Five Things to Make Your Students Appreciate Your LEARN Site

  1. Thumbs upSyllabus/course outline - Upload your syllabus as the first module in your course. This will clearly communicate your expectations to your students and will make the expectations visible throughout the term.
  2. Course communications - Lay out the expectations for students about how they will communicate with you and with other students in the course. If you are using “News” announcements, tell them how often to check for new announcements in the News area. LEARN is a “compose only” email system so replies to their or your email will occur through uWaterloo accounts. Indicate if you would like them to put the course number in any email to you so that you can filter course email in your email client. Let them know the timeframe they can expect for a reply from you and/or your teaching assistants (TAs) (24 hours, 48 hours, not over weekends?). 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, TAs and students stay informed about new posts). Set expectations around the appropriate use of LEARN email to classmates. The default is that students will be able to email each other through the class list, so if you want to control that, you will have to adjust the class list settings. Talk to your Centre for Teaching Excellence liaison about adjusting any class list settings and subscribing to discussion forums in the course.
  3. Using the calendar - Students appreciate knowing their assignment due dates and test dates and have access to an aggregate calendar for all their courses on their LEARN homepage. When you create entries for events in your course calendar, these events will appear in the aggregate calendar. Put your course number before or after each event that you create in the course calendar so that the events are clearly associated with your course in the student's aggregate calendar. Use the calendar for important events (5-10 per course), not for every class meeting.
  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 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 in the middle course navigation bar (navbar). 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. When added to the course tools in the navbar, 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.

teaching tipThis 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.