How to Use Left-Hand Navigation Tabs to Facilitate Your Course Community

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Your course on OpenLearning is customisable in several ways, some ways you may not even realize. Apart from your course content and activities, there is a range of features (specifically left-hand navigation tabs) you can use to help create an engaged and lively community.

Here are some ways you can maximum course engagement and interaction through something as simple as navigation tabs!

Using the Default Course Navigation Tabs

Creating a brand new course lands you on a page that looks like this:

This is your course Home page.

You look closer and see certain default tabs on the left.

The one that says Videos & Activities is where you will set up the modules, pages, videos, activities, slides, etc.

The setup and analytic tabs Administer Students and Course Setup at the bottom are viewable only to the teachers and admins of the course.

What about the rest? Let’s see how you can use them.

Course Feed

This page acts like a live feed of comment activity taking place in the course. As a teacher you can use the Course feed to quickly catch up on all activity. Students can use it to see what their peers are liking, sharing, commenting on or what has caught everyone’s attention.

How to Use: You don’t really need to do anything to set it up. The feed works by default.

Peer Content

Think of this space as your class’s pin board where anyone can come and post anything they like. Encouraging students to share as much as they can here, whether it is relevant to the course topic, or not-as-relevant helps spark conversation, peer-to-peer feedback, and students sense of belonging and self expression.

How to Use: Let students know on the page that they are welcome to share external links, images, videos, or anything else they’d like. Post a couple of things yourself to kick-start interaction on the page.


This space allows you to create groups among your course community for group projects and submissions. You can even let your students create and facilitate their own study groups according to their own interests.

How to Use: Click on Create New Group on the Groups page. Give the new group a title and description. Make it open for everyone or restrict joining. You can add students to these group and assign them different tasks or projects. Go creative and give these groups cool team names!


The Gallery is exactly what it sounds like. It is a space your students can use to display their work. Take a look at this live example from the course: Get Ready, Get Set, Become a Digital Online Learner.

Student submissions of their projects are displayed for course-mates to see, admire, like, and comment on.

It is worth noting that students cannot view others’ submissions in the Gallery before they’ve submitted themselves.

How to Use: Try setting up a Submission activity in your course. It can be Submit a Picture or a Page activity with Sharing settings that allow students to view each others’ submissions. All such submissions are directly displayed in the Gallery.

Getting Creative With the Course Navigation Tabs

While your course comes equipped with default tabs, all  your tabs are fully customizable!

All of the above-mentioned tabs are optional and can be modified to be as long (or as brief) as you like. See several examples of customised and re-arranged left-hand tabs:

  1. You can give a different name to a default tab.Don’t want to call it the Gallery? Call it the Final Activity Showdown, or anything else you like!Videos & Activities not exactly what you want? Call it Course Content, or Stuff That Matters Most – The choice is yours!
  2. You can add more tabs for other purposes too. Create an easily accessible page with information about other courses that you or your institution have created. Or, create a Q & A Forum where students can discuss any issues they have while doing the course. You can get creative and come up with tabs that may encourage positive or creative thinking. Or, possibly create tab as a type of depositary bank for students to share interesting things from their daily encounters.  

How to use: To change your navigation tab appearance or even to re-arrange the left-hand navigation tabs, go to Course Setup > Appearance > Course Navigation.

The navigation tabs on the left hand side are pretty flexible, so don’t be scared to get inspired! Use them to create multiple spaces to spice things up and break the ‘sameness’ in your course. Diversity is good – it will help promote different threads of discussions, more opportunity for interaction, and lead to better bonds in your course community.

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