Course site design strategies
WebCampus provides many options to personalize your course, including how you will organize the course site. The organizational plan is essential to a quality course, as it sets up the way students will access your materials, activities, assessments, and their grades. This page presents some principles to consider as you set up your course, as well as some possible organizational structures for your course and course menu.
Course site design principles
Students want to be able to find what they need to do without too much trouble. Think of it this way: students should be challenged to learn the content you are presenting them or complete the activities you are assigning; they should not be challenged to find where that content or activity is located in your WebCampus course site. Three principles (Loepp 2021) can help guide you as you organize your course site:
- Clarity: Clearly present essential information in a straightforward manner. Consider how a module or page should be set up to prioritize the most important information a student needs, and how less important information can be included without overwhelming students.
- Consistency: Use a consistent structure so students can clearly see what they need to be doing and when.
- Navigability: Make it easy for students to find and move through the class materials and activities.
WebCampus course organization structures
The following are common structures of organization for course sites in WebCampus. The most popular is the weekly module organization, but unit module and assignment-based organization may make sense for some courses.
Weekly modules are perhaps the most common organizational structure. Each module encompasses all the materials, activities, and assessments that will be covered in a given week. Generally weekly modules will include a page that welcomes students to the week with an overview and the student learning outcomes, then will provide the reading assignment. Lecture materials will be provided next: if a course is entirely online, the full lecture will be included; or a face-to-face instructor may want to provide the slides or worksheet that will accompany their in-class lecture. Then activities and assessments will be included, generally in the order in which they are due; this may also include activities and assessments that are due in class, as a reminder for what students should expect even if they will not be completing them online. Finally, a weekly wrap up page can help summarize the learning from the week, and can transition into the next week’s topic.
Unit modules are similar to weekly modules, but instead of weeks, they cover a larger portion of the class, depending on how the course material is broken up. Many instructors will create units their textbook or major topic areas. It is still a good idea to provide a unit overview, reading assignment, lecture materials (as needed), activities and assessments in the order in which they are due, and a unit summary.
Many face to face instructors will organize their course structure by assignment. This might take the form of just setting the course home page to be the Assignment index page, or may involve building modules that include all information that builds into an assignment. Either way, assignments should be presented in chronological order by due date, at least to begin the course. Instructors may choose to move past-due assignments so they are not prominent, instead focusing on the assignment coming up next.
Organizing your course menu
Each course will use a different combination of the tools available in WebCampus, and may not use some of the tools available at all. One way to help focus student attention on the areas and tools that you want them to be using is to remove unused tools from the course menu. Another way to help students is to re-order the tools, placing those tools that you think are the most important closer to the top of the menu to better attract student attention. Consider the following and how it might apply to your course menu:
- If you plan to have students submit assignments online, but they will never complete an online quiz, you may choose to move the Assignments link up to near the top of the menu, and fully remove the Quizzes link.
- If you have organized your course into modules, you may want to make the Modules link easily seen at the top of the menu, and then completely remove the Pages link (this leads to the Pages index, which is less organized than modules and may confuse students if they access that area).
- If you are planning to provide course files to students within modules or as links within assignments or pages, be sure you are hiding the Files tool. This will keep students from accessing any files that you have not specifically planned to share with them.
Loepp.E. (2021). What students want: A simple, navigable LMS course design. Faculty Focus. Feb. 1, 2021.