Baloo | Build
"Create the Bear Necessities"
Once you have mapped your course and instructional modules, established clear learning outcomes, aligned all of your course components (i.e. assignments, activities, and instructional materials and technology), and designed meaningful assessments, you are ready to begin building your course in Canvas. Knowledge about effective online course design and development continues to grow rapidly, yet it also means that it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Learning Design is here to provide faculty with some tips to consider for designing and building an online course.
Spend some time reviewing existing online courses to identify specific features and design elements that you believe will serve/enhance your learning goals and outcomes. Many faculty may prefer to only view a course within their own discipline, but don’t stop there. A great deal of design ideas can come from courses in any subject area. Effective online course design is not specific to any one discipline.
Canvas is Baylor University’s official learning management system (LMS). Canvas Network is a good starting point to view and access online courses that use our learning management system. You may also consult with Baylor faculty who have taught online courses through Canvas.
Open Source Courses
Reviewing online course outside the Canvas LMS can be another way to discover more effective designs.
- edEx Courses. Originally founded by Harvard University and MIT, edEx provides access to open online courses from universities around the world.
- Coursera. Coursera is another open online course provider offering learning opportunities with instructors from universities and educational institutions around the world.
- The MIT Open Courseware Initiative provides access to online courses and instructional materials that are used in teaching a wide range of undergraduate and graduate-level subject areas, free of charge, to any user.
In addition to your own course materials, it is not a bad idea to seek supplementary resources. Doing this often saves time from having to create your own media and materials for your online course. The important task with selecting materials is ensuring the content aligns to your learning outcomes. Below are a great places on the web to begin searching for supplementary course materials.
Open Educational Resources (OER) & Creative Commons
Open Educational Resources provide faculty with teaching and learning materials that are freely accessible and open licensed. OER materials such as images, assignments, activities, articles, textbooks, and even entire courses can be found in almost any subject matter area.
- OER Commons
- Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources
- Open Course Library (Washington State University)
- Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT)
- World Digital Library
Creative Commons typically provides a variety of resources that can be used under open licensing arrangements as opposed to more traditional copyright processes. Resources may include clip art, images, videos, music, and more.
Textbook publishers frequently create online course materials that instructors and students can access. Reach out to your textbook publisher representative to gain access to these resources. The added benefit is that these publisher-created materials often align to your textbook and may align to your stated learning outcomes.
The primary goal of Canvas is to facilitate learning, not serving solely as a repository for files. Canvas provides opportunities to engage learners and enhance the online learning environment including, creating and managing multimedia content (e.g. video and audio), threaded discussions, quizzes, collaboration, peer review, and much more.
Canvas is designed to organize materials and learning tasks that use a modular design. Your instructional units or modules, which include access to selected materials, can now be created and made accessible to your students within Canvas. To get started with Canvas, take advantage of the following opportunities.
- Training Workshops. Online Teaching and Learning Services (OTLS) offers in-person training for teaching with Canvas. Visit the OTLS calendar to view upcoming training opportunities.
- Canvas U: Online. This is an exclusively online training course for Baylor faculty who wish to learn basic Canvas development skills without having to attend in-person training sessions. This self-paced course consists of “how-to” videos and offers a self-enroll option for faculty and staff who wish to engage in “self-check” quizzes.
- Baylor University Guides. These guides, created by OTLS staff, provides instructions to common tasks frequently asked by Baylor faculty. Tasks such as grading assignments, using TurnITIn, sending messages to students, and modifying notification settings in Canvas are examples of guides found on this website. Student guides are also available to download and post to your Canvas course.
- Canvas Guides. The Canvas Guides website, maintained by Instructure, covers all Canvas features by question. You can search through the guides using the provided search engine, table of contents, or “related content” questions presented when accessing specific topics.
OTLS has created a “start here” template module that faculty can use in their Canvas course. This template contains valuable resources, activities, and placeholders to get your students on the right track with course navigation, accessing the course syllabus, links to key student support and technology services, and ensuring minimum technology requirements are in place.
Research suggests that students need information and preliminary activities at the beginning of a class to be successful. Take advantage of the “start here” template that include these key resources. This template can be modified to meet your specific instructional needs. To request the template to have copied over to your Canvas course, contact one our instructional designers with Online Teaching and Learning Services.
Course materials need to be accessible to all learners. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of research-based best practices to aid faculty in meeting the needs of all learners. From designing materials that can be read by screen readers to enabling closed captioning on videos, UDL considers a diversity of learner needs, not just abilities.