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Community Member

How can we use Commons for template distribution?

We would like to use Commons to distribute teacher home page templates.  We know how to put the page in Commons and have teachers download, but if we make a change to the template and they download the update, it wipes out all the edits the teacher has made.  Even if you re-name the page, it gets wiped out with the update.    Anyone know of a work around for this? 

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4 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @joseph_allen ​, I think because of the nature of what a template is it would have to wipe out everything done before. I'm not sure of the type of programming that would work to allow only changes to be updated to the page and leave anything the Instructor had done. It's definitely not going to be Commons, but I know other College's use back-end programming to distribute templates to their courses, so maybe that would work/help(?). I'm going to share this with the Canvas Developers​ and Canvas Admins​ groups in the Community to see if they can help!

Learner II

Hi Joe,

I would suggest that after the teachers copy the homepage template into their course that they click on the HTML editor and copy all the code, then create a new "production" homepage and paste the code into that.

This would solve the problem of them accidentally overwriting their homepage when you update the template and it gives them the ability to update the template and see what's new. From there they can determine if it is something they want to copy the code again and make a new "production"  homepage from it.

I know this is not ideal but I think that is as functional as it gets with the given feature set and functionality of Commons updates.

Thanks Chris.  I think we are doing some version of that today since Canvas lacks a copy feature and copying the html code seems to be the best work around.  I would just like teachers to get out of the html coding business once and for all.   There are plenty of website creation tools like Weebly that offer easy to use templates without any coding knowledge.  Canvas needs to evolve to that level of usability...and quickly.

I'll look for you at InstructureCon next week.  We've corresponded on a number of topics this year and it would be nice to put a face to your name. 

Unfortunately, I won't be attending InstructureCon 2016​ this year, but I would have liked to meet up with you. Maybe next year!

I'm all for an easier way to copy things in Canvas... ​ but I'm not so sure discouraging teachers from getting into the code is a good idea. It seems like coding is a new literacy that our students should be developing but largely are not. The few that do, do it mainly outside school and then many find great jobs or opportunities open up for them. If we think this skill is important, teachers need to embrace it and be willing to give it a try to promote and encourage students to code for it.