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Design your course structure

Your course structure should be organized in a way that fits the context of your specific course.

It’s up to you to make sure that your course structure supports the way you want the students to interact with the content. And to make sure that your course content follows a logical and easy structure for the students. In this tutorial we’ll show you how you can design your course structure in Brightspace either by building up your course content from scratch or by modifying an existing content structure.


The structure in Brightspace

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To build your course in Brightspace go to ‘Content’, where you can build the content for the students. Content in Brightspace is structured in three levels:

  1. Units
  2. Lessons
  3. Folders

Together they create a hierarchy in the Content menu. Each level can contain an unlimited number of elements, i.e. files and HTML Documents, links, discussion forum and assignments.

2.1.1 Content and Folder-structure

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Plan your course structure

Before you actually start building the course structure in Brightspace you should take a moment to consider how you wish to use Brightspace to support your teaching. You should also consider which features and tools you want to use: distribution of materials, presentation of texts and assignments, group work, hand-ins, online discussions, quizzes, feedback or?

 Ideally you should have an answer to the following questions:

  • Which role should the course page play in my teaching/the course?
  • What is the organizing principle for the content - themes, weeks, modules or?
  • Which type of content is relevant/useful?
  • Do I wish to make use of specific Brightspace tools, i.e. discussion forums, quizzes, assignments etc.?

When you’ve got an answer to these questions it’s time to get hands-on and build your content in Brightspace.


Content construction

There are many considerations you can make when building your course structure and your content elements. Below we present some important aspects that you can pay special attention to in the construction of your course.

Find the right complexity in your structure

It's a good idea to create multiple Units, Lessons and/or Folders that follow the "natural" separation of content - especially if you have plenty of it. The goal is to create a content structure that is neither too simple/narrow nor too complex/deep.

A structure which is too simple/narrow has too many Units without a lot of content. This can result in the structure quickly becoming unmanageable. A structure which is too complex only has a few Units, but each of them with lots of content and subfolders. This can result in too many unnecessary clicks and sub-subfolders for both teacher and students.


Repeat the elements

It may be a good idea to repeat a particular structure of content elements to establish a routine for students and ensure that they learn how to navigate your content.

Depending on your faculty, you may also have the option of choosing an existing content structure from a template. You can use these as inspiration and modify as needed.


Upload files or build content in Brightspace?

You can insert content into Brightspace in several ways, either by uploading files or building the content directly on the brightspace page as a HTML document.

  • Use of files

    It's easy to drag and drop existing files into the content folders. It is an easy and fast way to share eg. PDF-documents and other materials. However, this does not always provide the best experience for the students. Therefore, consider whether you can create the content in Brightspace via the text editor instead (see below on the use of HTML documents), and thus take advantage of the textual and graphic possibilities in the system.

    Also pay special attention to whether the material is problematic in relation to the availability of texts. You can read more about text availability in Brightspace her.


  • Use of HTML documents

    You can upload your content, or some of it, via HTML documents. In this way, the material is displayed directly inside Brightspace, so that the students are presented with the content directly on the page.

    You can also use the various HTML templates, for example for welcome pages, introductory pages, graphic elements, etc. You will find the HTML templates when you create a new html document and click on the small arrow at the top right inside the editor.


Examples of course structures

There are many different ways to structure a course in Brightspace - and some faculties and institutes have fixed ways of structuring courses. If there are no requirements on how your course should be structured, you can consider if you want a simple course structure, that is primarily aimed at sharing materials, or if you want to use Brightspace more actively as a learning platform and therefore need a more complex structure. Below we give you some stereotypical examples that you can be inspired by and vary according to your specific needs.

The timeline structure

This structure is created in a chronological order in which every unit/week/module (depending on your organizing principle) of teaching is represented by a Unit-folder. Inside every Unit-folder, the teacher places folders with literature and other materials, links to relevant tools and descriptions of learning activities for the students. This is repeated for every Unit-folder.

The advantage of the timeline structure is the fact that only the relevant materials are placed in the week-folder.  Thich ensures a user-friendly environment and makes it easy for students to find what they need. It also supports the progression of the course. The downside is that this structure might take longer to build up.

The theme structure

This structure follows a thematic division of your course content. The content is organized in themes, each of which has its own Unit in the course structure. Under each theme/Unit a number of lessons or relevant materials are added, i.e. literature and files, as well as activities and group products.

The advantage of the theme structure is that students can find all the materials and assignments regarding each theme in the relevant Unit. This ensures a user-friendly learning environment and makes it easy for students to find what they need from the specific theme.


The type structure

In this structure, the course structure is divided according to the type of content, i.e. learning material (literature, videos, sound), assignments and lesson plans are built up within each of their Units. This creates one entrance to each type of course material.

This structure is particularly relevant if you plan to use the course page in Brightspace to distribute course information and course material. This structure is probably not relevant if you want the students to use the course page more actively or if you want to support the individual lessons or themes from your teaching in the course structure.