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Community Coach
Community Coach

CIDI Labs DesignPLUS

For some context, I started at MTPC in 2001.  We've been through three LMSs during my time here... Jones e-education, Pearson eCollege's Learning Studio, and now Canvas, and I've been a LMS admin for each of those.  For the most part, we've designed our courses with the same look and feel and haven't strayed too far from that design.  We are in dire need of an overhaul in how we design courses to make them more visually attractive and engaging for our students...while still providing them with the course curriculum content they need.  We've been doing things the same for far too long.

We recently began investigating the DesignPLUS product from CIDI Labs.  So far, I really like what I see.  Being able to utilize templates and themes, customize content how you want it to look, and ease of use are important for us in making a decision whether or not to purchase.

Some questions for the Community:

  • Do you use DesignPLUS from CIDI Labs?
  • What is your role at your school?
  • What are your experiences with DesignPLUS in that role?
  • What pros/cons have you had from either/both an admin/instructor role?
  • Has DesignPLUS improved your course content compared to what you used to do?  If so, how?
  • How easy/difficult was it for your faculty to get acquainted with DesignPLUS?  Was there excitement or hesitation for using new software?
  • Is there evidence that it changed your engagement when implementing DesignPLUS?

I'm tagging a few people here in the Community that I've seen discuss DesignPLUS / Design Tools (I think you all have it?) in the past 2-3 years in other topics on this hopes they've now had some time to use DesignPLUS more and could provide some feedback for me.  But others are always welcome to chime in, too.   @jrboek ‌,  @meichin ‌,  @joseph_allen ‌,  @ronmarx ‌,  @rake_9 ‌,  @u0535816 ‌, and  @ndragisic ‌.

Thanks, in advance, for the feedback!

35 Replies

Thank you for your reply,  @jrboek .  Based on a reply I found from you last year, Anyone using UDOIT and Design Tool?, it sounds like you are using DesignPLUS from CIDI Labs?  If so, what has been your experience?  Lots of other questions in my original posting above.  Any feedback from you would be helpful...thanks!

At OU we used both. I am now at Embry-Riddle University and I know they use Design Tools. I still have not received my sandbox from CIDI when I registered for it last week. If you have any say in that department, I would love to see the new stuff.

 @jrboek ‌, you'll need to follow up with CIDI Labs directly.

 @jrboek ...

I know that it took CIDI Labs a few days to get accounts created for us.  There was a lot of interest after InstructureCon 2019, and so I think they were trying to get through all the requests for sandbox demos.

 @jrboek ‌, thanks for responding to my email today regarding account access. I'm glad you have what you need! Smiley Happy

Community Coach
Community Coach

Hello  @jen , A00301621,  @stacy_lambert , and  @david_summervi1 ...  I am tagging all of you here as well because I've seen where you may still be using DesignPLUS by CIDI Labs and would welcome any feedback you might be able to provide about my above questions.  Thanks.

HI  @chofer ‌

We use Cidi Labs as a template for pages - such as assessment tasks, lesson templates, page templates etc. I don't have any engagement data either demonstrating that Cidilabs makes a difference, however having a consistent look and feel for students and observers is really important to us. We also find that these templates remind staff to begin with learning intentions for lesson pages as that is at the top, there is also success criteria, further links etc. Anyway - hopefully you get the idea - our templates provide quality reminders to ensure students have access to all these things for their learning.

We also have a couple of people that build the templates for the College - a team will put together the idea of what they want e.g. assessment task compliance templates and we have a few people that are great at building the templates for everyone.

We just like the consistency basically. Maybe  @david_summervi1 ‌ has other ideas too.




Hello,  @chofer !

I am at Utah State University and use Design PLUS. (I'm actually involved in providing feedback on the tool and testing new features, so I'm highly involved in it.) I am an Instructional Designer and I use the tools every day in my job in various ways: 1) in the courses I am helping faculty to develop to make the process more streamlined for me, 2) to provide templates to the faculty members so that they can add content into their own courses, and 3) to make adjustments to previously developed courses.


  1. The tools have made it quicker to set-up a class and provide structure for faculty who otherwise might not know where to begin developing their courses. It gives them a focus on the types of content to provide for students and how they might approach it.
  2. Being able to create a template and duplicate that template as many times as needed also saves me a lot of time.
  3. Having consistency across so many of our courses makes navigation easier for students.
  4. Providing students (and instructors) with the current module on the homepage helps them find relevant content efficiently.

On the con side, some of the faculty find it difficult to make adjustments to the content and might "break" the template. This might require intervention from me or they might decide it is not a big deal and just leave that page looking funny. Neither situation is ideal. Training faculty to use the tools requires a little more training, but once they understand how to use the tools themselves it saves them time, too. Because we do a lot of course creation for our faculty who are using the tools in their classes, we have the opportunity to introduce them to the tools and help them see the value in it. We aren't necessarily teaching the tools and expecting faculty to use them on their own, so we don't get much push-back. If our approach were different, we might get some push-back from faculty having to learn one more thing.

As far as engagement goes, I feel like it has provided our faculty with a starting point and a structure to help them feel like they have something to start from and aren't just working from a blank page. They can see the potential for their class materials and begin asking about other options. It's great to see them get excited about their course.

I hope that helps!

Lamplighter II

 @chofer ‌

Here is my answers. I hope this helps. 

Do you use DesignPLUS from CIDI Labs?

We have been using Design Tools since August 2018. I love it! I use it everyday. I am the admin so I have created custom content for our syllabus content blocks and copy existing content institutional pages. I use this content often when helping new faculty get content setup in a course. It does speed up the development process!

What is your role at your school?

I am the Canvas admin and trainer. Basically, I am the Canvas person on campus. 

What are your experiences with DesignPLUS in that role?

I train faculty to use Design Tools with Canvas. I also use Design Tools to format content in custom courses. For example, I maintain a course site with Canvas tutorials. Design Tools helps me to format content so it is easier to digest for people new to Canvas. The Design Tools tutorials have been incorporated in the course site. 

What pros/cons have you had from either/both an admin/instructor role?

The pro is the assignment due date and announcement modifiers options in the multi-tool. This helps faculty get semester prep done much quicker. The con is that the other features are under utilized by faculty. 

Has DesignPLUS improved your course content compared to what you used to do?  If so, how?

I don't teach but as I mentioned earlier Design Tools helps me to maintain content in the Canvas tutorial site. It is much easier to maintain the course site using Design Tools. 

How easy/difficult was it for your faculty to get acquainted with DesignPLUS?  Was there excitement or hesitation for using new software?

Design Tools can be difficult to learn at first and for some faculty it can be overwhelming. I provide f2f training sessions and online support. I'm planning video tutorials customized for how we use Design Tools. 

Is there evidence that it changed your engagement when implementing DesignPLUS?

We haven't really investigated if this has made a difference. We are currently trying to improve accessibility of online content. Design Tools has some accessibility tools that helps us achieve those goals. 


Hello  @chofer ‌, I work at Utah State so I am definitely biased, but am happy to share a few thoughts. First, my role is accessibility coordinator and DesignPLUS has been a tremendous help in creating more accessible course content.  @kenneth_larsen ‌ does a great job in making sure that all of the design patterns available through the tool are accessible besides the accessibility tools that are built in. We use a number of accessibility tools at our campus (Ally, UDOIT, Canvas Accessibility Checker) and DesignPLUS offers the most efficient way to fix and update a couple of common errors around headings, links and alt text on a page level (see this comparison of DesignPlus with other accessibility tools).  

As far as engagement, here is a report that looked at courses that used or did not use Design Tools and the impact on first generation student grades: 

Design Tools: Influence on First Generation Student Grades (PDF file)

There is also some additional information on page 13 of this document: 

Student Insights Report, Fall 2019

Hopefully that helps!