Project, Project Unit or Book?

Before you start to author content you should be aware of the three different places you can create content using guides. Let’s look at each of the three ways to create content and why you might choose each one.

Projects

A project is simply a standalone Codio box. It may or may not have guides content. Projects are to be found in the Projects page on the main Codio dashboard.

My Projects

You would want to choose a project as the place to create your content if you have individual, ad hoc assignments or examples that do not constitute more extensive coursework or are not part of a larger series of associated projects.

A project can be assigned to a class at any time. All the students in that class will then be able to access that project and its content.

There are drawbacks to using projects to assign to students. If you have related projects and the number of projects grows, it can be hard to quickly find a project you want to assign to a class. There is also no way to arrange your projects into chronological order. Courses and books offer excellent solutions to this organizational problem.

Project units

A project unit is essentially the same as a project. The only difference is that your project units are located in the courses area in the main Codio dashboard. Project units are very easy to locate as they are tidily organized within the course they belong to. You can also arrange your project units chronologically within a course module.

Courses

You would typically use a project unit if either of the following apply.

  • You have a logically related series of projects that you want to assign to a student or to a class that together form a course.
  • You have a collection of assessments relate to a course that are used for homework, lab assessments, projects etc.

A course allows you to subdivide your course into modules and then chronologically arrange your project units within your modules. When you create a course, you have to create at least one module. A module does nothing special other than contain project units and are simply a nice way to group your units.

There is one minor drawback to project units that you should be aware of. If students are working with a project unit and wants to look at tutorial content that is contained in another unit, they have to switch units. This can take several seconds and can be irritating during a revision phase when they want to frequently switch units. For this reason, we created the book, which we will look at next.

Book units

A book is intended to replicate a hard-copy book. It contains a lot of content, often an entire course of content. Let’s look at the case of a course called Introduction to Java. If this was a regular book, it might contain 500 pages. If you used project units to create this content, you might end up with a very large number of units, say 50. As we mentioned above, when students are revising and want to randomly move between different units to review content, the can get frustrated by the time it takes to switch units.

A book addresses this issue by offering sophisticated table to contents management with nested chapters and sections. As a result, you can put all of your content into a single book, with a single box running in the background. This means that when students want to revise, they are able to move to any location in the book without any delays.

However, faculty will still often want to teach a course based on a book. To do this, you use a course but rather than creating a project unit, you create a book based unit. This allows you to point to any parts of a book for that unit. Students can see the parts of the book that the unit related to in the table of contents. The course and class manager is also able to specify that parts of the book not mapped to by the unit either a) can be seen or b) cannot be seen in the class. See Book Visibility for more information.

Books

Book or project unit?

It can still be a little confusing whether you should use a book based unit or a project unit, so here are some typical use cases.

  • Project units - use when you have a collection of assessments with no or minimal tutorial content. Best used for homework or lab type assessments. If a student is not going to regularly switch units in a single session.

  • Book units - use for tutorial content, examples and non-critical assessments. If students, when looking at one unit, need to review content in another unit, then a book is preferable as they can access all parts of the book if they need to.

Note that you can mix both book and project units in a course.