Teaching Commons > Teaching Guides > Technology > Desire2Learn > D2L Essentials > Course Setup

Course Setup

​Creating a Module and Submodule

Modules are used to organize your course’s content, like folders on your computer or chapters within a book. You can set up modules by time frame (e.g., Week 1), by topic (e.g., Cellular Biology), or by course components (e.g., Final Project). All of your course's content is added into a module—you must create one before you can add files, links, or other items to your Content area.

Best Practices

  1. Keep the organizational structure consistent.
  2. Be sure to keep the module organizational method consisent. For example, if you decide to title the modules by week, then title each module "Week X".

  3. Use main-level modules for overarching organization.
  4. When content items are added to a module, they are displayed as a list. This makes it easy for learners to view descriptions and dates for important learning activities in the module at once. Submodules can also be added within main-level modules, providing more options for organization. However, files and links within submodules will not be displayed with descriptions or dates unless students navigate into the submodule directly. 

Guides and Tutorials

Adding Your Syllabus and Other Content

Adding content - the syllabus, course schedule, assignment rubrics and instructions, readings, Powerpoints, website links, etc - is an important step in getting your course ready for the students to view. Short descriptions that provide guidance or additional instructions can be added to content. In addition, content can be organized into folders to align with the organization of the course.

Best Practices

  1. Name files with short, descriptive titles.
  2. If you are uploading documents from your computer, be sure to name files with short but descriptive titles so you can find them later and your students can understand what the file will contain. P327fbdbolfTDCsdhrc.pdf is not a useful title for a document in your course because it does not indicate what the file contains.

  3. Add descriptive text.
  4. Descriptions can add context and provide guidance on your files and content. You can add descriptions to a file or link (topic) that will be visible to students when they view the module it is in (but not in the table of contents view.) As you are editing descriptions, be sure to click update to save each edit.

  5. Avoid punctuation in document file names.
  6. When you or your students download documents from D2L, the system automatically replaces any spaces in the title with plus signs. If you want to avoid this, don’t put any punctuation or spaces in the file name - it is best to use underscores if you want to separate the words in a file name.

Guides and Tutorials

The following guides explain how to add content to your course, reorganize it within the course and/or modules and add meaningful descriptions.

Updating the News Widget

The News widget on your course homepage enables you to communicate updates, changes, and new information to your students quickly and effectively. In addition, students can subscribe to News updates through email notifications or the Pulse app.

Best Practices

  1. Descriptive headline for each news item.
  2. It is helpful to provide a headline that provides a concise description of the contents of the news item. For example, "Class cancelled on Tuesday," "Week 1 Updates," etc.

  3. Consistent release of news items.
  4. Posting weekly or bi-weekly news items at the same time each week increases the likelihood that students will read them because you're prompting a consistent behavior; e.g., students should check the news on Mondays and Fridays.

Guides and Tutorials

Course Activation

At the beginning of the quarter, you must manually activate your course site for students to be able to access it. All courses are initially set to "inactive" status so that students cannot access the course site before you have finished setting it up.

Best Practices

  1. Send an email and post a news item once you activate the course.
  2. When you activate your course, let students know! Send a welcome email and copy the same email to a news item.

  3. Hidden vs. Visible mode
  4. If you need to activate your course but have not completed uploading all the course content, you have the option to keep modules or course files in Hidden mode. You can make them Visible them when you are ready. This will allow the students to view the content you have completed and make the necessary preparations to start the course.

Guides and Tutorials

Sending an Email to your Class

From the Classlist area, you can send email messages to one, several, or all of your students.

Best Practices

  1. Keep student email addresses in BCC field.
  2. When you email multiple students, D2L adds their email addresses and names in the BCC field. Be sure to keep them there so that you aren't identifying individual students when you're sharing sensitive information. Using the BCC field also ensures students won't accidentally "reply all" and respond to the whole class when they only meant to respond to you.

  3. Only attach small files.
  4. If you want to attach a file to an email you're sending, please note that the size limit is very restrictive. While text documents are often small enough to send, it is recommended that you post larger files as attachments to a News item or an item in the Content area.

  5. Reply to student emails.
  6. If students reply to your email, their messages will go to your preferred email account, not the Classlist area in D2L. It is recommended that you reply to individual student emails using your preferred email account, rather than through D2L.

  7. Copy class-wide email text to a news item.
  8. You can copy-paste the text from an email that you've sent to all of your students in a news item on your course home page.

Guides and Tutorials

Hands-on Practice: Course Set-up (Optional)

After reading through the topics in this unit, it's your turn to practice in your course. Keep in mind that no one will be evaluating the content of what you create in your course, and you can always revise these items later. The goal of the assignments in this course is only to ensure you’re comfortable using each tool.

To satisfy the requirements of this unit, complete the following tasks in your course:

  • Go to your course homepage and create a news item welcoming your students.
  • Go to the content area and create a module.
  • Go to the module you created and upload a file to the module.