Digital Learning & Design

This guide and accompanying worksheet is meant to be used with the FALL/SPRING 14-WEEK ONLINE course template provided within Canvas. 

To import the template, first sign in to Canvas, then go to Canvas Commons (located on the main left-hand navigation bar). Search for “FALL/SPRING 14-WEEK ONLINE.” Once you have located the template, select “Import/Download,” and then find your course and select “Import into Course.” For more information on how to download from Canvas Commons, please see: How to Import a Template from Canvas Commons?

Other resources are available to assist you. Use the Helpful Links resource as you design, build, and teach your online course. Please also see our grading and facilitation guides. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to [email protected].

Fall/Spring Course Design Worksheet

Your fourteen-week course should consist of fourteen asynchronous modules in Canvas. Each module typically represents a week of course time in which students can complete the work within that time frame. This approach does not require anyone to meet at a specific date or time.

Please note that the following guidelines are best practices. You can use the template however you see fit, but hewing to the guidelines that follow will ensure an enriching experience for both instructor and student.

Begin by writing a general Course Welcome page in the orientation module. This page should consist of a general overview of the course topics, course outcomes, any pertinent course resources, and a syllabus. 

Each subsequent module should consist of:

  • An overview that includes learning objectives
  • Pre-recorded asynchronous short lectures (fewer than 10 minutes)
  • Readings
  • One substantial assignment
  • 1-2 Discussions

The module format and content can vary depending on your course content. You should make sure, however, that each module is consistent and predictable, and includes clearly stated deadlines and expectations; there should not be a large increase in work or dramatic change in type of assignment without advance warning. Keep your course simple and predictable to facilitate student learning. 

To create the following items within a module, please see: Creating Items from Modules

Overview/Welcome: The overview should give students a good idea about what they will learn by the end of the module. It can consist of a paragraph-length explanation, or a series of bullet points listing outcomes and objectives.

Asynchronous Short Lecture: You can use Zoom or Panopto to record short lectures that can be embedded within each module. These lectures can be used to offer an overview of module content or explain a difficult concept. This approach is optimal if you have not arranged with our digital media team to create lectures.

Readings: Each module should contain between 75-100 pages of reading (articles, case studies, etc.). The amount assigned will depend on the difficulty of the readings. Feel free to also consider using videos, podcasts, or other materials.

Assignments: Depending on course content, one substantial assignment should be required for each module. This can be a case study, short paper, group project, exam or some other assessment. Or the assignment can be a component of a larger final project. Assignments should be due at the end of the module week.

Discussions: Each module should contain one to two discussions that connect to the assignments and readings. One discussion should be a place where students share experiences, ask questions, or respond to questions posed by the professor. This discussion should be due toward the end of the week. The other discussion should be tied to the content and/or the major assignments and should be due mid-week.

Would you like to see how the template transforms into a course? Then watch our video below on organizing your Canvas course.


Looking for more? After you review the Grading & Facilitation guides, visit our Resources page for additional guides, events, and trainings.


Have a question? Please see our Online Course Design Helpful Links page.

Still need help? Email [email protected]