Spring Cleaning: Five Ways to Spruce Up Your Course Site
by Christine Scherer
Spring has finally arrived in Chicago, and with it, many people are starting to think about spring cleaning. This can apply to more than your home or office, though. In the time before Summer classes start, there are ways you can clean up your course site too.
Check your dates
Make sure the dates in your course are correct for the next quarter. Students will notice if your syllabus or assignment page says that something is due in September for a class that’s running from June to August. Forgetting to change those dates is not just frustrating for students–it can communicate that the instructor doesn’t pay much attention when copying the course from quarter to quarter.
Evaluate your resources
Related to the idea of checking dates: look over the resources you’re directing students to and make sure they’re still fresh and relevant. In some fields, providing a link to an article written in 2013 might seem kind of outdated and out-of-touch. Providing a link that doesn’t work can be even worse! So check your resources and see if there are opportunities to add newer content that’s more reflective of the field today.
Supplement your core content
Have you seen a news story, heard a podcast, or read an article related to your course recently? Have you wanted to share a new resource with your students, but you don’t want to replace any of the current assignments? Add the newer material as optional resources! Students who want to dig into a particular topic will appreciate the guidance to trusted resources and additional sources of information.
Upgrade your assignments
It’s often pretty clear when a discussion board prompt falls flat or when assignment instructions are unclear. Student engagement is low, or student questions to the instructor might be at an all-time high. Look back at the last time you taught your course and see if there are places where prompts could be refreshed or instructions could be made clearer.
Improve your course
Perhaps as you’ve been updating and reflecting, you’ve realized you’d like to make some slightly bigger changes to your course. Maybe your textbook has a new edition, or you’ve realized your lecture videos are a few years out of date. For more involved improvements that don’t quite rise to the level of a full revision, consider Continuous Improvement! With the help of Distance Learning staff, you can create media, revise assignments, or add resources. To learn more, talk to your Program Manager or Assistant Director.