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One of the changes implemented in our system with last week's July Continuous Delivery Updates was the end-of-life status for the old My Courses Widget sort logic. This means the old My Courses sort logic has been retired. With this change, the My Courses Widget now uses the Updated Sort Logic setting by default.

The Updated Sort Logic is intended to better organize the courses in the My Courses widget. The Updated Sort Logic presents both pinned and unpinned courses in the My Courses Widget, promoting the pinned courses to be displayed first in the widget.

The updated sorting logic in the My Courses Widget does not auto-pin courses, and allows the end-user to pin and rearrange courses in an order that makes sense to them. The updated sort logic tries to populate the widget with up-to 12 courses, starting with the user’s pinned courses, then pulling in unpinned courses by enrollment date until the widget contains 12 courses. The result is that most users get a sensible My Courses Widget with no intervention on their part, while pinning and customization is still available for the users who need it.

Screenshot of the Pinned tab in the My Courses widget
The Pinned tab appears in the My Courses widget when users pin courses

A new Pinned tab now appears in the My Courses widget. The “Pinned” tab displays only the courses that a user has pinned, similar to the old sort logic. The Pinned tab allows learners and instructors to create a curated view of their pinned courses. The Pinned tab appears in the widget only after a user pins a course in the Course Selector. The tab remains in view until all courses are unpinned. The My Courses widget remembers the last viewed tab and shows that same tab the next time the homepage is viewed. This makes it easy for instructors and learners who only wish to view pinned courses to see those courses upon login.

NOTE: The Pinned tab only appears when a user has one or more course pinned – tabs are not displayed to the user that contain 0 courses.

The View All Courses navigation drills down into the courses by showing manually pinned courses, followed by current enrollments, then future enrollments (if available and visible to the user), then past enrollments (if available or visible to the user) as the default sort. If the user changes the sort order, the filter does not separate pinned courses from other courses based on sort order, filters, and search terms.

Want more information?

Retirement of the Old My Courses Widget Sort Logic
About the My Courses Widget

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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 2021/20.21.7 release that were added to our system this month:

1) Assignments – Add categories in the New Assignment Creation Experience

This feature builds on the Assignments – Brightspace Editor in the new Assignment Creation Experience | New feature that was released in April 2021/20.21.4.

The new assignment creation experience supports the alignment of assignments to categories. Instructors can add new or existing assignment categories when creating or editing a new assignment.

The new assignment creation experience with the ability to align assignments to categories
The new assignment creation experience with the ability to align assignments to categories

2) Brightspace Editor – Available in ePortfolio External Comments and Quiz Builder

This feature updates the Brightspace Editor – Additional functionality | Updated feature released in June 2021/20.21.6 and includes the following items:

  • External users adding comments in Brightspace ePortfolio can now use the new inline limited version of Brightspace Editor.
  • The Quiz Builder now supports the new inline Editor
  • The inline Editor in the Quiz Builder
    The inline Editor in the Quiz Builder
  • The right-click menu is no longer available when creating tables.

3) My Courses Widget - Updated Sort Logic configuration variable

The d2l.Tools.MyCoursesWidget.UpdatedSortLogic configuration variable has now reached end-of-life status and no longer appears in the Config Variable Browser. With this change, the My Courses Widget now uses only the Updated Sort Logic setting by default.

Previously, the My Courses Widget sorting logic was set by the d2l.Tools.MyCoursesWidget.UpdatedSortLogic configuration variable. By default, this configuration variable has been set to ON since 2018, with the option to revert to the old sorting logic. The option to revert to the previous sorting logic in the My Courses Widget is no longer available with the removal of this configuration variable.

The Pinned tab appears in the My Courses widget
The Pinned tab appears in the My Courses widget when users pin courses

For additional details, refer to the Community blog post: Retirement Of The Old My Courses Widget Sort Logic.

4) Quizzes – Quiz Introduction field

To reduce redundancy in the Quizzes tool, the Introduction field is being phased out. In this release, when an instructor creates and/or edits a quiz, the Introduction field is no longer available.

If any quiz previously had text in the Introduction field, on clicking Edit, the text is automatically appended to the Description field. A message appears indicating that these two fields have been merged. Instructors can review the modified quiz description prior to saving the quiz.

Note: In some interfaces, for example Classic content, the Instructions field is displayed. This Instructions field already maps to the quiz Description field. Hence, there is no change to this workflow.

The Edit Quiz page with the message that appears when you edit a quiz containing an introduction
The Edit Quiz page with the message that appears when you edit a quiz containing an introduction

Note: Check the visibility of the Description field prior to saving the quiz.

When importing a course using Import/Export/Copy Components, text in the quiz Introduction field automatically appends to the quiz Description field. The export and copy workflows remain unchanged.

When viewing a quiz topic in the Classic Content tool, the text in the Introduction field now appears under the Instructions header.

A view of a quiz in the Classic Content tool - text in the Introduction field will appear under the Instructors header
A view of a quiz in the Classic Content tool - text in the Introduction field will appear under the Instructors header

5) Quizzes – Relocation of the Reports Setup functionality

The Report Setup tab on the Edit Quiz page is now available on the context menu of a quiz and reads as Setup Reports.

The Reports option available on the quiz context menu is also updated and reads as View Reports.

The New Quiz page with the Reports Setup tab before the update
The New Quiz page with the Reports Setup tab before the update
The Quiz context menu before the update
The Quiz context menu before the update
The updated quiz context menu with the Setup Reports and View Reports options
The updated quiz context menu with the Setup Reports and View Reports options

6) Quizzes - Set grace period time to 0 minutes

When setting an enforced time limit for a quiz, instructors can now set the grace period for a quiz to 0 minutes, in place of the default grace period setting of 5 minutes. Entering a 0 minute grace period flags the quiz attempt as exceeded immediately when the quiz time limit is reached by the learner. Quiz attempt logs display when the learner attempt exceeds the regular time limit, grace period time limit or any extended time limit. Grace period of 0 minutes can be set for quizzes with special access restrictions as well.

Note that setting a grace period can support learner accessibility requirements and other situations, such as slow internet connections when completing quizzes.

Enter 0 in the Grace Period field that appears with the Enforced Time Limit option for a quiz
Enter 0 in the Grace Period field that appears with the Enforced Time Limit option for a quiz

7) Quizzes - Status and workflow changes for quizzes with ungraded questions

To support instructors who need to manually score questions within quizzes, the following quiz status and quiz grading workflow updates are available:

  • For quizzes that contain questions that need to be manually scored (such as Written Response questions) AND that have the "Allow attempt to be set as graded immediately upon completion" option disabled, a new Pending Evaluation status appears beside the quiz attempt on the Grade Quiz page.
  • While evaluating a quiz attempt with unevaluated questions, the instructor can now select Pending evaluations in the Question View drop-down menu to filter for only the questions that require manual evaluation.
  • Instructors can now filter the Users tab by status. The available filters are: Published, Saved as draft, Pending evaluation and an empty status. The empty status denotes a quiz with auto-scored questions, where all questions are evaluated and there is no question evaluation pending.
The updated quiz status filters appear on the Attempts tab
The updated quiz status filters appear on the Attempts tab
The new Pending Evaluation filter appears in the Question View drop-down menu to easily locate questions requiring manual evaluation by the instructor
The new Pending Evaluation filter appears in the Question View drop-down menu to easily locate questions requiring manual evaluation by the instructor

If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the July Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform July 2021/20.21.7 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
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
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

As we prepare to return to campus this fall, we're also planning to bring back our popular mid-week meditation meeting, with a shift to an earlier time: morning instead of afternoon.

This is an experiment. Many traditions emphasize morning meditation as a way to start the day. That's great — but does it work with your schedule? We'll just have to see. Read on for all the details.

Meditation Room

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development invites you to join us for a regular group meditation. We'll meet in the Meditation Room of the St. Katharine Drexel Chapel each Wednesday morning throughout the 2021 fall semester. Drop in when you can.

What to expect?

As the meditation room is located directly beneath the bell tower, we are using the bells in our meditation. They chime quarterly. Our period of silence begins at 8:30 and ends at 8:45.

But I've never done this before!

You needn't have any experience with meditating; just stop by and give it a try. There's no commitment and no pressure. There's also really no right or wrong way to do it. Just sit quietly. Of course, if you'd like some basic instruction we can help; contact Bart Everson.

Why meditate?

Meditation has numerous well-documented benefits, including stress management, improved emotional balance, increased focus and awareness and increased responsiveness to student needs.

  • Date: August 25, 2021 - December 15, 2021 (when classes are in session)
  • Time: 8:30 - 8:45 AM
  • Location: Meditation Room, St. Katharine Drexel Chapel
  • Sponsor: CAT+FD

Photo credit: Bart Everson

A conversation between Pamela Waldron-Moore (Xavier University of Louisiana) and Bart Everson (CAT+FD) on teaching, learning, and a just transition.

[headshot]

Pamela Waldron-Moore is Professor of Political Science at Xavier University of Louisiana, where she has taught since 1998. She also has the distinction of being named the Leslie R. Jacobs Endowed Professor in Liberal Arts Education at her institution. She holds a Ph.D. in political science with specialization in comparative politics and international relations. She has taught a range of courses at the university level in the Caribbean and the United States. Her teaching and research expertise lies in exploration of themes related to the political economy of development, industrialized democracies; international political economy, international law and politics, gender inequality, climate justice, knowledge economics, democratization, global citizenship and African feminisms. The idiographic breadth of her focus includes Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America; Eastern Europe, and the Southern United States. Empirically, race, ethnicity, gender, class and culture are at the intersections of her analyses on perceptions of environmental risk, economic insecurity, gender inequity and strategies for reimagining an international economic order in pursuit of global social justice. She is published in several peer reviewed journals and is an annual contributor to discourses on transformative pedagogy. She is trained in the implementation of mental health practices and approaches to restorative justice within the academy. Growing up in Georgetown, Guyana, she has served as a career diplomat representing her homeland at the United Nations and the Court of St. James, London. Her hobbies are global travel, poetry, elocution, and exercise with Zumba. She has received Keynote Speaker awards for invited addresses to women’s leadership organizations and won the prestigious 2018 Jewel and James Prestage Mentorship Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.

Bart Everson is a media artist and creative generalist at Xavier University's Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development. His recent work draws on integrative learning, activism, critical perspectives on technology, and Earth-based spiritual paths.


Links for this episode:

Transcript:

Coming soon!

VoiceThread (VT) transitioned to new VoiceThread assignments on yesterday (June 30th). The new VoiceThread assignments are a major overhaul and redesign of the entire experience. VoiceThread has added lots of new features, tightened the integration with our learning management system, and streamlined workflows to better guide everyone through the assignments process.

new interface for the three VoiceThread Assignment types
The new interface for the VoiceThread Assignment types

What do you get in this automatic update to new Assignments feature? First and foremost, none of your past assignments will break! You and your students will start seeing the upgraded interfaces described in the videos below, but no work will be lost, and everyone can continue completing and grading existing assignments without interruption. Just keep in mind that old assignments will retain old features and policies. To take advantage of all new policies and features, instructors will need to build a new assignment. Once you update, the new assignments you create will use all new features.

Updates to Assignment Setup - For Instructors

Updates to Student Submission

Updates to Grading - For Instructors

Want more information?

How to use new VT assignments
Submitting new VT assignments - Students

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
Continuous Delivery release notes
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.

hand holding pencil over a bubble answer sheet with some answers bubbled in

Traditional testing relies on multiple choice, true/false, and written response type questions. In authentic assessments, students apply concepts to real world situations by completing meaningful task-based assessments. This type of assessment engages a variety of skills and effectively measures higher levels of learning than traditional assessment.

Authentic assessments are widely viewed as pedagogically superior, yet multiple-choice assessments are often preferable to instructors and students alike.

In an Inside Higher Ed opinion piece, Eric Loepp challenges instructors to rethink the premise that multiple-choice questions cannot meet the standards of authentic assessment. He argues that there are situations where higher-order multiple-choice questions can be used for assessment. If this has piqued your interest, you can read more in his “The Benefits of Higher-Order Multiple-Choice Tests” opinion piece for more information.

Image credit: Exam by Alberto G. licensed under CC BY 2.0

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 2021/20.21.6 release that were added to our system this month:

1) Brightspace Editor – Additional functionality

This feature updates the Brightspace Editor – Improvements | Updated feature released in the May 2021/20.21.5 release and includes the following functionality:

  • Format painter – you can now copy and apply text formatting

2) Brightspace Platform – LaTex rendering in quiz questions

This feature releases the d2l.Tools.WYSIWYG.InlineLaTeX (OrgUnit) configuration variable that renders inline LaTex equations in the HTML Editor and in the new Brightspace Editor. As a result, scientific and mathematical equations are rendered seamlessly without the need to use the LaTeX equation option in the Equation Editor.

A Content topic with some inline LaTex equations and a learner’s view of the equations
A Content topic with some inline LaTex equations and a learner’s view of the equations

3) Email – Auto save outgoing messages

When users send email messages, these sent messages are automatically saved in the Sent Mail folder. As a result, the User Account > Email Settings > Save a copy of each outgoing message to the Sent Mail folder check box is no longer available.

The Email Settings page before this email setup improvement
The Email Settings page before this email setup improvement

The Email Settings page after this email setup improvement
The Email Settings page after this email setup improvement

4) Rubrics - Detach rubric warning for feature assignment creation experience

When an attached rubric is deleted from an evaluated assignment, if evaluations of that rubric have been performed, the user now receives a detach rubric confirmation message for the assignment. This change applies to the New Assignment Creation Experience.

The Rubric Detachment confirmation dialog.
The Rubric Detachment confirmation dialog

5) Rubrics – Reorder criterion groups

In order to increase the value of rubric criterion groups, it is now possible to reorder those criterion groups in the New Rubric Creation Experience. If more than one criterion group appears in your rubric, direction arrows appear to the left of the criterion group header to reorder the criterion groups in the rubric. If only one criterion group appears in your rubric, the direction buttons do not appear.

Direction arrows located beside the criterion group header
Direction arrows located beside the criterion group header

6) Google Workspace - Widget branding updates

The Google Workspace widget for Brightspace Learning Environment features an updated interface, including a name change from Google Apps to Google Workspace. All widget updates are part of the Google design rebrand only; there are no changes to the steps or workflows within the app.

The widget includes the following updates:

  • The widget name now appears as Google Workspace
  • New icons
  • “Google Mail” now appears as “Gmail” in the app text
  • New tool tips appear when hovering: Open Gmail, Open Google Calendar, Open Google Drive, Widget Settings

The updated Google Workspace app
The updated Google Workspace app

Tooltips/alternative text appears when hovering over icons in the app
Tooltips/alternative text appears when hovering over icons in the app

If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the June Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform June 2021/20.21.6 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
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
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

student with hands on laptop keyboard receiving instruction from another individual

In a recent Inside Higher Ed blog post, Steven Mintz discusses lessons learned from the pandemic about effective teaching. His lessons learned are:

  • Teaching online is tough work.
  • It’s easy for online students to disengage, self-isolate and fall off track.
  • Social and emotional issues are as important as course content.
  • Coverage and pacing pose a big challenge.

Steven goes on to list eight ethical issues around online learning that will persist after the pandemic. Those ethical issues are:

  1. Equity: How to ensure that every student has an equal opportunity to learn and to fully participate in our online courses.
  2. Learner diversity: How to address the special challenges that e-learning poses.
  3. Support: How to ensure that students have the ready access to the academic, technological, mental health and other supports that they need to succeed.
  4. Feedback and responsiveness: Making sure that students receive the guidance and feedback they need to succeed academically.
  5. Privacy: How to ensure that students’ right to privacy is protected.
  6. Netiquette: How to ensure that all participants in the class behave in a civil, respectful manner.
  7. Assessment: How to maintain academic integrity in an online environment.
  8. Intellectual property: What rules should govern respect for copyright in online classes.

If you are interested in Steven’s strategies for addressing these ethical issues, read his What the Pandemic Should Have Taught Us about Effective Teaching blog post.

Image credit: #WOCinTech Chat / CC BY 2.0

ICYMI, VoiceThread (VT) announced their transition plan to move to new VoiceThread assignments. The new VoiceThread assignments are a major overhaul and redesign of the entire experience. VoiceThread has added lots of new features, tightened the integration with our learning management system, and streamlined workflows to better guide everyone through the assignments process.

October 2020 through June 2021 is the official transition period for the new VT assignments. During this time institutions and instructors can adopt the new assignments. All courses and institutions that have not yet adopted new assignments will be automatically upgraded at 11:59pm Eastern Time on June 30, 2021.

new interface for the three VoiceThread Assignment types
The new interface for the VoiceThread Assignment types

Instructors can transition to the new VT assignments now. What happens when you update? First and foremost, none of your past assignments will break! You and your students will start seeing the upgraded interfaces described in the videos below, but no work will be lost, and everyone can continue completing and grading existing assignments without interruption. Just keep in mind that old assignments will retain old features and policies. To take advantage of all new policies and features, instructors will need to build a new assignment. Once you update, the new assignments you create will use all new features.

Updates to Assignment Setup - For Instructors

Updates to Student Submission

Updates to Grading - For Instructors

If you are ready to transition to new assignments before the automatic upgrade that will occur on June 30th, you should enable the option to start using the new features for the course on your course's VT Home Page. You have to enable the option for each course that you want to start using the new assignment feature. Watch this video for instructions.

Want more information?

Transition plan for new VT assignments
How to transition
Enable new VT assignments feature video [8:09]
How to use new VT assignments
Submitting new VT assignments - Students

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
Continuous Delivery release notes
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.

The opportunity to work at CAT-FD as the Faculty in Residence for new faculty support was really exciting.  That is partly because I had experienced the friendly and caring atmosphere around CAT-FD for a long time myself.  At the beginning, I attended CAT-FD workshops only if I thought I really lacked the knowhow that a workshop would provide and I knew that I badly needed what I would learn there to teach or work with students.  But later, my purpose of coming to CAT-FD was a mix of the drive to learn something new and also the desire to meet and get to know the CAT-FD staff and attendees during those events.  I think the understanding that I will always have a good time at CAT-FD got progressively stronger as my time at Xavier went by.  I am so grateful for the relaxed and mind-clearing experience that the CAT-FD staff impart to me all the time.  CAT-FD welcomes everyone all the time and you will find it home too.  I especially hope that the new faculty would start working with CAT closely from the beginning of their time here.