From E-Learning Faculty Modules


Module Summary

Navigation through course content, assignments, and activities should reflect a clear and easy organization.

Establish routines wherever possible.

Consistent and explicit design saves time in long run, reducing confusion and frustration among students, and saving you from an inevitable barrage of emails when instructions and organization fail to make the mark.

Faculty Tip: Roger McHaney – Professor – Management


Learners will...

  • Understand the importance of using a clear and consistent course design for keeping students focused.
  • Be able to organize their course in a functional, clear and concise way.

Main Concepts

Keep it simple. A course needs to as clearly as possible reflect what you expect your students to do when, where, and how. Consider how your course is organized from the student point of view. Do you have to search to find due dates or materials? Are explanations concise and easy to understand? Are you consistent between your syllabus, schedule, calendar, and other course documents?

An online course should never be a distraction from what you are teaching and what you expect your students to learn. If assignments or expectations are ambiguous, you, the instructor will pay for it in emails and time spent clarifying your intentions. Be forewarned.

How to

  • Keep a logical structure.

Organize your course for your students, not yourself. Grouping all the files of the same type together may make things easier for yourself, but can be confusing for your students. Instead, try to organize your course base upon weeks, specific activities, or assignments.

  • Be consistent.

Be direct and overt. Given online files meaningful names and use your naming convention consistently throughout your course, schedule, syllabus.

  • Write with clarity in mind.

Clear and simple instructions go a long way to saving you time in the long run. Students are less likely to become confused and require direct support. In addition, succinct and concise writing is very important in making your course more accessible for all learners.

  • Keep your click-depth in check.

The more clicks it takes to get to material, the more frustrated your students will become. Try to keep your course fairly flat, using only the minimum number of subfolders.

  • Proofread, proofread, proofread!

The written elements in your course create the initial, and indelible, first impression your students have of you as an instructor. It is always a good idea to get someone else to look over your materials whenever you can. An extra pair of eyes goes a long way to catching mistakes.

Possible Pitfalls

  • Unclear instructions and poorly stated expectations mean more work for you. If students become lost and confused about what your intentions are for them, you can expect a deluge of email.
  • A poorly organized course leads to frustrated students. This discontent will often only appear in course evolutions. Also, there are some students who will simply miss content if it is not presented in an overly overt manner.
  • Courses that are haphazardly structured are difficult to teach with. This is particularly true of courses that you teach from semester to semester. It can be easy to lose track of where and what you taught, and what your intentions were over time.