Brightspace Template


In response to student and faculty feedback, a model course site structure — informally known as a 'template' — has been created by a team of educational developers and instructional designers.

The template aims to provide students with a consistent learning environment and to support faculty in the set up and design of their online course spaces.

Framed around the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and other pedagogical strategies considered best practice, the template includes a set of homepage widgets; a course orientation; example welcome messages, discussion prompts, and student feedback surveys; built-in supports for both students and faculty; and more. Implementing the template is optional.

The fully customizable template available to instructors across Dalhousie is available in Brightspace: Template - General Use 

If you’d like to see the template in action, you can enroll yourself in this demo course: Template - COMM2303 Demo Course (Directions on how to self-enrol)

To implement the template, follow the instructions below or request a Course Builder to help you set up the template and the rest of your course site. Other forms of support include:

  • Educational Developers with the Centre for Learning and Teaching, who can assist with writing learning outcomes, developing student assessments, and other aspects of course design. Contact elearning@dal.ca to schedule a consultation.

  • Instructional Technologists with Academic Technology Services, who can assist with technical support and training of Dalhousie’s instructional technologies, such as Brightspace, Panopto, Collaborate, and more. Contact intech@dal.ca for support or visit the virtual support room

Note: Agriculture, Engineering, FASS, Journalism, and Science have customized versions of the General Use template. Please contact the following Educational Developers for access to the customized template:

Guide to Developing Your Online Course

Included in the Faculty Resources module of the General Use template is a guide for faculty interested in more detailed information on designing and developing their online course. It includes information on the Brightspace template, including customization options and sample text. Download the Faculty Guide to Developing Your Online Course.

How to Use a Brightspace Template

Adding a template to your course site

  1. From your own course site, navigate to the Course Admin menu.
  2.  Click the Import / Export / Copy Components link.
  3. Press the Search for offering button.
  4. In the pop-up window, do a search for: Template - General Use.
  5. Select the template from the list and press Add Selected.
  6. On the next screen, press Copy All Components or select components individually.
  7. You will get a message once the copy process is complete. The template has now been added to your course site. You can now upload content or customize as desired.

Video walkthrough of the steps above: Dalhousie Brightspace Templates: Adding a Template to Your Course Site [1:00]

Adding a template to a course with existing content

You can add the template to a course site that you have already developed. Adding the template will not erase any setup you’ve already completed but append to it.

  1. From your own course site, navigate to the Course Admin menu.
  2. Click the Import / Export / Copy Components link.
  3. Press the Search for offering button.
  4. In the pop-up window, do a search for the template you’d like to copy. The template for general use (i.e., not faculty specific) is named: Template - General Use
  5. Select the template from the list and press Add Selected.
  6. On the next screen, press Copy All Components or select components individually.
  7. You will get a message once the copy process is complete. The template has now been added to your course site.

At this point you can move or delete content modules or transfer content items between them. (The first module of the template is named Orientation: Start Here.) The same is true of Discussions. Reorder or delete discussions to integrate your pre-existing forums and topics with the ones provided through the template.

Video walkthrough of the steps above: Dalhousie Brightspace Templates: Adding Template to Course with Existing Content [1:36]

Adding select components from a template to your course site

  1. From your own course site, navigate to the Course Admin menu.
  2. Click the Import / Export / Copy Components link.
  3. Press the Search for offering button.
  4. In the pop-up window, do a search for the template you’d like to copy. The template for general use (i.e., not Faculty specific) is named: Template - General Use
  5. Select the template from the list and press Add Selected.
  6. On the next screen, press Select Components.
  7. Under Choose Components to Copy, select the components to add to your course site, choosing either Copy all items or Select individual items to copy. Note: If you will be adding the template widgets to your course site, you will need to copy the images included in the template. To do so, be sure to select the Course Files component and either Copy all items, or if you’ve chosen to select individual items to copy, be sure to copy the Course_Images folder.
  8. When you have finished selecting course material, press the Finish button.
  9. You will get a message once the copy process is complete. The template components have now been added to your course site. You can now upload content or customize as desired.

Video walkthrough of the steps above: Dalhousie Brightspace Templates: Adding Select Components to Your Course Site [1:07]

Customizing your course homepages and widgets


Activating the Template Homepage

After you have added the template to your course site, you may notice that the template homepage is not the one showing at Course Home. To activate the template homepage:

  1. Choose Manage Homepages from the menu (three dots) at bottom right of the course site homepage.
  2. In the Active Homepage drop-down menu, choose Brightspace Course Homepage – Template.
  3. Press Apply.

Customizing the Course Banner

  1. Choose Change Image from the menu (three dots) at upper, right of the course site homepage.
  2. Search for an image.
  3. Press the Use this image.
  4. If you would like to upload your own image or use Dalhousie-branded template banner, choose Change Image from the menu (three dots) at upper, right of the course site homepage.
  5. Press Upload.
  6. You can choose to upload an image from your computer or from the Course Offering Files, in the Course_Images folder, choose “BSpTemplate12-week-banner.jpg.”
  7. Press Add.

Customizing the Widget Style

Upon adding a template to your course site, you may notice a white rectangle around the homepage widgets. To remove this white rectangle:

  1. Choose Edit this Homepage from the menu (three dots) at bottom right of the course site homepage.
  2. Press the widget you’d like to style and deselect Display widget container style.
  3. Press Hide Properties to continue to style widgets on your homepage.
  4. When finished, press Save and Close.

Adding a Custom Footer

At the bottom of the course site homepage will be a standard footer. To use one customized with your faculty name:

  1. Choose Edit this Homepage from the menu (three dots) at bottom right of the course site homepage.
  2. Press Add Widgets.
  3. In the search bar, type "footer" and select the footer you’d like to use. Press Add. Style the footer widget you just added.
  4. Delete the FOOTER: Plain by clicking the X in the upper right-hand corner of the widget.
  5. When finished, press Save and Close.

Removing and Rearranging Widgets

  1. Choose Edit this Homepage from the menu (three dots) at bottom right of the course site homepage.
  2. To remove a widget, click the X in its upper right-hand corner.
  3. To move a widget, drag to new location, as indicated by the horizontal line.
  4. To add new widgets, press Add Widgets and use the search bar.
  5. When finished, press Save and Close.

Customizing Widget Content

Some of the widgets require customization, such as Instructor Info, Syllabus, and Synchronous Session Link. To customize widget content:

  1. Navigate to Course Admin.
  2. Click the Widgets link.
  3. In the Custom Widget List, find the widget you want to customize. (Most begin with TEMPLATE.)
  4. Click the Edit (pencil) icon.
  5. In the Content tab, make your customizations. To add a photo, click the Insert Image icon. From the My Computer page, press Upload, find a photo from your computer, and click Add.
  6. Press Save and Close when finished.

Video walkthrough of the steps above: Dalhousie Brightspace Templates: Customizing Course Homepages and Widgets [3:31]