The better organized your course site, the more time students can spend focusing on what you want them to do and learn in the course. Canvas Modules allows you to order and group Pages, Assignments, Files, and all other course content in one place. As such, Modules are a core element of IU’s Canvas Course Template.
For example, a common organization pattern is to create a module for each week in the semester. Therefore, a typical week’s module might have:
- an overview page that summarizes the goals and activities for the week and relates them to the course learning outcomes,
- a Canvas Page with some videos on it and a link to a journal article on the current topic,
- a link to the eText,
- a discussion forum on that week’s topic,
- a comprehension assignment over the videos and texts,
- any other follow-up assignment from live class sessions or long-term projects.
Without modules (or a manually created list), students have to go to a different area of Canvas for each content type then locate the correct item from the lists of all Pages, all Quizzes, or all Discussions for the entire course. For students, Modules simplifies locating and ordering course content; for instructors, it provides a linear, at-a-glance view of the course progression and assessment distribution.
What organizational patterns work well?
Creating modules based on weeks is a natural way to organize course content. Using a weekly module structure is especially effective when the activities and assignments for each week have a similar pattern (e.g., begin the week with a reading assignment, then a reading quiz, and respond to a discussion by the end of the week). A significant advantage of the Week-by-week method is that patterns help many students stay on-track and up-to-date in their courses.
If your course closely follows the organization of a textbook or has distinct themes such as a survey course then creating modules based on units or themes may be the most effective way to group content. Unit-based organization can invite reflection on different treatments of the same topic or the same treatment of different topics. Unit-based organization can also be a good fit when due dates are more fluid or don’t follow a consistent chronological pattern.
Both an organizational method and teaching strategy, process-based (or “scaffolded”) organization systematically orders class materials, so students learn complex skills or behaviors by mastering each of the sub-skills that make it up. For example, each module could have a pattern of introducing new knowledge or skill; tying that new knowledge to previous knowledge from the former steps; applying and practicing that knowledge; and finally, independently demonstrating that knowledge in an assessment. As its name implies, process-based organization works especially well with complex processes that require guidance and practice, such as learning how to analyze legal cases or applying the writing process. Process-based organizational principles can also be used with the Week-by-week or Unit/thematic organizing methods.