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Canvas Spotlight: 2021 Canvas Blueprint updates

Structure for online-course shells refreshed.

By Emily Van Buren, Jennifer Whitton-Trujillo, Nick Ogg, and Alex McDaniel

April 6, 2021

The Canvas Blueprint is the basic structure provided for all online-course shells, designed to promote consistency and quality at Metropolitan State University of Denver. If you have taught online since we moved to Canvas, then you are likely already familiar with the 2020 version of the Blueprint, which incorporates minimalist navigation to streamline the student experience and comes with tools and templates to help faculty members set up their online courses. The Blueprint also preloads important institutional policies and resources so faculty members do not need to worry about updating this information each semester.

What’s new for 2021?

The 2021 Blueprint incorporates feedback received over the past year from MSU Denver faculty, staff and students. When you access your new shells for the fall semester, you may notice some of the enhancements made.

Key updates and benefits

A number of key updates and their benefits are listed and described below.

  • Course Information Module – Probably the most notable change to the new iteration of the Blueprint is the optimized Course Information Module. You will notice that the institutional resources and policies no longer live in this module, making it easier than ever to put your specific course information front and center before students.
  • Course Alignment Map – The Course Alignment Map has been moved from the resources section to the Course Information Module. The template itself has been updated for clarity and conciseness. The template has also been updated to include an example, making the table easier to use for faculty members who want to use the map but may not be familiar with this tool.
  • University Policies and Resources – This new module was added to reduce the cumbersome feel of the original Course Information Module. This module is now made up of external links to MSU Denver webpages. The new format will allow updates to institutional information and resources to be made without burdening faculty members with updating their Canvas shells.
  • Sample module – The sample module templates have been updated for ease of use. Updates include a module outline on the module overview page, a citation prompt and organizational lines on content pages, and a totally revamped design of the module review page.

Using the Blueprint

If you are migrating an existing course, remember these tips when selecting content to import.

  • Do not select the Course Information Module.
    • Select pages that you previously edited (i.e., instructor introduction) as desired from the “Pages” section.
  • Do not select the sample module.
  • Select Syllabus Body only if you want to import your existing syllabus.

If you are new to using the Blueprint, keep these tips in mind as you set up your course.

  • Edit the Syllabus Body (consider using the template).
  • Fill out the pages in the Course Information Module.
  • Duplicate the sample module and edit the copies to set up modules with proper structure.

For more information, head over to the Center for Teaching, Learning and Design Ready Spotlight page.

Have questions?

Want help on this or other teaching and learning topics? Please visit us for live support (10 a.m.-3 p.m., M-F) or try one of our self-help tutorials.

Topics: Online Learning, Student Success, Technology

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