Tidying up your courses

The consultant and author Marie Kondo says “Tidying orders and relaxes the mind”.  She may have meant those words about how you set up your closet, but they apply equally to course organization on Nexus.  Students, in particular, benefit from having a clear and easy to follow organization of the course materials, especially when almost every PACE course now makes use of some amount of asynchronous delivery. 

Students are looking to be able to quickly find materials, understand what it is about, and then get down to work.  Taking 4 to 5 courses at time, they also appreciate consistency in the setup of materials. 

PACE’s asynchronous courses provide a good model for design of Nexus content.

Each day’s material is separate into a folder.  Within that folder, instructors can post the day’s agenda to the description area for the folder.  This provides students with a consistent place to look for each day’s topics, it can be combined with notes to the students on the goal or learning outcome for the day.

Sub folders are created inside each day’s folder for Readings and Resources and Activities and Assignments.  As you can imagine from the titles, the first sub folder is directing students on what readings are needed for the day’s topics, along with additional links for other materials – which is especially important in our current use of instructor directed student self-learning.  The second folder covers off the work the students need to do for that arise out of the day’s topic.  That could be discussion topics, a quiz, or a written assignment submission.  All of those components from the Assessment tab can be linked to from the Activities and Assignments folder.

In the coming term, PACE will be putting a sample folder set up into each Nexus course but hidden from student view.  That will provide an example for instructors but not cause confusion to students.

With all the work there is for students in their studies, a well-organized course is not likely to “relax the mind”, however it is likely to reduce some anxiety for both the student and the instructor.   

APA: What’s it all about?

Last month, UWinnipeg librarian Ian (remotely) stopped by for a lunch and learn to talk about citing and referencing and APA.  If you weren’t able to attend, a recording is available on Nexus in the PACE Instructor Communication Portal.  We put the emphasis on APA because it is the standard at PACE for citing and referencing, and also for formatting papers. 

Many people are not aware that APA is not just about citing and referencing, it also contains instructions on how to format a paper for submission.  I certainly didn’t know that before coming to PACE! 

There’s an excellent resource available online:

APA, the American Psychological Association, has standards on how an academic paper should look:  from the title page components, to the font size and margin style, it’s all there.  This is similar to most organizations, there are instructions on how to write documents within the organization. 

PACE, as a part of the Faculty of Business and Economics, follows the APA model for formatting academic papers.  Note that I use the term academic paper, if your assignment is a web page, or a poster, or a template, APA may not be right for your assignment.  If your assignment is a research paper on organizational behaviour, corporate ethics, or leadership, then APA would be the appropriate style to use.

For both the instructor and the student there are clear guidelines on how to make the paper look.  If you are not familiar with it, use the link to check it out.

APA also contains instructions on how to cite and reference sources.  Again, having a common format allows everyone to be able to consistently identify a source for information included in a student’s paper.  

In short, if you uncertain about any aspect of APA, check out the link, or reach out to your program manager for some additional resources! 

Nexus Tip: Discussion Post Settings

As we continue to work through remote teaching, using Nexus discussion posts has become a common feature of courses. Sometimes, it can seem overwhelming, both to students and instructors to have a large group conversation around a discussion topic.

Nexus features allow for discussion posts to be set to use groups to deal with this. The same topic can be shown to everyone, but posts on the topic are limited and shown only within groups. This allows for classes to be divided up so that only a small group is conversing on a topic. It is harder to students to hide in small groups, they need to contribute to the conversation.

If this feature appeals to you, reach out for help to the PACE team.

Discussion posts require frequent input from instructors. A common comment from students is that they want to know if they are on the right track, if there is something missing to their answer to the thread. Adding commentary, posing further questions, and giving summaries can help make the discussion forums more interactive.