We have all experienced a first glance at what looks like an insurmountable obstacle in our learning endeavors. Maybe is was the practicum for your Masters degree, maybe it was your dissertation, maybe it was all the grading you had to catch up on after you returned from vacation.
Undoubtedly, there are strategies that we as instructors can employ to make the amount of material seem less ominous. Whether we distribute our course across, weeks, units, topics or lessons, chunking our content makes it more digestible for our students.
In this day and age many of our students are viewing courses through the lens of multiple devices, many of those with the display real estate of a tablet or smart phone. Why not take the extra step and chunk our units as well?
I like to take the extra step to organize my units across a content item and 2 content folders (depending upon the amount of coursework). Each of my units contains three things:
1. Unit Objectives
2. Unit Content
3. Unit Assignments
The objectives are a great way-stone for my student in the course. They remind the student why they are learning what they are learning and what they should be getting out of each unit. The objectives are generally a content item that the students see immediately upon entering the unit, so they don’t have to dig any deeper to see what they will be learning about.
Unit Content (Content Container)
The Unit Content container contains all of the readings, videos, articles, links and lecture materials for the particular unit. Putting them in the same spot each time leaves no room for second guessing by my students as to where the content will reside. I also place a download link at the end of the container for students who don’t like to read content on a computer/device.
Unit Assignments (Content Container)
The Unit Assignments container contains all of the assignments for a particular unit. I do this to avoid having the assignments show up at the bottom of a long list inside a unit. It allows me the flexibility to order my assignments as I see fit and utilize more folders if the assignments include large projects that work through multiple submissions. By chunking the assignments, the students will see 2 or three assignments per unit rather than 3 assignments added to what may be up to 9 other content items from readings/lectures.
At the end of each of the Unit Content and Unit Assignment container, I provide a link back to the main unit page in case the students need it.
I know that multiple clicks can turn off some students, but have found via student feedback that they appreciate this layout and are secure in the fact that they always know where to look in my online courses for course materials. Hopefully after reading this you may want to start Chunking it – Like a Boss!
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