Concept Mapping Tools and Tips

What is concept mapping?

Concept mapping are graphical tools used to organize and represent knowledge. The concepts are usually represented in some type of shape such as squares and circles. The relationships to other concepts on the map are shown by lines connecting them. Words written on the line, referred to as linking words or linking phrases, specify the relationship between the two concepts.

Concept Map image


Concept maps can also be represented in a hierarchal format, the most inclusive, most general concepts at the top of the map and the more specific, less general concepts are at the bottom.

Concept Map Hierarchal Display


Where did concept maps come from?

“Concept maps were developed in 1972 in the course of Novak’s research program at Cornell where he wanted to follow and understand changes in children’s knowledge of science (Novak & Musonda, 1991). During this time researchers interviewed many children, and they found it difficult to identify specific changes in the children’s understanding of science concepts by examination of interview transcripts. This program was based on the learning psychology of David Ausubel (1963; 1968; Ausubel et al., 1978). The fundamental idea in Ausubel’s cognitive psychology is that learning takes place by the assimilation of new concepts and propositions into existing concept and propositional frameworks held by the learner. This knowledge structure as held by a learner is also referred to as the individual’s cognitive structure. Out of the necessity to find a better way to represent children’s conceptual understanding emerged the idea of representing children’s knowledge in the form of a concept map. This was the birth of a new tool not only for use in research, but also for many other uses.”

Use of Concept Maps

Concept maps are used to stimulate the generalization of ideas and to promote creativity, it also aids in brainstorming. These maps are used in businesses and educational institutions. Concept mapping is used when taking notes and summarizing key concepts, their relationships and hierarchy from documents and source materials. It is also used when being introduced to new information, such as mapping knowledge and resources. They are also used to train new employees at work, spread information effectible and in a clear manner and assess a learners understanding.

Benefits of Concept Mapping in Education

Concept mapping serves several purposes for learners:
• Helping students brainstorm and generate new ideas
• Encouraging students to discover new concepts and the propositions that connect them
• Allowing students to more clearly communicate ideas, thoughts and information
• Helping students integrate new concepts with older concepts
• Enabling students to gain enhanced knowledge of any topic and evaluate the information

When created correctly and thoroughly, concept mapping is a powerful way for students to reach high levels of cognitive performance. A concept map is not just a learning tool, but an evaluation tool for educators measuring the growth of and assessing student learning. As students create concept maps, they reiterate ideas using their own words and help identify incorrect ideas and concepts; educators are able to see what students understand and do not understand.

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New Assignment tools in ECLearn Canvas

We’re excited to introduce two powerful new assignment tools in ECLearn. With Differentiated Assignments and Excused Assignments, you’re able to create a learning environment suited to individual learners and their individual situations!

Differentiated Assignments

Have you ever wanted the option to create assignments (including quizzes and graded discussions) for specific students, or give students different due dates for the same assignment? Now you can, with Canvas’ differentiated assignments tool!

With differentiated assignments, you can now create assignments, graded discussions, and quizzes for individual students, groups, sections. This allows the ability to assign different due dates – or even different assignments – among course sections or groups. Differentiated assignments will enable instructors to provide a diverse learning experience while easily managing all sections of a course.

Only students assigned a differentiated assignment can see the assignment or be awarded a grade for it. Likewise, students can only view assignments that have been assigned to them. When an assignment is assigned to more than one section, group, or user, multiple due dates will appear across in your course site.

When creating an assignment, you can decide whether it is for everyone in the course, specific sections or groups, or for individual students. You can view the detailed step by step instructions here:

You now have the flexibility to cater assignments and due dates to individuals and groups without hassle. Ask ATIG about merging your course sections or creating groups to take advantage of this tool!

Excused Assignments

This is an awesome new feature instructors have been waiting for! Instructors can now excuse a student from an assignment in a course. This is a helpful tool if the student is sick or has a family emergency.

If you want to excuse an assignment for a student type “EX” in the assignment box. Students can be excused from group assignments, while other group members can still submit the assignment.

Once a student is excused from an assignment they can view the excused status on the assignment submission page. Discussions and Quizzes can be excused for students as well, but students cannot see that they have been excused from the discussion or quiz.

View detailed information here:

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Teaching with Technology Faculty Showcase, Spring 2015

This year the first Teaching with Technology Faculty Showcase was on March 19, 2015. It is organized by ATIG as a biannual event – every fall and spring semester the showcase features faculty courses and projects that are innovative, interesting, and illustrate not only best practices in the use of academic technologies, but best pedagogical application of teaching and learning principles.

Format of the showcase: The event starts with several faculty showcasing informally their ECLearn courses or current educational projects for about 45 minutes. Each professor has a table with a computer and a big monitor and discusses their work with any interested guests who stop by at their table. All Emmanuel College faculty is invited to attend the showcase. Then, there are usually two or three mini presentations, followed by another 45-minute session of a second set of informal faculty presenters. The Academic Technology and Innovation Group and Emmanuel College Library have tables and presentations as well. Beverages and snacks are provided and there are gifts, prizes, and contests. Last fall, for example, the winner of the Best ECLearn Course was awarded a mini iPad.

Mid-hour Presentations:

  • Prof. Clare Mehta (Psychology Dept.) presented “Snow day? Snow problem! The benefit of online classes in the Spring semester” showcasing her online course structure and organization and inviting her students to provide feedback on their experience.
  • Then, Prof. R. Bryan Sears (Chemistry Dept.) presented “Flipping Out: Success and Pitfalls to Using a Hybrid Course Mode” where he outlined what worked for him and his students in regard to creating recorded lecture materials and designing corresponding in-class activities.

Table Presentations: 

  • Prof. Jen Wade presented “Peer Review and Alternative Assessment Tools” showcasing how she uses Teammates.
  • Prof. Tom Wall talked about “Socratic Questioning: Can It Be Flipped?” in his blended course.
  • Prof. Rebecca Moryl discussed best practices in her “Principles of Microeconomics as a Hybrid Course.”
  • Prof. Allen Price shared how he uses the Explain Everything app: “Using Explain Everything on the iPad and YouTube for online lectures.”
  • Prof. Fiona McDonnell displayed her current work on ““What do you notice?” Preservice Teachers View Videotaped Episodes of Learning in Action.”
  • Prof. Kim Sofronas showed how she and her students are using “iPads in the College Classroom” for their study projects. In the fall showcase, she will present again explaining lessons learned from the experience.
  • ATIG offered a first look at Canvas learning management system new feature:  “Introducing ECLearn Commons – Canvas repository for shared course items.”
  • The Library showcased and even scheduled trainings on “New Primary Documents Collections.”

Every Emmanuel professor is welcome to participate in the showcase. This is a great way to bring faculty from different disciplines together to share their educational experience. If you would like to partake in the next event, just let ATIG know:

To check out upcoming events, organized by the Academic Technology and Innovation Group, visit: Emmanuel College Calendar. ATIG’s next event is The Learning Brain: A Brown Bag Lunch Series – faculty presenting on the practical implications of research on how students learn. The first talk is on Thursday, March 26th, 12:15pm at 110 Wilkens Science Center.

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Faculty Spotlight: Podcast Panels with Dr. Lenore Martin

Instructor: Lenore Martin, PhD., Professor of Political Science

Lenore Martin is the chair of the Political Science Department; she is also an Associate of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University and serves as an Associate at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, also at Harvard. Dr. Martin has extensive experience in International Relations having taken many trips to Turkey and the Middle East. She has written three books.

Courses: POLSC 1401 – Introduction to International Relations

Intro to International Relations is designed to give perspective Political Science or International Studies students an inside look into the highlights of the study of International Relations.

About the Project/Idea/Tool: Podcast Panels

Dr. Martin divides the class into groups and each takes on a specific political conflict scenario such as for example, “What is the best response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine?” Each group consists of a host and officials from different countries: Russia, Ukraine, and the United States. “Ukrainian rebels” and “journalists” – the rest of the class – ask questions of the students that represent different interests.

Requirements for students before and after their panel presentations:

  • Along with scholarly sources students may use news magazines, newspapers, internet resources, and information from interest groups.
  • Each participant will submit her or his background notes to the professor at the end of class.
  • Each student will assess their own presentation and submit it within one week of the panel and post the assessment online.


The main goals of this learning activity is to engage students in team work, research and collaboration and to have them practice and express orally one’s ideas on international relations clearly. Students learn to critically analyze current international events by discussing how international relations affect people’s lives, and by explaining the perspectives of people from many regions in the world during class presentations.

Technical Requirements:

Podcasts are 45 minutes long and taped. The video presentations are posted, using MediaCore, on the class LMS web site for review and discussion.


Here is a comment by a student who took the course in Fall 2014:

“These panel podcasts forced my group and I to work together as a team on many different occasions to research our country’s positions and develop questions that we think we could answer that the “journalists” would ask of us. Not only did this assignment give me a chance to research a certain country’s position on issues, but it also forced me to become that country so that I would be able to field any question thrown at me regarding the issue. When we presented these panel podcasts to the class, a student worker from ATIG came up and filmed us and later uploaded our presentation to media core on ECLearn. After presenting, Dr. Martin then asked us to watch ourselves present on media core and analyze our presentation style in an effort to make us better public speakers. Overall, I really enjoyed this assignment because not only did it require a fair amount of teamwork and research, but it also gave us a unique opportunity to scrutinize our own presentation skills.”

For more information on ways to spice up your course, including ECLearn and classroom technology, contact us:

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Zaption – the Perfect Combination of Video and Quiz for Creating Engaging Learning

Zaption is a free online learning tool (with basic account). Its educational use is for creating video lectures and presentations in combination with questions. The questions dispersed throughout are designed to engage student minds.

zaption tool snapshot

A snapshot of a Zaption tour

How Does It Work?

Learners are introduced to a topic during which they are prompted to actively participate by answering questions in a quiz format – multiple-choice, open-ended, check-box, etc. If they want, viewers can skip answering the questions. The purpose of this tool for learning is to enhance one’s thinking rather than assessing one’s knowledge like in a real quiz. In addition, the tour creator can provide information in text or image format at key places in order to facilitate viewers’ reflection of the material.

The creation of this kind of learning activity, or “tour” as called by Zaption, is easy. First select a video for your new tour. Videos can be created from scratch or borrowed from YouTube, Vimeo, PBS, TED, and others.

Zaption Video Select

Zaption Video Selection

Second, click at a point on the play bar where you want to have a question; then select from the icons lined at the top (each icon represents a type of question,) and drag and drop it onto the video frame or side bar to edit it to your liking.

Inserting a Question

Inserting a Question

Here is a perfect example: Grit is the Key to Success. This is a six-minute video about why some people are better learners than others.

A few important notes:

  • If you want to edit a tour after you publish it, you have to un-publish it but you’ll lose all responses made so far.
  • There is a free app for iPads.
  • There is an analytics tool to download responses and track data such as date, time, and duration of views, average scores to questions, and average rating of a tour.
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Canvas Tip: Video Interactions

This week, we were asked what would be the best way for instructors to interact with students remotely. Specifically, this instructor wanted to know how she could supplement her screencast lectures by responding to specific questions with a video chat.

There are lots of options for this! The conference tool built into ECLearn is Big Blue Button, an open-source video conferencing tool. You can share your screen and use a webcam in real time, interacting with your entire class or just a student or two. Here’s some more information on that:


ECLearn’s Conference Tool

You and your students might not be online at the same time. The built-in discussion tool is a great option for asynchronous video chat. ECLearn allows for voice or voice with video to be added to a discussion. It behaves the same as a normal discussion would, with posts and responses, but allows a more human touch to text-based online discussions. Here’s how to directly record video in ECLearn:

We have some professors use Piazza, a tool built for exactly this type of purpose. Some people use it as a live backchannel for discussion during lecture, some use it as a place for students to post questions about homework assignments. Here’s some background about that:

Let ATIG know if you’d like to explore any of these options further!

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Major Considerations When Converting a Face-to-Face Course in Blended Format

Emmanuel College’s “Blended Course Development Program” is an internal project that launched in 2014. Faculty who were interested in developing or redesigning courses in hybrid format went through consultation and training with members of ATIG. The main focus is on creating a new learning environment where students will have the best experience from interacting through technology and live class and out-of-class activities. The following summary outlines major considerations when converting a face-to-face course in blended format and a summary of faculty feedback and student survey data collected by ATIG in the fall semester of 2014.

Major Considerations When Converting a Face-to-Face Course in Blended Format

(Adapted from

It is critically important for teachers to be comfortable with the notion of Blended Learning. Defining its meaning is a process of individual education and specific preparation for building the pedagogical framework. Teachers realized that time investment and flexibility of mind when creating the flow of course materials and activities are the main components in their course design work.

Another major consideration regards scaffolding of learning experiences: building lessons, modules, or sections while keeping focus on the course as a whole. There is the temptation to add content or assignments to the course to make up for the “lost” face time. It is important to keep the essential lessons and the main learning outcomes while considering the best delivery format.

Faculty (but not always students) are aware that one of the main advantages of hybrid learning is its student-centered orientation. Learners become more active and independent in their study efforts regardless of whether they work on out-of-class assignments or in-class applicational projects. With blending their experience, students are given the opportunity to work on gaining knowledge. Then, with careful facilitation by teachers, they practice what they’ve passively acquired, they analyze, evaluate, or create with their classmates or individually. So, instructional plans have to include how much time should be allocated for class meetings and whether skipping a class session would contribute to improving of student performance.

In the same line, it is critical for professors to know how to use their school learning management system. In their course design, they need to determine what will go online and what should be done in class. Both environments have the same weight in hybrid courses, but oftentimes teachers do not realize that students still account class meetings to be more important. Faculty should built a learning community in the online platform by carefully crafting online learning activities that are interwoven with in-class activities. Usually the higher-end learning or practicing/evaluating soft skills is better done in class as the process requires additional explanation and immediate input by the teacher.

Faculty approach toward managing a course is also part of the learning curve for those new to the hybrid format. Staying atop of online discussions, maintaing presence in both environments, keeping organization simple, and providing timely feedback are essential elements of excellent teaching. This also includes student LMS orientation, introduction to the differences of the format by setting proper expectations for class communication and performance, and providing support for continuous multimodal, multichannel interaction and learning.

Helping students know why and how things work in a blended course from the outset should be part of the course organization. Clarifying structure and processes will help students with their time-management and learning habits. It will make them realize that they are also more responsible for their own success. In general, outlining expectations will help them better prepare for real work environments and will provide them with the opportunities to collaborate, communicate, or just observe different working styles, personalities, and experiences. At the same time, transparency and honesty with students will allow teachers to change things on the fly if necessary and will provide invaluable student feedback for proper revision and modification for the next course iteration.

Student and Faculty Feedback from Fall 2014 Mid-Semester Survey

There were six courses who were redesigned in a hybrid format and run in fall of 2014. In the middle of the semester, students were informally surveyed. The following is the summary of the received feedback.

Majority of students have not taken a blended course before and did not consider the format a major factor in selecting the course. About 85% liked the flexibility of the format. When asked whether they would prefer a hybrid course next semester, the results were mixed:


  • 9 Strongly Disagree – want more in class time with Professor; more instructions, more guidance, hard to focus with once a week activities, class seems harder due to lack of face-to-face time, prefer to listen to the Professor than learning on their own.
  • 5 Strongly Agree – like doing more work, like the freedom of time, think critically like individuals, information is not lectured “spoonfed,” learning happens at one’s own pace, more time to read and research, different ways of obtaining and retaining new information, more focus.
  • 29 Neither Agree Nor Disagree – format is not important, like both formats, are danger of poor time management skills, e.g. forget online assignments due times.

When students were asked if they preferred online discussions to in-class discussions, the following results indicated that most learners appreciate the option of having a discussion online:

  • 40% agree or strongly agree – prefer online discussions, because of reasons such as shyness, want more time to think, feeling pressured by lack of time, more time to research and prepare, can hear from everyone, can provide opinion without immediate in-face ridicule, easier to explain and understand others and their own thoughts, being nervous in front of many people, enjoy it, it is easier, because they can make references to resources, can learn more, able to go in a greater detail.
  • 28% nether agree nor disagree
  • 33% disagree or strongly disagree – did not provide explanation.

Overall in their Learning Preferences students indicated:

  • 17% believe they are better able to learn in a hybrid course.
  • 33% believe they are better able to learn in a traditional course.
  • 50% believe they are able to learn a traditional equally well in either a traditional or hybrid format.

Best experience so far in the hybrid course:

  • Flexibility – work at one’s own pace, more time, midnight due times free up day schedule, exercise one’s time management skills
  • Online Discussions – expression of thoughts in a stress-free environment, a new creative way for communication, get to hear all voices, different opinions, more learning equals more research
  • Reduced class time, but more motivation to participate in class and get to reiterate the material and apply what’s learned in class
  • Easy online assignment submissions
  • Predictability of course structure, easy routine to follow, encourage focused and independent learning and work
  • Online Games
  • More Office Hours and one-on-one time with the Professor
  • More time for group work 

Most challenging experience so far in the hybrid course:

  • Assignment relevance not communicated clearly
  • Hard to keep up with workload – online due dates (or lack of them) and communication in different environments/interaction channels
  • Time management issues/prioritization skills
  • More individual responsibility and independence results in feeling overwhelmed
  • Professor’s difficulty with technology
  • Lack of clear assessment criteria (no rubrics?) in online assignments
  • Not enough personal communication with Professor
  • Not enough discussion of material impede understanding and learning of it
  • Reduced class time makes the course felt as less significant
  • Class presentations
  • Not a good explanation of course hybrid structure in the beginning of semester

Faculty Input

  • Students do not take seriously out of class assignments and readings in particular, so quizzes may be implemented to ensure students watch the video lectures and read the assigned articles.
  • Better support provided by the instructor regarding time management.
  • Better introduction to ECLearn at the beginning of the course.
  • Hybrid format helps students learn real-life challenges of online group collaboration on a project.
  • Students demand more specific instructions on assignments or the instructions to be repeated/explained by the instructor in class.
  • Students like the extra time working together outside of class.
  • Students in hybrid course outperform students in traditional course.
  • Students find it challenging to work on the online assignments independently.
  • Instructors think student feedback is extremely helpful for modifying their hybrid course pedagogy.

Interested in developing a hybrid course?

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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Laurie Johnston – Best ECLearn Site Award Winner Fall 2014

Dr. Johnston is an Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies and the Director of Fellowships at Emmanuel College. Her special interests are in Christian social ethics, war, peace and religion.

At the recent “Teaching with Technology Faculty Showcase” in the fall of 2014, she was recognized and awarded the first place for best design of ECLearn site for her online “Exploring Religion” course. It is a fine example of effective utilization of the learning management system for pedagogical purposes. The course is designed with an inviting homepage, modular structure of learning activities, and pages that set students expectations as a part of the syllabus. The Professor has an excellent command of the environment and her students. She creates a welcoming virtual meeting space, provides timely feedback in weekly narrated summaries, and includes out of class activities that help students stay connected with both content and classmates. The course has a learner-centered approach emphasized by student discussions and project work. As Dr. Johnston says in her Emmanuel College profile, she “particularly enjoys debating controversial ethical issues with students, and giving them a chance to explore issues of social justice through service learning courses.”

Following her win, ATIG asked her to share her course design concept as an example and an inspiration to other Emmanuel faculty. The following is her response.

1.  How did you go about designing your course? Did you start with the facts, the trees, or did you introduce the big picture, the forrest, first?

The course closely follows the textbook I use (which is unusual for me, but I feel like an online course needs clearer structure than an in person one.)  We start with a big question – what IS religion?  The first photo discussion is a fun part of that.  What is e difference between an iPad, a super bowl trophy, or a communion host?  Then we move on to talking about the various components of religion.

2.  What are the big ideas for your students upon successfully completing the course?

Big ideas: I want students to grasp the idea that religion is a universal human phenomenon, and examine their own beliefs and practices a bit more deeply in light of that.

3.  Did you have synchronous and asynchronous sessions in the course?
Nothing in the course is synchronous.  I worry about technical difficulties.

4.  The “Site Visit Assignment” is an exploratory activity tied with a paper assignment. How does this assignment connect students’ experience with the concepts they learn throughout the semester?

The site visit requires them to actually observe some of the components of religion that we are discussing in the class. Students usually find it to be the most interesting part of the course, especially because they can choose which kind of religion they want to observe. The students find the site visit paper a challenging assignment because it is different from other kinds of papers. For that reason I have them read and comment on a sample A paper before they submit their first drafts. They also have to complete an Atomic Learning tutorial on writing an MLA paper, so they know what is expected.

5.  What are your lessons learned from the peer review task your students had to do in regard to the site visit assignment?

Peer review can be tricky, especially if some students don’t turn in their assignments on time. ECLearn’s peer review feature works, but it is a little tricky to assign the peer reviews, especially if you need to revise the assignments at all. I have learned that it is important to give guidance on peer reviews, so I use a grading rubric and ask the students to evaluate each other using the rubric. This has the added advantage of forcing them to look at the rubric and think about how it might apply to their own paper as well.

6.  How did you come up with the idea for a weekly audio recap? Have you heard from your students how they like it?

It is hard to give effective feedback in an online course and make sure students are actually absorbing it. The recap is my chance to address/clarify whatever ideas the students appeared to be struggling with in the quizzes and discussions. And then there is a password in it that they need to access the next week’s quiz, so they have to listen to it! I think they find it a bit of a pain to listen to, but ultimately appreciate the human touch.

7.  What are the major technical difficulties you or your students encounter?

GPP students tend to struggle with simple things: how do I post to a discussion? How do I submit a paper? All students sometimes have trouble accessing external resources: Atomic Learning, for example. And at the beginning of the course, there are usually a few students who are added to the course late and have trouble getting access to ECLearn right away.

8.  What can you advise us regarding conducting online discussions – what is your experience and lessons learned?

I think it is important to mix up the discussion boards: sometimes just a written prompt, sometimes images or videos to respond to, etc. One board, I do, requires students to find and post an example of a religious group reciting/singing/performing/re-enacting their scriptures in some way. That is fun because they find neat stuff – everything from Gregorian chant to Katakhali dance.

For any questions regarding ECLearn, Atomic Learning tutorials, course design and pedagogy, email us at

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ECLearn Modular Course Structure

What is a Module?

Modules is a feature in Canvas/ECLearn used for building the main structure of a course. Many teachers, however, use instead the Pages feature, which is just a wiki content page and is not the most efficient way to create internal course organization and navigation. A module (as seen below) can be used to organize a course by weeks, content units, chapters, topics, etc. It displays its components in a table of contents format where each item is a clickable link to an actual course element like an assignment or an external web link. Modules is a better organizational and navigational tool for all course items than the Pages tool, because it can contain not only content pages, but files, discussions, assignments, quizzes, and any other learning materials that one would like to use in their course design.

Module Snapshot

A snapshot of the two modules in an ECLearn course template (copy/paste the following link to access the template – Click the image to view it enlarged.

A teacher can easily add items to a module that have already been created in the course, or create new items on the fly within the module. This allows for course re-structure while developing new learning materials.

In addition in Modules, every item has navigational buttons at the bottom – one for the previous and one for the next sequential item.

Page Prev-Next Buttons snapshot

The bottom of the page displays ‘Previous’ and ‘Next’ buttons for sequential navigation within a module. The buttons appear not only for content pages, but for any type of item: quizzes, assignments, discussions, external links, downloadable files, etc. Click the image to view it enlarged.

Tips for Working with Modules:

  • Modules can be accessed by clicking the Modules button in the Course Tool Menu along the left side of any course. One may also choose to have the Modules page as a course Home page.
  • Modules can easily be reordered to fit the flow of the course by simply dragging and dropping. Items within the modules can also be reorganized by dragging and dropping.
  • Modules can be released on specific dates, being locked (hidden) until a future date. If a module is set to release on a specific date, students will be able to see a list of the module’s items, but the list will be grayed out and will remain inaccessible until the release date.
  • One can also set up prerequisites, e.g. a module cannot be accessed until a previous module has been completed.
  • With modules, a teacher can create a one-directional linear flow of students tasks. This way students must complete each item (reading/viewing a page, submitting a paper assignment, making a discussion posting, scoring a specific grade on a quiz) in a sequential order. Consider setting requirements. 
  • Using Text Headers (example below) is a great way to visually distinguish module items by grouping/categorizing them in the module.

text header snapshot

The “3.2 Communication Strategies” and “3.3 Collaboration Strategies” are text headers. Click the image to view it enlarged.

Additional Help Resources:

  • Organize your course by unit, topic, chapter, or week by using Canvas Guides on Modules.
  • The following worksheet can be of a great help in the process of structuring a course online components by aligning learning objectives and learning activities for every module.

For more information on Modules, watch the following videos from Instructure on Vimeo:

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Faculty Spotlight: Kelly Grant – A Successful Hybrid Course Design Example

Instructor: Kelly Grant, MSIB

Course: Strategic Management, MGMT 4303

The capstone course is designed to demonstrate the connection between Corporate Social Responsibility, Operations, Marketing, Financial Management, and Organizational Structure when formulating a long term business-level or corporate strategy. In order to maintain a high level of rigor, numerous activities are incorporated into the Strategic Management course.  These activities are completed both in and out of the classroom. Here are a couple of examples:

Online Simulation Game

Throughout the term students apply textbook concepts in an online Business Strategy simulation game where they make a variety of decisions on manufacturing plant locations, cross-border trade, utilizing celebrity endorsements for their products, e-commerce, and more.  The simulation game brings out their competitive nature and interest in course content however most students seem to demonstrate passion in their discussion board posts which tend to focus on the correlation between Corporate Social Responsibility, Profitability, and Shareholder Value.

Online Discussions and an End-of-Semester Reflective Paper

There are approximately ten discussion board posts throughout the term where students are asked to create an initial post early in the week and to make at least two engagement posts (commenting on the threads of their peers) by the end of the week.  Students are graded on the timeliness of their posts, their involvement in the threads of their peers, demonstration of critical thinking, application of course concepts, and writing mechanics.  Students are also encouraged to support their opinion with outside resources, which often leads to links to current articles on the discussion topic.

At the end of the term students are asked to complete a reflection paper on the topics of Corporate Social Responsibility, Profitability, and Shareholder Value.  Students often comment that they referred back to the discussion posts while compiling the reflection paper. They feel that the discussion board allowed them to not only participate in a discussion on the assigned topic, but to consider varying perspectives as they read and reflected upon the posts of their peers. The discussion board has been a valuable teaching tool that I highly recommend, particularly in a blended or online environment.

For more information on Hybrid Course Design, contact us:

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