Course Design: Explore Examples of Different Ways to Structure Your Course

Examples of effective practice 

CELT has developed examples of Blackboard courses, which showcase options for ways instructors can organize content and activities efficiently and effectively in blended or online courses—and optimize student learning.

The example courses are not real courses.  They are intended solely to provide tangible examples of a few approaches to effectively structure a course.

Within each course you will find color-coded INSTRUCTOR TIPS and SAMPLE CONTENT.*

  • INSTRUCTOR TIPS explain the potential functionality of specific areas, items, and tools, effective practices, and “How to” resources.
  • SAMPLE CONTENT is provided to give you a better idea of the kinds of content and/or activities that may typically be included in each area of the course.

*Most of the structure, tips, and sample content in these courses was created by Blackboard Inc. Some alterations have been made and additional content added to align with Quality Matters standards and connect to resources provided by Iowa State University’s Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.

Experience three examples of different strategies for structuring (organizing) your course and navigation menu

To access the courses, please login to Blackboard with this demo account:

Username: w.bbcoursedemo

Password: bbcoursedemo

Then you may choose to enter any or all of the following

Tips for Developing a Module-based Course Structure

Tips for Developing a Project-based Course Structure

Tips for Developing a Week-based Course Structure

Long-term plans may include

Tips for Developing a Game-based Learning Course Structure

Please note that if you would like assistance with issues related to course structure, course design, or other topic related to teaching and learning in online environments, you may Request Instructional Support to work with CELT staff.

Organizing your course navigation menu

A well-designed navigation menu is crucial to providing students with a quality experience within your course. There is no one-size-fits-all for navigation strategies. For example, the navigation menus for each of the course structure examples listed above will be unique. There are, however, a few components for effective course and navigation design that should be included in all online or blended courses.

Iowa State University subscribes to Quality Matters (QM), “a nationally recognized, faculty-centered, peer review process designed to certify the quality of online courses and online components.” The QM Rubric highlights two Essential Standards [of nine total standards for Course Overview and Introduction]:

1.1 Instructions make clear how to get started and where to find various course components.

1.2 Learners are introduced to the purpose and structure of the course.

The QM Rubric’s annotations offer more specific recommendations for best practices for the beginning of any online or blended course. The top recommendation is to direct students to a “Start Here,” “Read Me First,” “Course Introduction,” “Course Outline,” or similar module to help them with an introduction and orientation, but also ensure students immediately access and know where to find course objectives, syllabus, and other useful information so they know how to navigate the course and understand expectations. No matter how you choose to organize your course navigation menu, be sure to communicate to students how the menu reflects the structure of the course. Login to the example course (listed above) to see one way this can be done.

If you would like to learn more about Quality Matters at ISU, you may Request Instructional Support to consult with CELT staff.

Learn how to edit your Course Menu.