How to: Configure a higher education program shell

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Go straight to the guide.

What are program shells?

Program shells are used across the University to provide a space within Canvas for program managers, teaching teams and students to communicate and share information at a program-level that would otherwise have to occur via email or other platforms.

They’re not formal teaching spaces. Assessments, learning activities or other experiences that are directly related to a given course should be managed within that course shell. But they do provide a meaningful supplement to course shells and can help build cohesion and belonging within program.

What are they typically used for?

Program shells are used for a variety of reasons, the most common are listed below:

  • Communicate with an entire program within Canvas
  • Provide guidance on program structure and course selection
  • Promote events relevant to the program
  • Promote internships or job opportunities relevant to the program
  • Share minutes and other documents from staff and student consultative committees or other relevant groups and bodies
  • Provide supplementary material for placements, study tours, and work-integrated learning activities that students need access to prior to enrolling in a particular course
  • As a platform to share program-level resources (for example, a reading list)

It’s useful to have a clear idea of the purpose of your program-shell and you can seek support from your relevant digital learning liaison in your school.

How to configure a program shell

Request shell from ITS

Make a general ITS request using the text below but replacing the relevant information. Note that a program shell can be configured to include students from one or multiple plans and you will need to specify which plans should added the the shell.

Can you please create a higher education program shell for the program [BP123] enrolling all students in plans [BP123] and [BP124]?

Can you please also enrol the following staff members as Teachers?

John Smith, Jane Doe

Apply DSC HE program shell template

Once your shell is available and you have been given access, you should apply the DSC HE program shell template. The material in this template will help you set up the shell to pass QA quickly.

To apply the template:

  1. Open Canvas
  2. Navigate to Commons
  3. Search for the template “DSC Template – HE Program Shell”
  4. Open the template
  5. Click the Import/Download button
  6. Select the shell you want to import into
  7. Click the Import into course button

The template will be applied in a few minutes.

Prepare shell for QA

Higher education program shell need to pass QA but not all 14 elements. They are exempt from element 8 (the course schedule) and elements 12 and 13 (assessment related elements). The other elements are slightly modified for these shell types, most notable that they don’t require a welcome video.

You can read about the specific detail of the requirements for these, and other non-standard, shell types in the QA Guidance Checklist document published on RMIT’s 14 elements page.

Submit shell for QA and attend to any feedback

You should be able to submit your program shell via QA Hero using the SIS ID.

If the SIS ID for your shell isn’t found in QA Hero, email RMIT Studios directly at, quoting the SIS ID and requesting QA.

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