Regarding Content Restructuring: Preparing Canvas Course Shells for Fall 2020

Memorandum of Understanding

WHEREAS, Bowling Green State University (the “University”) and the Bowling Green State University Faculty Association – AAUP (“BGSU-FA”) (collectively, the “Parties”) have agreed to a Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) setting the terms and conditions of employment for Bargaining Unit Faculty Members (“BUFM”);

WHEREAS, Article 25, Section 2.4.1 states, “Material created for ordinary teaching use in the classroom and in department/school programs, such as course syllabi, teaching materials, assignments, and examination materials, and without substantial support from the University (as defined in Section 2.5), shall remain the property of the faculty author…”

WHEREAS, Article 25, Section 2.5 of the CBA defines “Substantial Support” with reference to course materials;

WHEREAS, on June 22, 2020 Provost Joe B. Whitehead Jr. (the “Provost”) informed the university community (“COVID-19: Return to Campus Guidance” or “Guidance”) that the University partnered with a team of instructional designers at Instructure, the company behind Canvas, to assist the University with improving teaching and learning;

WHEREAS, as one component of this partnering, the team of designers will offer instructional design services to some faculty members who teach courses that primarily enroll first-year students to make existing course content clearer and easier for students to navigate;

WHEREAS, the Provost stated in this Guidance that participation in this process will not alter faculty ownership of course content;

WHEREAS, the document, Content Restructuring: Preparing Canvas Course Shells for Fall 2020 (“Content Restructuring Document;” undated and attached) states that “Participating in this initiative will not alter faculty ownership of course content;” and

WHEREAS, the BGSU-FA requested that these commitments to faculty ownership of course content be memorialized in a Memorandum of Understanding;

NOW, THEREFORE, the Parties agree as follows:

The process described in the document “Content Restructuring: Preparing Canvas Course Shells for Fall 2020” shall not constitute “substantial support.”

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Parties have caused this Memorandum of Understanding to be made effective this 12 day of August, 2020.


Joe Whitehead signature
Joe B. Whitehead, Jr.
Provost and Senior Vice President



david jackson

David J. Jackson
BGSU-FA President

Content Restructuring: Preparing Canvas Course Shells for Fall 2020

While we don’t yet know precisely what the fall semester will look like for students, faculty, or staff, one thing is certain: we will continue to provide our students the outstanding educational experience BGSU is known for.

To that end, we are partnering with Instructure, the company behind Canvas, to help us improve the presentation of courses that primarily enroll first-year students. Our focus on these courses recognizes the critical role they play in establishing a foundation for long-term student achievement. It also acknowledges that first-year students, who are less likely to retain than continuing students, will benefit from efforts to improve their experience during what will likely be a challenging fall semester for all of us.

Canvas calls this process Content Restructuring, which engages professional Instructional Designers in reformatting existing course material in a way that is clear, consistent, and easy for students to navigate. We anticipate each course to take an Instructional Designer approximately twenty-five hours to reformat, with the faculty member collaborating with the Instructional Designer for between three and five of those hours. Instructional Designers will work on their own for the remainder of the time.

This initiative, which is funded by the CARES Act, will enhance the learning environment for our students at the same time it will help faculty members make a smoother transition to hybrid, remote, or online instruction in the fall. With a Canvas course framework that is more intentionally designed from the outset, faculty members should be able to spend less time on course management and maintenance and more time engaging students directly with material that is central to their discipline. And if we have to quickly shift to fully remote teaching and learning as we did in the spring, we will be that much more prepared.

Here is a brief overview of the Content Restructuring process:

  1. Faculty members share their existing Canvas course content with an Instructional Designer and meet briefly to discuss their goals and expectations
  2. The Instructional Designer reconfigures the material so that course content is more accessible, engaging, and easier for students to navigate.
  3. The Instructional Designer and faculty member participate in up to two rounds of consultation before the course is considered complete.

To guide their restructuring work, Canvas’s instructional designers follow their Course Evaluation Checklist, which is attached to this message.

Work on this initiative will begin immediately and conclude by August 21, 2020. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Glenn Davis, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs (

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much time does this process take?
    • We anticipate that faculty members will spend between three and five hours consulting with their Instructional Designers about their course
      • One hour of initial consultation to learn about the faculty member’s goals, expectations, and questions
      • One hour of consultation to review a first draft
      • One hour of consultation to review a second draft (if necessary)
      • Two hours of consultation to discuss any aspect of the course design (if necessary and if the faculty member is interested)
    • The Instructional Designer will complete the rest of the work on their own, based on initial and subsequent consultations with the faculty member.
  • How were courses identified for Content Restructuring?
    • Our goal is to support classes that will have a significant impact on first-year student learning. We therefore identified courses that met one or more of the following criteria:
      • Identified on Graduation Plans as important for first-year students to take in the fall semester
      • Meet one or more BGP requirements
      • Are typically taken by a large number of first-year students
  • How will this initiative be funded?
    • We are using CARES Act funds, which must be spent on technology or services that support online education, to pay for this initiative.
  • Who at Instructure will have access to my course materials?
    • Only members of the Instructional Design team at Instructure will see your course material. Instructure’s contract indicates the following: “Instructure may use the Customer Content solely to provide and improve the Service in accordance with this Agreement or Customer’s instructions.”
  • How much material needs to be in my Canvas course shell to start the process?
    • The more material you can provide up front, the more work the instructional designer will be able to complete on your behalf
    • We will provide specific information about what information to include to set the stage for the best possible result
  • Who will own the reformatted content?
    • Participating in this initiative will not alter faculty ownership of course content. We strongly encourage faculty members to share their work within their departments, however.
  • What if my department offers several sections of the same course taught by different instructors?
    • Since our goal is to cover as many different courses as possible, we will likely be unable to restructure all sections of a course. That said, we will provide all faculty the customized template that will be used for Content Restructuring and encourage departments to collaborate to have it used as widely as possible.
  • Will I be able to add new content to the course after restructuring?
    • Absolutely. The goal of restructuring is to make course content more accessible and engaging for students, and also more consistent from course to course, not to limit what is or is not included. You will be able to make changes to your course content at any time during the restructuring process and beyond, as you normally would.
  • How can I learn more?
    • Here is a link to a screencast that shows two examples of courses before and after Content Restructuring. The second example begins at 4:48.