Manually Created Courses

In some cases the staff in the Center for Innovation and Excellence in Learning may create courses manually in VIULearn. As these courses are not linked to SRS or SAWS, the courses, instructors, and student enrolments have to be created and maintained manually by a representative from a particular department or a member of the Centre. As these courses require more work and attention, the Centre has internal procedures governing the creation and maintenance of manually created courses.

There are two main types of manually created courses, Hub Courses and Manual Courses.

Hub Courses

A Hub course is a place in VIULearn where a program can store information and resources that students need that are not part of a specific course and that the program does not want publicly accessible.

Common uses of a Hub course include a combination of some or all of the following:

  •  Create discussion boards for program related information that is not specific to a course
  •  Email students within a program about non-course related activities
  •  Share many program related documents and resources that need to be behind a password
  •  Survey students regarding opinions or events related to the program as a whole
  •  Post job or employment related information

Hub courses are active places that need to be supervised and maintained on a daily or weekly basis if they are to be useful and relevant for students.  Supervision and maintenance of Hub courses is best carried out by people who know the program and are current on its daily activities.  The Centre is not in touch with the day to day operations in a program and, therefore, is not able to effectively monitor Hub courses on behalf of a department.  Before a Hub course will be created, a department must fill out a Hub Course Request + Renewal Form and nominate a central person who will be responsible for:

  •  Enrolling current students and instructors
  •  Un-enrolling past students
  •  Posting information and resources
  •  Monitoring discussion boards
  •  Assisting department members with requests and questions related to the Hub course

A Hub course is not always the best solution for communicating and engaging with students, particularly if you don’t plan on using the features and functions of VIULearn. Please consider the following:

  •  If your content does not need to be password protected, or is better shared with the community as well as students, a VIU Website or WordPress site may be an easier solution
  •  If the content within the Hub doesn’t require the features and functions of VIULearn and is more related to sharing content, aggregating information in one spot (and it doesn’t need password protection) a VIU website or WordPress site is a preferable solution
  •  If you only have a small number of documents to share with students, consider placing them in each course, rather than creating a dedicated space for them (a specific spot in each course could be dedicated to a collection of common documents)
  •  If you are needing to store/share files with a few people it would be much easier to use a cloud storage tool such as Dropbox or OneDrive (as long as the content doesn’t contain personal identifiable info)
  •  If you are not engaging with students, a Hub course is not an efficient choice
  •  If there is an existing hub course that could be repurposed or redesigned to work better for your request, as the fewer courses students have to access the easier for everyone

Process to Request a Hub Course

1.   Discuss your request with a Learning Technologies Support Specialist (LTSS) from the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning (email:

2.   Complete a “VIU Learn Hub Course Request + Renewal Form” and submit to the LTSS

3.   LTSS will bring forth the request to a weekly meeting of the staff to discuss.

4.   If request is approved, it will be processed within a week.

5.   Every year (in July) all Hub Courses will be reviewed and the contact person will be asked to provide an update (to continue with the Hub Course, to modify or to delete). 

Training for Care and Feeding of a Hub Course

Hub Courses will only be relevant for students if someone takes care of them to keep them active and well maintained throughout their lifespan. This requires a key contact person to have good understandings of how VIULearn operates and ensure they are following best practices for uploading content and engaging with students.

The Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning provides 1:1 training sessions to assist VIU employees with using VIULearn. To request a consultation, please contact us at  It is the Centre’s expectation that the hub course contact person engage in appropriate levels of training to feel comfortable managing the course.

Managing a course entails:

1.   Ensuring the class list (who has access to the hub course) is current and reflective of the group who should have access (including students and faculty) – thereby removing and adding participants on a frequent basis.

2.   Ensuring content is current and reflective of the term/year or program components (e.g., remove all old documents, keep content current).

3.   Upload content that has the broadest range of accessibility for students of all abilities and disabilities

(e.g., PDFs rather than Word documents when they are only to be read, descriptions of videos, use of style sheets in documents to make headings and table of contents etc.)

4.   Organize and display content in a format that is readable and easily accessible by all participants.

5.   Backing up the course every now and then locally to a computer.

6.   Contacting the Centre ( if there is a question or concern with the functionality of the course.

Many “Hub Courses” start with great intentions and often fail or become unusable because no one looks after the course. The Centre would be happy to work with contact people and others associated with the “Hub Courses” to ensure they are successful endeavours. If you feel a “Hub Course” is no longer useful, please contact the Centre with your request and we’ll discuss this with you!

Manual Courses

Manual courses are created for a variety of reasons when the broad engagement of a Hub Course in not appropriate. Following are some examples of the use of manual courses.

Example 1: The current courses for a cohort-type program are set up in SAWS in such a way that they present challenges for student access/use when synchronized to VIULearn.

A collection of short courses throughout a program (e.g., 2 weeks, 6 weeks) create a long listing of courses that appear/disappear for students due to the short time periods of course listing. Students are often enrolled in all of the shorter courses and require a singular course to do their work over a longer period of time.

Example 2: Courses that are offered for credit/non-credit that are not formally part of SAWS/SRS system.

There may be courses that students are required to take that do not appear in the Student Registration System (SRS) such as coaching courses, or electives.

Example 3: An instructor wishes to start developing an online, blended or web-enhanced course that hasn’t been entered into SAWS.

There may be a need for an instructor to create a manual course for pre-development opportunities before the official course shell appears in VIULearn tied to the SRS.

Example 4: Master Course Development

Sometimes a program wishes to develop a Master course off which other courses are replicated. This Master Course is merely a spot for development of core components for a variety of similar courses. This may apply to any course at VIU.

Example 5: Interviewing instructors who will be teaching and/or developing online.

Sometimes a program wishes to test out the skills and knowledge of instructor applicants (especially those applying to teach fully online courses) and requires a manual course to allow an outside applicant to develop a sample course.

Process to Request a “Manual Course”

1.   Discuss your request with a Learning Technologies Support Specialist (LTSS) from the Centre for

Innovation and Excellence in Learning (email:

2.   Complete a “VIULearn Manual Course Request + Renewal Form” and submit to the LTSS

3.   LTSS will bring forth the request to a weekly meeting of the staff to discuss.

4.   If request is approved, it will be processed within a week.

Training for the Maintenance of a Manual Course

Our VIU instructors will already be familiar with the management of courses in VIULearn, but for instructors from outside the institution or those not as familiar with the system, the Centre provides self-paced training modules for anyone to enrol in and learn more about the system and its functions. Within the self-paced training modules are videos, handouts and explanations of how to best manage your manual course.