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Course Structure: By Unit

The unit-based course structure organizes your content into sections. For example, you might divide a music appreciation course into four units of study: history, composers, musical techniques, and significant works.

With separate links on the course menu for each unit, you can require students to follow a prescribed order or select units in the order they prefer.

You can provide students with a rich, interactive environment by utilizing a range of communication tools. Blog It provides students a way to share their thoughts and collect feedback from peers, Collaborate enables students to work side-by-side on wiki pages, and Course Dialogue promotes discussions among students.

This course structure works well for subjects that divide easily into large categories, such as historical time periods, psychological schools of thought, or styles of composition and rhetoric.

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You can print this topic and refer to it while you build your course. You might also want to print Using Course Structures to use as a reference.

What Does the Course Menu Look Like?

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Using Your Course Menu

The following table describes the content areas and course tools included in the By Unit course structure.

Content Areas and Course Tools in the By Unit Course Structure
Content Type Description
Unit A
Unit B
Unit C
Unit D
In each Unit content area, provide your students with an easy-to-navigate and familiar environment by creating folders for each category or time period. Include similar content, such as readings, instructions, lectures, assignments, and tests.

To learn more, see Creating Content in a Course Area.

Course Dialogue You can use the Course Dialogue discussion forums for formal assignments, such as posing questions related to each unit, and for informal interactions, where students ask and respond to each other's questions. You can create gradable discussion forums and threads to assess students' participation and knowledge. After each unit, ask reflective questions to invoke conversation around the course content. What is the critical message of this unit? What would you do in this particular situation? How would you approach solving this problem?

To learn more, see Discussion Board.

Collaborate Collaborate links to your course's wiki where students can share and collaborate on content. As they create and edit pages together, they develop interpersonal skills and the capacity to solve problems in a team environment. Ask students to address an issue discussed in the unit so they become actively involved in the analysis. If roadblocks or too much consensus occur, you can assign students roles to help them further develop their wiki pages. For example, you can ask one student to incorporate graphics to help clarify the text. Ask another student to assign pages to other students with specific tasks attached, such as finding sources or exploring the opposite side.

To learn more, see Wikis.

Blog It In Blog It, students can make a blog entry after each unit so they have a space to think through aspects of the material they find interesting or challenging. You can ask students to answer a specific question or allow them to react freely to the course content. Students can extend classroom conversations by commenting on each other's blog entries. You can help them develop their thoughts by offering encouragement, more background information, and supplementary resources.

To learn more, see Blogs.

Socialize Use the live, text-based chat feature in Socialize for additional class meetings, real-time interaction in asynchronous courses, and virtual office hours. Offer students sessions where the class meets to get to know each other and keep the agenda light. After students are comfortable communicating with you and their classmates in this environment, use chat for more academic purposes. As thought-provoking questions arise in the discussion forums or intriguing arguments are presented in the blogs, schedule chat sessions so students can continue the conversations live. Follow up the session with discussion questions that help students expand on the solutions and opinions offered.

To learn more, see Chat.

New and Due The customizable New and Due module page provides students with an overview of current course information such as Announcements, My Calendar, To Do, What's New, and My Tasks.

To learn more, see Notifications Dashboard.

Study Aids In the Study Aids content area, you can share additional material so interested students can learn more. Help students expand on the units presented by directing them to specific web articles and recommended reading. Students can also use these resources to find ideas for projects or papers.

To learn more, see Creating Content in a Course Area.

Course Basics In the Course Basics content area, provide materials that students can access throughout the semester. Include a syllabus or other basics, such as grading policies, a unit breakdown, textbook information, and important term dates. If chat sessions are mandatory, be sure to list dates so students can adjust their schedules.

To learn more, see Creating Content in a Course Area.

Instructor Info Create profiles for yourself, other instructors, teaching assistants, and guest lecturers participating in your course in Instructor Info. Include contact information such as email addresses, phone numbers, office hours, and location.

To learn more, see Contacts.

My Grades Students can see the status of gradable items such as assignments, tests, wiki contributions, and discussion posts on their My Grades pages.

To learn more, see My Grades.

Tools Give students access to all available course tools on a single page. Add commonly used course tools to the course menu for easy access.

To learn more, see Managing Tool Availability.

Help Blackboard Help contains searchable how-to information. Students in need of additional assistance should contact the institution's computing help desk.

Customize the course structure by renaming, removing, hiding, or adding content areas and links to tools.