Five Things to Make Your Students Appreciate Your LEARN Site

  1. Course outline. Upload your course outline as the first module in your course. This will clearly communicate your expectations to your students and will keep the expectations visible throughout the term.
  2. Course communications.
    1. Lay out the expectations for students about how they will communicate with you and with other students in the course. If you are using “Announcements," tell them how often to check for new announcements.
    2. LEARN is a “compose only” email system so replies to their or your email will occur through uWaterloo accounts.
    3. Tell students if you would like them to put the course number in any email to you so you can filter course email. Let them know the timeframe they can expect for a reply from you and/or your teaching assistants (24 hours, 48 hours, not over weekends, etc.).
    4. If you are using discussion forums to answer frequently asked questions, let them know if they can answer each others' queries and how often you will be checking the forum (subscribing to the forum can help you, teaching assistants, and students stay informed about new posts). Set expectations around the appropriate use of LEARN email to classmates. 
    5. Talk to your Centre for Teaching Excellence liaison about your options and about subscribing to discussion forums in the course.
  3. Using the calendar and schedule. Make a detailed schedule of assignment dates and test dates available to your students at the beginning of term. Schedule templates are available in LEARN. Additionally, you can use the calendar in LEARN to have the due dates appear on the course home page.
  4. Organize course materials and activities. Use “Modules” to organize your course materials and activities in the Content area of your course. Once modules are created, then files, html pages, and links to course activities are added as “Topics” to the modules. Enumeration settings for modules and topics can also be used to organize the course materials by course topic, by week, or by activity. You can place the most frequently used items or the most current items at the top of the list of content items in a folder by using the Reorder feature.
  5. Grade book. The LEARN grade book is found under the grades link on the course navigation bar. You can use the grade book to assign marks and to give students individual feedback through the comments feature. Set expectations around your timeline for releasing grades and giving feedback at the beginning of term. LEARN has a good rubric tool available under resources in the course navigation bar. Rubrics can be created for the grading of most course activities and can be associated with drop boxes and other graded items in the grade book so that students can see how you arrived at their mark using the rubric.


If you would like support applying these tips to your own teaching, CTE staff members are here to help.  View the CTE Support page to find the most relevant staff member to contact. 

teaching tips

This Creative Commons license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon our work non-commercially, as long as they credit us and indicate if changes were made. Use this citation format: Five Things to Make Your Students Appreciate Your LEARN Site. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo.