Are we ready for modules?  

 Yes! And there is no better time to switch to modules from nested folders. In Blackboard Original, faculty were able to use the folder system just like the content containers on our computers. A file for P and T: files for service, teaching, scholarship; and within scholarship an articles folder; and in that folder works published for 2021, 2022, 2023; articles in the works that didn’t get published yet; and within that folder, proposals for any number of my million dollar ideas… anyone else have one of those? By the time we’ve gotten to the million dollar idea folder, we are eight folders deep in clicking and scanning. 

  The folders in word or google docs are useful individualized organization systems; and for people like professors who generate a significant amount of content that needs to be organized, folders are incredibly useful. However, the folder system is somewhat antiquated as a tool for the layout of course content. As online and hybrid courses become permanent course formats, providing students with a more intuitive, curated experience may keep them coming back to your online materials again and again. Here’s why.

In course design, modules can tell micro-stories about our course content. Modules may follow a beginning, middle, and end structure and can lead students from the least complex to the most complex thinking around a particular course topic. To experience continuity, Blackboard Ultra modules have a number of interactive features that encourage learner progress through the content.

Let’s look at some examples. Below are a series of pictures from my course on Credit for Prior Learning. When I change my view to student view, this is what I see.  

First, in the image below, you’ll see a blue arrow pointing to the note “not started” right under the module description. This would indicate that the student has not viewed or interacted with the module material. Further down and beside each item in the module (documents, discussions, assignments), there is a gray circle, also indicating the student has not engaged with the material yet.  

In this next image, you’ll see at the top right side of the page that students can progress forward in the module by using the next arrow. The word in front of the arrow is the title of the next document, discussion, or assignment in the module. While students can exit out of the module page at any time, the arrow navigation tool encourages them to progress forward into the module materials without having to return to the course homepage.

Learning management systems (LMS) are embedding video game features that many students are already familiar with. These design components are commonly referred to as aspects of gamification (Kapadia, 2023) and create a sense of personalized learning. In the image below, you’ll see a progress bar. The bar indicates that the Start Here module has 7 artifacts and the student user has looked at or reviewed 5 of them. This gives students a chance to navigate through the whole module, see what’s ahead, and then go back and work through or interact with each piece. 

Then, as students read, view, submit assignments, or take quizzes, they can mark each of the module items as completed. When students begin marking the assignments as complete, by clicking on the little circle to the left of each module item, a few things happen. First, the progress bar turns from black to blue and the word “started” turns to “completed”. Similarly, the little circle to the left of the module item turns from gray (not started) or gray and black (started) to a green circle with a check in the middle (completed). These features allow students to set their own pace and goals for completing the module and to monitor their progress.  

Organization is a significant component of effective course design and delivery. The module features in Blackboard Ultra create a more intuitive and engaging user experience for students and faculty, and also visually link the pieces of the module to establish continuity between readings, videos, discussions, and other learning activities. The module features also allow students to monitor their progress, set completion goals, and feel more ownership over how they experience our course content.  As you make the transition to Blackboard Ultra, explore the module features and give them a try. I think you’ll love it.