Class Organization and Workload

Publish your course while you tweak it using a “Start Here!” module

We all know the feeling: we want to publish the class so that students can look at it before the start of the semester. But we want to make one last change before that. Or maybe swap week seven for week five, and reallocate the points from… 

And then we end up publishing the course right before the first class. 

You might think we’re about to tell you that you need to have everything locked in earlier, make earlier decisions. Not at all. The fretting over the best way to deliver the course, the concern with keeping it up to date? These are good things. Some of the best course decisions are made a week before class. 

But students right now are also worried about their courses, concerned they won’t know how to access the Zoom link on the first day, worried they won’t get the textbook on time, or get the right textbook. That age-old contract — show up in the right physical classroom on day one, and take notes on what to do next — it’s fallen apart a bit. 

Experts in online learning environments suggest adding a “Start Here!” module or document to your online class. You can add the things you are already sure of to this section: 

  • Class time, and expected meeting days
  • Link to the appropriate LMS (Blackboard:, or Canvas: for those receiving this information by email.
  • Zoom link (if applicable) for class
  • Required texts and textbooks for class
  • Office hours
  • Email for students to reach Crimson Service Desk, for any technical issues they may want to work through before class (or during the semester)
  • Either:
    • Add an introduction video talking about why you are excited about the course, what the course will be like in general, and your commitment to working through this semester with their success in mind, or
    • Add a short document explaining this things in prose

Then publish the class (make it available to students) while keeping the pieces you are still working on unpublished. Send out an email to students telling them you are still working on the class but wanted them to have access to the basics as soon as possible. 

This will allow you to tweak your class design while giving students the opportunity over the break to make sure that they are set up for success.

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