this can be done after determining lesson objectives and effective activities to meet the objectives):
Now that you have a sense of how you will organize the course, the next lesson will help you write lesson objectives.