1.1 Course Starting Point & Instructions

Instructions for starting the course are clearly stated; consider a “Start Here” or “Read Me First” section on the course home page or as the first module of the course. 

Points: 3 (Essential)

QM Alignment: 1.1


A course home page is often a key starting point for your students. A feature of this page are a set of instructions that students can follow to get started. Often the home page has a “Start Here” link or button that links to an orientation module in which students learn about important information for succeeding in a course.

Your syllabus also contains important information about your course and can help you to meet Standard 1.1 requirements. The course syllabus typically contains: ​

  • Course Purpose​
  • Description & Pre-requisites​
  • Policy & Procedures​
  • HCC Course Outcomes​
  • Learning Objectives​
  • Academic Support

To meet Standard 1.1, you can provide students with information in the course syllabus or orientation module. Consider which place is best for what: ​

  • Syllabus​
    • Pre-requisite Knowledge?​
    • Grading Policy?​
    • College Policy?​
    • Course Policy?​
  • Orientation Module ​
    • Course Organization?​
    • Purpose Statement?​
    • Accessibility Services?​
    • Privacy Statement?​
    • Learning Objectives or Outcomes?​
    • First Week Requirement?​
    • Academic Support?​


  • Feature a “Start Here” or “Read Me First” button or link on your course home page to guide students to starting information they need to review (samples below)
  • Provide a Course Orientation Module as the first module of the course (samples below).
    • You can also use Canvas functionality (module requirements and prerequisites) to require students to go through the orientation module materials prior to moving forward into discipline-specific content.
  • Place the course syllabus in the Syllabus area of your Canvas course and enable the Syllabus item in your course navigation menu. A link to the syllabus from the home page is also recommended, as some students may not access the navigation menu or not see it (such as in the Canvas Student app).
  • Create a welcome message and/or video on your home page or in your orientation module to provide directions and instructions for students.
  • Send a welcome message to students via the Announcements tool in Canvas with instructions and links to information about getting started in the course.

Common Issues

  • Not clear to students how to start the course.
    • Missing home page, no ‘Start Here’ button or “Read Me First”, etc.
  • No guidance on what to do at the start of the course.
    • Put instructions in an orientation module or on the home page and/or in a welcome video (see Standard 1.2). It is also recommended to email these instructions or a link to these instructions to the students via the Announcement tool.
  • The home page is a dead end.
    • No links or buttons to get started and move forward in the course.
  • Syllabus cannot be found or is not easy to find because it is not in the standard, expected place.
    • Enable the Syllabus item in your Canvas navigation menu (under course Settings -> Navigation).

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Am I required to have a home page?
    • Standard 1.8 indicates that you should “create a welcoming home page.” See that page for more resources.
  • Do I have to create a welcome video?
    • You can create a text-based welcome message. A video would enhance instructor presence (see standard 8.1) – helping the students connect with you as a person, making them more motivated and more likely to reach out to you if they have questions or need assistance.


Here are some sample courses with home pages that have a Start Here button or similar indicator. Some have an orientation module, as well.



As a reminder for all the quality standards, feel free to reach out to cittfacdev@hccfl.edu if you would like assistance or have any questions.


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HCC Online Course High Quality Standards by Hillsborough Community College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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