Course schedules are tried-and-true tools that provide a bird’s-eye view of your course, and can effectively communicate to students your plan for the semester. In a single view, students can see how topics for each week relate to each other and easily find important dates for assignments, discussions, exams, etc. A well-crafted course schedule clarifies structure, facilitates planning and explains pacing.
Designing your schedule as an at-a-glance view of your course can provide clarity into how it is structured and help students navigate the course in Blackboard or whatever LMS you are using. Whether you have date-driven lessons organized by week or topic-driven modules that span multiple weeks, try reflecting the organization of your course in the schedule to help students navigate. Consider the analogy of a roadmap as an at-a-glance view of the Earth. Only the most important information is included on the roadmap to help you navigate to your destination. Your course schedule is a map of your course.
Tool for time management
Providing students with a schedule is one way to help them develop their time management skills. A clear, concise course schedule gives them a tool to plan their time effectively in their academic lives, professional lives and personal lives. Encourage students to review the course schedule early and refer to it often. Highlight events in the course schedule that require additional time or attention. Examples of these types of events include scheduling proctored exams, planning group work, or completing scaffolded projects which may involve multiple, dependent due dates. When creating the course schedule, consult the UAF academic calendar and refer to important deadlines (e.g., last day to drop with refund).
Communicating due dates
Revealing the pace of due dates in your course goes hand-in-hand with helping students plan so they can stay on track. Is there one specific day each week assignments will be due, or will there be more than one day per week students will be required to turn in assignments? If your course has multiple due dates within a week, schedule those days consistently so students have an opportunity to adjust their schedules and get into a groove. This is yet another way your course schedule can be a tool for students to develop their time management skills.
Keep on track
Communicating the pacing of your course not only benefits your students but you as well. Articulating due dates for your students gives you the ability to identify the time you will have to return feedback on their work. Time management is something we all deal with and making a plan for yourself can help you stay on track throughout the semester too.
Finally, once you’ve laid out your course schedule, use it as a tool to quickly check due dates set in Blackboard or another LMS of your choice. In Blackboard, you can do this all in one screen by going to Course Tools > Grade Center Due Dates.
While there is no single best course schedule template for all courses, there is likely a structure that will suit your course best. We’d love to hear if you have developed a course schedule that has worked well for you and your students. If you’re looking for a place to start or to get some new ideas, we also have some templates linked below. Feel free to make a copy and modify them to fit your needs.
Course Schedule Templates
Course Schedule Student Checklist
Course Schedule Checklist as Sheet
Guide Students Through Your Course
The Crux of Time Management for Students
Does Inducing Students to Schedule Lecture Watching in Online Classes Improve Their Academic Performance? An Experimental Analysis of a Time Management Intervention
Christen Booth is an instructional designer, adjunct faculty, and Google for Education Certified Trainer with 17 years of design experience in academics and higher education.