Options for templating Canvas courses

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Overview

In Canvas, a course template is a bundle of settings and instructional content pushed or pulled into Canvas course sites, typically before or shortly after the course sites are made available to instructors. Templates are often used to give a group of related courses a common look and feel, to standardize the course navigation menu or settings, and/or to serve as a starting point for further development by the instructor.

At Indiana University, several distinct options allow template content and settings to be copied to other courses. See below for comparisons between them and the circumstances in which they can be used. For assistance with choosing the best option for your situation, as well as with implementation, contact a consultant in your campus teaching and learning center.

Notes:
  • 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 option settings cannot be included in templates.

Compare templating options

Departmental Templating Service
Blueprint courses Canvas Commons Course import
What it does
Applies template to all courses associated with a campus, school/college, or department
Applies template to one or more courses selected by the blueprint owner
Applies template to one or more courses selected by the instructor
Imports a template into the current course
Who can use it
Canvas admins with approval of unit leadership
Canvas admins
Instructors
Instructors
Designers
TAs
Instructors
Designers
TAs
When/how template is applied
Automated one-time push at time of course creation
Anytime push by blueprint owner
Anytime push by course instructor; usually shortly after course is created
Anytime pull by course instructor; usually shortly after course is created
Courses impacted
All courses associated with an academic unit (campus, school/college, or department)
Courses selected by the blueprint owner (instructors can only select their own courses)
Courses selected and managed by the instructor, designer, or TA
The course in which the template is imported
Noteworthy features
Individual items can be locked by blueprint owner
Instructor can optionally select the content to import and adjust availability and due dates
More information Apply a template to Canvas courses in your campus, school, or department
About the Canvas Blueprint Manager

Blueprint articles in the Courses and Sections section of the Canvas Admin Guide
About Canvas Commons at IU

Canvas Commons Guide
Course Import Tool section of the Canvas Instructor Guide

Departmental templating service

  • What it does: This automated service applies a template to new courses at the time of creation based on the course’s location in the Canvas academic hierarchy. Each template is associated with an IU campus, school/college, or department and the template is applied to all courses in or beneath that unit in the academic hierarchy. The template itself typically consists of customized course settings and/or page and syllabus templates to serve as a starting point for content development.
  • Who can use it: This service was created for IU campuses, school/college, and departments who wish to push specific settings or content to the courses in their unit. Typically, the template is created by the unit’s Canvas admin in consultation with the academic leadership for the unit and UITS. Academic leadership must sign off on the template before it is deployed.
  • Common use cases:
    • Set a custom grading scheme for all courses in the unit
    • Standardize the course navigation menu for all courses in the unit
    • Add the unit's learning outcomes to all courses in the unit
    • Provide instructors in the unit branded content templates that can be used as a starting point for developing course materials
  • Learn more: See Apply a template to Canvas courses in your campus, school, or department.

Canvas blueprints and Blueprint Manager

  • What it does: A blueprint course is a Canvas course that has been designated as a template by the course owner. The owner can associate specific courses with the blueprint and push the blueprint's content and settings to the associated courses. After the initial sync, updates and corrections can be pushed to the associated courses at any time. This service is especially effective for standardizing content and settings across multiple sections of the same course, but can be used for other purposes as well.
  • Who can use it: Canvas admins can create blueprint courses via the native Canvas blueprint service and associate any course in their unit with the blueprint. The service is also available to instructors via the Blueprint Manager tool, but instructors can only associate their own courses with the blueprint.
  • Noteworthy feature: The blueprint owner can lock all or specific items in the template, preventing instructors in the associated courses from modifying the content itself, point values, and/or availability and due dates.
  • Common use cases:
    • Course coordinators create master course blueprints and push the instructional content and settings to all sections.
    • Program coordinators create blueprint to standardize the look and feel or settings and push to all or select courses in program.
    • Program coordinators create blueprint with content common to multiple courses (for example, an orientation or review module) and push to all or select courses in a program.
    • Instructors create and maintain blueprints for the courses they teach regularly and use them to push blueprint content and settings to the sections they are assigned to teach.
  • Restrictions and caveats:
    • SIS courses cannot be used as blueprints.
    • Blueprint courses cannot include any student or observer enrollments.
    • The blueprint template and associated courses must be in the same subaccount (academic unit) in the Canvas academic hierarchy.
    • Non-blueprint courses can only be associated with one blueprint at a time.
  • Learn more: See About the Canvas Blueprint Manager and, for Canvas admins only, the blueprint articles in the Courses and Sections section of the Canvas Admin Guide.

Canvas Commons

  • What it does: Canvas Commons, a learning object repository for Canvas users, can be used to archive course templates for later use by the owner/instructor or to share them with departmental colleagues, with all instructors at IU, or with the general public. Unlike the Canvas templating service and blueprints which can push templates to Canvas course sites without any action on the part of the instructors in those sites, the decision of whether use a template stored in Commons is left up to individual course instructors.
  • Who can use it: Canvas Commons is available to any user with permission to create and edit content in at least one Canvas course, including Admins, Teachers, Designers, and TAs. Users in these roles can both publish content (including entire courses) to Commons and push Commons content to their own courses.
  • Common use cases:
    • Instructors find a template developed by a colleague (or any Commons user) and push it to one or more of their Canvas courses.
    • Instructors archive courses they teach regularly to Commons (without sharing them) and later push the archive to sections they are assigned to teach.
    • Course coordinators publish master course templates to Commons for optional use by instructors assigned to individual sections.
  • Restrictions and caveats:
    • Instructors who use content from Commons are responsible for checking whether it has been updated by the owner and deciding whether to push updates to the courses in which it is used.
  • Learn more: See About Canvas Commons at IU and the Canvas Commons Guides. For more about the differences between Blueprint courses and Canvas Commons, see Blueprint Courses and Canvas Commons Comparison.

Course import/copy

  • What it does: Using the Import Course Content option available on the "Settings" page of any Canvas course, instructors can import content from any of their other course sites. This option allows instructors to template new courses one at a time, using a prior offering of the course or master version of the course in a manually created site as the template.
  • Who can use it: Course instructors and anyone with content creation and editing permissions in the course, including Admins, Designers, and TAs
  • Noteworthy features: The initiator can opt to import the entire course or select content, and can adjust the dates on assignments and events.
  • Common use cases:
    • Instructor imports all or select content and settings from a prior offering of the course into the current course.
    • Instructor imports all or select content and settings from a master copy of the course into the current course.
  • Learn more: See the Course Import Tool section of the Canvas Instructor Guide.

This is document avtx in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2019-05-20 12:48:16.

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