Loyola University Chicago

Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy

Course Organization

You may think transferring everything you normally use in a face-to-face class online is all you have to do for a hybrid or online course, but there is a bit more to it. It is true that students do want syllabi, power points, notes, handouts and more of everything made available online. With so much information that students want, how can it be presented in a useful manner? How can I add this information so I don’t need to recreate everything each time I teach? These are two key elements to consider before you create your online course is organizing your material in an intuitive structure and making reusable learning material.

The course syllabus or course outline given to students at the beginning of a class explains how the course will be taught objective by objective. The online format of the course should be presented in the same manner and flow in sync with the syllabus of the course. The syllabus is usually broken up into learning objectives, sections, time frame or some grouping of content.

In the online environment material should be easily found. The material used to teach one learning objective or topic should be grouped in one location. In Sakai, this groups can be set up as a Lesson or Module; Modules are used when the faculty member wants to control the release of materials within one lesson (students cannot have access to the test until they have completed the assignment, for example). A Lesson can be set up to contain all the content surround one particular topic. For our example below, we have named our groupings Units.

Unit 1

  • Learning Objective
  • Required Reading
  • Recommended Reading
  • Power Point Handout
  • Online Lecture
  • Links to other website
  • Homework Assignments

Lessons can be by chapter, part, week, session, or any other educational unit. Keep in mind that using a broader labeling such as “Unit 1” rather than a more specific date (Tuesday class December 5, 2013) gives much more flexibility in how materials can be presented. This allows a Lesson or Module to contain several learning objectives or reflect several weeks or topics. Labeling learning units by number or topic also allows content to be readily reusable in future courses without changing the dates.

Navigation to areas of the course that are not used or don’t have any content should be removed or hidden. Empty areas may confuse students.

Example of Structured Online Content in Sakai

sakai organization, content organization


Lee, Dickerson & Winslow. An Analysis of Organizational Approaches to Online Course Structures http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring151/lee_dickerson_winslow.html

Oklahoma State University: http://itle.okstate.edu/fd/online_teaching/coursestructure.html