Online Course Layout

An explicit and well organized course layout allows learners to access course content quickly and easily, with less confusion and frustration. While there is not one ideal course layout that is perfect for every course or everyone, there are some general UDL considerations to apply to courses to make it easier for learners to access the online learning environment. 


When designing the functionality and organization of your online course environment, consider:

  • Providing navigation instructions.
    • Letting students know how to access course content, what is important and when it is most relevant makes learners able to access content more effectively. For more information, see the “Course Navigation Instructions” content on this page. 
  • Providing multiple ways for learners to access key information.
    • Including key information such as assignment due dates, contact information, placement materials, etc. in a few different locations will support students finding the content easily and referring to it often. For example, assignment outlines and rubrics can be posted in the week in which they are issued and/or due, as well as in a separate content folder.
  • Matching the learning plan to the eLearn content headings and grade book.
    • Having the learning plan match the content section in eLearn, as well as the grade book, allows learners to more easily and quickly reference course materials and assessment information. For example, if the learning plan is divided by week and/or date, the content headings in eLearn should also be divided by week and/or date. If the learning plan is divided by module, the online content should match. In addition, ensure the assessment titles are the same on the learning plan, gradebook and assignment outlines. 
  • Reflecting on past deliveries of the course, or past course layouts.
    • Often courses go through revisions as sections are taught. Reflecting on deliveries through a UDL lens can lead to improvements in course layout. For example, if students had difficulty finding specific content, this would be good information to duplicate elsewhere in the course. Or, if learners missed a particular assessment, organizing the layout to draw more attention to assessment information would be beneficial. 

In addition, while there is not a single course content layout that is ideal, the following format is one that a number of faculty have found beneficial (subheadings are identified in bold text):

Course Information

This folder may contain:

  • Getting Started which can include your course navigation instructions
  • Course Requirements
  • Instructor Information
  • Course Outline
  • Learning Plan
  • Universal Design for Learning Elements
    • See the bottom of this webpage for more information regarding a UDL statement for courses. 

Course Content

Ideally, the folders in course content will be identified as they are on the learning plan.  For example by week:



Subheadings in course content may include:  

  • Read 
    • Required - Include required readings for the week and/or lecture notes.
    • Recommended or Supplemental (if any) - Include the additional readings that offer an alternate way of understanding key concepts, or readings that support deepening knowledge.
  • Watch
    • Required - Include required videos for the week and/or lecture presentations.
    • Recommended or Supplemental (if any) - Include the additional videos that offer an alternate way of understanding key concepts, or videos that support deepening knowledge.
  • Complete
    • Include any course activities or lab work that needs to be completed for the week. 
    • Include assignment and quiz information in this section.

The above format can be modified to meet the needs of individual courses. Some courses include a separate folder for assignments, readings and placement information to support easier access to these resources. Others include subheadings in the Content section for labs and placement materials. 

Additional folders could include:

  • Assignments - All assignment information and grading rubrics can be included in one folder to provide students an alternate way to access this key information.
  • Readings/Videos/Lectures - All readings, videos or lectures, identified as they are in the content section and learning plan, are included in one folder to give additional access to this content.
  • Recommended Tutorials - Additional course specific tutorials, or more general options such as those for plagiarism or eLearn, can be included in this section to provide students with additional resources to be successful in their studies.