Initial Publication Date: April 19, 2012

Structuring Your Module or Course

What's a Module, What's a Course?

For InTeGrate, a module refers to a set of web pages that describes the activities that go on over a period of time less than a full academic term, generally about two weeks of a typical semester. The web pages include descriptions for how a faculty member could conduct the module: what to do and why to do it. They also include any additional elements a faculty member might need to support the students: materials that could substitute or augment a textbook and support the core activities. This might include textbook-like written background materials, classroom or lab handouts, datasets, visualizations, videos etc. A given module will be tested within courses at 3 different institutions (by the original developers), but the courses themselves may be unique (beyond their use of the common module). Thus, writing the description of the module in a general way helps ensure that the core of the module as described reflects the elements that are transportable/adaptable to different institutional contexts. In addition, a set of case studies will describe the actual experiences and local modifications made at each of the institutions that taught a version of the module.

A course is similar to a module, but refers to a set of web pages that describes the activities that go on over the period of an entire academic term. Each course is developed and then tested at 3 different institutions. The web pages focus on describing the shared elements of those 3 experiences. The web sites describing the course should describe it in generic terms so as to reflect the common experiences of the 3 developing institutions. Each course will also include case studies for each individual implementation by the materials authors and testers.

It makes sense to think of a course as containing a series of modules in a particular order. If this is the case, then the arrangement of web pages used to describe the course will reflect this. View Published Materials »

The other sort of module

In the context of the tools we're using to build the site there is a different sort of module. The Content Management System (CMS) groups pages into collections the same way you use folders or directories to group files on your computer. In the context of the CMS, we refer to these collections as modules. So you'll want to be cognizant about when module means collection of CMS pages and when it means a unit of curriculum (which may be described in a set of web pages that span several CMS modules). If you are confused, just ask!

How Materials are Organized and Used

All InTeGrate modules and courses follow a common structure. There is a central backbone of web pages containing information aimed at faculty. These pages introduce faculty to the materials, provide a step-by-step description of the content of the course or module, and end with case studies of how the course or module has been implemented at specific institutions. Throughout this backbone of pages, we link to various supporting materials: descriptions of specific student activities, and pages designed to be used directly by students during the course or module.

InTeGrate modules and courses are not stand-alone online learning tools for students to use independently. They are designed to support faculty in delivering their own version of the course or module to their students in their own classroom. It's assumed that the faculty member will need to adapt the materials to fit their own context.

InTeGrate Module Structure

Each module starts with a standard page which introduces the module, talks about the context in which it might be useful, and its particular strengths. Following that is an overview page that describes the overall pedagogy and flow of the module as subdivided into a series of Units. The individual Units are then described on separate pages using a format called the Activity Sheet. This format is purposefully designed to allow the individual Units to make sense as an independent resource. The units are followed by a page that describes the Assessment strategies used in the module, both overarching assessments and unit/activity level assessments. The module concludes with a series of instructor stories about how the module was implemented at several institutions. The structure of this information is described in more detail in the Teaching Materials Format

The main audience for the backbone of the module is faculty members interested in teaching the module (or some variant or derivative thereof). These pages are represented in blue in the diagram. Supporting these pages are materials directed at students The main 'Student Materials' page acts as a syllabus style overview of the module; outlining the overall sequence and providing links to the core student materials and supplementary readings . This includes both separate files that may live as downloads 'in' the Units (e.g. student handouts, datasets) as well as self-contained sets of pages with background materials or other supporting information intended for students and represented in green in the diagram.

These student materials will be available in three formats: (1) within the main module in the context of the faculty-oriented material, (2) as stand-alone downloads, which faculty can post in their local LMS (such as Blackboard or Moodle) or other class website, and (3) as isolated web pages within a separate area of the InTeGrate site to which faculty can direct their students. This is described in more detail in the Student Materials Formats

InTeGrate Course Structure

Courses have the same basic structure as modules but contain embedded modules. The overview for the course will also cover a longer period of time than a module. To the extent that the course can be meaningfully broken into separate modules, each module will be described either briefly on the Overview page itself or in more depth as a set of pages that mirrors the module organization described above. The mix of modules that are described briefly versus those described in more depth will be driven by the overall requirement to focus on those elements that are likely to be consistent across many different implementations of a course. Since implementations of a given course are likely to be more diverse across institutions than implementations of a given module the case studies section of a InTeGrate course is likely to be richer and more detailed than it would be for a single module.

Our Fake Course provides a more concrete example of how this structure would play out as a set of web pages. Detailed guidance can be found on the following pages that cover the Teaching Materials and Student Materials.