Your course homepage is the first-page students land on when the course begins.
Having a homepage that makes students feel welcome and comfortable while also answering their initial course-related questions is key to a successful course start.
Keep our super-quick checklist handy when designing your homepage!
Start with a welcoming introductory message
A welcome message is the first thing your students see in the course.
Make this first impression count by setting a warm and inviting tone.
Follow up with some introductory course text that will get your students looking forward to the course ahead.
While you can provide a course introduction using a graphic or video formats, you can also keep it simple and start with an interesting fact or even a thought-provoking question.
Provide some key course hooks to excite your students
The homepage is a great time to excite your students about the course journey ahead! You could share the learning outcomes (what they should be able to do by the end of the course) and mention any exciting or interesting projects, activities or experiences students may have during the course.
You don’t need to provide extended course details and information on the homepage (as getting them welcomed, excited and ready for the homepage activity is the homepage aim); give some key details and hooks and let students know that you will delve into the details in the upcoming pages.
Kickstart community interaction with an ice-breaker activity
An activity on the homepage that gets your students interacting is key for social learning.
It helps students introduce themselves, get to know their peers beyond names and profile photos as well as get familiar with commenting and sharing within the community.
It also sets an inviting and inclusive tone for the rest of the course and encourages students to like and respond to comments or posts from others.
An ice-breaker can take many different forms.
It can involve students introducing themselves using a code that other students try to guess or an activity where they share a specific, topic-relevant experience or even expressing their motivations to a ‘Why are you taking this course?’ question.
Pick and add a low-barrier activity to your homepage that everyone can participate in and break the ice!
Take a look at this example from the course, Physics 101.
The following elements are also crucial to a welcoming course page. Bear them in mind when designing your homepage.
- Facilitator Presence: A facilitator refers to course staff that engages in discussion and interaction with students. They provide a regular and supportive presence in the course and helps model student responses and behaviour by setting good examples.
- Tone: A friendly, inclusive, and supportive tone goes a long way in developing a thriving online course community. As course facilitator, you can start seeding your course on the homepage itself to set an example tone for students.
- Visuals: Videos, images or graphics can help enrich content anywhere. Add some images to your course homepage to break text monotony and add to the look and feel of your course. After all, a picture does paint a thousand words!
Once you have a welcoming homepage in place, students will feel more comfortable engaging with the rest of the course experience.
They will also already have begun forming connections and interacting with their classmates- the very first step in building a long-lasting learning community.
We hope this checklist is useful for you when designing your course homepage.
All the best!