Dons Template

The USF Instructional Design team is pleased to introduce the Dons Template on Canvas, intended for broad faculty use teaching primarily face-to-face courses. It’s intuitive, good-looking, and built on research-based course design best practices that will help reduce time spent designing your Canvas course and enhance your students’ experience. 

Currently in pilot, this Canvas course template will be released widely to the USF community in Spring 2020. Once utilized across the institution, the Dons Template will provide students a consistent experience across all their Canvas courses. Key advantages for faculty using the template include:

  • A customizable, inviting home page to welcome students to your course
  • A modular structure to easily organize your lesson materials
  • Getting started resources for students to head-off commonly asked questions
  • Placeholder pages and text to easily input essential course information

Dons Template Preview

Caption: Screenshots of Dons Template home page and modules page.

The Dons Template is intended for broad faculty use in primarily face-to-face courses and provides flexible organization, with easy to understand prompts as you design digital components for your courses. This template is different than templates designed for hybrid and online courses created in collaboration with USF’s Instructional Designers. In addition, the template will provide students a consistent experience across their courses when the template is released to the USF community in spring 2020. 

How can I access the Dons Template?

To access the Dons Template for the Fall 2019 semester, you must register for a Dons Template Essentials workshop on August 15, 2019, at 11AM or 1:30PM. This is your opportunity to gain access to the template and discover a range of key Canvas-based active learning activities to enhance learning in your class. Throughout the pilot, your user feedback will be important as we finalize the template prior to its broader release in Fall for the Spring 2020 semester. Participants who complete the workshop and pilot testing also have an opportunity to earn a Dons Template Essentials digital badge, which can be applied toward a USF Course Design Essentials Certificate (more information coming soon).

Not ready for Fall 2019, but interested in using the Dons Template in Spring 2020 or beyond? Once the pilot concludes, we will make any necessary updates to the template and our workshop, and begin plans to release the template to the rest of the university. Check back here in October for more information, or keep an eye out for one of our Fall ETS communications with more information.

What are the research-based course design best practices that underpin the Dons Template? 

The Dons Template is a reflection of the Quality Matters Higher Education rubric standards for blended courses, consultation with over a dozen other universities using LMS templates, and focus groups with USF faculty and students. 

To learn more about the Quality Matters Higher Education rubric standards, visit the Quality Matters website.

Have feedback you’d like to share regarding the Dons Template? Email us at

How do I learn more about Canvas and the Dons Template?

The USF Instructional Design team provides consultations on designing courses, including taking advantage of the Canvas platform to improve students’ experiences with your technology-enhanced courses and incorporating best practices on course design, active learning, and accessible teaching. Sign up for an Instructional Design consultation to learn more.

The USF Instructional Technologies and Training (ITT) team offers self-guided training materials and consultations on educational technologies to support your transition to technology-enhanced teaching and learning. Visit the ITT resource page on Canvas to learn more about USF's learning management system.