Online Education

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Module 3: Navigation in Catalyst

This module will help you understand how to navigate your course, describing the various parts and layout of the main page as well as some of the tools available to you.

Catalyst Main Page Layout

Catalyst offers a basic page layout for all courses. This page is called the Main Page and is subdivided into four sections:

  1. Header (Top)
  2. Content (Center)
  3. Tool Blocks (Left / Right)
  4. Footer (Bottom)

Course homepage

There is usually one content section for each week of the course plus one undated introductory section at the top. Occasionally a course will be organized by topics instead of weeks.


Top: Header Navigation

The header block in Catalyst is used for Main Page navigation. Each navigational element is described in detail below:

Course header with breadcrumb trail 

Breadcrumb Trail

This form of navigation gets it's name from the old tale of leaving a breadcrumb trail as a path to help you find your way out of the woods. In Catalyst, the breadcrumb trail is also a path that takes you back to where you started.  For instance, the breadcrumb trail in the example pictured above is:

    Home > My courses > Miscellaneous > student_orient_2014 > General > News forum (announcements from the instructor) > Syllabus quiz due this Saturday at 5 pm

Working backwards, I'm currently in an announcement in the News forum.  If I click on the News forum link I take one step back to the list of all announcements in the News forum.  If I step back to student_orient_2014 then I'm at the course homepage. If I go back to Home, then I'm at the page that lists all my courses.

Search forums box with help button 

Search Forums and Help Button

The Search Forums box is a feature that allows you to type in words to search the text of any discussion forums in the course.

The Help Button, the circle with the question mark inside, will provide assistance with whatever it's near when you click it.


Center: Content Sections

The middle of your course page contains your content and activities. This content is laid out in terms of content sections, with the most common being weekly sections or topic sections.

    • Weekly sections are dated to correspond with that quarter.
    • Topic sections are often numbered 1 to however many major topics or divisions there are in the course.
Center Top Section - The Introduction

Instructors often post their welcome to the course message, the syllabus, how he/she wishes to be contacted by students, the instructor's office hours, and any other information that an instructor deems relevant for reference throughout the course (as opposed to grouped into a particular topic or week).

News Forum:
There is also a VERY IMPORTANT discussion forum - usually called "News" or "Class Announcements". This is where an instructor posts IMPORTANT course announcements - such as any changes in due dates on assignments, additions to course material, office hour updates, etc.  It is basically anything the instructor feels students should know about during the course.

Center Content Sections

The content sections, most commonly organized by topic or week, are where instructors post course materials, assignments, resources, activities, and discussions. If organized by week, the dates of the week will appear above the section. If it's by topic, the topic will usually be stated inside the section, and they are often numbered 1, 2, 3, ... etc. in order down the screen.


Left/Right: Tool Blocks

The tool blocks grouped to the left and right sides of the Content area on the course homepage also contain important information and links for use in your course. Below are descriptions of some of the Tool Blocks your instructor may choose to use in your course.


Calendar block 

  • Global events are De Anza College events and Catalyst System events - such as holidays, quarter begin/end dates, final exams week, Catalyst system down notices, etc.
  • Course events are usually assignment due dates specific to the course you're currently viewing and are set by teachers.
  • Group events are group project due dates specific to the course you're currently viewing and are set by teachers.
  • User events are your own personal calendar events you've created.
  • The box around a date is the current date.
  • You can view the calendar by day or month by clicking on a day or clicking on the name of the month.

Navigation Block

The Navigation block, often to the left and below the Calendar, shows the topic/weekly content blocks in your course. You can use it as an index to navigate to different topics or weeks without scrolling.

Navigation block

Click on the triangle next to any week or topic to expand that section and see the resources and activities in it.


Activities block

This is a list of the different types of activities and resources in the course. If you want a summary of a type of activity or resource, click on it and all items of that type will be displayed. So let's say you wanted to view a list of all the quizzes in the course but nothing else. Click on the Quizzes link and the window will display only the quizzes.

Search Forums

Search forums block

This tool is just like the "Search Forums" tool in the Header section. The only difference is the availability of the "advanced search" feature.


Administration block

Use the Grades link to see your scores on class assessments. Occasionally the total points is calculated incorrectly; in that case, focus on the individual scores, which should be correct.

Click the triangle next to My Profile Settings to edit your profile (update your email address or add a small avatar/photo of yourself that will be displayed to your classmates), change your Catalyst password, or access the Catalyst Messaging tool.


Other Tool Blocks You May Encounter

Instructors can choose to add additional tool blocks to your course. These blocks may be placed to the left or the right of the content sections in the center of your course.

Some of the other blocks you may see are listed here (sometimes with examples of how they are used):


People block

This block will list the students enrolled in the course as well as the instructor(s).

Latest News

Latest news block

This block will display "News Forum" messages that the instructor posts - if the instructor chooses to use this feature.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming events block

This block highlights calendar events - such as holidays and assignment due dates.

Online Users

Online users block

This block will tell you who is online right now.  The little envelope next to a name tells you if you have any "messages" using the internal messaging system.


Messages block

This tool allows you to send and receive messages to and from other Catalyst users. When you log into Catalyst, a messages window will pop up if you have received a message. If you click the icon to add the sender to your contact list, you'll be able to retrieve the message easily in the future by clicking on the Message History icon.



The footer often has your name, which can take you to your profile, and a Logout link. It's important to log out of Catalyst when you are finished working so nobody else can use your account.



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Online Education
Building: MLC 210
Email: onlineeducation

Phone: 408.864.8969

Last Updated: 1/27/16