By Elspeth McCulloch, Educational Technology Development Coordinator

As we ramp up to what is sure to be a very busy Fall term, getting cuLearn set up and ready to go is a priority for many of us at Carleton. Whether this is your first time using a learning management system or you are an old pro, there is always opportunity to improve your courses.

Welcome to the future written on a chalkboard

North Lindsey College CC-AY 2017

Your courses can take the size and shape that you want them to have depending on your teaching philosophy, your students’ needs and your discipline. cuLearn offers several layouts, resources and activities that you may wish to consider. Explore cuLearn layouts.

General best practices for course setup include keeping the navigation simple and consistent, and posting key information in a single, clearly labeled place. Posting documents as PDF files makes them software agnostic and accessible on most mobile devices. Explore course design.

Make sure you make it clear, whether in you course or course outline, how students can get technical help from the university and how long it will typically take you to answer their emails. You may wish to consider adding a forum in which students can ask questions and answer technical or course-related questions, or have them introduce themselves online. Explore setting up forums.

Screenshot of cuLearn page

According to a recent study at two universities in Australia, students leverage technology to connect, stay organized and manage time. The learning management system provides a hub for research, review and collaboration, but to be game changing, digital technologies should be an extension of practices of engagement and reflection. Ask yourself what are some of the best opportunities to improve engagement or save time.

Because we can copy content from term to term, much of the course setup only needs to be done once, freeing you up to add updated content or refine assignment designs to be more active. You might start with the syllabus and gradebook at first and then each term focus on additional resources – lessons, interactive content, assignments, online quizzes, polls, assignments or peer review exercises. You might also want to explore midterm feedback options or examine how learning analytics can help you reflect on your own teaching practice and further inform changes to your course.

The EDC is here to help with your cuLearn courses. You can get help in any of these ways:

  • Self directed/online – website guides for instructors, students and TAs
  • Workshops – group sessions on a range of topics
  • Consultations – bring your questions and course materials and we’ll work together to create an engaging experience for your students