2.2 Left menu

Left menu

Key Concept: Structure the Left Menu like ring-binder tabs with Subheaders and Dividers


Structure to engage

Screenshot of the Left Menu in a Blackboard VLE module siteThe Left Menu is the primary navigation of the site. As mentioned previously, consistency across a programme will improve usability and accessibility. However, module leaders should use the Left Menu to reflect the structure of their taught programme. This saves students time figuring out where to find materials and redirects their efforts to engage with the course content.

Examples of sections in the left menu:

  • Announcements
  • Module outline
  • Staff contact details
  • Lectures – containing lecture notes and information
  • Seminars – containing class activities and instructions
  • Resource list
  • Assessments – information about and electronic submission points (if online submission is being used).

Alternatively, you could use the Left Menu to structure the site by topic or week. This is particularly useful where you have lectures, labs or seminars that are intrinsically linked and dependent on each other.


Subheaders and Dividers

Screenshot of the instructor view of left menu: Add menu item + icon is clicked top left and Subheader and Divider options are highlighted in the menuUse menu headings and divider lines to break your Left Menu up into logical sections.

For example:

  • Information: announcements, outline, contact details
  • Content: lectures, seminars, reading list
  • Assessment: assessment information, submission points

Beyond the baseline

Content in a site should be divided up into subsections, however this can introduce an additional layer of folder navigation if your first level of navigation, the Left Menu, has too few links. Left Menu Subheaders and Dividers allow you to structure the menu with a larger number of links, to reduce the need to create additional layers of navigation with folders.

This example from a Programme Site illustrates how the Left Menu has enabled more content to be accessed with a single click by using menu subheaders and dividers. If the subheaders were not used, there would be fewer entries on the menu resulting in a folder structure that was deeper and more difficult to navigate.

Screenshot of a Programme Site Left Menu: As an example, Academic Development is a subheader section containing links to What your marks mean, What to expect each year, Academic skills and Ethics.

The menu is more than just a list of links. With the use of subheaders the whole site content is outlined. The subheader text is also written with the student in mind, for example ‘Your programme’, ‘Academic development’ and ‘Contacting staff’ relate to the sorts of information and guidance that students would be seeking within this site.

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