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Multiple Ways to Build a Course

Pilot supports multiple ways to build a course. You can mix and match them to create your own process. Here are some approaches you might consider.

Build Each Element à La Carte

A common approach is to build each element separately in its own tool. In its simplest form, students then go to each tool for activities. To take a quiz, they go to “Assessment” and choose “Quizzes and Exams.” To participate in a discussion, they go to “Communication” and choose “Discussions.” To submit a Word document, they go “Assessment” and choose “Dropbox.”

Base Your Course Around the News Widget

Since it sits on the course homepage, the News widget is often the first thing students see when they enter your course. That makes it an excellent place to post your latest activities. You still have to build dropbox folders, discussions, quizzes, and other elements individually. Once built, though, you can use the “Insert Quicklink” icon to make links within your News posts so students can jump right to current activities without having to hunt for them.

One shortcoming of this method is that Pilot doesn’t track when students click a link in News. The exception is any link to a Pilot tool, such as a dropbox folder, quiz, or discussion. In those cases, Pilot will track that the student was active in a tool. But an attached file or a link to an external site won’t be tracked.

Build From the Activity Feed

The Activity Feed is a hybrid of the News widget plus the Content and Dropbox tools. It lets you post announcements to the Homepage, as you’d do with News. You can just as easily post an assignment and create a corresponding Dropbox folder when you do, all from within the Activity Feed.

Put this widget on your homepage if you primarily want to use Pilot as a place where students submit documents to Dropbox folders.

Build from Within Content

Within Content, you can build and organize your course simultaneously.

A benefit of using Content is that Pilot tracks each item. So whether it’s a syllabus in Word or a link to an external web site, you’ll be able to tell if a particular student has clicked it. A student, too, will see a progress bar showing what percent of the Content links that student has visited.

Import from Another Course or File

You don’t have to start from scratch, of course. You can import content from an existing course or from content files provided by publishers, for instance. See Import, Export and Copy Course Components.

Use Course Builder

The Course Builder is great when you want to arrange your course before you have all the parts. It works much like building from within Content. The biggest difference is that Course Builder gives you placeholders to represent prospective content.

To access the Course Builder…

  1. Click “Course Admin” on the course navbar.
  2. Click “Course Builder.”

The following describes three parts of the Course Builder and how they work together.

1. Course Builder’s Toolbox

The first panel, the one on the left, is the Toolbox. The Toolbox itself has three sections.

Build Outline

In the “Build Outline” section are a number of icons you can drag into the second panel, or Course Tree, to build the Content area in your course. The first one creates modules. The rest of the icons in the “Build Outline” section create placeholders things that don’t yet exist, such as links, documents, discussions, dropbox folders, and quizzes.

Add Content

The “Add Content” section is where you can add objects and activities and actually create those as you add them. When you drag an item into the Course Tree, a window opens where you can create that new item.

This window is much scaled-down. It doesn’t have a lot of options you see if you create an item in that items tool. If you go into Dropbox and create a folder, for example, that interface will let you do things you can’t while in the Course Builder. But this saves time and speeds up course creation.

Browse Tools

This section of the toolbox lets you find existing activities, such a quizzes you already made, and add them to the table of contents.

2. Course Builder’s Course Tree

The middle panel represents your Table of Contents. In fact, if you go to “Content” after building out the course tree, you will see that you have actually built your Table of Contents.

3. Course Builder’s Node Panel

When you select an item in the Course Tree, the Node Panel shows information and offers options for that item.

Additional Course Planning and Building Tools

Instructional Design Wizard

This tool, which is also available on the “Course Admin” page, will walk you through a process to design and implement your course.

Course Design Accelerator

This provides a list of items to take into account when you design your course.

Learning Activity Library

If you’re looking for ideas for things to do in your class, the Learning Activity Library can help. Access on the “Course Administration” page. It has a collection of activities arranged in categories. Each activity has a description and indicates what cognitive skills it entails, employing terms from Bloom’s Taxonomy. You can add your own activities, if you wish.