Timeline entry page on VLE

VLEs are choccaful of information and we are doing a lot of thinking about how to make it as easy as possible to get to the relevant information. Previously our model has mimicked essentially what a computer folder on your desktop might look like – logically arranged but you sort of need to know the structure first before you can find anything. A nice idea I picked up while externing at MMU was a kind of “what’s new this week” timeline that is the entry page for a course. The model we’ve gone with is below.

timeline VLE

As each new week approaches, a new tab is added (scheduled by date release). These link to lecture information, labs and tutorial work etc and relevant text book reading that is the focus of that particular week. The aim is that rather than having to navigate through, the things most necessary for that week are in one place.  Linking to things is a bit clunky because, …Blackboard, but it seems to work ok. The reading links to reading list application which connects to library and has gotten good feedback from elsewhere.

This is fine for week-by-week info, but of course when students come to study, they are likely to want all topic information in one place, so the left hand menu links to topics. A small problem is that this left hand menu doesn’t auto-show when you are on mobile, you need to click it out, but hopefully this isn’t too terrible as the links to course topics shown in the weekly tabs will still bring people to the topic folder.

While scouting around how best to do this, I noticed very little online in terms of structuring VLEs, so welcome any thoughts/links to how other people do it.

3 thoughts on “Timeline entry page on VLE

  1. Thanks for the post Michael, there isn’t a great deal of literature on this subject. However, the educational support people at my institution all say that weekly folders are the way to go for VLE. However, I tried this in all my first year units that I coordinate and ran into a problem. It wasn’t the students, it was my fellow colleagues. All units are have two or three lecturers. All lecturers are responsible for their lecture slides. As unit coordinator, I was responsible for all online quizzes, pre lab and lab material. I would set up weekly folders and put all online quizzes and lab material in those folders so that students could do everything that was due for that week in one place. I also asked lecturers to put their lecture slides in those weekly folders, so that students can keep up to date with the content. The problem came when a topic would run over different weeks. Even though I set out my lectures to be for individual sessions, not all academics do this. They would rather submit 40-50 slides on the VLE and then spend the next three lectures going through them.

    So rather than have multiple arguments, I had to compromise. I have two sections on the left hand side of the VLE. One section was for lecture material and there were folders for each academic in this section. The 2nd section was a Week-by-Week Activities section, where the weekly folders lived. Here I had control over the content and put all weekly quizzes, lab material etc.

    1. Ah compromise… this course has 7 lecturers each giving 6 lectures with 4 slots per week. The lecture links go to their folder rather than to a particular set of notes for a particular day as the style of lecture files varies…!

  2. We have the same dilemma: topics running over multiple weeks, education designers advising to go by week, while academics prefer organising VLE by topic. My solution sounds similar to yours but somewhat in reverse: materials are organised by topic, plus an additional schedule section where everything is organised by the week. Both the schedule section and the topic sections link to the materials. The upside is students have a choice, the downside is remembering to update both places. Since I teach 90% of my unit/course (one per semester), it is not too bad to maintain. But, as Dino says above, this would be a challenge for team teaching. Or a major headache for a unit coordinator.

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