#WNYBUG2016 – The Joys (and a Few Challenges) of Using a Template for Course Design

#WNYBUG2016 - The Joys (and a few challenges) of Using a Template for Course Design

The last session of the Western New York Blackboard Users Group learning day was on using templates for Blackboard course shells. This is something we have in place but we are always looking for ideas. The Alfred State team did a great job presenting this topic.

The original presentation can be found through this link.

The last session of the day consisted of a panel discussion with Mark Bloxsom, Joe Bailey, Deb Burch, and Keith Glover. Danyelle O’Brien helped flip slides and moderate.

During the presentation, they discussed the template creation process, the template design, and feedback.

Template Create Process

Basically, they put together a task force of faculty to create the template. They invite the academic community to pilot the template. With the feedback they received, they made adjustments to the template design. The faculty senate approved the template and all online courses were required to implement the template.

Template creation process

Template Design

The template consisted of a menu of 15 modules listed on the Blackboard course navigation menu. Within each module, there were five folders with descriptions:

  • Student Learning Objectives and Outcomes
  • Course Materials
  • Assignments
  • Discussions and Interactive Activities
  • Assessments and Evaluations

Course Template

The template was in line with the OSCQR requirements. The template standardizes the user experience across the campus. It can also be easily adjusted for 3-week, 7-week, and 15-week courses. Because the template is modular, it is easy to reorganize sections of a course. With the new course structure, the team indicated that they were able to do better Student Learning Objective alignments.

With the new template, Alfred State can develop “anchor courses” for a program that has prepopulated learning objects and course materials. The instructor would then need to add assignments, discussions and interactive activities, and assessments.


All the faculty on the panel were very happy with the new template even though there was a lot of work to migrate their course into the new form.

Mark Bloxsom indicated that he was also using the template to support his face-to-face course.

Joe Bailey says it helps with the instructional rhythm of a course. He could easily adapt the template to fit shorter courses.

Everyone saw it as an opportunity to rethink how the course works. They also stressed that instructional freedom was not hampered.

“Every minute the students are finding an assignment is less time they are working on the assignment.” ~ Mark Bloxsom


The team also left a number of recommendations for using the template.

Recommendations for creating a template


Recommendations for using a template

This was a great presentation. I would like to thank the Alfred State team for sharing their experiences for the benefit of the greater community. If you have questions about this presentation, please contact me.

Additional Reading

Stan Skrabut, Ed.D.

Stan is Director of Technology-Enhanced Instruction. He has over 20 years experience working as an instructional technologist and trainer. He has a master’s degree in computing technology in education and a doctorate in education specializing in instructional technology.

Twitter LinkedIn Google+ YouTube Skype 

One thought on “#WNYBUG2016 – The Joys (and a Few Challenges) of Using a Template for Course Design

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *