Structure & Organization

How a course is structured is important. Organizational clarity creates ease for students by minimizing frustration, maximizing predictability, and reducing cognitive load.

What works:

  • The course is organized in modules by week, unit, or topic

  • Modules proceed in a well defined and predictable manner, such that students know what to expect and can plan ahead

  • Items in the modules are labeled clearly and consistently


DIY Course Readiness Checklist

This list is a great place to start when you are developing a new course or working on a course you have taught in the past. When you are done, if you have completed everything on this list, your students should be able to navigate the Canvas environment with relative ease.

UCSC Introduction Module

This introduction module has useful information for all UC Santa Cruz students. You can import it into your course or email to have it lovingly placed in your course.

Course Design Template

This is a template that can be used for any UC Santa Cruz course. It has an orientation module with lots of useful information for students, a sample module design for one week of instruction, and 9 more modules that you can plug your materials into. You can import the template into your Canvas course on your own, or you can send an email to to request that it be lovingly imported to your course. 🚨IMPORTANT: When you import this into your course shell, it will overwrite your syllabus and change some of the navigation items for your course.

Integrated Course Design Overview

The most important feature of Integrated Course Design is that it’s integrated: teaching and learning activities, feedback, and assessment are aligned with desired learning outcomes (what students will know and know how to do after taking the course) and designed to account for situational factors (the teaching and learning context). No part of the course is isolated from any other. Rather, each part informs every other part.

Synchrony, Immediacy, and Bandwidth

One of the most important decisions you will make in designing an online course is about when and how students will interact with you and one another—which parts of your course will be synchronous and which will be asynchronous (all courses will have some of both).

Syllabus Template

This syllabus template from UCSC Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning gives you a template for creating a Learner-Centered Syllabus.

Course Workload Calculator

This calculator from Rice University’s Center for Teaching Excellence helps you estimate the average amount of time it will take your students to complete the assigned work in your Course.