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Editing and Publishing a Lesson Plan
Editing and Publishing a Lesson Plan
Written by Kara Laudi
Updated over a week ago


To update class information for a class session in Forum, you must make those changes to the corresponding lesson plan in Course Builder and publish the lesson plan. Any edits made and published to the lesson plan will be visible to all users who have access to that class.

Note that viewing, editing and publishing lesson plans in Course Builder is dependent on your course role. For more information on roles, see this article.

Using the Lesson Plan Editor

Course Builder's Lesson Plan Editor shows the most common settings for a lesson plan—things like activity titles and durations, poll questions, and breakout prompts—in a form-like interface.

More complex configuration options, such as Forum stage layouts and the specific elements that appear there, are hidden by default. These can be accessed at any time by toggling the "View All Settings" switch in the top right.

The rest of this section is about the view when the View All Settings switch is turned OFF. Visit Editing All Settings below for more information.

Navigating the timeline

On the left side of the editor window is the Outline View of the lesson plan. Click on any of the blue links to display the corresponding step in the main editing area on the right side of the window. A blue triangle appears next to the currently displayed step.

Editing outcomes

To add or remove learning outcomes attached to a single lesson plan, use the Outcomes field in the "Basic Class Info" section at the top of the lesson plan. Begin typing the name of a learning outcome and the field will autocomplete with any that are attached to the syllabus.

Note: This interface will not allow you to attach new learning outcomes to the syllabus overall. To do that, return to the Syllabus Editor.

Editing activity and step titles

To edit the title of an activity or a step, hover over it and click the pencil icon that appears. Type your changes and press Enter on your keyboard to save them.

Private/Instructor-only content

Some fields have a white background and others have a light purple background as pictured below.

  • Content entered in fields with a white background will be visible to students (the light gray placeholder content will not).

  • Content entered in the light purple fields will be visible only to the instructor.

Required fields

Some fields require content before the lesson plan can be published to Forum. Incomplete fields are marked with an orange dot in the Outline View (left side of the screen) and a red border around the content field in the main editing area (right side of the screen).

Collapsing/expanding a step

Click the caret icon to the left of an activity to collapse or expand the view.

Tip: Collapse activities that you’ve finished editing to help focus your attention and scroll more quickly between activities.

Automatic slide updating

If you create a lesson plan from a template, your lesson plan will usually be populated with slides for the Lesson Introduction, Activity Learning Goals, and a Session Summary.

These slides will be automatically populated based on the data you provide in the lesson plan. Below is an example of an automatically generated slide for a Lesson Introduction.

The content is automatically generated based on the slide type:

  • Lesson Introduction slides contain the Unit, Topic, Learning Outcomes attached to the plan, and all Activity Learning Goals in the entire lesson.

  • Activity Learning Goal slides contain the text from the “Activity Learning Goal” section of the slide’s activity.

  • Session Summary slides contain the Learning Outcomes attached to the plan and all Activity Learning Goals in the entire lesson.

Note: Automatic updating on a slide is disabled if you ever manually edit that slide.

Stealing the Lock

To avoid editing conflicts, Course Builder only allows one user to make edits to a page at a time. It also will try to ensure that there are no conflicting edits made by the same user. Lesson plans are "locked" in order to avoid these editing conflicts.

If you have a lesson plan open in one tab and try to work on the same one in another, you'll see the below message. Before you choose Open, make sure you have not made any changes you'd like to save on the other tab. Otherwise, those changes will be lost.

You'll see a similar modal if someone else has the same lesson plan open. In this case, the modal will display the name of the person who has the lesson plan open. Be sure to reach out to the person listed before stealing the lock from them. Otherwise, the changes they are working on will be lost.

Saving changes to a lesson plan

Changes to a lesson plan are automatically saved. There is no need to explicitly save any changes. You'll see Saving... text at the top left of the page to signify that changes are being saved. If there are any issues with saving, the page will display an alert.

Publishing a lesson plan

Publishing changes on a lesson plan will push those changes to all corresponding sections in Forum. To learn more about the relationship between Forum and Course Builder, see this article.

Only reviewers (and admins) can publish a lesson plan to Forum. If you do not see the button to publish, make sure you have the correct role.

Make sure you do not publish a lesson plan close to the start time of any class, across all sections, that use this lesson plan. Lesson plans can take up to 4+ hours to publish, and publishing changes during a class can cause severe issues for participants.

To publish a lesson plan:

  • Make sure that the course has been published to Forum already, and that the section information has been correctly set up. This requires entering the section start date, weekly meeting times, etc.

Click on the cloud icon in the top right of the lesson plan page and click Publish

Publishing Best Practices

Some best practices for smoothly publishing syllabi, lesson plans, and assignments include:

  1. Be sure to develop and publish parts of the course well before class begins in case there are any errors. Any part can be republished with corrections and updates. General rules of thumb might be:

    1. Syllabi: a month in advance so that students can be enrolled.

    2. Lesson plans: 1-2 weeks in advance so that students can complete any pre-class work and can check their connection in the classroom. Note: It can take up to 4 hours for some documents to be created in Forum.

    3. Assignments: Before the release date, but ideally at the beginning of the class so that students can see that assignments are coming (even if they cannot access the specific assignment).

  2. Check each lesson plan and assignment in Forum once it is published to make sure it rendered the way you would like and that the dates and times are correct.

  3. Clearly identify who is responsible for publishing and managing a specific course.

  4. After publishing, refresh your dashboard if it is open in another tab so that it is updated with the publishing.

Troubleshooting publishing

Most errors in publishing will be caught before you publish by the “verify” step. Other times, the lesson plan or assignment will verify, but you receive an error message that it did not publish.

Some parts of a lesson plan or assignment to check:

  • Ghost LO: Did you add an LO, but then never select one from the dropdown menu? Delete the ghost LO or select one from the drop down menu.

  • Long title: Is there a long title for an assignment, poll question, breakout, activity, etc. Try shortening the title to a short phrase.

  • Date problems: Is the release date of an assignment set correctly? Is the week number for a lesson plan in the future (i.e., not yesterday!)?

Know when to call for help! Steps to take after examining your lesson plan or assignment for the above:

  • Reach out to a colleague who also uses Course Builder, he or she may notice something that you do not.

  • Reach out to the tech team:

  • File a bug report, if it is not urgent.

Editing All Settings

To edit settings that are not visible using the Lesson Plan Editor, simply toggle the "View All Settings" switch in the top right corner to ON.

Understanding the lesson plan page

The lesson plan page has a few key navigational elements. The below numbers correspond to the numbers displayed in the above screenshot.

  1. The top bar of the lesson plan page contains information about the course, lesson plan number, lesson plan title and total duration of the lesson plan.

  2. These tabs allow you to switch between three different views:

    • Edit LP: This is the default view where you can make edits to the LP

    • View LP: This is a preview of the PDF LP that is displayed in Forum

    • Resources: This is where you can create and manage resources used in the LP, such as Pre-Class Workbooks, breakout resources, and more

  3. Basic Class Information is where you can set information displayed on the Forum Class page, such as Pre-Class Work. Fields that are visible to only instructors or instructors and students are marked as such (e.g. Purpose of Today's Session is visible only to instructors).

  4. This is the timeline for the lesson plan. The timeline represents the order and groupings of activities and steps that the instructor will go through when in the Forum classroom. Click on each step or activity to view more of its details.

Adding Activities and Steps

Editing lesson plans will mainly consist of adding or updating Activities and Steps. As an instructor in the Forum Classroom, you'll progress one step at a time. The Activity is just a grouping to help organize many steps. For example, an Activity called "Class Introduction" could consist of Steps such as a round of introductions, a course overview slide, and a slide introducing the learning objectives of the class. See screenshot below of this Activity page with different Steps.

To add an Activity, click the Add an Activity button at the bottom of the lesson plan timeline. To add a step, click the Add a Step green button at the bottom of the Activity page:

From there, you can choose which pre-made Activity or Step to add to the lesson plan.

Adding resources to a lesson plan

In the resources tab of the lesson plan editor, you can edit existing resources or add new resources for use in the class. Uses in class include as breakout notes or featured on the main stage.

To edit an existing resource, select that resource from the current list of resources in the left-hand menu.

To add or create a new resource, open the drop down menu Choose resource type under Create a new Resource. You can create new resources that are listed in this dropdown menu (e.g., Google Documents, Whiteboard, Forum Code Workbooks), link secure urls (i.e., “https”) to show in class, or upload a resource from your computer. File types allowed for upload include pdf, jpg, png.

Adding and viewing comments

Only authors, reviewers and admins can leave comments on a lesson plan in Course Builder.

To add a comment, hover over the right margins of the lesson plan until you see a comment bubble appear. Click on the comment bubble, type in your comment and save. You can also view comments from your colleagues by clicking on existing comment bubbles. The numbers in the existing comment bubbles represent how many comments are in the thread.

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