Apply a template to Canvas courses in your campus, school, or department

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UITS has implemented a course templating service in Canvas for Indiana University campuses, schools, and departments. Consisting of predefined course settings and/or content, templates are applied to new courses at the time of creation based on the location of the course within the Canvas academic hierarchy.

You can use templates to:

  • Control the visibility and order of the tools in the course navigation menu
  • Set the tool used for the course home page
  • Set the default course grading scheme
  • Modify the default settings on the course Settings > Course Details page
  • Pre-populate the course with images, page templates, or other content to achieve a consistent look and feel, or simply to provide resources that instructors can pull into their instructional content
  • Pre-populate the course with a combination of campus-, school-, or program-level outcomes and rubrics to facilitate assessment for program improvement and accountability
  • In any given course, the settings and/or navigation menu applied by the template may be overwritten if the instructor imports settings from another Canvas course
  • Course calendar events cannot be included in templates
  • Canvas feature options settings cannot be included in templates

The Canvas academic hierarchy and templating logic

About the academic hierarchy

The course templating service relies on the academic hierarchy of accounts in Canvas, a branching organizational structure representing the university, its campuses, and their respective schools, colleges, and departments (see the figure below). The levels in the hierarchy are:

  • Level 1: At the top of the hierarchy is Indiana University.
  • Level 2: Reserved for the nine IU campuses: BL, CO, EA, FT, IN, KO, NW, SB, and SE.
  • Level 3: Beneath each campus are the accounts representing the schools and colleges on the campus. These accounts begin with the two-letter campus code, followed by the SIS academic group code for the unit, and ending with a three letter "GRP" suffix (for example, BL-ADMIN-GRP, CO-BUS-GRP).
  • Level 4: These accounts correspond to the academic subject codes used by the courses offered through the parent school or college. Level 4 accounts begin with the two-letter campus abbreviation followed by the academic subject code (for example, BL-AERO, CO-EDUC). SIS courses are provisioned into the level 4 account that matches the campus and academic subject code in their course ID. For example, a course with the ID SP19-CO-EDUC-E201-18797 would be placed in the CO-EDUC account.

Templating logic

Each template is associated with a specific account in the academic hierarchy. The course templating system applies one template per course, choosing the template based on the location of the course within the academic hierarchy.

When a new Canvas course is created, either manually or via the SIS provisioning process, the system looks for an applicable template, beginning with the course's parent (level 4) account and working its way up. The system applies the template associated with the course's closest ancestor account in the academic hierarchy.

The following graphic illustrates the Canvas course templating rules. The stars show which accounts have an associated template; the colors show how templates are inherited or superseded by templates in descendant accounts. In this example, the Indiana University template is applied to all Columbus (CO) courses except the courses with subject code CO-BUCO. The Bloomington (BL) campus has its own template, which applies to all courses in and beneath the academic group BL-BUEX-GRP. The BL template is superseded by BL-ADMIN-GRP, which is applied to courses with the BL-AERO subject code, but not the BL-MIL courses because BL-MIL has its own template.

Canvas course templating rules based on hierarchy

Settings or content for a template may sometimes conflict with those at a higher level in the hierarchy. In such cases, UITS will work with the academic units involved to resolve the conflict.

Create a template for a campus, school, or department

Templates are typically created by IT professionals with Canvas administrator privileges for the campus, school, or department sponsoring the template in consultation with the academic leadership of the sponsoring unit. If your unit does not have a Canvas administrator, contact the UITS LMS Development team for assistance.

To create a template:

  1. Using the Start a New Course tool, create a new course site in Canvas.
    1. For "Course Name" and "Short Name", enter the name of the account with which the template will be associated followed by the word Template (for example, IN-BIOL Template).
    2. When choosing the Department, School or College, select the account name that corresponds to the highest level in the academic hierarchy to which the template should apply. If the account does not appear in the drop-down menu, contact the UITS Mission Critical team and request that the course be moved to the proper location in the Canvas hierarchy.
  2. Navigate to the new course in Canvas.
  3. In the course navigation menu, click Settings.
  4. On the "Course Details" page of the Settings tool, confirm that the "Sub-Account" field contains the campus, school/college, or department with which the template should be associated.
  5. Make the changes in the course that should apply to all new courses in your academic unit (for example, change the course settings, add content, etc.); create a document summarizing the changes made in the course and the reasoning behind them.
  6. Meet with the academic leadership of your unit to explain the purpose of the template and how it will impact the courses under their purview.
  7. Once you have the approval of academic leadership, complete the Canvas Template Request Form.
  8. A UITS staff member will review the template to ensure there are no conflicts with templates at a higher level of the academic hierarchy. The LMS Development team will then contact you to discuss next steps for incorporating the template into the course provisioning processes.

Make changes to an existing template

Once your unit's template has been deployed, you may need to make changes for future semesters. To do so, navigate to your template course and complete steps 5 through 8 of the instructions for creating a new template.

Template deadlines

Templates are applied when SIS courses are provisioned in Canvas, typically one to two months before the term starts. To ensure they can be applied in time, new and updated template requests must be received on or before the dates below.

Template request due by For this term
May 1 Fall
August 1 Winter
October 1 Spring
March 1 Summer

Get help

For questions and requests for assistance related to the Canvas templating service, contact the UITS LMS Development team.

This is document auxk in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2020-05-28 10:00:18.

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