Course Organization

Moving a course online requires thinking about a course from a new perspective. How will teaching change given these new conditions? How will I organize my course so students are successful in this online environment?  While there is no single best way to approach a redesign, here are some suggestions and resources to help you develop a quality online course. If you are new to online, we strongly recommend you peruse these brief modules that will help get you started.

View or download a full version of our Course Organization pdf.

Create a Predictable Structure for the Course

Start by determining an appropriate course format based on your goals, type of course, and students.  Create a predictable structure and repeat it throughout the course.  Utilize headings, fonts, and other tools to help students navigate your course. Here is a template, a weekly participation example, and scenarios for two types of courses. 

  • For seminar and discussion-based courses, the weekly format might be Read, Respond, Reflect. Students (a) prepare by reading articles or viewing videos, (b) post their answers to questions posed by the instructor in the discussion forum and respond to their classmates’ posts, and (c) reflect on what they have learned from their readings and their classmates in a two-minute reflection on Flipgrid. 
  • For lecture-based courses the weekly format might be Lecture, Quiz, Apply. Students (a) view the instructor’s posted lecture and complete an outline, (b) take a brief quiz on the lecture material and other assigned homework, and (c) engage in a structured activity to apply what they have learned. Group work could include analyzing a case study, posting a consensus on the discussion board about key take-aways, or designing a visual product with the content. Individual application activities could include posting a solution to a problem or an explanation of a concept on a Flipgrid post. 

Build Your Course for Student Success

Finding ways to support student success in your online course is crucial.Here are suggestions for ensuring your course is inclusive and promotes the success of all students. 

  • Consider basic strategies for making your teaching more inclusive with particular attention to providing a high amount of structure which is especially important in an online environment. Learn more about inclusive teaching online from the CAE Inclusive Excellence Team and how to create accessible course materials from the Office of Disability Resources. 
  • Prior to the first day, send a survey that will help you identify your students’ technology resources. Choose technologies that are low tech when possible and offer alternatives for engaging with course material when students have limited access. 
  • Set up a system for communicating on a regular basis. Post weekly updates through Announcements and email studentsdirectly from AsULearn. Start a Discussion Board for course Q&A to allow students an opportunity to communicate with you. Use your Zoom personal meeting room for office hours to avoid confusion. 
  • Share the link to Online Success for Students with each of your classes. This website provides App students with information about technology access, strategies for success in online courses, and links to access academic coaching and the writing center.

Use Strategies to Build Community and Engage Students

As you organize your course, it is essential to identify ways that you will intentionally build community and engage students. Here are suggestions and resources to help you plan for connecting with students in an online environment.  

Re-evaluate How You Will Assess Students

There are multiple ways to assess student learning and you may wish to consider what methods work best as you transition to fully online. Many methods for assessing students will no longer work as expected. View suggestions and resources to help you revise your assessment methods for your online course.

Use Technology Purposefully

It is crucial to make smart decisions about how you will use technology in an online course. Too much technology can disadvantage students without good access and distract your class from your primary goals. Remember the basics: shared Google Docs is a great space for collaborative work; visual products such as infographics and posters can offer alternatives to written documents; Zoom for recording lectures or assignment directions, Discussion Forums and Flipgrid afford the opportunity for asynchronous conversations between students and instructors; and Quiz Tool can help you assess student learning. Use the AsULearn Faculty Support Pages to help you get started and add yourself to the AsULearn for Faculty Group so you can watch videos and read news and tips about the latest in learning technologies. To join this group, go to the group page click the Join Group icon.