Canvas Course Templates

The Learning Design team currently offers six Canvas course templates, each of which provides a unique standard for design and format.  With the increase in online course offerings and use of Canvas to enhance face-to-face learning environments, adoption of these templates can save faculty development time and supports the effort to ensure that courses at Baylor University are accessible to all learners through the implementation of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles.  Each template also aligns to the nationally recognized Quality Matters (QM) Standards to ensure well-designed online courses.  To review specific QM Standard alignments to the templates listed below, visit the QM/Template matrix.

Getting Started

Begin by reading a brief description for each course template listed below. Each description also links to a live preview. Keep in mind that you are previewing these templates from the student perspective, but there are many other features that could be enabled/disabled to accommodate your course needs.  For full instructor access to a template, you will need to import it from Canvas Commons into your course site.

Descriptions

Template A: The Basic

This template is referred to as “The Basic” because the layouts and designs of all pages are simple.  The primary difference between this template’s design and others is the layout of the ‘Home’ page, which includes a brief introduction, course objectives/outcomes, instructor contact information, office hours, and textbook information. (Live Preview)

Template B: Multi-Part Modules

The multi-part modules template is optimized to use several design features available in Canvas.  It has a condensed home page, inline viewing of the course syllabus and schedule, and less writing on each content page for easy viewing and mobile devices.  Module content is segmented into four structured pages: Introduction, Instructional Content, Activities, and Summary.  The module in this template is designed to limit the amount of content on a single page, segmenting the information in smaller digestible bites.  It still includes all the instructional design best practices presented in “the basic” template including a sample welcoming announcement, student orientation quiz, an ‘introduce yourself’ discussion icebreaker activity, and a mid-term survey. (Live Preview)

Template C: Multi-Week Modules

This course template contains many of the same pedagogical elements as “the basic” and “multi-part modules” templates.  It varies from the other templates in two distinct ways.  First, the ‘Start Here’ module consists of nine individual pages that each contains important course information.  Segmenting the ‘Start Here’ page into separate pages for each category of content reduces the amount of information on each page, which helps students retain the material more efficiently.  Second, the modules in this template are organized in a multi-week format.  This organizational structure will work best in courses that contain modules that span over several weeks, and courses that are thematic or unit-based. (Live Preview)

Template D: Face-2-Face/Blended

The “Face-2-Face/Blended” template is specifically designed for web-enhanced face-to-face (F2F) courses such as flipped classrooms or blended courses.  The modular design includes text headers that differentiate online and F2F content.  Whether you plan to create a repository of resources for a F2F course or an interactive online learning community for a blended course, this template provides structure and essential elements to support students – including a Midterm Survey and the Start Here module featuring valuable course resources and the Student Orientation Quiz. (Live Preview)

Template E: Faith Based

This course template takes many of the concepts and design strategies of the other templates but frames them in the context of Baylor’s values.  The template demonstrates approaches to integrating Christian faith principles.  It also emphasizes the ‘culture of character’ that is a key aspect of being at Baylor by weaving in ways to increase instructor presence through the use of video, personalized feedback, and ongoing communication.  A strategy that this template takes is to explain and describe the rationale behind the components that are included and further delineate ways you could customize those choices.  The included examples encourage the use of authentic and varied assessments, technology integration, and student engagement.  The visual design is Baylor focused and features custom banners.  Elements that have been built to support student ownership of the learning process can also be seen. (Live Preview)

Template F: Summer 5-Week Term

This template is designed and optimized with 5-week summer terms in mind.  It maintains core quality course design standards and pedagogical elements established in other templates.  This template varies from others in three distinct ways.  First, the “Course Overview” module condenses student support and technology support services into a single page.  Communication and netiquette are also condensed into a single page.  Second, optional activities, such as a Student Orientation Quiz and an Introduce Yourself icebreaker, are in place to enhance student engagement.  Finally, an optional Prayer Request + Devotion Reflections discussion forum (adopted from Template E) is in place to encourage the integration of Baylor’s Christian-driven core values into the digital online learning space. (Live Preview)

Next Steps


How do I acquire one or more of these course templates?

  • After logging into Canvas, go to Commons (left side of the screen) and access your preferred template. You can filter for "Baylor University Approved Resources" to make finding the Baylor templates easier.  Click on the blue Import/Download button and select your desired course site from your list of courses. At the bottom of the course listings page, select the blue Import into Course button.
     
  • You may also contact an instructional designer and identify which template you would like to acquire.You will need to provide either the Course ID of the development course site or a link to the home page of your development course site.
Note: Importing a template into a course that already contains other content will result in additional content being added.  Some instructors may find it easier to keep previous/current courses separate from the development course that contains the selected template.  Contact an instructional designer to determine the best option for your specific course and workflow needs.


How do I modify these course templates?

Now that you have a template copied into your course site, you may be asking how to customize the template to fit your needs.  Four simple tips to begin modifying your template include:

  • Adding & Editing Pages. Add new pages, assignments, or modules by using the “+” button from the modules page.  Use the edit button on any page to replace the content with your own.
     
  • Delete Extra Pages and Assignments. The templates provide a variety of example pages and assignments which you may not need.  Delete or unpublish any assignments that you do not use so that they will not be displayed in the Canvas gradebook.
     
  • Review the Policies. A lot of course policies have been included to meet quality course standards, but you should be sure to review them and edit them to meet your course needs.
     
  • Talk to an Instructional Designer. If you have any questions or need assistance with modifying a course template, we are here to help.

You can also find a wealth of information on everything Canvas, including instructions for modifying a course, in the Canvas Guides.  In addition, Learning Design recommends that faculty attend our hands-on Canvas Trainings to learn more about using and teaching with Canvas.


What if I still have questions about using any of these course templates?

If you would like to engage in a deeper discussion about the design and format of these course templates, schedule a consultation with us.