Eye-catching, easy-to-navigate Canvas templates

Eye-catching, easy-to-navigate Canvas templates

By Vince Tango, Instructional Designer

Project Team:

Lexi Schlosser, Faculty Developer of Online Learning

Jeff Schwartz, Instructional Designer

Vince Tango, Instructional Designer

The Office of Teaching and Learning is excited to announce a new Canvas course template! This new course template, intentionally crafted with OTL Instructional Designers and Faculty Developers, provides easy access to colorful themes, banners, images, headers, and syllabus organizational tools to help create more engaging and aesthetically pleasing course environments.  These user-friendly tools do not require any graphic design or HTML skills – just your creativity and imagination.

The OTL developed this template course using DesignPlus Tools (also known as “CidiLabs”). These are a suite of colorful templates, content blocks, and navigation links that establish a unified and organized look for Canvas courses for all modalities. These tools integrate into Canvas to help faculty with course design, accessibility, course readiness, and module management. You can also access built-in photos, color templates, themes, and styles that match DU’s styles and standards.

What makes this template different from other templates?

In addition to being branded specifically for DU, and providing visually organized content, you will find tips and best practices within the course. We designed each of the templates within the course from a pedagogical lens to provide context and purpose. For example, in the discussion template, we provided best practices for setting up discussions and enhancing student engagement.

Why a template course?

I have found in my own teaching that using Design Tools to organize my courses with colorful headers, photos, links, and other content blocks, students spend less time trying to find the content which frees them up to spend more time engaging in the course.

While there are different ways to organize your courses, such as using modules and a front page, the next strategy is to have a course that has easy-to-navigate content that includes a color theme, visuals, navigation links, and organized headers. Design Tools are available on all pages, assignments, announcements, discussions, course syllabus – wherever you can access the content editor.

Readings and Instructional Page Example
Assignment Page Example

What are the benefits?

  • Using a Canvas template saves time! You don’t have to build each individual item or module within your course – you can just focus on the course content. We have also pre-populated language to align with best practices for course design and pedagogy practices.
  • The consistency of Canvas courses across the institution helps students navigate their courses with an understanding of where to go for specific content or information.
  • Whether you are new to Canvas or a pro, the template can provide a foundation for your course, which wouldn’t require you to learn all of Canvas’s fabulous features all at once.
  • Our template still provides instructors with the opportunity to cater their course towards their department, philosophy, content, etc. You have freedom to be creative.
  • The structure and organization of the course will meet guidelines for best practices, so your students will have an easier time navigating the course. They can spend more time on the content and less time trying to find it.
  • You can still edit the template – if there is an item or module that you don’t need, you can delete it. It is still your course, but with a head start!

How to import the template

The OTL Canvas Template is located in the Commons in Canvas. To import the template in your course, please visit the knowledgebase web page for step-by-step instructions. Once you import the template, you will find additional resources within the course for how to use the templates.

Get Help

We are here to help you. Please do not hesitate to contact the OTL at otl@du.edu or schedule a 1:1 consultation with one of our Instructional Designers using the DU Booking System.