By: Elspeth McCulloch, EDC Educational Technology Development Coordinator

Why not spend a few minutes getting your course ready for the summer or fall term with an EDC course tune up? Sign up to work with an educational technologist to tweak, edit and rethink how you use cuLearn so that you and your students get the most out of the course.

Here are 10 areas of cuLearn we can review:

1. Blocks and Navigation

Did you know you can customize the default setup of your course by adding or removing blocks?

Screenshot of the "Add a block" section in cuLearn

Tip: Removing all the blocks from the right hand side of the course interface will reduce distraction and let students focus on what is important.

2. Topics/Modules

Name your course topics in a way that makes sense for your course and content. Generally, it is easiest to follow a course that is broken into modules by week, unit or content type.

Screenshot of cuLearn course modules

Tip: Keep it neat. Turn off any topics you do not need.

3. Course Layout

If you have a lot of content, consider using an alternative format like the grid format and collapsed topics. A different course layout can make your content more understandable and engaging.

Screenshot of the course format menu in cuLearn

4. Course Introductions

An introduction to the course (and/or yourself) can help your students feel more connected. Your introduction can be done using an announcement, the course mail, or through a video. Consider sharing your philosophy of teaching and learning, your research interests and learning expectations.

5. Course Communication Strategy

Social media icons make the shape of a speech bubble

cuLearn provides a number of tools for updating and communicating with students. Tools such as announcements, forum, or coursemail can be used to let students know when there is new content in the class, when feedback and grades are posted, and how to prepare for class. How are you staying connected with students?

Tip: Let students know how often they will hear from you, how quickly you will get back to them, and where to expect messages. Send a welcome to the class during the first week.

6. Assessment Plans

cuLearn offers a wide variety of assessment activities. Consider how you will assess your students’ work: Will they hand in assignments through cuLearn? Will there be group work? Will you use forums or quizzes? Once you have these assessment activities established, you can set up any remaining items in your gradebook.

Tip: Take some time to think about your major assignments. What’s the best way to engage students and have them demonstrate their learning? Do you want to try new assessment activities this year?

7. Learning Resources

cuLearn can host many learning resources, such as uploaded files, folders and videos. Have you considered adding some new materials? If you don’t have time to make videos, search for Open Educational Resources (OERs) that will work in your course. A good place to start your search for OERs is the University of Pittsburg OER Lib Guide.

Tip: Capture (Camtasia Relay) is an easy screen-recording tool that you can use to record a talk, lesson or lecture.

8. Visual Design Elements

Elements of design quick reference sheet

www.flickr.com/photos/jalbertbowdenii/9238160656 CC-NC

Adding a splash of colour, images, infographics, or a course banner can enliven your course site. Consider using images to signify different themes or units in your course.

Tip: Don’t overdo it. In design, less is more.

9. Feedback and Choice

Feedback chart with keywords and icons

Have your students complete midterm feedback on your course or reflections on their learning. Asking students open-ended questions helps them reflect on their own learning and provides you with valuable information about your course and teaching. This kind of action research is helpful as you prepare future iterations of the class.

Tip: Choice and feedback are ways to understand your own class. You could start with a guiding question for your class.

10. Course Statistics

Understand the fundamentals of course logs, activity reports, participation and statistics. Use your past courses to determine how and when students are interacting and accessing content. Statistics and logs can help you understand the content that’s most meaningful to your students.

These are just some of the ways to revamp your course. Contact us for your course tune-up today at 613-520-4433, edc@carleton.ca.