Day 4: Sarah Jacoba's Building a D2L Compass

Sarahs photo


Name: Sarah Jacoba

Area/Discipline: Department of Languages, French language and literature

I joined Lakehead in 2017 through one of the university’s new “Teaching Stream” contracts. I am particularly interested in using alternative assignments such as Tumblr blogs, TedTalks, and Wix webpages to put students in the position of creators.

Twitter handle: @dr_jacoba


The Technique (By Student Vote)

When I began teaching fully online courses, I started to think about all the spaces where information can be communicated to students as well as which information is most critical and must be easy to find.

For this purpose, I take advantage of the description field at the top of each D2L module. I organize my content modules by week and, throughout the course, in each week’s description box, I share a ‘week-at-a-glance’ for upcoming content and tasks. In addition to listing all the weekly readings and activities, I also explain why these were chosen and give due dates to help students ‘keep on track’ as we move through the week. This overview is followed by three key sections, or ‘buckets,’ that I fill with tasks to complete:

to read, to watch, to do

Through this approach, I feel I am able to support many types of learners and their preferences as this compartmentalized to-do list ensures that I offer a variety of activities. I share not only mandatory homework but also optional activities that will help learners ‘go beyond’ in areas where they feel ready to do so.

How I Use It

  • I first plan my weeks across the whole course experience and then include resources that support my plan. I double-check to be sure I’ve noted all the ways I want my learners to participate throughout each module built into my D2L Brightspace course.
  • When this first planning step is done, I move to D2L where I access each weekly module’s description field to outline this plan in easy-to-understand language. Within each section of the description field (to read, to watch, to do), I sequence items in the order they should be completed by students.
  • then embed relevant links to readings, websites, etc. and bold important dates.
  • As a final step, I double-check each week against my syllabus so that I know it is ready for my learners to use.

Here are a couple of screenshots of Week 3 of my Spring literature course, featuring the 'Overview' and then the 'To Read, To Watch, To Do' sections (or 'buckets'), followed by a video demonstration:

screen capture 1screen capture 2


Feedback from Learners

“I like that you organized content by week, and that all the homework is uploaded within each week. There is NO confusion! :)"

"I like that you post all of the homework for each one of our classes. Online learning works best when D2L is organized."

"The organization of the online classroom (D2L) was exemplary."

A Short Task to Challenge You

This challenge will have you ‘fill your buckets.’ Think of either a class you just taught this semester or a class you will be teaching next semester.

  1. Consult the syllabus for the course of your choice (past or upcoming), and take a look at your first or second week. What readings, activities, and video/live lectures did/will learners experience? Open a Word file at this point so you can draft a week-at-a-glance for this module.
  2. Fill your to read bucket first.
  3. Fill your to watch bucket second.
  4. Fill your to do bucket third.
  5. As a final task description the weeks experience as a one paragraph (3-5 sentences) summary of why this will be a great week! In this overview, you can reference overall course themes and/or learner objectives to further detail this week’s tasks. ;-)
  6. Optional task: Keep going by completing 1-2 more weeks in your course, near the start. Once you're done share them within your D2L space. Check with learners after the second week to determine if they find them helpful.  

One Final Task

Is this something you can use in your online classroom? How might you utilize it?  If you want to share your results on social media, please let us know by using the hashtag #12techLUDay4.