Five Unique Ways to Organize an Anthology or Custom Course Pack
When creating an anthology or a custom course pack, organization is key. A thoughtful and strategic structure can transform a simple collection of readings into a cohesive and refined learning resource. Additionally, the process of selecting readings and content will be that much easier if you’ve first strategized how the content will be grouped or organized.
A classic approach to organizing your content is by topic. If your readings can be clearly and cleanly divided into topical areas, this is a straightforward way to organize an anthology or course pack. However, it’s not the only way to add structure to your materials.
Here are five alternative ways you can group your content and suggestions for how these organizational strategies can bolster student learning and comprehension.
1. Organize your content chronologically. If a key goal of your anthology or course pack is to recount events throughout history—or to show the progress or evolution of thought, research, or theory over time—chronological organization might be a good choice for your project. This approach allows students to develop foundational knowledge and then build upon historical precedence to better understand contemporary perspectives, approaches, and events.
2. Organize your content thematically. If your readings will cover a broad range of individual topics but can be grouped under a larger theme, this organizational structure could well-support your text. This provides you with the flexibility to address a spectrum of topics within a unit or section but beneath an umbrella theme that can help to unite seemingly disparate readings or information.
3. Organize your content theoretically. Grouping readings by theoretical approach can provide students with a comprehensive exploration of each approach from a variety of different viewpoints and perspectives.
4. Organize your content regionally. For texts that examine different geographic, political, or cultural regions, collecting articles and content in this fashion can give students a holistic understanding of a specific place. This methodology can also be used to discuss systems within the human body, the different branches of a governmental system, world regions, or any other structure that can be divided into distinct parts.
5. Organize your content by genre. If your anthology or course pack includes a mix of different content types—chapters, readings, case studies, primary sources, etc.—you could choose to group these content types together.