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Community Member

Do you use Weekly Overviews?

We're thinking of tweaking our weekly overview pages and I wanted to see how other schools do theirs or if they do them at all!  We have previously done this to give students an "overview" of what's coming up for the week: includes a few paragraphs of introduction, the readings and resources they have to do, as well as the assignments they need to complete (linking to them).  I've enclosed a blank example and one that's filled in.  We often have PDF's that students need to read and will include those in the module as well as the Overview page, but sometimes that feels like too much.  What do you do and what works for your school?

23 Replies

I like a weekly overview page too in the Modules, but I also have a scrolling homepage that offers a looser overview of what's coming up that the students have to slap their eyes on when they log in. What they see is the most recent week's overview, and maybe some feedback about an assignment for the class as a whole or shout-outs.  Students can scroll down if they'd like to review earlier week's overviews.  It's like using Announcements as a Homepage, but I just build on the same page each week.  I find it works really well because it's a little creative, personal, and students discover a different image and message each week.  Here's a snip/sample from last spring:



Hi , and thank you for sharing a student's perspective on this topic. Many of us understand at least anecdotally that this is a best practice, but it is nice to see those anecdotes born our in student opinion. This also helps clarify the value of this practice for new online instructors.

Your participation in this community is greatly appreciated!

Again, thank you!


Community Member

Hi, I'm Rebecca, a new online student at Independence University.  I just wanted to let you know the Overview Page is real handy to me and surely others. When I have finished my To Do List for the week, the Overview Page is where I head to.  I'm able to view the next week's assignments so I can get a headstart on my notes and research. It also helps in studying all the weeks before, instead of jumping from page to page.  I like it! Thanks.

Community Member

These are some really great questions and resources! Thank you 🙂

A few to add, we just migrated to Canvas about a year ago and have a few design resources, including course templates and other suggested. Our campus uses the QLT (Quality Learning and Teaching) instrument for course design and development. It has some elements of QM and other teaching and learning research, however, it is a creative commons licensed instrument.

I find that the weekly/topical overview pages are incredibly valuable in providing the learners with the framework and resources (what to expect) for that week/topic.  Just wrapped up a Faculty/Staff Learning Community this spring and this is how I set up the Overviews for each "session"276186_pastedImage_1.png

Here's a Simple Course Template.  Also, you can find other templates and ideas on our Canvas website.


I have found the Weekly/Unit overviews very helpful for laying out a road map for that unit.  I break the week into days/groups of days to encourage them to stay active in the class and not post at 11:55 PM on the last day.  I include links to the relevant discussion forums and documents in that unit's module.  

That said, I know, as some of you experience as well, that students too often skip these as unnecessary and then end up confused as to what they should be doing.  I keep my modules in a consistent format but with undergrads, I find only a small percentage really get the active nature of online courses and are independent enough to stay on top of them.  The weekly overview can be a helpful tool for all students if they use it.  

I have not made it the home page but that is aa thought.  It would involve changing the home page every unit, however.   Thanks to those of you who shared images of your weekly overview page.  I like the formatting and have never been terribly successful at getting creative layouts here.  I do include images to break up text.  


You are getting some good advice here.  Summarizing the above in what my biased opinion says are best practices:

  • make the overview the default home page
  • centralize the links need with an explanation for what they are (labels, buttons, etc.)
  • put in some brief but clear and specific introductory remarks about what they are expected to do and why
  • make the overview a must view item for module completion
  • include outcomes/objectives
  • put this must-read on the calendar
  • find a consistent format
  • include meaningful and accessible graphics

I've also added to this class, which is for online beginners, a captioned video overview of the module. (OLL 101)  


One thing that may be different is that my modules are not week by week.  The nature of the subject determines how long we spend. This usually works out to about 2-3 weeks each (I usually teach Humanities and English).  I have thought about using weekly overview announcements, as reminders, which would link to the Home Page/Overview.

Just to jump on the bandwagon, here are some other overview examples.




I often do this too.  It helps also to put the default view on Home page.  This issue I am finding lately is that students are using mobile devices more exclusively; this does not let us control the first things they see.  I have started putting language in how to use Canvas for MY course and recently added a mobile device lesson (and its limitations) to my Online Learning 101 class.



We used Canvas Data for the analysis. I was inspired to look based on a presentation from USU and a related one by Lumen Learning.

I will say that we are still analyzing the results. I'm hoping to have an instructional designer look over them over to better understand what might be causing the differences among courses.

Learner II

At the beginning of each of our Units, we have Overviews and Outcomes.



HI Tom,

I like your idea of module completion and setting a calendar entry to view each week's overview page.  As Keeley mentioned, it does work in theory, but of course there's likely to be the student that has another excuse of why they can't get to that Overview page and needs access!  It's definitely a good method though and something we could certainly try to help things.  Thank you!