All courses offered in Brightspace must be associated with a course template. Course templates link a course offering to a department (or another parent org unit for organizations that don't use departments or include another org unit between departments and course templates).
The primary purpose of the template org unit is to act as a container that groups similar or related courses together: for example, all History 101 courses could be associated with one parent History 101 course. This is useful for enrollment, course creation, and administration of courses over time.
The course template could also act as a library for child org units. Template components and settings are not automatically inherited by child org units; however, they can be shared or copied over to course offerings. The connection between a template and a course offering also allows some tool items to be shared from a template to a course offering, such as: themes, navigation, links, link groups, competencies, rubrics, remote plugins, external learning tools (ELTs), and ePortfolio forms. However, tool items can only be managed from the template.
Important: Although it is possible to use the template as a library for child org units, this often requires additional enrollment steps and administrative overhead, since course templates cannot be easily accessed from the course selector or My Courses widget. Therefore, setting up a "Master Course" course offering org unit is recommended for this purpose.
You can attach multiple course offerings to a template. All course offerings attached to a template belong to the same department, since it is the template, not the course offering that is associated with a department.
There are three different ways to create course offerings and templates:
- You can manually create them through the D2L course creation interface.
- You can use batch course creation to automatically create course offerings based on entries in a CSV file.
- You can integrate with a learner information system (SIS/UIS).
Best practices for using course templates
- All course offerings must be associated with a course template.
- Each course should have a single template but may have multiple offerings (one offering for each class or session).
- Any time you have two course offerings that you would describe as "the same course," they should share a single template.
- Tools and content that are reused every time the course is offered should be stored inside the course template.
- Components can be customized inside a particular course offering without affecting the template or future offerings.
- Good ideas from a course offering can easily be copied to the template and integrated into future offerings of the course.
- Create a new template
When creating a new course, begin by creating the course template alone. It is easier to create the course’s first offering after you have configured the course template.
Give the template the name and code, (for example, Introduction to Science and Technology, ST100). This will help reinforce the idea that the template contains the standard configuration for the course.
Use a file path that stores template files in a root folder and course offering files in folders below the template. Consider using something like:
- /content/department/course (template)/course session (course offering)
- /content/Science and Technology/ST100/ST100_Fall2012
- Configure course components inside the template
Course components include any course content, grade book setup, release conditions, discussion topics, question libraries, etc. you want to use within your course.
You should configure course components that will be the same for all offerings of a course inside the template. You can copy components from other templates or previous course offerings if you want to reuse configurations from other courses. You can also import components from a file.
- Create a course offering
Once the master copy of the course has been set up inside the course template, you are ready to create the first course offering. When creating the first course offering, choose the option to create a new course offering based on the template you created.
For the course offering name, use the name of the course plus a session indicator (for example, Introduction to Science and Technology Fall 2012). For the code, use the course code plus an indicator (for example, ST100_Fall2012).
Remember to use a course path that incorporates the appropriate department and template in the following format: /content/department/course (template)/course session (course offering). For example, /content/Science and Technology/ST100/ST100_Fall2012.
- Copy all components from the template to the course offering
After creating the course offering, click the Copy or Import Course Components link on the Summary page to open the Import/Export/Copy Components page for the new course offering. Select the items in the template that you want to copy into the course offering.
- Activate the course homepage and navigation bar and enable tools
The new offering uses the organization’s default navbar, homepage and tool settings. If you copy a homepage or navbar from the template, you need to activate them. If you copy tools that are not enabled by default, you need to enable these tools in the new offering.
Best practices for creating a standard setup for an existing course
If you have already been using Brightspace without maintaining standard course components within course templates, it is easy to establish standard configurations for your existing courses.
- Apply a standard naming convention
Having a standard naming convention will help you to think of the course template as the master copy of the course. This is particularly important if you have not been using a single course template with multiple course offerings for each course in the past.
Take the template used with the most recent offering of the course and change its name to the name of the course (e.g. Introduction to Science and Technology).
Take the most recent course offering and change its name to the name of the course plus some indication of the session, class, or term (e.g. Introduction to Science and Technology Fall 2012). Use the same strategy in naming all future offerings of the same course.
- Use a standard convention for file paths
When creating or configuring course components, you will often have to work with the directory structure on your file server (using the File Manager). Having the paths for your course template and each of your course offerings in order will make these tasks easier.
For the course template, consider using:
For each course offering, consider using:
/content/department/course (template)/session (course offering)/
This construction will help you to conceptually separate the standard components for the course (stored in the template) from individual course offerings.
- Create the standard course setup inside the course template
Begin by copying the components from the most recent offering of the course, as these will usually be closest to what you want to use as your standard components in the future. (In some cases an older offering or even an offering from another course might be closer to what you want. Or you might want to copy individual components from multiple sources.)
You can also add additional elements to components you have copied, reorganize the configuration of the components, and, where necessary, configure empty components and create new course materials.
- Create a new course offering based on the updated template
Once the template’s configuration is finalized, you are ready to create a new course offering based on the course’s standard configuration.
Reasons to use course templates
The advantage of using a course template to store the standard setup of the course is that you keep a master copy of the course components separate from the individual course offerings. This leaves you free to customize the course for each individual class without affecting the next offering.
Course templates are not ideal for all situations. The following table is intended as a guide to help you determine which components, if any, you should store inside a course template.
Your course offerings are all unique and you never offer the same course twice
Create a single empty template for each course offering (to link the course offering to a department or other parent org unit)
Create and configure components inside the course offering
You re-offer the same course in different semesters and reuse the same tools, files, and content
Build and store standard components inside the course template
Copy standard components into course offerings when the course is re-offered
You mainly reuse course content (rather than the other tools), and mix-and-match content across different course
Use the Brightspace Learning Repository to store, share and reuse course content
Use the Copy Components feature to copy content directly between course offerings
What you can store in a template
You can store almost any component that can be added to a course offering inside a course template so that it may be reused for multiple offerings of the same course.
The following components can be created, modified, and stored inside a course template:
- Attendance Registers
- Calendar Events
- Course Files
- External Links
- Navigation Bars
- Question Library
- Registration Forms
- Self Assessments
- Tool Display Names
- External Learning Tool Links
- External Learning Tool Providers
You can also maintain Quicklinks between components, release conditions, and links between your grade book and other tools.
What is the difference between sharing and copying course components?
Some tools allow you to share specific items across multiple course offerings. The Rubrics tool, for example, allows you to configure individual rubric to be shared with all course offerings (or specific ones) beneath the org unit in which the rubric is created.
You can use this feature to automatically use a particular rubric in every course offering attached to a specific template. When a new offering is created, the rubric is automatically available as long as the offering is associated with the appropriate template.
By sharing the rubric, you don’t have to manually copy it into the course offering each time you add a course offering to the template; and any changes you make to the rubric appear in all course offerings.
These tools can be shared across org units: