Setting clear course expectations

For many students, an online course marks a big change from a traditional classroom. This change can be even more challenging for students with physical or learning disabilities, as they can feel disconnected from their instructor and other support systems. The Brightspace Learning Environment provides course designers with flexibility in how they set up and organize content, however it can still be daunting for students who rely on assistive technologies to navigate the Brightspace Learning Environment, find course materials, and find and complete assignments.

To help your students effectively use your online course, consider the following design guidelines:

  • Use Course Home to help familiarize your students with your course content.
  • Create a news topic on Course Home that introduces yourself (the course instructor) and any teaching assistants. Include contact information and encourage students to contact you if they have concerns, questions, or additional needs.
  • Include your course syllabus as a news topic, or provide a link in a news item to your syllabus on the Course Home. Make each item in the syllabus a Quicklink to the actual item in your course. Quicklinks provide a navigation shortcut to important content and helps students with learning disabilities clearly see how course content relates to course expectations.
  • Include a Announcements topic on the Course Home that highlights some of the personal tools available to students, such as Preferences and Class Progress.
  • Build redundancy into your course by repeating course information within different tools. For example, you can include all course syllabus information in the course calendar, and include information on how much a quiz, discussion topic, or assignment is worth in the description of the syllabus entry for the content item. When course expectations are clearly communicated in the course design, students can focus on learning content.
  • Set up a clear hierarchy in your course content using enumerations. In Content settings, set up enumerations so that the course structure is easier to navigate for users of screen readers and students with learning disabilities.