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Templates vs Blueprint Courses

mattg
Community Participant
10 7 3,961

I often ask students who use Canvas “What could we do in Canvas to help make it easier for the student?” Two of the most common responses I hear are “Can you make all of my teachers/professors use it?” and “Can you help them use it more like [insert best Canvas-using teacher they have here]?”

In short, the answer is no. We can’t MAKE them do any of those things. What we have attempted to do with Course Templates is provide each institution with tools that make setting up a well thought-out course easier for each teacher in the classroom by giving them a head start.

What is a Course Template?

As announced in our May 15 Canvas Release Notes, a Course Template in Canvas is a course shell that can be configured to provide structure and support for each institution's style for good course design. Configuration for a course template can include course navigation, widely applicable content pages promoting school or departmental ethos, as well as module layout to help with pacing through a term. 

Each time a new course is created (through manual or automated means) this “template” will be used as the foundation before teachers start building content and activities. Once a course is created from a template, the template’s role is complete—the course is its own entity, relying on each instructor to take it from there. Instructors can change, modify, or add to that course freely. 

Templates point teachers in the right direction, promoting consistent, best practices in course design that will help keep students oriented. Additionally, templates allow teachers to spend more time teaching and less time learning how to design a good content page.

course template.png

 

How is a course template different from a Blueprint course in Canvas?

Like a Course Template, a Blueprint Course can set the default design, content, and settings for many courses. Unlike a Template, however, a Blueprint Course maintains associations with its  courses and allows for central management of course design and content. Learn more about enabling a course as a blueprint course.

Blueprint Courses are most valuable for courses that have been centrally designed and developed, and where maintaining the integrity and currency of the design or content is important—no matter who is teaching it, such as with facilitator-led courses.

Blueprint Courses can lock content from being edited by instructors. If content needs to be updated or changed, the Blueprint author can do so and sync those changes to all associated courses without relying on each instructor to manually make the adjustments in their individual courses—and without disturbing any edits or additions made by the instructors.

How do I use a Course Template?

Admins in Canvas can designate any course in the account or a sub-account to act as the template from the course settings page. To be eligible as a template, the course must have NO user enrollments, as course templates do not include a People page.

Once designated as a template, the course displays in the template drop-down menu from the settings page on the account and on each sub-account. This process means that each sub-account can inherit the template of the main account, or it can designate its own template to serve that sub-account’s unique needs. 

A template could be used for individual school buildings within a district or schools or departments in a university. Once established, the template would act as the default state of each course created through the SIS integration with each new semester, or if a course is manually created within Canvas itself. This process kicks off a background Canvas job where it looks at the template course and copies it to the new course destination. 

If an account is creating a lot of new courses at once, such as at the beginning of a new term, the course shell can exist before all the content has been added as a course copy through the background job. Therefore, if a new course has not yet been processed by the template, the course may appear as if the template did not apply. In most cases, this situation would only be obvious to someone logging in to that course immediately as the course copy bulk process has begun (these typically are run overnight by each institution) and would be updated when the process has been completed. However, when a course is created manually, applying the content from the template does not need to be part of a large queue and should update nearly instantaneously. 

Course template designations can be changed at any time by an admin on the account to serve the current need of each school.

_ _ _ _ _

Hopefully this feature will help each institution better serve its students and faculty by allowing the school to make the design choice that serves its population, and not the LMS tool provider in the sky that doesn’t know what is best at your school.

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7 Comments
byron_hook
Community Member

Do changes made to the template affect new courses that get created after?  In other words, if I tweak the template for something new. Do new course shells then pickup that change or do we have to select Make it a template again and mark it as a Version 2? 

chriscas
Community Champion

@byron_hook ,

I'm fairly sure the template is applies within minutes (usually) of a new course shell being created.  I'm also fairly sure you can change the template course around as much as you want and whenever you want, but only newly created course shells after you make the changes will get the updated template.  I hope that makes sense.  If I'm wrong, I'm sure someone else will come in let us know pretty quickly.

-Chris

abertran
Community Member
 

Hi! nice feature, I tested and copies the everything but not Feature Options like on copy courses, isn't it?

 

Thanks!

jpietropaulo
Community Member

If I designate a course a "template" can I control which courses that are created use the template, or is it just every course that is created uses the template to start?

For instance - we use BPs to push out most courses to the production courses, so I wouldn't want those courses to use the template when they are auto created by the SIS.  But, I would like a template for revisions and new course builds.  Generally I just create a import file with what I want and import it into the new courses, but this seems a bit easier....maybe. 

abertran
Community Member
 

Hi! each course created on account assigned to it will use this template

In your use case I will suggest to create into a temporary account/subaccount without template, then move to the account/subaccount you will need

Hope it helps

 

Best regards

Hildi_Pardo
Community Advocate
Community Advocate

This is a great feature for any school that is new to Canvas.  I'm trying to see how this could work for us -- a majority of our teachers will be importing their course from last year, which would then overwrite any settings (including course menu), and push down any content (replace the home page, or add modules above the template modules).   If they don't import the entire course, and use the Select Content option instead, this would at least save the templates Settings and Course menu.   (but communicating this to everyone can be a challenge).

One big concern I have is Dates.

If the template is set to the Default Term, will the Default Term be applied to the new courses?  In other words -- if new courses are supposed to placed in the current school year's Term, will they get bumped to the Default Term?   (This would be terrible).

And if Course Dates are added to the template course, once applied to new courses, will the new courses default to the inherited Course Dates?  Or will they default to the Term dates?

@mattg - can you help clarify this for me, please?  Thanks!

 

 

erinhmcmillan
Community Team
Community Team

Hi, Hildi,

Templates are copied the same as course copies, and the term date doesn't apply. It will always be the default term. If the template includes specific course dates, the course copy will set the participation also as Course, but the specific dates will not be populated.

Thanks,

Erin