Introducing the Basic and Advanced Canvas Templates

Introducing the Basic and Advanced Canvas Templates

By Vince Tango, Instructional Designer

In this blog, we continue exploring easy-to-navigate Canvas templates that you can incorporate into your courses.

Last year, the OTL launched its first Canvas template, which utilized CIDI Labs Design Tools to create an eye-catching, aesthetically streamlined course shell, complete with weekly modules and templates for the syllabus, assignments, discussions, and more. This template, which we’ve now renamed the OTL Advanced Canvas Template, is continually updated with relevant and timely information and is available with your DU login credentials through the Canvas Commons.

To address the shift back to largely face-to-face courses, along with DU’s minimum requirements for Canvas courses outlined in the Covid Classroom Protocol, the OTL has developed a new “Basic” template.

With the addition of a new template, you may be wondering which template you should choose?

What Template should I choose?

The OTL Advanced Canvas Template contains formats for the syllabus, a home page, weekly modules, assignments, discussions, and more. This template can be customized for either face-to-face (F2F) or online (synchronous and asynchronous) delivery. If you plan to use this template for a F2F course, you may not need as many of the template pages that are included.  

The OTL Canvas Basic Template also contains templates for the syllabus and home page, but is  more streamlined. For example, since F2F classes do not tend to use many asynchronous activities, this template focuses on keeping the course organized with the basics needed in a Canvas course, such as assignments and instructional materials.

Whereas the OTL Advanced Canvas Template contains fully developed 10-week modules with assignments and discussions included, the OTL Canvas Basic Template does not have the modules pre-built. Rather, the OTL Basic Template comes with an example of a module that can be duplicated if needed. Both templates are branded specifically for DU and were designed with a pedagogical lens.

So, what template should you choose? If you plan to use Canvas more minimally for F2F courses or to simply abide by the minimum requirements for Canvas courses, consider importing the OTL Canvas Basic Template. If you plan to use Canvas as a facilitation tool or want to expand your expertise with Canvas functionality, consider importing the OTL Advanced Canvas Template.

Please review the chart below for a comparison of the two templates.

additional information

Whether you are new to Canvas or a pro, both templates provide a foundation for your course. You can also edit each of the templates; if there is an item or module that you don’t need, you can easily delete it.


The OTL Canvas Templates are located in the Commons in Canvas. To import the templates 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.


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

Comparison Chart

 OTL Advanced Canvas TemplateOTL Basic Template
Cidi Labs Design Tools
Theme, Colors, Images may be edited.
Home page with a welcome block 
Home page with welcome block, timeline, and course objectives 
Syllabus Template
Overview Template Page
Assignments Template Page
Discussions Template Page 
Four (4) Rubric Templates 
Pedagogy & Best Practices
Facilitator Resources
DU Crimson Theme 
DU Gold Theme 
Additional content blocks with pages 
One content block within pages 
One module as an example 
Built-in 10-Week Modules* 

*Modules are pre-built for the 10-week quarter in the Advanced Template. Each week contains an Overview Page, Readings and Materials Page, Assignment Page, Discussion Page