Quick Start Brightspace Course Shell

A course shell is a starter structure for your course. This shell is based on a set of online course design guidelines from The OSCQR SUNY Online Course Quality Review Rubric and Processes that addresses the instructional design and accessibility of an online course. The rubric is openly licensed for anyone to use and adapt. 

Using a course shell can make designing your online courses very simple. All you would need to do is edit the information within the course shell to fit your specific needs. The shell has been designed for you to remove placeholders or edit them for your specific instructional needs. 

Inside the MC Quick Start Course Shell are resources that you can use to assist in designing your online course, if you so choose to. What we suggests is either removing the additional resources that we provided to instructors, or hiding them so that students are not able to view that content.

**NOTE: The Course Shell should be added BEFORE any content. It can overwrite what you have already added to the course. After the shell is in place, you can import content from existing courses.

Overview of the course shell


On the Homepage of the Course Shell, you will see where you able to add information to the Meet Your Instructor Widget. For instructions on how to do so, please see our post about the Meet Your Instructor Widget.


Once you select Content from the item menu at the top of the Course Shell, it will bring you to the Overview module. You have the opportunity to create a welcome message, overview, and list of learning objectives for your students here. As a time saving tip, this information can be copied and pasted from your course syllabus.

Course schedule

The next module is the Course Schedule that Brightspace creates by using the due dates from the assignments that you create. For more information on how to use the Calendar tool within Brightspace, see our post on Brightspace calendar and dates.

Start here module

The next module is the Start Here module. In this section, you can add a Course Welcome message to your students, instructions on how to navigate the Brightspace Learning Management System, as well as best practices for the online learning environment, which we reference as Communication and Netiquette. The resources in this section provide you with some information regarding these topics.

Course syllabus

In this module, you have the opportunity to upload your course syllabus for your students to access. For instruction on how to upload content, please review this Brightspace video about uploading content (YouTube).

Orientation (optional)

This is an optional Orientation Module that you can edit to fit your course. Orientation and success activities used within the curriculum content provide opportunities for learners to think critically, reflect effectively, and research topics and issues that support their assignments.

In Orientation modules, faculty have placed content that reinforces their learning objectives, as well as tips on how to be successful in an online learning environment (Netiquette). Once students review the Orientation materials, faculty assess their understanding of the course (which can include information from your course syllabus), prior to moving on to the actual content of the course.

Content modules

The Unit 1 module serves as another placeholder for your actual content. Here you can choose to layout your content the way you like, or replace the content within this shell with yours to maintain this particular design.

Student resources (optional)

This optional module is the Student Resource module. Students can visit the link within to find a list of student services that Meredith provides along with contact information. Please note that there is a widget on the homepage of each course that has a list of services, so this module may not be as imperative as the others.

Technical Help (optional)

This optional module is the Technical Help module. Students can visit the link within to find some tips on how to manage/troubleshoot technical issues. Please note that there is a widget on the homepage of each course that has a list of services, so this module may not be as imperative as the others.

Professional development resources for instructors

Lastly, the IDAT team has hosted several cohorts that began in the summer of 2020. Within these cohorts, we covered several methods on course design and best practices that assist online learning. Here, you can review some of the resources that were shared during this time period.

Adding Course Shell to Brightspace

So how to you get this magical course shell? Well you need to contact the IDAT team to get it added to your course.

If you want the course shell, you should add it BEFORE you start adding your course content. This shell replaces your current course shell and will overwrite modules or content currently in place.

We have a few instructors using this course shell at Meredith College already so if you want to see the course shell in action, please contact the IDAT team to be added to an example course.

We hope this course shell will get you off to a great start!

The IDAT team has Instructional Designers that are always ready to help! If you need more information on course design, please contact the IDAT team.

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