Over the past two and a half years in this job, I’ve been struggling with trying to help teachers as well as other eLearning Contacts with course theme design, but it’s a tough go. It’s really hard!  I’m comfortable with graphic design and I was able to figure out most of the stuff myself, but it’s not easy to pass along, even with a teaching degree!

In my position as an eLearning Contact for three small school authorities in Northern Ontario (small provincially funded public school boards), it’s my job to encourage the use of Ontario’s virtual learning environment. We use D2L’s Brightspace system, and though it has many amazing things it can do, it’s unfortunately not really designed with a K-12 classroom teacher in mind. The system is used by most of the Universities in Canada and hundreds of others across the globe and it’s a pretty robust system. But when it comes to something like course theme design, it’s not exactly easy to set up. Last year I created a series of videos explaining how to do it, but there’s a lot of things to click. I’m no longer convinced that’s the way to go.

So I’ve finally come up with a solution that I hope people will enjoy. Rather than teaching teachers how to do something that they really shouldn’t even have to bother to do, I’ll do it for them. I’ve created a set of installable D2L themes that can be downloaded individually or as pack and installed into a teacher’s D2L course. They still aren’t super-easy to install, but I’ve made step-by-step videos on exactly what to do and where to click. It’s still far easier than making a theme from scratch.

The inspiration comes from the appearance of the themes in Google Classroom. It uses very simple themes with a coloured texture-image across the top and a clean, distraction free content area below. They look nice and they are pretty easy for me to make. So far there’s about 27 in the pack which I have named after the town where I live, Moosonee. I hope the name isn’t too confusing; it’s just a little tribute.

I know the lack of themes in D2L has made ‘selling’ D2L on teachers more challenging. Now with things like Google Classroom offering competition (though they do very different things), I think it will help if D2L courses can look pretty sweet.

The theme pack is hosted on my coursehelp.ca site and you can see previews of them all at this link: www.coursehelp.ca/mtp

Please let me know what you think of the themes either in the discussion area below this post, or by using the Contact Me section on coursehelp. If you have suggestions for a theme, or perhaps even want to  submit your own photography for a theme, let me know. I might be able to help you.

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