1. Course Home Page
  2. Course Organization (Content Tab)
  3. Course Design
  4. Accessibility and Usability
  5. Activity Settings
  6. Learner Support
  7. Instructor Support

This document was created to serve as a pre-launch guide for instructors and Teaching and Learning Services staff. Refer to this document to check course readiness prior to making courses visible to students.

Course Home Page

The Course Homepage is the first page of the course the student sees when they enter. The course homepage should help the student understand the structure of the course and key contact information. Ensure your course has the following:

  • The Course Home Page has widgets and a structure relevant to the course. (e.g. calendar, Teaching Team widget, etc.). For more information, visit the support page: How to customize your course page
  • If Teaching Team widget is used, include updated contact information and office hours.
  • Include course announcements as part of the Course Home. It should be used once a week to convey weekly tasks, summary of previous weeks, or urgent information about the course.
  • Prepare a draft of the first announcement with important information regarding the course. This could include a “Welcome to the course” message, information regarding how students should navigate the course, and tasks to be completed for that week (and information for any upcoming synchronous meeting and where students can find the link to it). For more information, visit the support page: How to post an announcement in Brightspace
  • Banner image is clear. For more information, visit the support page: How to change your course banner in Brightspace
  • If Visual Table of Contents gets used, images should be clear and follow the recommended size: 1200 X 200-300 pixels.

Course Organization (Content Tab)

Selecting the Content tab in the course navbar will take you to a page where you can overview the course and its features (e.g., modules, submodules, course details, etc.). Your course should have a clear, intuitive structure. A well organized course helps students access the information they need when they need it. Ensure your course has the following:

  • Course includes a Welcome/Intro module where essential information gets presented. Essential information includes:
    • The course syllabus,
    • The course schedule,
    • An intro to the course video,
    • Instructor and teaching assistant contact information,
    • Forums for learners to interact with their peers and with the instructor (e.g., Ask the Instructor, Introduce yourself and Student Coffee Shop forums in asynchronous courses).
      For more information, visit the support page: How to add modules in Brightspace
  • Include a Student Support page containing important links as part of the Welcome to the Course/Course Essentials Module.
  • Modules and sub-modules have meaningful titles. For more information, visit the support page: How to edit module or sub-module titles
  • Modules under the Table of Content are organized in a way that students can easily understand and use to navigate through the course.
    • They either contain Week 1, Week 2… and/or the date range they happen.
  • Sub-modules are used sparingly.
    • Essential information is contained within the module (aim at max 3 sub-modules).
  • Modules open and end dates and times are set. End date should be set after the course end date, so students can access them at all times and when using the Pulse app.
  • Documents and learning materials are easily found within modules and not only via the navbar. If something is to be retrieved only via the navbar, it should be explained to learners.
  • Course structure and font size /type are consistent throughout modules.
  • Related content is organized together.

Course Design

Good course design helps to ensure students both understand and achieve the course learning objectives. To ensure your course has good course design, ensure your course has the following:

  • Course goals and learning outcomes are clearly defined (in syllabus/welcome video/within modules). Visit the support page: How to customize your course page
  • Learning activities and assessments align with stated learning outcomes.
  • Start and due dates and time are set for all activities. For more information, visit the support page: How to edit dates for Brightspace activities
  • The instructions to complete the assignments and evaluation criteria are clearly defined. For more information, visit the support page: How to post an announcement in Brightspace
  • Activities such as discussions, assignments and quizzes are placed within modules and not only accessed via Tools on the navbar. For more information, visit the support page: How to track student progress in Brightspace
  • Grading policy is clearly stated (on syllabus).
  • Instructor provides multiple opportunities for student feedback about the course, to continually improve course quality.
  • Grade book was properly set up via Setup Wizard.
  • Grade book adds to 100% if weighted grading was selected.
  • All activities have the correct percentage and points according to the course evaluation criteria.

Accessibility and Usability

Having course content that is both usable and accessible helps to ensure that all of the students in the course can access and use the course materials. Ensure your course has the following:

  • Videos have closed captions and/or transcript files provided.
  • Lecture audio or other media are of acceptable quality and are clear/audible across all videos.
  • Images used in the course have alt-texts or image descriptions.
  • All hyperlinks work, are relevant, and text is meaningful and descriptive (avoid using “click here”).
  • The course provides alternative means of access to course materials in formats that meet the needs of diverse learners.
  • There is enough contrast between course content and background color (use the accessibility checker on HTML Editor areas).
  • Course content is well written without grammatical and spelling errors (use the spell checker on HTML Editor areas).
  • Texts are formatted with titles and headings to enhance readability (use the accessibility checker on HTML Editor areas).

Activity Settings

Properly configuring the settings for your course activities (discussions, quizzes, etc.) helps to ensure your activities run as expected for both students and instructors. Ensure your course has the following:

  • Any graded activities are connected to Grades.
  • Any discussions are available to students/settings are consistent with assignment goals.
  • All quiz settings are aligned with assessment restrictions (time restrictions, pagination).
  • Any start, end, or due dates and content restrictions align with course syllabus.

Learner Support

It’s important to have resources available for students for when they need assistance with the course. Ensure your course has the following:

  • A clear backup plan is established and included for technology failures and outages.
    • This should include a plan for any synchronous web conferencing sessions and for any online tests.
  • Student Support information is included in the course.
  • The location of Student Support information is indicated to students in the syllabus and in the first announcement sent to students.
  • Resources supporting course content are included.
  • Resources to support different learning abilities are available.

Instructor Support

For additional support, pedagogical resources, and help guides, visit Carleton’s website through the following link: Teaching, Learning and Pedagogy.

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