1.2 Overview of Course Organization

The overview should include the location of key components, access to major course items including the Calendar, Modules, Syllabus, Announcements, etc.

Use the course navigation links included in the LMS. Hide the navigation links not used in the course.

Examples include a course orientation video, course scavenger hunt with quiz, syllabus review and quiz, document with instructions, PPT with instructions.

Points: 3 (Essential)

QM Alignment: 1.1


Course organization includes the location of key components, access to major course items including the Calendar, Modules, Syllabus, Announcements, etc.

How do you help students understand the organization of the course?​

How do you help students navigate the course? ​

How have you designed these items in your course?:

  • course navigation menu
  • module structure
  • course schedule
  • course navigation/orientation video


  • Provide students with a course orientation module and a course welcome message or video which includes course orientation information.
  • Hide the course navigation links not used in the course.
  • Use Canvas modules with a consistent structure and organization, such as Week 1, 2… or Module 1, 2…

Common Issues

  • The course navigation menu is cluttered or is missing important items
  • Organization and navigation of course is unclear
    • Ideally, there should be a regular pattern to the flow of the course, such as module by module or week by week
  • There is no explanation to the students about how to navigate the course and how the course is organized
    • You might include this information in your orientation module and/or in a welcome or course orientation video
  • Course modules do not have a consistent organization and flow
    • Use a regular pattern for naming and organizing your modules, such as Week 1, 2 or Module 1, 2…
    • Use a common, predictable structure and layout within your modules, such as starting with a module introduction page, module learning resources, and then module learning activities and assignments.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I have to have weekly modules?
    • No, you could label your modules ‘Module 1’, 2, etc. instead, for example. This makes it more flexible for semesters with non-standard weeks, but a week by week organization would be most clear to students new to online learning.
  • Do I have to put everything in modules?
    • That’s the recommended place to put all your course materials, assessments, and other resources. The modules area becomes a table of contents for your course. It’s more clear for students on what they need to do, when, and in what order. If you have some stuff that is not included in the modules, it will be harder for or less likely that students find it. You also will not be able to see at a glance if your course activities or pages are published and properly set up in terms of due dates and so forth. Having course modules also allows you view the progress of each of your students through your modules.
    • If you have a lot of videos or articles, you could combine and link to them from a page in a module, or better yet, embed or link to them from the corresponding activities – assignments, discussions, or quizzes. Sometimes students jump directly to the activity from the to-do list on the Canvas dashboard or course home page anyway. Set up module requirements if you want to make sure students don’t miss something important in a module.
    • If you try to put everything just in pages, however, things can break easily – for example if you move or delete something or unpublish something, etc. The modules show you and your students at a glance the due date, whether something is unpublished or unavailable, etc.
  • Do I have to create a separate course navigation video/resource?
    • You could include information about navigating your course in your welcome video or message, if you wish.
  • How can I hide or restrict some activities or resources from the Modules?
  • How can I hide the list of assignments in the Syllabus area?
    • In the Syllabus area, below where the syllabus is listed, Canvas shows all the assignments and activities in the course. Realize though it lists everything because you are in the Teacher view. Switch to Student View to see what students can see. Sometimes they can see the title of an activity but not actually access it if the Availability Date is set to a future date or if it is in a locked module. Lastly, you can hide everything on this page by unchecking “Show Course Summary” when editing the Syllabus page.





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