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laptop screen with image of Zoom window with camera screen on

Many faculty find themselves teaching remotely because of the pandemic. One topic related to remote teaching that comes up often is student engagement during Zoom class meetings. Instructors who meet their students synchronously through Zoom want to know that the students are paying attention and are engaged during the class session. Some instructors feel that for student engagement in a synchronous class they should force the students to turn their cameras on during the class meetings. This article by Karen Costa, a Faculty Development Facilitator, explains why it is a really bad idea to force students to turn their cameras on from a trauma-awareness and equity perspective.

Are you looking for ideas for student engagement in Zoom sessions that do not require you to force your students to turn their cameras on? In an article posted on LinkedIn, Karen Costa provides some practical strategies that can help you to engage your students in a Zoom session. A few of her strategies are:

  • Encourage students to use non-verbal feedback including raise/lower virtual hand, answer yes/no to questions, speed up/slow down, and emoji reactions (clapping hands, thumbs up).
  • Ask informal questions throughout the session and encourage students to use the chat to engage with you and their peers.
  • Use formal and/or informal polls.
  • Embrace the pause. Pause during the class session to give students time to think and answer.
  • Invite students to share out via audio and or audio/video in addition to answering in the chat.
  • Teach students how to be on-camera in a Zoom session (e.g., lighting, background, virtual background, mute/unmute microphone).
  • Normalize the fear of being on-camera.
  • Try using breakout rooms.
  • Make the chat the heart of your session.
  • Set the tone for engagement from moment one.

If this has piqued your interest, you can read more about these strategies in Karen’s Making Shapes in Zoom article.

Also, we have Zoom how-to resources on our CAT FooD blog. You can find links for the Zoom how-to resources here:

Photo credit: “Zoom call with coffee” by Chris Montgomery from Unsplash

update

D2L (the company that owns Brightspace) uses Continuous Delivery to update our Brightspace system. The Continuous Delivery model gives us regular monthly updates allowing for incremental and easily integrated changes with no downtime required for our Brightspace system.

Our Continuous Delivery update occurs on the 4th Thursday of each month. D2L provides release notes to help users stay up-to-date with the changes.

Here are a few updates in the July 2020/20.20.7 release that were added to our system this month:

1) Brightspace - Supported browsers

This release introduces the following updates to browser support for Brightspace:

  • Brightspace supports HTML5 Video Player and does not rely on Adobe Flash and Adobe Flash Player. However, you can still create Flash-dependent video content in Brightspace Learning Environment.
  • The concept of a Maintenance browser is removed from the Brightspace Platform Requirements documentation, as this previously related to the now unsupported Microsoft Internet Explorer browser. All supported browsers (Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari) deploy using a continuous delivery model and Brightspace supports the latest versions of these browsers.
  • As of the July 2020/20.20.07 release, Firefox ESR is no longer a supported browser, due to extremely low usage. To support clients through this transition, D2L will fix high-priority issues for Firefox 68 ESR (until the end of September 2020) and Firefox 78 ESR (until the January 2021 release).
  • Brightspace's browser version check now displays warnings for browsers earlier than the following versions:
    • Chrome 81 (released in April 2020)
    • Chromium-based Edge 81 (released in April 2020)
    • Edge Legacy 44 (not receiving any further updates)
    • Safari 13 (released in September 2019)
    • Firefox 76 (releases May 5th, 2020)

You can access Brightspace with older versions of the supported browsers; however, D2L does not test Brightspace against these older versions. This means you may encounter unexpected user interface behavior and appearance, or broken and unsupported functionality. In most cases, D2L does not fix software defects experienced in unsupported browser versions. For an optimal experience that offers better performance, accessibility, and security, D2L strongly recommends that all users access Brightspace with a supported browser.

2) Rubrics – Accessibility improvements in Rubric creation workflow

This feature was originally released for the Rubrics tool in the June 2020/20.20.6 Continuous Delivery Update. The July 2020/20.20.7 update includes the following accessibility improvements in the rubric creation workflow:

  • When you change the names of levels in the rubric create or edit experience, screen readers now read the updated name rather than the original default level names.
  • Screen readers now indicate when new levels, criterion, groups, and overall score levels are added to a rubric. Previously, there was no loading progress indicator.
  • Screen readers now state that there is a new level, criterion, group, or overall score level.
  • The keyboard navigation tab sequence is improved when navigating to the Add and Cancel buttons in the Outcomes Picker window.

If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the July Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform July 2020/20.20.7 Release Notes.

Additionally, refer to the Brightspace Release Notes for Continuous Delivery Releases, for details about current, past, and to preview upcoming continuous delivery updates.

Want more information?

View current, past, and preview upcoming Continuous Delivery release notes
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Image credit: image by geralt from Pixabay

crane lifting the letter G into place in the word change

Occasionally, you may want to overwrite a file with a newer/updated version. It is easy to replace or overwrite files in your Brightspace courses.

Follow these steps to do it.

To overwrite an existing file, you should:

  1. From the context menu of the topic, select Change File. This will prompt you to upload a new file.
  2. Drag and drop the new file into the upload space or click Upload to browse for the new file.
  3. If you would like your students to receive a notification of the updated content, check the Notify students that the content has changed button. Students must have notifications turned on in their personal settings to see the notifications.

example of change file

Want more information?

Deliver Course Content
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery release notes
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Image credit: image by geralt from Pixabay

copy stamp

There are a some situations where you may want to copy components of a Brightspace course OR copy an entire Brightspace course into another one. For example,

  • You have a course from a previous semester and you would like to copy the course contents into your empty course shell for the current semester.
  • You have a Master Course Shell that you input content into and would like to copy the course contents into your empty course shell for the current semester.
  • You are teaching multiple sections of a course, you created all the content in one Brightspace course section and want to copy the content into the other sections.
  • You created content in one course (e.g. rubrics, discussions, quizzes, etc.) and would like to copy that specific content from one Brightspace course into another.

Copying an entire Brightspace course OR copying components of a Brightspace course into another Brightspace course is not hard. As long as you are the instructor for both courses, it is a simple process you can do.

Notes About Copying Between Courses

Here are some things to consider when copying a course or copying components of a course.

Overwriting and Duplicating Items
In general, course components already in the destination course will not be affected by copying course components. The only course component that can be overwritten is a course file, i.e., HTML pages that have been created in the course site or files that have been uploaded to it. A course file is overwritten if one of the files being copied into the course has the same name as an existing file.

If copying components from the same source multiple times, be careful not to copy the same items more than once, or this will create duplicates that may be visible to users in the course.

Student Data
Student data is not copied from one course to another; only the course structures are copied. For example, if a Discussion topic is copied, only the prompt and discussion settings are copied, not the individual student posts.
Links and Associations between Components
If copying linked or associated components, e.g., files attached to an Assignment Submission folder or the HTML files for pages that have been created, all of the related components must be copied at the same time. To do this, be sure to select the "Include Associated Content" checkbox when it appears. As long as that box is checked, all associated components are copied and the links between them are retained.
Copying VoiceThreads
If the course copy contains any VoiceThreads, they will need to be "re-linked" in the destination course. After the copy, go into the destination course and click on the VoiceThread links and re-select the VoiceThread.
Respondus LockDown Browser (RLDB) Settings
Copied courses that have tests/exams with RLDB enabled require instructors to access the Respondus LockDown Browser Dashboard once after the copy to update the RLDB settings in the destination course. This has to be done before students will be able to take exams that require RLDB.

Follow these steps to do it.

If you want to copy an entire Brightspace course OR copy components from a Brightspace course into another course, you should:

  1. Get into the course you want the content copied into.
  2. In the NavBar (of the course you want the content copied to), click on "Course Admin".
  3. Click on the "Import/Export/Copy Components" link.
  4. Click on the "Copy Components from another Org Unit" radio button.
  5. In the Course to Copy option, click the "Search for Offering" button.
  6. Click on the magnifying glass in the "Search for" field OR enter the name of the course you want to copy from in the search field.
  7. Click on the radio button to the right of the course you want to copy content from and then click on "Add Selected".
  8. Verify your selections are correct before proceeding.
  9. At the bottom on the browser window you will click on either "Copy all Components" OR "Select Components" and follow the prompts.

Important:

Double-check to make sure that you are in the course you want the content copied into AND that you have selected the correct course you want to copy content from. There is no way to reverse the copy process once the wrong course is selected and the copy request is submitted.

Want more information?

Copy Course Components
Import/Export/Copy - Copy Components video [1:31]
About Copying Course Components

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery release notes
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Image credit: "copy stamp" by jflorent is licensed under CC BY 4.0

You have been using Brightspace for a few semesters now and you are starting to feel comfortable with it. You have mastered the art of uploading files. You create announcements with ease. You have aced using discussion forums. You navigate the Grade Book effortlessly and collecting assignments digitally from your students via assignment submission folders is a breeze.

If you are wondering what to do next, you should consider taking your course to the next level by adding images.

Images can be used to serve many different purposes. Images are powerful because they:

  • Can help tell a story
  • Can explain a technical process
  • Can convey course information in an alternate format
  • Can break up the monotony of “text-only” pages
  • Can increase student engagement
  • Students pay more attention to articles/readings with graphic content
  • Just make the course look better

Below are examples of a Brightspace course that has a module without images and the same module with images and details. Which one looks better? Which course would you rather interact with?

Example of a course module without images or topic details
Example #1 - Course module without images or topic details
Course module with images and detailed information in the descriptions
Example #2 - Course module with images and detailed information in the descriptions

The images used in example #2 are for decoration, but they do add color and continuity to the course. Also, the descriptions provide students with additional information and links to go to for help. Thus eliminating the need for the student to search around the course for help or to find details about the assignment.

You can insert an image anywhere you use the HTML Editor in Brightspace. With a few clicks of your mouse, your Brightspace course can go from boring text only to visually engaging pages of text and images that convey meaning to students in different ways!

Are you looking for images to use in your courses? Here are a few helpful resources:

Follow these steps to do it.

To insert an image in the HTML Editor:

  1. In the HTML Editor, place your cursor where you want to insert the image and then click the Insert Image button.
  2. Follow the prompts.

NOTE: Images that enhance information or contribute to the understanding of text content need alternative text (Alt Text) to be accessible. Images that are purely decorative and add no content value should be identified as decorative.

Want more information?

Understanding the HTML Editor
HTML Editor – Insert Image
HTML Editor – Edit Image Properties
HTML Editor – Adjust Image Description and Sizing
Brightspace Accessibility Tip: Alt Text
Brightspace Accessibility Tip: When "Alt Text" is not Enough

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery release notes
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Often instructors are looking for images to use in their courses because images can liven up the course and help students understand the course material.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but it might also be worth a thousand dollars if your school gets hit with a copyright violation claim. —Eric Curts

There are many high quality pictures that can be used without any licensing concerns. These can include images that are released under creative commons, or are in the public domain, or simply are copyright-free.

Eric Curts compiled a list of free image sites and tools for schools that you may find helpful in your search for free images.

free image sites for schools

Two sites I use often that didn't make Curt's list are Creative Commons (CC) Search and the Noun Project.

Are you looking for images of diverse people? This curated list of image collections featuring diverse people by Online Network of Educators may be of interest to you.

black students working on laptop computer

Images have the power to enhance your message or story, they can also become a big distraction when used improperly. Check out this Mistakes to Avoid When Using Photos in eLearning blog post for some common mistakes.

Additionally, you may find an image you want to use, but you would like to make changes to it. You can find free photo and image editing tools in this eLearning Industry blog post by Christopher Pappas. Just make sure the image copyright gives you permission to modify the image.

If you are looking for information on copyright and Creative Commons, our Creative Commons (CC) Wiki Resource has information about CC licenses and CC licensed works that may help.

Image credits:
Image by Eric Curts is licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0
Photo by Nappy Studio from nappy.co

In a continued effort to support learner engagement and connection, D2L announced that the 30-minute Video Note extension will remain permanent, with a default limit of 30 minutes and 1 GB uploads.

Video Notes is a built-in media recording tool in Brightspace that allows instructors and learners to record short videos with a webcam. This makes it easy to personalize the learning experience with short, video-based feedback, comments, or instructions. Video Notes can be added where video attachments are supported and when the HTML Editor’s Insert Stuff option is available.

example of insert stuff menu with video note selected
Add Video Note from Insert Stuff menu

Want more information?

Enhancing Learner Connection By Increasing Video Note Recording And Upload
Brightspace Tip #102: Video Notes
Create and insert a Video Note in HTML Editor
Understanding the HTML Editor
Brightspace Tip #157: Video Notes - Closed Captions
Edit Video Notes Closed Captions
Reuse Video Notes

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery release notes
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

update

D2L (the company that owns Brightspace) uses Continuous Delivery to update our Brightspace system. The Continuous Delivery model gives us regular monthly updates allowing for incremental and easily integrated changes with no downtime required for our Brightspace system.

Our Continuous Delivery update occurs on the 4th Thursday of each month. D2L provides release notes to help users stay up-to-date with the changes.

Here are a few updates in the June 2020/20.20.6 release that were added to our system this month:

1) Assignments - Create and edit experience

The create and edit Assignments page has an updated look and feel. The classic tabbed view has been transformed into a new, fully immersive page layout.

Example of the updated Assignment creation screen
The updated look and feel of the new Assignment creation screen

The primary panel on the left contains frequently used fields that are always displayed. These fields are most relevant to learners and are the core details instructors want to add; a due date, instructions, and attachments.

The panel on the right organizes additional, more advanced options such as start and end dates, rubrics, annotation tools, and Turnitin. When these options are collapsed, summary text provides details about which settings are active and subtle hints that aid in the discovery of additional settings. As a result, you can see everything at a glance with little to no scrolling, and without having to navigate through any tabs.

The new experience streamlines the process of linking assignments to your gradebook and builds on a pattern first introduced in Activity Feed. When you enter a score, your assignment is added to Grades, and the name and score are automatically synced for you. If you traditionally create grade items in advance, support for selecting existing grades and categories is also available.

Example of the new add to grades workflow in Assignments
The new add to grades workflow

2) Rubrics – Accessibility improvements in Rubric creation workflow

The following updates have been made to improve the accessibility of the rubric creation workflow:

  • The button next to the page title is now labeled so a screen reader reads “Actions for [title]” when the button has the focus.
  • The Overall Score now has the proper heading level so screen reader users can navigate directly to it from the heading list. Previously, users were required to tab through all previous headings in the list first.
  • There is no longer a skipped heading level between Rubric Levels and Criterion (both level 3) and Standards (previously level 5).
  • In the rubric preview window, Criterion Score has been added as a column header. Previously, the column did not have any header text.

3) Widgets - My Courses and Updates widgets display unevaluated assignment submissions

The My Courses Widget and the Updates widget now display new, unevaluated assignment submissions instead of unread assignment submission files to instructors. This change aligns the widgets with the Assignments page and the Quick Eval tool to consistently notify users of unevaluated submissions and help them to track their work.

example of the new My Courses widget
The My Courses widget displays unevaluated Assignments submissions

Example of the new Updates widget
The Updates widget displays unevaluated Assignments submissions

If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the June Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform June 2020/20.20.6 Release Notes.

Additionally, refer to the Brightspace Release Notes for Continuous Delivery Releases, for details about current, past, and to preview upcoming continuous delivery updates.

Want more information?

View current, past, and preview upcoming Continuous Delivery release notes
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Image credit: image by geralt from Pixabay

A lot of faculty at Xavier have found, when they are teaching multiple sections of the same class, that it is helpful to merge those sections on Brightspace. Janice recently posted about the process to get your courses merged, so I won't go into those details. Instead, this post is going to consider the rather unique challenge many of our faculty will face this fall: teaching one section online and one in person.

...continue reading "To Merge or Not to Merge"

clipart of a rubric

Brightspace interactive rubrics help instructors:

  • Increase Efficiency - Rubrics are built into the grading workflow. Rubrics click-and-score simplicity saves time.
  • Provide Consistent and Quality Feedback - Rubrics enable instructors to provide consistent evaluation and contextual feedback to students.
  • Promote 21st Century Skills - Rubrics make it easier to assign essay questions, individual and group assignments, and discussion forums as assessment activities which foster critical thinking and collaboration.

Rubrics allow instructors to establish set criteria for grading assignments; instructors can attach rubrics to submission folders so that the criteria are available to students before they submit their assignment.

Weighted analytic rubric creation example
Weighted analytic rubric creation example

Rubrics contain criteria that list the attributes on which an assignment will be assessed and levels that list the standards each criterion must meet. A specific grade or score is usually assigned to each level. In Brightspace, you can use a rubric to calculate scores for multiple criteria to determine an overall score for an assignment.

example of grading with a rubric
Grade using a rubric example

Rubrics can be used to display the number of points students were awarded for each criterion after the assignment is graded and rubrics can also be used to provide customized feedback.

Instructors can choose to have the rubrics visible to students at any time, only after grading has been completed, or not shown to the students at all.

If you are looking for more information on rubrics, check out these resources:

NOTE: The Brightspace Rubrics tool is different from Turnitin Rubrics.

Follow these steps to do it.

To create a rubric you should:

  1. On the navbar, click Course Admin.
  2. Click Rubrics.
  3. On the Rubrics page, click New Rubric.
  4. Enter a name for your rubric.
  5. Change the status of your rubric, if necessary.
  6. Choose the rubric Type and Scoring method.
  7. Enter the criteria, levels, criteria/level details, and initial feedback for your rubric.
  8. Enter details for the Overall Score feedback.
  9. Click Options and choose the options for your rubric.
  10. Click Close.

Note: Rubric changes are automatically saved.

To attach a rubric to a Discussion topic:

Note: You must first create a rubric and set its Status to Published.

  1. On the course home page, click Discussions in the NavBar.
  2. Click Edit Topic from the context menu of the discussion topic you want to attach a rubric to.
  3. In the Assessments tab, click Add Rubric.
  4. Select the check box for the rubric you want to attach to the discussion topic.
  5. Click Add Selected.
  6. Click Save and Close.

To attach a rubric to an Assignment:

Note: You must first create a rubric and set its Status to Published.

  1. On the NavBar, click Activities and then click on Assignments.
  2. Click Edit Assignment from the context menu of the assignment you want to attach a rubric to.
  3. In the Properties tab, click Add Rubric.
  4. Select the check box for the rubric you want to attach to the assignment.
  5. Click Add Selected.
  6. Click Save and Close.

Want more information?

Rubrics Tool Quick Reference Guide (pdf)
Create a Rubric
Create an Analytic Rubric (video)
Create a Weighted Rubric (video)
Create a Holistic Rubric (video)
Add a Rubric to an Existing Activity (video)
Attach a Rubric to a Discussion Topic (video)
Grading with a Rubric
Add Feedback and Evaluations to Assignments (video)
Rubrics FAQ

Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery release notes
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Image credit: "rubric" by Cleonard1973 licensed under CC BY-SA-4.0