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Building a New Course in Brightspace

Many times, faculty want to know how to get started building a new course.

You can build a new course by copying in content from a previous course
and then editing that content to fit the new semester.

However, in other cases, you might want to (or need to) build all the content from scratch.

So, when you are staring at an empty course shell, what is the best way to begin building your course? Where should you start?

There are at least four ways to build courses, and which route you choose will depend on the kind of course you want to build.

1.  For lightweight courses focused mainly on providing content and grade access to students, instructors will probably want to create content directly through the table of contents on the content page. Many Vanderbilt University instructors use the course management system as a light supplement to face-to-face course, and will want go that route. Here are some on-demand resources that will help you build your course from the “Content” page:

How do I insert stuff into my course?

How do i move files around in my course?

How do i create modules and add content items?

2. On the other hand,some instructors make extensive use of the course management  system for assignments, quizzes, grades, discussions, and other student interactions. These instructors will likely be better served by  building backwards starting with the gradebook.

First, build out the grade book with the categories and items as they appear in your syllabus. There is a gradebook set up wizard that can help with this process. You can also check out the following on-demand resources:

How do I set the grading system for the course?

How do I create grade items and categories?

Then, built the discussions, quizzes, and assignments in their tool tab, and link those activities to the grade item already created in the gradebook. Here are some on-demand resources about how to create activities for students in the tool tab.

How do I create an assignment?

How do I create and deploy a test/quiz?

Finally, once the elements were all in place, go to “Content” and use the button called “Add existing activities” to link all of the activities you have created to the main content page.

3. For courses that have a highly repetitive structure, there is another way to build course elements that could save time and increase consistency. Sometimes courses have several modules or tools that all have the same structure. For example, you may have 15 modules representing the 15 weeks of the semester. Each of those 15 modules may include a discussion board, a quiz, and an assignment. If this is true for your course, you might consider creating a template module that includes all of those elements in a sandbox course or an old, no-longer-used course. Then, you can use the copy tool to copy in that module to the new course. Every time you copy in the module, it creates a new version of that module in the new course. Copy it in 15 times, and you will have 15 identical modules that all have corresponding tools associated with them. Now all you have to do is edit each module to reflect the differences between them, instead of creating each module from scratch.

In Brightspace, every time you copy something in, it gives you a new version of that item, so the copy tool is a useful way to duplicate existing elements instead of building from scratch.

4. And, finally, for building courses from scratch, you can also try course building wizard. It helps get the bones of the course set up right from the start, so the instructor only has to go in and fill in the details.

 

If you are unsure which of these methods will work best for you, please feel free to reach out to us by email brightspace@vanderbilt.edu or by phone 322-0200 to consult with a member of the support team. We’re happy to help!