Identify the course structure for your students
Course structure gives the student an idea of how the learning process is organized, including the schedule, communication modes, types of activities, and assessments. Use an overview of the site structure to help your students gain more understanding of your organization and content. It is a good idea to include a statement in the course which introduces the student to the course and to the structure of the student learning.
A statement of the course structure may be found in the course syllabus, orientation module or course overview (or in all of them).
How will your course pages be structured?
People often become lost in a structure. Not being able to find information is very frustrating for students. They may remember having seen an item somewhere, but cannot return to its location easily.
Structures that go down too many levels are most likely to lose students. Try to not go more than three levels deep. Using a repetitive structure is also helpful. If each module or unit is structured in the same fashion, students quickly develop expectations about where to find content.
There are various ways to organize and deliver your content, depending on the subject matter and your preference. Before you enter information on the web, prepare a flowchart showing how the course progresses from start to finish. Include lessons, pre-tests, quizzes, course map, help, discussion forums, events calendar and any other components of the course.
The pages containing the course material should be organized in a way that makes navigation easy, simple and consistent and reduces the amount of work necessary for site maintenance.
Below are some examples of how content may be structured.
Content for the above example is set up using weeks which correspond to the semester schedule. Each week contains the readings, lectures and assignments with completion expected by the end of the week.
Content for the above example is set up by topic for a self-paced course. Dividing content into topics, modules or units works well when you need more than a week to cover the materials. A module may contain two or three week's worth of lectures and assignments.
Planning for content creation
Pedagogy design considerations and course structure lay the foundation for developing course content. If you have not already done so, go through these sections before you start creating your course content.
Content creation goes hand-in-hand with the communication, assessment, and look and feel sections on this site.
Make printing an option
Students vary in how frequently they print online course materials. Some students print everything and read it offline. Most students print at least some of the time. Since some users prefer to read hardcopy, consider dividing the content into printable sections.
Creating pages which look good online is completely different than creating pages which print well. If a course with online materials provides students with a printable version, it may require quite a bit of additional work. You may end up with two places to keep current. It is helpful to students if you provide printable versions of key content optimized for print. Printable versions may take the form of .pdf or .doc files. PowerPoint files are easily saved as .pdfs. This will also make your materials more accessible.