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 – https://eclearn.emmanuel.edu/courses/1546006). 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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