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Creating Course Areas for Content

Last Modified
14:22, 7 Feb 2014

You can create course areas to serve as containers for your course material. Course areas enable you to present various types of content in an organized and engaging way.

  • The top-level course areas are called content areas, which you create, link, and manage on the course menu. Typically, courses contain multiple content areas.
  • The next level of course areas includes folders, learning modules, and lesson plans. You create these course areas within an existing content area or other course area.

After you create a course area, you can create content items within it to present your course material. You can include content such as text, file attachments, links to websites, tests, assignments, and multimedia.

For example, you can create a content area called "Units" that contains learning modules for Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3, and so on. Each of the learning modules contains reading materials, assignments, tests, and links to tools to help student accomplish the learning objectives for each unit.

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  1. Content areas are the top-level course areas that provide your course structure. They appear on the course menu only. They contain other course areas and content items.
  2. Folders are containers for content.
  3. Learning modules are containers for content, can include a table of contents, and can require sequential viewing of its content.
  4. Lesson plans are containers for content, and present objectives and other details directly above its list of content items.
  5. Create content within course areas by pointing to Build Content, Assessments, and Tools on the action bar. To learn more, see Creating Content in a Course Area, Creating Assessments in a Course Area, and Linking to Tools in a Course Area.

How to Create a Content Area

Content areas are the top-level course areas. You create and manage them on the course menu.

  1. Change Edit Mode to ON and point to the plus sign above the course menu. The Add Menu Item drop-down list appears.

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  2. Select Content Area.
  3. Type a Name for the new content area.
  4. Select the Available to Users check box.You can create content areas ahead of time, make them unavailable to users, and then make them available at the appropriate time.
  5. Click Submit. A link to the new content area appears on the course menu.

A newly created content area is an empty container. Click the link to the content area to access it. Next, point to any of the functions in the action bar to create content.

After creating content, you can set the sequence of items with the drag-and-drop function or the keyboard accessible reordering tool on the action bar. To learn more, see Editing and Managing Course Areas and Content.

Planning Your Content Areas

Links to the content areas you create appear on the course menu and provide the overall structure of your course. Plan how you will organize the entire course and envision how your course menu will look and function. Three common organizational approaches are chronologically, by content type, and by subject area.

Types of Content Areas
Chronologically By Content Type By Subject Area

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Each content area contains a week’s worth of readings, assignments, lecture notes, and discussion forums. Similar content types are grouped together in a content area, such as all the lectures for the entire course. Each content area contains lecture material and readings on a specific subject, along with assignments, discussion forums, and tests.

Questions to consider:

  • What is the best way to divide the course material into manageable sections?
  • Do you want course materials presented in chronological order, by textbook chapter, or by subject area?
  • Do you want each unit to follow a predictable pattern? For example, you can include reading materials followed by a quiz and a discussion board wrap-up.
  • Do you want students to move through your course material sequentially, non-sequentially, or a mixture of both?

Managing Content Area Links

You can organize and rename the content area links on the course menu to make them easier for students to use.

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  1. Use the drag-and-drop function to reorder content area links on the course menu.
  2. Alternatively, use the keyboard accessible reordering tool to reorder the links.
  3. Access a link's contextual menu and select Rename Link to change its title. Select Hide Link to make it unavailable to students. Click Show Link to make it available to students. Delete removes the content area AND all content items within it. This action is final.
  4. With Edit Mode set to ON, an unavailable link title appears with a square with a diagonal line through it. Students do not see the link on the course menu.

How to Create a Content Folder

Folders are a type of course area you can use to organize content. You create folders in existing course areas, such as content areas, learning modules, lesson plans, or in other folders. After you create a folder, you can add content and additional sub-folders to it. For example, in a content area, you can create folders for each week of your course.

Use folders to organize content to make materials easier to find and reduce the amount of scrolling in a course area. You want to limit the number of nested folders used so students can access content with as few clicks as possible.

  1. Change Edit Mode to ON.
  2. Access a content area, learning module, lesson plan, or folder.
  3. On the action bar, point to Build Content to access the drop-down list.
  4. Select Content Folder.
  5. On the Create page, type a Name for the folder.
  6. Select the options.
    1. Select Yes to Permit Users to View this Content.
    2. Select Yes to Track Number of Views.
    3. For Select Date and Time Restrictions, you can set folders to display on a specific date and time and to stop displaying on a specific date and time. Select the Display After and Display Until check boxes to enable the date and time selections. Type dates and times in the boxes or use the pop-up Date Selection Calendar and Time Selection Menu to select dates and times. Display restrictions do not affect folder availability, only when it appears.
  7. Click Submit. A link to the new folder appears in the course area.

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A newly created folder is an empty container. Click the link to the folder in the course area to access it. Next, point to any of the functions in the action bar to create content.

After creating content in a folder, you can set the sequence of items with the drag-and-drop function or the keyboard accessible reordering tool on the action bar. To learn more, see Editing and Managing Course Areas and Content.

To create a sub-folder, first create a parent folder. Click the name of the parent folder to open it, then point to Build Content on the action bar of the parent folder and select Content Folder.

About Learning Modules

Learning modules are course areas that allow you to organize related course materials in a table of contents to provide a rich and interactive learning experience. Students typically access learning modules in content areas.

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  1. The table of contents displays the items you added to the learning module. You can move it to the bottom, expand, collapse, or remove it from view using the icons. You can hide the table of contents by editing learning module settings.
  2. Content displays in the content frame.
  3. Click the arrows to scroll through the items in the learning module sequentially.
  4. The current content page being viewed in the content frame is highlighted in the table of contents and the available pages are links.

How to Create a Learning Module

You can set a structured path through the table of contents by enforcing sequential viewing or allowing users to explore the content in any order. For example, you can create a learning module that presents the concept of magnetic fields before describing how speakers and microphones work. Understanding the first concept is required for understanding the second concept. Alternatively, you can allow students to explore a learning module in any order for subjects where no particular arrangement is required for understanding the larger concept.

  1. Change Edit Mode to ON.
  2. Access a content area, learning module, lesson plan, or folder.
  3. On the action bar, point to Build Content to access the drop-down list.
  4. Select Learning Module.
  5. On the Create Learning Module page, type a Name. Students access the learning module by clicking the name.
  6. Optionally, type a description in the Text box. You can use the content editor functions to format the text. The description appears below the learning module name in the course area.
  7. Select the options for Availability, View, and Table of Contents.
  8. Click Submit. A link to the new learning module appears in the course area.

Learning Module Options

The learning module options you select determine how users view the learning module as well as its availability.

Learning Module Options
Options Settings
Availability Permit Users to View this Content: Select No to make the learning module unavailable to users.

Select Date and Time Restrictions: You can set learning modules to display on a specific date and time and to stop displaying on a specific date and time. Select the Display After and Display Until check boxes to enable the date and time selections. Type dates and times in the boxes or use the pop-up Date Selection Calendar and Time Selection Menu to select dates and times. Display restrictions do not affect the learning module’s availability, only when it appears.

View Enforce Sequential Viewing of the Learning Module: Select Yes to force students to view the pages in the order you have determined. Students cannot advance to the next link in the table of contents without viewing the previous link. Although the table of contents displays a list of all the content items and folders in the learning module, links only appear for the content items that a user can access. After viewing links sequentially, users can review them in any order. If users navigate away from the learning module and return to it, they are required to view the links sequentially again.

If you do not enforce sequential viewing, users can view items in the learning module in any order by clicking the links in the table of contents.

Open in New Window: Select Yes if you want students to view the learning module in a separate window instead of in the content frame. This enables students to keep the learning module open in a separate window while navigating to other course areas.

Track Number of Views: Select Yes to turn on statistics tracking and record the number of times the learning module is viewed, when it is viewed, and by whom.

Table of Contents Show Table of Contents to Users: Select Yes to display a table of contents to students when they access the learning module. Even when you enforce sequential viewing, students can benefit from seeing the table of contents to gain perspective on the overall concepts being taught. If you hide the table of contents, students use the navigation arrows to move between pages, but they cannot see the list of items in the learning module.

Hierarchy Display: Select the way items in the learning module are labeled to denote their relative position in the table of contents. You can select numbers, letters, Roman numerals, or mixed. If you select None, the items are not labeled.

A newly created learning module is an empty container. Click the link to the learning module in the course area to access it. Next, point to any of the functions in the action bar to create content.

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After creating content in your learning module, you can organize the content in folders to provide a hierarchical structure in the table of contents. You can set the sequence of learning module items by using the drag-and-drop function or the keyboard accessible reordering tool on the action bar. To learn more, see Editing and Managing Course Areas and Content. After reordering, click Refresh in the table of contents.

Change Edit Mode to OFF to view the learning module as students see it.

Folders and Learning Modules

Adding folders to a learning module provides a way to organize content in the table of contents that displays the relationship among items. Content that you place within a folder becomes a subsection of the table of contents hierarchy. You can use numbers or letters to label the hierarchy to further illustrate the relationship among items.

You can nest folders to provide a way to display many levels of content. Be aware that when you use folders in learning modules that are set to be sequential, each folder and all nested folders and the content within them must be navigated through before returning to an upper level in the hierarchy.

Each folder itself is a page in the learning module. Provide a description when adding a folder so that the page does not appear blank to students navigating through the learning module.

When you hide items in a table of contents, all nested items are also hidden. For example, if you hide a folder, then none of its content is visible either.

The following image shows how nested folders appear to students in the table of contents.

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Watch a Tutorial

Double-click the video to enlarge the viewing area.

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About Lesson Plans

Another way you can present content to students is in a lesson plan. A lesson plan is a container for content similar to a learning module or folder that can hold and organize course items. You can create lesson plans within your course to hold lesson profiles, instructional objectives, and the content items students need to complete a lesson.

Adding lesson plans to a course can benefit students in several ways. You have the option of adding information for students to view alongside of the content to help them understand the objectives and intended result of their learning. You can provide students with information on how their knowledge will be measured, the needed materials, the duration of the instruction, and what they should have learned after the instruction. The more information students have at the start of the lesson, the more prepared they are for the content ahead.

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Student view of a lesson plan in a content area

  1. The lesson profile and instructional objectives appear in the top portion of the page.
  2. Content appears in the lower portion of the page.

You create lesson plans in two steps based on the two tabs appearing on the Create Lesson Plan page:

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Content Information: This tab contains general information about the instructor and objectives. This information appears at the top of the lesson plan in a gray box when students access the lesson plan or when you view it with Edit Mode turned OFF.

Curriculum Resources: This tab contains the lesson plan’s content items. You can create all content types in a lesson plan just as you can in a content area, learning module, or folder.

How to Create a Lesson Plan

You can make lesson plans available to students or use them solely as a planning tool. The lesson plan tool is on by default, but your institution determines its availability.

Watch a Tutorial

Double-click the video to enlarge the viewing area.

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Use the following steps to create a lesson plan:

  1. Change Edit Mode to ON.
  2. Access a course area, such as a content area, learning module, lesson plan, or folder.
  3. On the action bar, point to Build Content to access the drop-down list.
  4. Select Lesson Plan.
  5. On the Create Lesson Plan page, the Content Information tab appears first by default. This tab enables you to display general information for users at the top of the lesson plan in a gray box.
  6. Type a Name for the lesson plan. This is a required field and appears as the link to the lesson plan in the course area.
  7. Type an optional Description. Use the content editor functions to format the text and include files, images, links, multimedia and mashups. The Description follows the Name in the course area.

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  8. Type information for the default elements: Instructional Level, Instructor, Objectives, and Subject Area. You can edit a default element’s title by clicking the existing title to access the Edit Element Name text box. Delete an element by clicking the X.
  9. Select the check box next to Share with students for each element that you want to appear in the lesson plan when students view it. If you do not add information to a default element, it does not appear in the lesson plan and does not require deletion. Clear the check box next to Share with students for any information that is only for you.

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  10. To add new elements, point to Add Lesson Plan Section on the action bar to access the drop-down list.

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  11. Select an element. The new element is added to the bottom of the list on the Create Lesson Plan page, where you can edit its title and use its content editor, if available.
  12. Select options for the lesson plan.
    1. Select Yes for Permit Users to View this Content to make it available to students.
    2. Select Yes to Track Number of Views.
    3. For Select Date and Time Restrictions, you can set lesson plans to display on a specific date and time and to stop displaying on a specific date and time. Select the Display After and Display Until check boxes to enable the date and time selections. Type dates and times in the boxes or use the pop-up Date Selection Calendar and Time Selection Menu to select dates and times. Display restrictions do not affect lesson plan availability, only when it appears.
  13. Click Save and Exit to save the lesson plan shell and return to the course area. You can edit the lesson plan later to create content items.

    -OR-

    Click Save and Continue to display the Curriculum Resources tab and create content now.

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Instructor View of Lesson Plan

In the course area, click the link to the lesson plan to access it.

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After you create content in the course area, you can set the sequence of items with the drag-and-drop function or the keyboard accessible reordering tool on the action bar. To learn more, see Editing and Managing Course Areas and Content.

Change Edit Mode to OFF to view the lesson plan as students see it. The view is substantially different with Edit Mode set to ON.

How to Link a Course Area on the Course Menu

You cannot create a folder, lesson plan, or learning module directly on the course menu. However, you can create a course link on the course menu.

  1. Change Edit Mode to ON and point to the plus sign above the course menu. The Add Menu Item drop-down list appears.

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  2. Select Course Link.
  3. Browse for the location of the course area you want to add to the course menu.
  4. Type a Name for the course link. This title appears to users on the course menu.
  5. Select the Available to Users check box to allow users to access it.
  6. Click Submit. A link to the course area appears on the course menu.

Student View of a Course Area

Change Edit Mode to OFF to see course content as students see it. This is especially important for lesson plans and learning modules. Viewing from the student perspective ensures you reveal only the information you intend to show to users.

video  Creating a Lesson Plan (Flash video | 4m 36s) 

video  Your Course Environment (Flash video | 3m 01s)

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