Distance Education

Organizing your Course Site

The Course Site offers an easy and powerful way for students and faculty to add and share content. You might ask students to write posts, participate in discussions, share documents, and work collaboratively on projects. You can also use the site to display important course information, collect student work, and provide feedback and grades.

If you created an associated Course Site during course creation or added one afterwards, review this section to help you organize your site structure.

Course Template

The Course Site comes with a default template to get you started with site organization. The template uses an organizational structure to help faculty meet the recommended best practices for online, hybrid or web-enhanced pedagogy.  It includes a basic navigation menu linking to pages for Course Info and Help & Resources, and preset categories for class Activities and Student Work posts. The template structure also provides a suggested method for organizing your sidebar and footer widget areas and comes with several useful plugins pre-activated.

The following Course Template Tour provides a visual overview of the course structure, highlighting the architecture of the Course Site and the intended purpose of each section.

Posts and Pages

Posts and pages are the primary ways to add content to your site. Posts are used to publish more dynamic information, such as weekly updates, announcements, or student work. These are published in reverse chronological order on the homepage or blog section of your site. Pages are better for static content, such as your syllabus page, schedules, lists of resources or readings, or help materials.


Navigation refers to the ways visitors to your site can move from one page to another within your site to find the information they need. The Course Site template comes with preset navigation that you may keep as is or build upon.

The main building blocks for your Site navigation are a custom menu, sidebar widgets, categories, and tags. If you have many posts, you will want to use categories and tags to make them sortable and more easily findable. You might also put additional content, such as links to a web conferencing app or library tools, in the course sidebar.

The first step in designing your navigation is to think about the kind of content you want to share with students and then organize or “chunk” these into top-level and sub-sections. It’s good practice to limit your top-level navigation sections.

Visual Customizations

You can customize your Course Site by choosing a theme. Each theme has a different look and feel. All available themes are accessible for screen readers and keyboard-only navigation, and include accessible color combinations. Most themes allow you to upload a header image to display at the top of your site. This could be your own image, an image with a Creative Commons license, or an image in the public domain.

Plugins and Widgets

Plugins and widgets add additional functionality to your Course Site. You can add plugins and widgets to your site through the Dashboard. Learn about the plugins and widgets available on the OpenLab in the Guide to Plugins and the Guide to Widgets.

For more information: