Course Structure

In most cases, when you first open your courses, they will only contain a shell. Each course will have a Home Page and the students should already be enrolled. You will have to add all course content including the course outline, learning objects, assignments, assessments, etc.

When you were initially hired, you should have been automatically enrolled in a “course” called CTL01: Exemplary Course Sites and Template. This is actually a collection of useful information to get you started. It also has a downloadable ZIP file with course development templates and suggestions along with some sample courses to model.

If this course does not show up in your Course List (Under the Courses tab in the main screen,) contact CTL ( to be enrolled. In the meantime, here is a link to the ZIP file:

When deciding how to structure your course, read through the sections below to learn what the CTL recommends.

Edit Mode

Edit Mode will allow you to build content and make changes to the overall look and feel of your course. When the Edit Mode is off, you can see your course the same as your students see it. You must turn the Edit Mode on to make any changes.

Look to the upper right corner of the screen and locate the Edit switch. If it is turned off, click on it once to turn it on.

Edit Mode Off

Edit Mode On

Single Entry Point

At CTL, we recommend you follow the following path: Single entry point – Modules – Folders – Content items – Linked / attached items. A single entry point keeps the main menu clean and simple.

When designing a course, it is important to consider every aspect of the learning experience. Some students will be comfortable with technology while others may struggle.

The best approach is to build a clean, simple design. Reduce the amount of content on any page – use links to attach more detail as needed.

When it comes to web page design, always remember the old adage: “Less is more.” Above all, avoid overly busy designs – important details can be lost in the landscape!

Using Learning Modules

This is what a learning module looks like.

Course Content 


When students go into each module, a menu will open.




Try to limit the number of items in any container to a maximum of 7 (there are always exceptions!) but people remember best when information is “chunked” into groups of 7 or less. Consider adding more folders when you have numerous content items. Of course, if the number of content items is small, you can omit using folders as you see in this case:

Course Content

2 Clicks or 10 Seconds Rule

You may have heard of the “2 clicks or 10 seconds” Rule. This rule says your student should be able to reach any piece of content within 2 clicks or within 10 seconds.Using this rule will tell you whether or not your course is straightforward and easy to navigate.

Advantages of a Consistent Format

  • Students learn to navigate one way – less likely to miss important information
  • Easier for you to locate resources later
  • Aligning goals and validating course outcomes is simpler with a consistent structure

A simple, standardized format will also put more emphasis on the content and less on the design.


Selecting a theme will change the look and feel of your course. You can quickly change the colours of borders, backgrounds and text areas throughout your course by choosing a theme.

Some instructors like to use a different theme for each course – that way they keep each course separate (especially important if you have more than one section of the same course. ) Others like to “change things up” to generate a little more interest for their students.

To choose a theme, turn the Edit Mode on.

Once you’re in one of your courses, click the Customize Page button. 

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 11.55.40 AM


It will bring you to the following page:

Customize theme


Try a few and see which ones you like. For example, Opal gives you the following:


WARNING: We recommend choosing a subtle theme with good contrast between the background colour and the text.