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If you do not know to which port you are sailing, no wind is favorable.
- Seneca


We can look at organization in terms of the overall structure of your course; the day-to-day organization of learning activities, homework, and assessments; and the delivery of materials and instruction—especially in your learning management system (LMS). Or, in the minds of students, these questions: 

Where Are We Going? 

Sharing the final course destination at the beginning of the semester and reinforcing that perspective throughout the ensuing weeks will help students maintain a sense of direction. Without physical reminders to guide them, students will need your help week by week, and day by day, to see what they are expected to accomplish.  

Example Practices: 

  • Express clear course purpose. A clear purpose for the course gives students a sense of the destination. translates to a clear vision of what success looks like. 
  • Maintain course alignment. Activities, assessments, and learning outcomes should be congruent with each other and contribute to achieving the course purpose. As interesting and important as they might be, things that do not drive toward the destination appear to students as “tangents” or “busywork.”  
  • Connect assignments to learning outcomes. Learning Suite offers you a linking tool so that all assignments or assessments can be connected to an outcome you have identified. Once such links have been created, students accessing the “Learning Outcomes” tab can see at a glance how the course is built to facilitate accomplishing the outcomes.  

How Do We Get There? 

What is the road map for the course? What is the itinerary for this week or even today? Students appreciate knowing what they need to do, how they need to do it, and when it needs to be done.  

Example Practices: 

  • Establish expectations as quickly as possible. Establish general expectations such as attendance, participation, even whether to have video on or off, and so forth at the beginning of the semester.  
  • Create a rhythm. Having a routine creates a sense of security among uncertainties. Students will be better prepared when they have a reliable idea of the way class will run that day or week.  
  • Provide clear instructions and criteria. Effective instructions clarify details on the timing, content, flow, and structure of an assignment. Appropriate criteria guide and confirm students’ success at accomplishing learning outcomes and building specific skills.  

How Do I Drive This Thing? 

This question becomes particularly pertinent with an online course. In order to succeed, both you and your students will need to learn to navigate new technologies. Learning management systems, educational software, media creation tools, and communication systems are just some of the technologies available to you.  

Example Practices: 

  • Become familiar with your tools. Understanding your options before a course begins will enable you to make effective use of class time and prepare you to solve technological problems that arise.  
  • Reduce complexity. The more streamlined you can make course layout and assignment instructions, the easier it will be for students to feel confident in their ability to succeed.  
  • Keep like items together. Requiring students to navigate from page to page looking for assignment instructions, materials, grades, and submission locations, can be discouraging. Reduce students’ frustration by grouping course resources insofar as possible. 

Tools to Help You: 

  • Training and Workshops 
  • Course Purpose and Learning Outcomes in Learning Suite 
  • Linking Assessments/Assignments to Learning Outcomes 
  • Learning Path in Learning Suite 

Additional Resources: