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A conversation between Emily McIntire, Roxane Chan, and Bart Everson on teaching, learning, and simulating poverty to stimulate compassion.

Emily McIntire has a master’s degree in nursing with a focus on nursing education and is the director of the simulation laboratory at Michigan State University. She is working toward her PhD in Nursing Science to research best educational practices in nursing education design and delivery.

Roxane Raffin Chan received her PhD from the University of Michigan and is a board-certified advanced holistic nurse. She researches using mindfulness interventions for persons with chronic disease.

Both Roxane and Emily are recipients of the Billie Diane Gamble Undergraduate Faculty Teaching Excellence/Enrichment Award.

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:

  • The Community Action Poverty Simulation was created by Missouri Community Action Network
  • Check out the original research that started Roxane and Emily on the contemplative pathway in the college of nursing:
    Participatory action inquiry using baccalaureate nursing students: The inclusion of integrative health care modalities in nursing core curriculum. Nurse Educ Pract. 2017 Jan;22:66-72. doi: 10.1016/j.nepr.2016.12.003. Epub 2016 Dec [link]


Coming soon!

CC icons and share your ideas

I have written a few blog posts about the importance of using appropriately licensed materials in your courses and for your digital projects. Finding quality images, audio, video, etc. can be daunting. When you find something that you want to use, you must make sure the license allows you to do so.

I recently completed the Creative Commons (CC) Certificate course. The Certificate is an in-depth course about CC licenses, open practices and the ethos of the Commons. I was excited when the opportunity to take this 10-week Certificate course came about. I felt knowing more about Creative Commons would help me to better understand and use CC licensed works appropriately. Also, I wanted to be able to apply CC licenses to my own work. While I knew some things about Creative Commons before starting the course, I realized as I got into the course that there was a lot I didn’t know about CC licenses.

I’m writing this blog post to share information and resources that may help you understand more about CC licenses.

What is a Creative Commons (CC) license? A CC license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted "work". A CC license is used when an author wants to give other people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they (the author) have created.

copyright spectrum

All rights are reserved with copyright. Re-use requires permission from the copyright owner. Whereas, some rights are reserved with CC licenses. Re-use is permitted under the specification shared in the Creative Commons license. The image above describes how CC licenses relate to traditional copyright and the public domain.

If this has this piqued your interest, check out our Creative Commons (CC) Wiki Resource for additional information about CC licenses and CC licensed works.

Image credits:
"Share your ideas" by Nassim Tiachachat is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
"the spectrum of rights" by Michelle Pacansky-Brock is licensed under CC-BY

A conversation between Don Saucier (K-State) and Elizabeth Yost Hammer (XULA)  on teaching, learning, and "trickle-down engagement."

Don SaucierDon Saucier earned his Bachelor of Arts in psychology and classical civilization from Colby College, and a master's degree and a doctoral degree in experimental social psychology from the University of Vermont.

He is the director of undergraduate studies, chair of the Undergraduate Program Committee, and co-director for the teaching apprenticeship program in the psychological sciences department at Kansas State University. He has taught a broad range of classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels, from large sections of General Psychology to small classes in Advanced Psychological Research Methods.

His numerous awards and honors include the Putting Students First Award for Outstanding Service to Students, the University Distinguished Faculty Award for Mentoring of Undergraduate Students in Research, the William L. Stamey Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award from the College of Arts & Sciences, the Commerce Bank Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award, and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Elizabeth Yost Hammer is the Director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and a Kellogg Professor in Teaching in the Psychology Department. She received her Ph.D. in experimental social psychology from Tulane University. She regularly teaches Introductory Psychology, Research Methods, and Freshman Seminar. Her research interests focus on the scholarship of teaching and learning, and she has contributed chapters to several books intended to enhance teaching preparation including The Handbook of the Teaching of Psychology. She is a co-author of the textbook, Psychology Applied to Modern Life. Dr. Hammer is a past-president of Psi Chi (the International Honor Society in Psychology), and served as Chief Reader for Advanced Placement Psychology. Her work in the Center for the Advancement of Teaching includes organizing pedagogical workshops and faculty development initiatives. She is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, and the Professional and Organizational Developers Network.

Links for this episode:


Coming soon!


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 January 2020/20.20.1 release that were added to our system this month:

1) Support for Internet Explorer | Removed

As of January 1st, Brightspace has ended support for Internet Explorer. All versions of Internet Explorer will no longer be able to access Brightspace.

2) Brightspace Pulse – Additional languages supported

To provide consistent language support with the Brightspace platform, Brightspace Pulse is now available in the following additional languages:

  • Arabic (Saudi Arabia)
  • Chinese (Simplified)
  • Chinese (Traditional)
  • Danish
  • French (France)
  • German (Germany)
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Swedish
  • Turkish

Previously, Brightspace Pulse was only available in: English (U.S.), Spanish (Latin America), French (Canada), Portuguese (Brazil), and Dutch.

3) Classlist – Total number of users field and floating buttons

To improve ease of use, the total number of users for their selection (whole class, section, group) now appears in a field at the bottom of the Classlist page for at-a-glance viewing to help instructors keep track of the total number of learners, which may extend beyond the users visible on the page. On the Print Classlist and Email Classlist pages, the clickable Print and Email buttons now float consistently on screen, to ensure easy access to these actions without excessive scrolling.

4) Copy Course Components - Add validation logic to the copy process

Copy Course Components now contains a validation logic step to the course copy process, which can inform users if they performed a copy from the source previously, avoiding unnecessary duplication of copied course components.

5) Discussions – Assessment consistency changes

When assessing discussions, instructors have new multi-select options to Publish Feedback and Retract Feedback. In the Status column, the Draft / Published checkbox has been replaced by information on the date when feedback was saved as draft or published. These changes are visible on both the Users and Assessments tabs. The Save, Save and Close, and Cancel buttons have also been removed as their functionality has been replaced by the Publish Feedback and Retract Feedback options.

prior assess discussion topic
Previous view when assessing a discussion topic

Updated view when assessing a discussion topic
Updated view when assessing a discussion topic

6) Grades – Export sorting options

This feature introduces the ability to sort exported gradebooks based on the following options: OrgDefinedID, Username, Last Name, and First name. The sort options available are based on the User Information Privacy permissions for the role.

7) Groups – Self-enrollment group capacity, start dates and descriptions

This feature includes three improvements to Groups:

  • Group members can now see the description of their group. For self-enrolled groups, group members will now see the group description at all times, including before and after enrollment. For other group types, instructors can now choose to display the description to members of the group. This visible group description setting is off by default for non-self-enrollment groups. Previously, all group descriptions were hidden from group members.
  • An instructor can now increase or decrease the capacity for self-enrollment groups after they have been created, and prior to the group sign-up expiry date. Decreasing a group size to an amount smaller than has already signed up for a group will not re-allocate users to other groups. Previously, self-enrollment groups were not editable after they were created.
  • Instructors can set Start dates for self-enrollment groups. This feature allows them to schedule self-enrollment groups availability, ensuring learners are prepared and have equal opportunity to self-enroll.

8) Quick Eval – Dismiss activities from list

To improve the ability to manage items on their Quick Eval list, instructors can now select items that appear in their Quick Eval list and remove them temporarily or permanently. Instructors can view their dismissed items in the Dismissed Activities List and restore them to the Quick Eval list at any time.

9) Quizzes – Synchronization with Grades

Quiz scores and feedback entered in Grades now synchronize automatically with Quizzes. To further streamline the workflow, the Overall Feedback fields in Grades and Quizzes are now consolidated, and the Grade Item Public Comments field has been removed from Grades. All comments entered in the Overall Feedback field in Grades synchronizes automatically with the Overall Feedback field in Quizzes. This update creates a more direct workflow and aligns Quizzes with the consistent feedback experience implemented in Assignments and Discussions. Refer to the blog post Improving Consistency Of Synchronization Between Grades And Quizzes Tool (20.20.01 – January Release) for more information.

Note: Synchronization only occurs for new grade entries. Existing grade data for quizzes will not be migrated due to the high impact to all past data and reports.

10) Rubrics – Share rubrics with other org units during creation

When creating new rubrics, users can now share the rubric created at the organization level with other org units (courses). The rubric creation process provides the capability to either share or, conversely, block rubrics from being shared with other org units (courses). Previously, this was only possible by using the legacy rubric editor.

example of Add Org Unit button on rubric creation page
The Add Org Units button enables users to make the rubric available to other org units

If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the January Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform January 2020/20.20.1 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

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.

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.

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)
Grading with a Rubric
Add Feedback and Evaluations to Assignments (video)
Rubrics FAQ

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

journal with ink pen

Many instructors are using reflective journaling as a teaching strategy. Reflective journaling is used as a means of aiding reflection, deepening students understanding and stimulating critical thinking.

Brightspace does not have a Journal tool. However, you can setup private discussion forums for journaling using the Groups and Discussions tools. A private discussion forum is the same as any other discussion forum, except that only the instructor and an individually assigned student have access to the posted threads and replies. A private discussion forum ensures that students cannot see each other’s posts, but instructors can still respond and assign grades to the discussion threads.

Follow these steps to do it.

To setup private discussions for journaling:

Want more information?

Use Private Discussions for Journaling (video)
Setup Private Discussion Boards for Individual Students
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 CharuTyagi from Pixabay

Class Engagement 1.0

Image Source: Duke Innovation Co-Lab [CC0]
Most anyone who has heard me talk about teaching in recent years knows that in every class I have a Class Engagement grade that counts toward 10-15% of the student's final grade. I started including this a number of years ago because I wanted to help students understand that simply showing up for class isn't enough. So I borrowed quite heavily from Stephen Brookfield (who encourages people to borrow from him) and his "Class Participation Grading Rubric". What I like most about Brookfield's approach is that he provides students with an extensive list of ways they can contribute to the learning that takes place in his classes, including  ways that deviate quite a bit from the basic ideas of asking and answering questions. For example, active listening is a completely acceptable way of being engaged, according to Brookfield ("Use body language (in only a slightly exaggerated way) to show interest in what different speakers are saying"), as is encouraging other students to be a bit more mindful ("When you think it's appropriate, ask the group for a moment's silence to slow the pace of conversation to give you, and others, time to think"). Brookfield's rubric greatly expands what many of us (and many of our students) think it means to be engaged in a college classroom.

Engagement does not necessarily mean talking a lot or showing everyone else what you know.

As I said, for many years now I've used this model to assess my students for good engagement. Theoretically, during every class, I would give each student one of the following "grades":

  • ✔+ (In class on time with good engagement.)
  • ✔ (In class on time with adequate engagement.)
  • ✔– (In class on time with no participation; or in class late.)
  • ✘ (Not in class; or in class but actively disengaged.)

So — theoretically — each week, the students would get a grade through our LMS showing them how engaged they'd been according to me. For the most part, this worked pretty well over the years. When I started, I was worried that students would complain about receiving such a grade, but not only did I not receive complaints, I saw some students adapting to the expectations. They would actually do the things listed on the assignment sheet! Not all of them, of course. I've had plenty of students over the years who have ended up with Cs for their Class Engagement grades because they did little more than show up for most classes.

The problem with this is that it's difficult to keep up with in anything other than a very small class. For the first two or three weeks of the semester, as I'm still learning everyone's name, I can't really assign the grade at all. Then, during the last few weeks of the semester, I'm on a sort of autopilot, and I often forget to make notes about who does what. Last semester was perhaps the worst experience with it, as I was teaching two sections of Xavier's still new XCOR 1000 class, which meant I had 50 students who I only saw once a week, so I had a lot of trouble being accurate with my weekly assessments.

Class Engagement 2.0

This semester, I'm trying something slightly different, in order to A) take some of the burden off my shoulders and B) add a degree of reflection to the assignment. This semester in my XCOR 3010: Dystopias, Real & Imagined class, the students will be grading their own class engagement.

Figuring out how to do this was a bit of a challenge. Brightspace has a Self-Assessment tool, but that's not an accurate name: In Brightspace, Self-Assessments can't be graded. Instead, I set up a weekly quiz that asks students two questions:

  1. Briefly provide examples of your engagement with our class this week. (This is what Brightspace calls a Written Response type question. It provides the students with text box.)
  2. Please rate your own level of engagement in class this week. Based on the input you provided in the previous question, how engaged were you, on average, this week. (This is a Multiple Choice type question, using the same language as the rubric I included above.)

Each week, after our second class, that week's quiz will open up and remain open until the next Sunday evening. Students will have until 6pm on Sundays to submit their self-evaluation of their class engagement for the week. I've set the quizzes to allow the students to revise/resubmit their answers as often as they want during the open window, just in case they have second thoughts (This happens to me every year when I submit my Faculty Update: Within a few hours, I remember some important thing I did that I forgot to include.).

This image shows the settings in Brightspace for the Multiple Choice question and the weighted answer options.
Settings for the Multiple Choice question type in Brightspace.

The quizzes are worth 6 points each. The multiple choice question is worth 5 points, and Brightspace allows you to Add Custom Weights on Multiple Choice questions, so instead of there being a "right" answer on this question, each option is weighted (see the image above for details).

The Written Response question is worth one point (because you can't have a question in a Brightspace quiz that isn't worth anything). At first I was annoyed by this, as it will require me to go in and grade each response, but now I think that will be a good thing, as it will require require me to go in and pay attention to each response. This will also give me a chance to comment on and evaluate the students' self-evaluations.

How will this work? We will see. Look for a follow up post around mid-term. In the mean time, feel free to take a look at the assignment sheet for my modified Class Engagement assignment: Class Engagement Assignment Sheet.

file folder with documents inside

Are you still sharing files via email? An article by Lauren Suggett suggests three reasons why you should stop sharing documents via email. Her reasons are:

  • Nothing is trackable
  • Accessibility is limited
  • Email inboxes can be black holes

As you may know, Xavier adopted G Suite (formerly Google Apps). This means everyone has an account that allows them to store files in their Google Drive. Instead of emailing files back and forth, you can share files in your Google Drive. For more information on Xavier’s adoption of G Suite and how to share files using Google Drive, read Bart Everson’s Drive Right In blog post.

Additionally, Google Apps can be integrated into Brightspace. ICYMI, read my Google Apps Integration blog post.

Image credit: image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

A discussion forum is an excellent tool for student engagement. However, you don’t always have to use the question and answer format to engage students in a discussion forum.

comment bubbles outlined in orange

In the Faculty Focus article, “Discussion Board Assignments: Alternatives to the Question-and-Answer Format,” professor Chris Laney gives his take on alternatives for Q&A discussions. Laney, who is professor of history and geography at Berkshire Community College, was having trouble engaging students in discussion forums in his online class and decided to rethink his use of online discussions. Professor Laney thinks of the discussion forum as a place to foster interaction between the students through a variety of means rather than just asking them questions. Specifically, he uses role-playing, debates, and WebQuest to foster interaction between his students.


One example of how Professor Laney used role-play is a discussion forum activity that asks students to do some research on a person living in an urban Roman city in the first century CE. Each student creates a character and writes a diary entry or letter recording what he or she did in the course of a day or a series of days. To perform well in this activity the students need to research a few things about the professions and classes that would have existed during that time. The students end up talking back and forth in character and at no point does Professor Laney actually ask a question.


One example of how Professor Laney uses debates is he had students debate whether democracy in the Middle East would result in better or worse relations with nations in the region. It’s a pretty straightforward assignment; however, when having students debate it’s important to set clear ground rules to keep things cordial and to avoid simplistic arguments.


Professor Laney gives students a less intense discussion forum assignment in weeks when a major assignment is due. Rather than carrying on a discussion over the usual two-week period, he has students do a simple WebQuest and post their findings without having to respond to each other. For example, he may ask students to post an image, video, or music clip from the Romantic Period of art in the 19th century and write a brief description about why it’s considered an example of Romanticism.


In a class of 25 people there may be 75 messages in a week to grade. To keep the discussion forum assignments manageable, Professor Laney asks students to post their messages in a single thread. Having all the messages in a single thread makes it relatively easy to grade. When a discussion forum activity is over, Professor Laney can click on an individual student’s name and at a glance assign a grade.

Are you using an alternative to the Q&A format for discussion forums? If so, we would like to hear about it. Please leave a comment to share your alternative to the Q&A format.

If you are new to using discussions in Brightspace, you can find how-to resources for discussion forums on our blog.

Image credit: Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Brightspace Pulse is a mobile app that can help learners stay connected and on track with their Brightspace courses. It provides one easy view of course calendars, readings, assignments, evaluations, grades, and announcement items. The app can help learners make better decisions about how to handle their workload, when to submit assignments, and when to prepare for tests. Real-time alerts can let learners know when classes are canceled, class is meeting in an alternate location, or new grades are available. The schedule view and weekly visualization enables learners to quickly at a glance view what is due today, this week, and upcoming across all their courses.

While the Brightspace Pulse app is designed for the learner, instructors can benefit too.

Brightspace Pulse App on iPhone

While the Brightspace Pulse app is designed for the learner, instructors can benefit too. When instructors enter due dates or end dates for assignments and activities the information is populated in the Pulse app enabling learners to stay connected and on track. Thus, instructors can spend less time reminding and more time teaching.

Instructors can make their courses Pulse friendly by including due dates or end dates for assignments and activities. When instructors do not enter due dates or end dates, no associated information is available in the Pulse app.

The Pulse app is great for helping students stay on track in face-to-face classes as well. Instructors can set up their face-to-face assignments and activities as events in the Brightspace course calendar. Students will get those date feeds in the Brightspace Pulse app.

Help keep students on track for success in all their courses by including a due date or end date for assignments and activities.

Want more information?

Brightspace Pulse App
Brightspace Tip #112: Due Dates
Pulse Dates - Set Date Restrictions for Content (video)
Pulse Dates - Set Date Restrictions for an Assignment (video)
Pulse Dates - Set Date Restrictions for a Discussion Topic (video)
Pulse Dates - Set Date Restrictions for a Quiz (video)
Pulse Dates - Set Date Availability for a Calendar Event (video)
Brightspace Tip #74: Manage Dates

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.