Ideas for introducing a new week or topic

When students are studying entirely or mostly online, clear and comprehensive instructions are critical. This saves students time because they know what they need to do and it saves you time, because you don’t have to answer the same question or provide clarification to multiple students.


When you transition to a new week or topic you can use a range of strategies to assist students in moving with you. Examples we will look at include:

  • Using a scheduled announcement
  • Using the first page of the canvas module
  • Using a video

Whatever format you choose consider introducing the new topic by:

  • Connecting to the previous topics,
  • Identify what prior knowledge or experience will assist in this topic (from this course, previous study or life in general)
  • Connecting to current global events
  • Connecting to industry discussions or upcoming events
  • Identifying how this topic will be used in practice, or
  • Explaining what types of problems a student will be able to solve at the end which they cannot currently.

You might also like to present:

  • A checklist of task list identifying which order to complete the readings or videos,
  • How long students should be spending on the topic
  • What tasks or activities will be happening in the live or interactive sessions

Example – Using an announcement

This announcement from MEDS2118, is a personal invitation for each student to get start  the weeks learning experiences.

Dear Students,

I hope you’ve all had an enjoyable weekend and well done on completing the Week 10 test.  When you’re ready, please go to the Week 11 Module where you will find my short video that outlines what you need to do this week, including the details of an optional collaborate ultra drop-in session on Wednesday night at 8 pm.  You will also find the Week 11 lecture notes, summary notes, and the Week 11 lecture recordings in this module.

In summary, this week you need to:

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask for help either via email, phone (XXXX XXXX) or via the collaborate ultra session.

Take care everyone,




Example –  presentation within module

In AERO2347, the team have integrated the purpose and checklist into the module page. This video tour of topic 8, provides an example of how to integrate the topic introduction into the Canvas module pages. This short video looks at how the introduction and instructions have been integrated.

Example – using a video

In OHTH2163 the course team use a comprehensive approach to introducing a topic. In this course, a short (~7 min video) outlines the key objectives of the week and introduces the upcoming assignment.

Comments are turned on for the video so if any students have a question, observation or comment they are able to record it where they are. This can enable a more dynamic conversation between students, and students and teaching staff. Having the question asked and answered in context also means any other student who has the same or a similar question may be able to see the answer immediately.

Screenshot of Canvas showing video of lecturer with comments turned on.
A video can be useful for introducing students to the new topic.


Below the weekly orientation video the specific learning outcomes for the week, purpose and a checklist of activities (with time allocation) are presented. This information support students in their planning and overall time management.

Screen shot of Module page with Learning outcomes, purpose and summary of activities described
Consistent presentation of information makes it easier for students to find what they need.

If you are looking for ideas on how to present information