Using Triggers to Release Content

I’m pretty sure everyone is familiar with Trigger – but the trigger I’m speaking of here is the one you find in the dictionary not on Wikipedia.  A trigger refers to a mechanism or device that allows other actions or processes to begin to take place once the initial mechanism is activated.   A much better definition is “anything, as an act or event that serves as a stimulus and initiates or precipitates a reaction or series of reactions.”

When looking at how to build out an online course, or even a face-to-face course you can leverage different kinds of triggers to allow students to access content.

One of the simplest ways is to simply use the open, close, and accept until dates found in most tools that track a student’s participation in an activity – such as in the submission of an electronic document (Assignments), an assessment (Tests and Quizzes), or in a discussion (Forums).

You can likewise use release, due and accept until dates in conjunction with other tools, such as the Lesson tool, to control the release of content in a lesson or unit.  Doing so really allows a lot of granular control over when students access content – especially when using the release settings:

Sakai 10 Lessons> Edit release settings

Each of these options:

  • “don’t release item until all prerequisites are completed”
  • “require that the student submit this assessment”
  • “require that the student receive __ points on this assessment”
  • “require that the student submit this assignment”
  • “require that the student receive __ points on this assignment”
  • “require that the student submit a posting to this topic”

Are options that can assist with providing a very linear and deliberate flow through course content.

Perhaps there are certain items you want to insure students complete before they go forward – building out skills or content knowledge ahead of tackling other, more complex concepts in the course or unit. Using triggers like these in Sakai, esp. when paired together with the power of the Lessons helps give students direction and can add value to what you’re already doing in your virtual or face to face interactions.