Course Catalog

Overview

The Course Catalog module allows institutions to manage and dynamically publish their course catalog directly through OU Campus, with the capability to pull data from a third-party student information system. Content is automatically published in both HTML and PDF file formats, and XML if needed. Course Catalog utilizes specific templates associated only with the module to ensure a consistent appearance and organization for the pages.

Course Catalog Index Page

Configuration

At a very basic level, Course Catalog consists of individual pages within directories, and an index page that pulls information from these pages and displays them in a listing. Both a full-catalog listing and listing pages for courses and programs are configured.

Pages List View of Course Catalog

Course Catalog exists in its own site within your account, to make archiving easier - this will be covered in more depth in the Archiving section.. The actual URL can be configured as you wish, either as a subdomain (e.g. catalog.school.edu) or a folder off the root (school.edu/catalog).

While working in OU Campus, sites can be switched via the drop-down menu in the top right-hand corner of pages list view.

Switching Sites

The majority of pages are grouped within two folders: Courses and Programs. It is important to keep these two folders distinct from each other, and to ensure pages are placed in the correct folder. Programs refers to degrees or programs (e.g. Biology, Accounting, Theater), whereas Courses refers to specific classes within a program.

Example of a Program Page

Example of a Program 

Example of a Courses Page

Example of Courses

 

Listing pages, which display data pulled in from other pages, cannot be edited via editable regions as a usual page would be. This is because they pull the data in automatically; there is no need to edit them. The typical listing pages in a catalog are: 

  • The entire catalog PDF aggregate page
  • Course listing page
  • Program listing page

When another page is edited and published, the listing page will change as well, but must be published for those changes to appear on the live website. 

Programs listed on an Index Page

Course Catalog also allows for "regular" pages to be created, referred to as regulatory pages. These pages do not pull from a provided XML export or aggregate data into a listing, but are edited as typical. 

The data populating pages can be added in two ways. One option is to manually enter the data for each page, such as course or program title, descriptions, and times. The other is to pull the data in from an external source of information, such as a third-party program managing course data. Regulatory pages will always use manual entry only, and individual course/program pages that pull information from an external source will typically have a page parameter that allows the user to identify the data to be pulled, such as "Course ID."

PDF Output

Course Catalog utilizes XSL-FO to create PDFs from its pages. These PDFs pull content from the published pages, so they are automatically updated whenever a new page is published. Due to the nature of XSL-FO, the formatting on PDFs is fairly inflexible and does not allow for customization of individual elements (e.g., every Level 3 Heading must have the exact same formatting). 

Adding New Courses

New pages must be created in OU Campus to add the courses to your catalog. The data being brought in from any external sources only fills out existing page templates; it does not create new ones. 

To create a new page:

  1. Navigate to the course catalog site.
    Switching Sites
  2. Navigate to the appropriate directory for the page - i.e., if you were making a page about the new astronomy course, you would probably navigate to the Science directory. 
  3. Select the green +New button at the top of the pages list view.
  4. Select the appropriate template.
    New Page Templates
  5. Fill out the form fields accordingly; if your course catalog is pulling in data from an external source, make sure the course ID you fill in is identical to its ID in the third-party program, as that is how OU Campus will identify the proper source for the information. 
  6. Edit and publish the page as usual.

Archiving

As each school year passes, you may wish to archive your school's catalog. One option is to simply save the PDF files of the catalog, either to a dedicated folder in OU Campus or an external hard drive, and then edit your pages to reflect the new schedule. 

Another option is to duplicate the "current" folder in your catalog, make all necessary changes there, and then rename the existing "current" folder to its calendar year, and rename the duplicate folder to "current." This process can be repeated every year without having to modify any other files or archives.  

Example of Archived Folders

If you are archiving catalogs via this method, ensure Dependency Manager for your catalog site is turned off, or else it retain links pointing to their original files, and not the new catalog. Links in the course catalog site must also be set to "Page Relative," via Site Settings. For more information on disabling Dependency Manager, visit the Revert page.