Tips for Designing and Maintaining Blueprint Courses

Community Advocate
Community Advocate
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Blueprint Courses were introduced with the June 24, 2017 release and are one of the coolest features introduced by Canvas, in this writer's humble opinion.  As an administrator, I thought it was a no-brainer to turn it on immediately on our campus. (It must be enabled by your Canvas administrator first.) When I enthusiastically outlined the features and functionality shortly afterwards to our entire faculty via email, the response can pretty much be summarized by this sound. Of course, it was in the middle of summer. So I must begin with this....

Full disclosure: Everything below has been checked while I tested out blueprint courses on our production server, but not (yet) by users during an academic term.

November 2017 update.  Community member lindalee@wharton.upenn.edu‌ is currently writing blog posts with some outstanding "real world" experience in launching Blueprint Courses, which mine below--writing when it was just getting up and running--lacks.  Anyone wishing to use Blueprint Courses and to gain some expertise in their use would do well to read Linda's posts.  Here is what has been done so far:

Also, be sure to check out her contribution on this topic in the  .  And finally, now that InstructureCon 2017‌ videos have been posted, check out mattg‌'s  .

I'm rather anal about testing out new releases that I think will benefit my institution, as most Canvas administrators likely are, so I tested and re-tested things every way I could, courtesy of my ability (as an administrator) to create a few sample course sites and play around with varying faculty logins. Even if my own faculty may not yet be taking advantage of blueprint courses, I figured I could at least share some of what I discovered with the Community. I share the concern expressed here by cms_hickss regarding a good way to sell this feature to faculty, especially when compared to Canvas Commons. But the ability to "push out" material to an assortment of classes is awesome, especially to help those people who are not good about importing Commons material on their own.  

Virtually everything I mention below IS dutifully noted somewhere in the documentation, so the best place to start is with links to the official Canvas documentation guides.

For instructors of blueprint courses (the templates, as it were, not the associated courses), these pages from the guides are exclusively on blueprint courses, though blueprint courses come up in other places, as well:

For instructors of the courses associated with blueprint courses (the "destination" courses) your primary point of reference is How do I manage a course associated with a blueprint course as an instructor?

And finally, administrators can benefit from all of the above plus these:

Plan, plan, plan

Blueprint courses are well-named, because--like a house or anything designed with a blueprint--planning is critical, as is communication. Blueprint course instructors/designers wield a bit of extra power in their ability to "push" things out to other course sites, and virtually unannounced. Any issues that arise could likely have been nipped in the bud immediately with proper planning or communication. Therefore, everyone involved in the process should be sure to update their notification settings to ensure they are receiving timely updates, given that the Blueprint Sync notification setting became a newly-listed arrival on the notification screen.

While a few of the scenarios outlined below may cause one to shy away from blueprint courses altogether--don't!  This is truly an amazing addition to Canvas. It will be good, for example, for ensuring any sub-account outcomes get embedded in courses so that the individual faculty do not have to add them in on their own. (Yes, I tested this.) While it's true embedded rubrics cannot be locked, as several pointed out early on when this feature was released, just being able to get them out to instructors is a plus. 

But like a real architect you hire to design something, you will want to make sure you have the right person as the instructor of a blueprint course. As they say, "with great power comes great responsibility."1 And that power, as it were, comes in the hands of the architect...the blueprint course instructor/designer. This blog entry is designed primarily for them, but really for anyone ready to take full advantage of this great feature.

Timing is everything

This is noted in the documentation as the very first item on this page. Any blueprint course that already has content in it when associated courses are added will be synced immediately. So if you have a department that already has a super-great existing course that they want to use as a blueprint, that's fine. The course can be imported into a newly-created blueprint course shell just like any other course import. But for heaven's sake, have the instructor of that blueprint course check things over before your administrator adds in any associated courses, otherwise those associated courses will receive that material immediately…..existing warts and all.  

If your administrator is associating courses that already have had material added to them, the content will get added in like any other course import. Therefore, an associated course could conceivably have two assignments named the same thing if the associated course-building has already been started by a few well-intentioned faculty who like to get a head start on things. As an example, here is a course that had an assignment already created, but before associated courses were added in to the blueprint course. End result once the association was made? Two near-duplicate items:

245615_duplicate assignment.jpg

[Coming up with assignments names has never been my strong point.] So both administrator and blueprint course designer alike should first make sure the associated courses have not been worked on too much. To be fair, Canvas does warn about this when the first associated course sites get added by the administrator:

245616_warning message when associating courses if a blueprint course already has material.jpg

Instructors of associated courses can recognize any new items courtesy of the new blueprint icon that appears next to an item that has been added, as pointed to in the arrow above. So again....planning and communication. You probably do not want to be the one telling a colleague: "That stuff you just added your own? Oh, you can remove them all now."

Don't publish. (Or you might perish.)

If the term has already begun, I cannot think of too many things that would make the instructor of a blueprint course less popular among colleagues than publishing an item before syncing it, since (as the documentation points out) the publishing state remains intact. Be aware that it can be unpublished by an associated course instructor, but by then students may have seen it . . . or been notified of its existence, depending on their own notification settings. Every institution will be different, of course, but I imagine most in the higher education field (where I'm from) would prefer to be able to choose the time to publish an item on their own after receiving it.

"I should lock this item. Well, maybe not. But maybe I should. Then again...."

This is critical, folks, and again gets back to the general blueprint mantra: planning and communication. (Neither of which is always in great supply in higher education...or elsewhere.) First, let's make clear that the new Blueprint button seen in a blueprint course site can just easily be labelled Lock me! and is dependent upon the site/sub-account administrator's setting of what items will be "eligible" for locking, as covered here.

An "unlocked" item that is synced can be edited by the instructor of an associated course like any other item.  This is pointed our early on in both the blueprint instructor's documentation page as well as the associated course instructor's page:

Objects that are unlocked can be managed by a course instructor in the associated course like any other Canvas object. If the blueprint course is synced and the instructor has modified unlocked content in the associated course, unlocked content is not overwritten with the synced changes.

But is it truly "like any other Canvas object"? Not quite. As an example, below is an assignment that was created in a blueprint course and synced to an associated course. In this case, the instructor in the associated course made a slight title change, adding in -Biography and and even adding in her own file attachment in the description:

Unlocked assignment in an associated course

But in this case, let's say the blueprint course instructor realized that perhaps that assignment should have been locked, and locks it after the original sync and then syncs it again. The result is locking it in the associated courses and overwriting any editing done by instructors on their own:

Same assignment then locked

So, the addition the instructor made to the title in the first example, as well as her instructions get overwritten. It is important to realize that although an unlocked assigned can be modified, if that same assignment later becomes locked the modifications are overwritten. (The file the associated course instructor attached remains in the associated course's Files area, though. The issue is the instructor can no longer edit the description, since the content is now locked.)

What the heck is an "exception"?

Before you think locking items in a blueprint course is just a bad idea altogether, here is another side to the editing coin. A screen capture on this page (under the "View Sync History" heading) displays an item in the sync history that shows "1 exception." Just what the heck triggers an exception? Let's say an assignment was pushed out from a blueprint course without any instructions/description and only the title.  (NOT locked--simply synced with no clicking of the Blueprint button.) The instructor decides to add in her own description in the rich content editor, which is shown below:

Assignment with some added instructions

But after that assignment was sent out (synced), the blueprint course instructor realizes that an attachment was not included. Horrors! So the blueprint instructor modifies the assignment and adds in an attachment, as seen below:

Same assignment but with changed instructions and a file attachment added

Again...it is still NOT locked, only synced. This is what triggers an exception, as seen below:

Example of sync history with an exception

The file goes through, but not the assignment. Why? Because the instructor of the associated course has already edited it.  Once an assignment pushed out to associated courses is edited by the instructor of that associated course, Canvas will treat that assignment as the instructor's creation and will not touch it, so long as it was not locked on the blueprint course site when synced. Had the original assignment been locked in the blueprint course in the first place, this would not have caused the same issue.

Oh, and speaking of file attachments. . . .

Create a locked assignment with a file attached in a blueprint course? Don't forget to lock the file, too!

This is easy to overlook, though it is noted in the documentation. Files are locked separately. Using the above example, let's say our hapless blueprint course instructor now decides to lock the above assignment via the Blueprint button. (Which, as we have already seen, will overwrite the instructor's previously-edited version).

Locked assignment with file attachment

Again, this is now LOCKED in the associated course. The equally hapless instructor of the associated course goes to the Files area and decides to—you guessed it—delete the file from the Files area, perhaps not realizing that the now-locked Assignment Six has an attachment that relies on it:

Deleting a file in an associated course

Note on the screen capture above that while the file is clearly identified with the new blueprint icon, it is NOT locked, because the blueprint course instructor never locked it. Just the assignment was locked. If this file gets deleted, you can guess what will happen: student goes to the assignment, clicks on the file to download or preview it and…nothing's there. And all because the instructor deleted a file attached to an otherwise-locked assignment. The moral of this story is to lock the files, too, if you're locking the assignment. 

Actually, the moral to all of the above scenarios is this:  inform all associated course instructors to be extremely cautious of anything with a blueprint icon, locked or not. Better yet, the instructor of any blueprint course should be aware that it is not a good idea to change one's mind about the locked/unlocked state of an item after it is synced the first time.

Options not locked: Discussions and Quizzes

Let's say a discussion is created and is set to be graded with points in a blueprint course.  Even if points is an otherwise locked item, as the screen capture below shows, Discussion options can be changed—which means the instructor of an associated course can unclick that Graded checkbox, as seen below:

Locked content on a discussion topic

Basically, the above discussion will no longer be graded, even though, in theory, content and points should be locked. Quiz options can be added to this mix, as well, for a quiz that is otherwise locked. (This is probably just as well, given the many ways faculty may choose to administer a quiz.)  But here's a different quiz exception . . . 

Points get locked on quizzes if content is locked

Let's look at the opposite issue, where points are not locked in the blueprint course settings but wind up being locked, anyway. Here's the view from an associated course for a quiz that was synced from the blueprint course:

Locked content on quiz

Note the only thing locked is content...not content and points, as some earlier examples have shown. In the case of quizzes, however, the points will NOT be editable by the instructor in the associated course. As the screen capture below shows, there is no pencil icon in the question to edit the points:

Example of quiz question now allowing points to be edited

November 2018 Update:  Thanks to a question in the Community from nancy.lachance@adtalem.com, it was revealed that if there is no pencil icon in circumstances when content is locked, this also means that instructors cannot see the correct answers on a quiz if it is over 25 questions!  (See the discussion here:  Blueprint Dilemma .)  I overlooked this rather obvious fact when this was originally written. The reason for this is that on the legacy version of quizzes, when a quiz is over 25 questions long this disables the usual Show Question Details checkbox that instructors can check that will ordinarily show all questions and their answers.  With the editing pencil disabled, this effectively means they cannot see any answers at all. Fortunately, Nancy informed the Community that Instructure indicated this is resolved for any institution using Quizzes.Next.  

Deleting items from a blueprint course

Locked items will get removed from the associated courses if it is deleted from the blueprint course (followed by a sync, of course).  NON-blueprinted, a.k.a. unlocked items will also be removed, but not if it was edited in any way by the instructor of an associated course site. This is in keeping with the idea that once an instructor edits a non-locked item, it is essentially treated as their own in the course and the sync operation will not touch it, even if it has that a blueprint icon next to it.  (That's another thing that will register as an "exception" in sync history, by the way.)

Course settings

Course settings will never be locked, though they can be included as part of the syncing process, as the documentation on syncing a course shows. This is one way that courses can all share a specific grading scheme if the sub-account does not otherwise have its own.

Final random thought on how to remember what can be locked

What items can be locked? They are listed on the settings page, and are: Assignments, Discussions, Pages, Files, and Quizzes. I remember them this way:  PDQ-AF. Syncing is pretty darn quick (PDQ), and A-F is our usual letter grade scale. (If you're a hard grader, then it may be PDQ-FA!)

I hope some of this is useful to the Community as we all embark on this exciting new feature. I'd love to hear about any other interesting tidbits you discover as our academic terms begin in the northern hemisphere!

58 Comments
Community Member

I hope some of this is useful to the Community

Uhh... I think that is a pretty safe bet. This will save people TONS of time! kblack@dom.edu Nice Work!

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Thanks, Adam!

Community Member

Ooh, great post!

Lamplighter II

Great write-up! You just saved me a ton of work! Thanks. I think if we use blueprint courses, it will only be for a very basic template with common stuff (links to common resources etc) that every course should have but what a lot of people forget or don't update regularly like they should. 

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Thank you, Susan(s).  (Both of you!)  

Explorer III

THANK YOU, kblack@dom.edu‌, for all this detailed information!

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Glad you like it, Linda!

Surveyor

Thank you so much for this post. I'm scrambling to learn about Blueprint courses and this just saved me a bunch of time. Thank you!!!

Instructure
Instructure

Thank you! This is terrific! Smiley Happy 

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Glad you like it, Deactivated user‌ and ahardesty@ou.edu‌!

Surveyor

Has anyone played around with a Blueprint course that uses LTI (publisher specifically Pearson) content?

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Sorry your question has been sitting here so long, troyer.59‌.  I have NOT tried this, and frankly I think it may be a borderline copyright issue for the publisher if that were done.  Part of the "sales appeal" of a publisher-produced LTI is hooking it into the classes in question.  (And buying the textbook that comes with it.)  Still, it may be worth an explanation with your sales rep that this exists in Canvas and ask if it were possible.  I imagine a lot of it would work to general Pearson material they make available, but many publisher LTIs tie into a specific "course" for that instructor on their end, as well...no?

Explorer III

troyer.59‌ asks a great question, and I certainly hope we'll be able to use Blueprint courses to simplify deployment of LTI tools across associated courses. We've successfully been able to use course copy with the Study.Net LTI tool. Currently, there's an issue with some course settings (including course nav, which is where we place most LTI tools) not syncing correctly. (The Service Cloud case we opened about this is on-hold, with tracker # CNVS-38061.)

I look forward to testing this out soon -- and to retesting, if needed, when the tracker referenced above is fixed.

Surveyor

Hello all,

At our institution we centralize content and I was excited to see this come out. However, I see an issue that kblack@dom.edu‌ noted early on, and that is the duplication of content.  Does anyone have any ideas on how to approach this?  The BluePrint sync will only sync BluePrint objects, leaving certain modules that we have hidden in our courses visible to users.  Is there a way to associate a course as well as copy content to preserve the settings in the copied course? 

Thanks .

Explorer III

We finally got a chance to test out Blueprint courses that use LTI tools. We were able to successfully sync several LTI tools across associated courses, including Study.Net (with the specified course pack replicated successfully to the associated courses), YellowDig (the tool enabled ready to have the board created in the associated course, and Piazza (again, with the tool enabled ready to have it created in the associated course).

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

That is outstanding news, lindalee@wharton.upenn.edu‌!  Thanks so much for the update!

Surveyor II

Hi there

Thank you kblack@dom.edu for creating this post. This post saved me lots of time understanding Blueprints and how they could work in our organisation at TasTAFE.

From this post and the Blueprint guides I have created a Canvas Blueprints flow chart and summary document to share with TasTAFE eLearning colleagues and our lead teachers to explain how Blueprints function. As your post has mentioned, I have found planning and communication is vital in the success of Blueprints. If I have misunderstood any content please let me know so I can apply modifications.

So far, I've been creating a Development Course, to create the course content and add whomever to the course to develop. Second, create a Blueprint course and import content from the Development course, then associate courses where an immediate sync of content occurs. Only adding the course designer/admin and lead teacher developer to the Blueprint course who can apply and sync changes. Since our organisation is working towards statewide consistency the locking of specific content is a valuable feature. 

Canvas Blueprint Flow Chart

I would like the option to select certain Blueprint items to sync to associated courses and being able to allow a course to be associated to more than one Blueprint. So far with my Blueprint testing and current live Blueprint courses this feature has proven to be a time saver.

Looking forward to attending CanvasCon Sydney this week. 

Cheers.

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Thank you so much for this awesome chart, dearne.willing@tastafe.tas.edu.au‌!  This took a lot of work on your part and I think it's a good summary of the main points to make when using Blueprint courses.  I will be curious to hear how successful your efforts have been.  You did exactly what I did in the case of one specific faculty member:  namely, importing from an already-existing course into a Blueprint course shell.  (And yes, waiting to associate courses until satisfied all the material on the Blueprint course was ready to go.)

Explorer III

Folks interested in Blueprint courses -- I wanted to bring this feature idea to your attention: https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/9548-blueprint-make-modules-lockable 

Learner II

Any information on how Blueprint courses handle Group Sets? We're currently finding that groups have to be recreated when copy from one course to the next each semester, which has created some extra work for faculty.

Explorer III

Hi jonesn16@nku.edu‌,

This is a GREAT question! Unfortunately, Blueprint courses doesn't much improve on the current situation as far as groups and group assignments are concerned.

Why it's a problem:

Here's the "default" behavior when you create a group assignment in a Blueprint course, REGARDLESS of the name of the group set assigned in the Blueprint:

  • The assignment is synced to associated courses, with the "Group Assignment" box ticked and the default "Project Groups" group set created.
  • The empty Project Groups group set is created on the People page, but there are no pre-created groups and the attributes set in the Blueprint site do not carry over.
  • Groups need to be created and set up in each of the associated sites.

This default behavior mimics course copy and is problematic for several reasons:

  • Group assignments in associated sites that are copied or synced will not work without additional configuration. This is complicated by the fact that it can be hard to tell which assignments are group assignments (see https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/8682-icon-for-group-assignments-resubmission )
  • You cannot use the automatic group creation wizard to create groups in an existing group set ( see https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/6916 ), which means that some instructors might delete the existing group set and recreate it (possibly with the same name). If they do not re-associate the (new) group set with the assignment, the assignment will not function as expected.
  • There are no warnings in Canvas that communicate what might happen as a result of deleting (and recreating) an existing group set that is associated with an assignment (see https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/6927 ).

What we've done thus far:

So far, we've created the assignments in Blueprint as individual (not group) assignments and left them unpublished. The unpublished setting will carry over to the associated courses. From there, we create the group sets/groups in the associated courses and then change the assignments from individual to group. (Or faculty typically do not set up their own group assignments, as we find we often end up needing to do a lot of fixing.) We do this because Canvas does not prevent students from submitting to group assignments if they are not in groups (see https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/7791-group-submissions-should-not-be-allowed-if-the-student-is... ), and doing so can cause a lot of problems.

Learner II

Primarily in my experience we have used the publisher's features to create Master Courses and then associated it to the various sections of the courses.  In the Master Course we could determine what the instructor could or could not change.  Personally have not done this recently with Pearson, but know this well for McGraw-Hill Connect courses.

Then in Canvas have a similar Master Course that is copied into each section of the course but have not explored making it a Blueprint course.  I do have on course in mind you might be interested in doing that.  When/if we do, I'll let you know.

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

jonesn16@nku.edu‌ and lindalee@wharton.upenn.edu‌ - Thanks for this interesting discussion on group sets.  I have to admit that I would never have thought of even trying to create groups simply because the blueprint course itself has no students to begin with, so it would not surprise me if "bad things" happened when syncing the blueprint course site to the associated sites.  In a way, you are creating items that the course is not programmed to deal with, even though it otherwise looks and acts like a normal Canvas course.  So now I'm wondering if there should not be a feature idea to just not show the GROUPS tab at all on the People page until the Canvas programmers specifically make Blueprint courses more compatible for group setups, given the work-arounds that Linda has to employ.

Surveyor

This is great!  I am currently working and testing blueprint to prep for next steps.  Great to see where your testing focused and compare to my process.  Thank you for posting! 

As a follow up.  Has anyone looked at a SIS integration with blueprint?  If so how is that working?

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Thank you, udelhsar@niacc.edu‌!  I'm glad it is useful for you.

Community Member

Thank you for this kblack@dom.edu‌! Great explanation of the considerations that need to be taken when setting up a blueprint course. Those of us over here at USU Extension were extremely excited when we were first introduced to this feature but for the way we would like to use it, we need to be able to add multiple blueprints into one course. If others are finding they need this ability, too, please add a vote to this poll https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/9350-multiple-blueprints-in-a-single-course" modifiedtitle="tr.... Thanks, again!

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Thank YOU, Deactivated user‌; I'm glad you found this useful.  (I voted your idea up.)

Community Member

Awesome kblack@dom.edu ... Thank you sooo much for all this research and posting. This will be my 'start point' for Blueprint Courses', and save me all the time that you obviously invested, since I don't have the time to do what you did!

So, once again I say Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!    Earl

Community Coach
Community Coach

That didn't take long, Earl!

I just sent the link for this to our list server.

Community Member

Yes indeed, and since Blueprint courses have been on my radar for the last month or two, without being able to put it on my 'to do' list, I jumped on your emailed link as soon as I saw it! (I'm not too proud to accept all of the help that I can get.)

Thanks kelley.meeusen@cptc.edu !    ;>)

Community Member

Thank you dearne.willing@tastafe.tas.edu.au for posting this flow chart. I have downloaded it, and it should be very helpful to use, along with all of kblack@dom.edu's input!

Thanks again!  925024864     ;>)     

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

So much good information here! Thank you,kblack@dom.edu(and lindalee@wharton.upenn.edu‌ -- and anyone else who's info I haven't gotten to yet). I still have a lot to read up on!

One question...

I'd like to give department heads the ability to create blueprint courses and create associations. I do not want to make them full account/subaccount admins, though. Has anyone experimented with an admin role that will allow this? It would make my life a lot easier! 

Thanks!

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Thanks for your nice comments, kevin.wagenmaker@montcalm.edu‌!  Unfortunately, this is not a possibility yet....BUT, there is movement afoot to have more granular permissions.  I do not know if Blueprints are included with this, but it sure would be nice if there were!  You can keep track here:  Priority: Granular Permissions and, especially, take a look at the video posted here: https://community.canvaslms.com/message/87795-granular-permissions-designs .

Community Member

How are you brave trail-blazers of Blueprint courses handling the restriction that the BP course and all of its associated courses have to be in the same, or lower, subaccount; and cannot have students? All of our academic course sites are automatically created in the appropriate subaccounts, and have students. Do you manually create new courses in the same subaccount to make a Blueprint course? We tried having Blueprint courses in a separate subaccount, which obviously didn't work (but would have been nice!). It's already a bit of a hassle that the Admin (me) has to set a course to be a Blueprint and make all the associations (the first request I have has approx. 30 courses to be associated); I'd really rather avoid manually creating courses in our Academic subaccounts just be to Blueprint courses.

Any ideas would be very welcome!

And thanks kblack@dom.edu‌ and lindalee@wharton.upenn.edu‌ for getting this conversation going!

Explorer III

Hi fosterl@oregonstate.edu,

We create the Blueprint template sites manually and place them in the same sub-account where the associated courses will be. We don't create course sites automatically (though many folks at our school wish we did!) because there's a lot of variety in terms of how multi-section courses are handled. Certainly creating the Blueprint site is an extra step, but it's not so dissimilar from how we create templates that are copied to other Canvas sites. However, we do by-pass our site creation tool, which would automatically add the student enrollment section. We then add teaching team members manually (using +People) or via SIS import (if there are a lot to add).

Regarding the requirement that the Blueprint courses cannot have students -- for courses where the teaching teams are updating/changing content after the semester begins (which was the case with two of our four pilot Blueprint courses during the fall), not having students enrolled in the Blueprint template meant that the teaching teams could adjust as needed and sync when ready, without triggering notifications to students with each minor change.

We've found creating the associations to be pretty quick, provided that you have something unique that you can search for. For instance, our spring MBA communications courses are offered in three versions (each with a different Blueprint template). We found that adding a discriminator to the course number (for instance, WHCP 612-CC, 612-ISB, and 612-PE) made it simple to search for and associate the correct sites to the Blueprint template. When searching on the unique identifier, only the courses we wanted came up in that sub-account and term, allowing us to add all of them with a single click (rather than individually selecting the correct sections from the search results list -- which might be tedious and potentially a source of human error).

The requirement for the Blueprint and associated courses to be in the same account (or sub-account) isn't a problem for us, as we have sub-accounts organized by academic department (more or less) at our school. So this is consistent with how we already work.

I don't know enough about your process to know if this is a stupid question but -- is there a problem with creating the Blueprint templates in the same sub-account as the associated courses? Or will the associated courses be in separate sub-accounts?

Another suggestion might be to create an account admin role that would allow someone (other than you) to create and associate the Blueprint courses. You'd have to test it out to get the right combination of permissions.

Community Member

Hello All. Helpful information. Our staff and faculty have been working with the Blueprint feature for over a month and went live with students last week. Just want to share that we've encountered several flaws. All have been related to file display and linking strategies (lots of broken links). Canvas is fast to respond and address bugs, but it's been time consuming to identify, report, and manually repair stuff when needed. Also one fix release resulted in another error. My advice is TEST, TEST, TEST, anything and everything, multiple times before going to production. Feel free to reach out if you want to chat about Blueprint. 

Community Member

Thank you to Linda J. Lee and Kathryn Davis for the detailed feedback on Blueprint courses. This is exactly the kind of information that we have been waiting for, before diving into using Blueprint courses. This is greatly appreciated!    ;>)

Learner II

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Canvas Users Group is looking for faculty/institutions in the Mid-Atlantic Region using Blueprint at their campus to be part of a keynote panel discussion at our 4th Annual MAGIC Conference on April 13, 2018 at Salisbury University in Maryland.

This blog as well as testing, testing and testing has been an outstanding resource and our group is interesting in continuing to share how Blueprint courses are being implemented.

Please reach out to me or my colleague ebelt@howardcc.edu‌ if you or someone you know would be interested in serving on this panel.  See http://canvasmagic.org for more information. 

Community Member

This sounds cool! Feel free to add it to the Conferences and Events list if you haven't already. You can also list any synchronous online offerings in CanvasLIVE . Good luck on the event!

Surveyor

Fun to look back at where I was when I first started commenting on this post.  And still great information, even better by all the comments.  Has anyone had much luck with managing course dates for blueprint associated courses?  We have several courses that may each have a different course schedule we're using with blueprints.  Just wondering what has worked or not worked for you all?

Sara Udelhofen 

Explorer III

Hi Sara Udelhofen,

Several of our Blueprint courses have sections that meet on different days/times. We use james@richland.edu' Canvas Enhancement to Adjust All Assignment Dates on One Page. We typically specify locking on content and points, and leave the due and availability dates unlocked. And then adjust the assignment dates in the associated/child sites as needed using this.

I talk a bit about this in https://community.canvaslms.com/groups/higher-ed/blog/2017/12/03/lessons-learned-about-blueprint-cou.... The schedule for each section is the same, and our adjustment of the due dates is usually just shifting from one day of the week to another, or from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., for instance. However, I would expect the process to be the same even with more substantial schedule changes.

Good luck!

Best,

Linda

Surveyor

Thank you to kblack@dom.edu and lindalee@wharton.upenn.edu for all this helpful information about Blueprint. We are thinking of applying Blueprint to our Master template which would then populate all our Master courses for the different colleges with any updates.Your blogs are certainly going to help us planplanplan

Two questions.

1) I know if an instructor in an associated course makes a change to an unlocked object, that object will not be changed if the Blueprint is changed. Is there a way for the instructor of the associated course to see the change somehow and choose whether or not to accept the sync and override his/her own edits or accept the sync and also retain the changes he/she has made?

2) This might be a silly question, but if you import content into an empty shell course from a course associated with a Blueprint course, does the new course automatically become an associated course, or is that just nonsense?

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

jpatch@fsw.edu‌ - I apologize for not seeing this question earlier!  The answer to both questions is "no," unfortunately. For the first issue, this is where communication with all faculty involved in the associated course sites is vital.  I guess if the content is that important, it should be locked (easy for me to say....), but otherwise word will just have to go out to all faculty about the change made and what to do on their end.

On the second question (and no, it's not silly!), I just ran a test on this just to be 100% certain that my hunch was correct, and indeed the act of importing from a blueprint course does not make the blank shell an associated course nor will importing from a course that is, itself, associated with a blueprint course.  (I tried both scenarios.) 

And frankly, this is just as well, because I don't think anyone would want to have this occur accidentally.  So far as I can tell, all associations must be created "manually."

I hope this helps, Jillian.  And sorry for the long delay.

Learner II

An issue has come up today with our Blueprint courses. Our parent courses are created and maintained by faculty and as the Canvas admin, I associate the current term courses with the parent blueprint courses. However, some of the parent courses were created (start date) many years ago and have been updated as we go. The problem is that the course settings for the parent blueprint overwrites the start date that is imported with the course shells from our SIS. 

Is there any way to use blueprint as an option for our courses, but not change the start date of all of the associated courses?

Explorer III

Hi Melinda,

Oh, that's an interesting problem you present. I think the difference in behavior that you are now seeing may be related to a bug fix in the September 15, 2018 production release that fixed a bug associated with course date syncs. According to the release notes, the bug fix retained course dates in associated courses when synced with a master course. (See https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-15415-canvas-release-notes-2018-09-15#jive_content_id_Bluep...

We create new Blueprint templates for each term, so this is not a problem we encounter. In face, we had experienced the problem from the opposite perspective -- before the bug fix, we needed to manually set any course-specific term override dates in each of the associated sites because they didn't consistently sync from the template.

Unfortunately, I don't have a good suggestion for you. An initial course sync includes settings, so there's no way to avoid a sync with course settings. A couple things to you might consider:

  • Can you remove the start date from parent course? Does the absence of a start date prevent the start date set by the SIS from being overwritten?
  • Consider having term-specific Blueprint templates which won't need term dates.

Good luck, and let us know what you end up doing.

-Linda

Learner II

Thanks for the info, I am going to put in a support ticket. We did not have any issues (that we were aware of) when we first started using blueprints several semesters ago, but we saw a couple with no dates last term, and this term I had to manually go in and restore start dates after the blueprint associations. Smiley Sad

Explorer III

Hi Melinda Yerdon,

Your experience of no problems before, then a few problems last term, then lots this term tracks with the timing of the September 15, 2018 bug fix I mentioned.

Please share whatever response you get from support on this issue.

Best,

Linda

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Just now catching this.  (On my own post, which is rather embarrassing!)  Thanks, lindalee@wharton.upenn.edu‌!  Yes, I have experienced this at my institution.  The blueprint courses we have are not associated with any term (so as to always remain on the Dashboards for the instructors and not associated with a specific term), so they had no dates in them at all, and indeed that is what has been happening in the associated courses whenever the Settings checkbox on the sync is enabled. Even if the blueprint was associated with a term, the dates would certainly be different on each associated course. This is rather annoying, to say the least.

Explorer III

We really need more differentiated control over what kind of content and settings are locked and unlocked in Blueprint courses!

Learner II

Agreed, the blueprint option is a bit worthless to us if we are going to lose the start dates that are set by our SIS. The option to NOT associate course settings is really not an option for us either since we want to send grade scheme and other course settings. I had to manually reset all course start dates for associate courses this term Smiley Sad

About the Author
I am currently the Associate CTLE Director, Teaching & Learning Technologies at Dominican University in River Forest, IL. I provide faculty with workshops on Canvas as well as one-on-one assistance, video overviews, help with online instruction, etc. I have a Master's in both Library & Information Science as well as Computer Information Systems. I started out as a librarian, so that may account for why I'm happy to help others in the Community addressing various issues; that good ol' service attitude goes with the territory of once being a librarian! I have lived in the state of Illinois my entire life.