Consider breaking your online course into modules or another kind of self-contained unit. Each module or unit can be organized around a major topic, course theme, assignment, or overall course objective. Start each module or unit with an overview, showing students what they will be doing and the overall goals of the module. This will help orient students and keeps them on pace.
Give students a clear route through the course content and consider how you will signpost important due dates and materials. Organization is important for every class, but it is essential to an online class. Be sure to post due dates early and clearly label the different elements of your course.
Chunking materials into units or modules can help students navigate the course. Here are some tips on chunking materials and a worksheet to help you create a unit/module cycle in your course:
- Lecture videos should be short (ideal is about 4 minutes). If you plan on recording a lecture video that is longer, consider breaking it into multiple videos. In between each video, think about having a short quiz or another activity to help reinforce the content you covered. This will allow students to check their understanding before moving on to the next chunk of lecture material. Our faculty are accomplishing this in a variety of ways, such as by using EdPuzzle, putting your video into a Canvas quiz, having a worksheet students fill out through the lecture or have them pause your video to create a reflection activity or other writing assignment.
- If sections of your Canvas course have long texts, consider chunking those texts into short paragraphs and use bullet points, images, and videos to break it up. When you present the material through multiple mediums and medias, students are more likely to persevere through the material and maintain engagement. Think “short attention span” and plan accordingly.
- It is a best-practice to have a regular “cycle” or “rhythm” to your course. For example, organize every week into a module and have assignments and other course activities due at the same time every week. This helps students get into a pattern and be able to anticipate when important course items are due. Below is an example of a course cycle for an online course.