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Elements of an Online Course

Before building your course, be sure to visit the QuickStart and Pedagogy pages for important information about creating online courses. Start page, Guidelines, syllabus, content, Communication channels, Introductions, other resources, variety of content (include print to go along with visual material)

Start Page

Your Start Page should be a clear link right on the home page where students will go the first time they log into the course (see an example). It is where students will get the equivalent of your first-day-of-class introduction. "This is who I am...This is what we are going to learn this semester...This is how we will do it...." It should also include all your orientation materials such as communication rules, technology requirements, your syllabus, and anything else your students need to know before proceeding through the class. It is also the place where you typically ask students to introduce themselves to you and the rest of the class through a discussion or an "icebreaker" activity. See a sample of a start page.


You can use the built-in syllabus creator in Vista to build your syllabus right inside the course. Alternatively, you can provide it as a downloadable Word document or PDF. If you do this , it is highly recommended that you also provide a HTML version of it for quick viewing. That way, students can quickly jump to the syllabus from within Vista to review an element of it without having to find their downloaded file or their hard copy of it. See Creating HTML for help.

Learning Modules

Typically, you build your course as a series of learning modules which are organized by week or by unit (see an example). Building these components as learning modules creates an automatic table of contents with a clear layout of the resources and requirements for that module. See an example here.

Model Courses

See more course elements by viewing some model courses.