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each of the seven deadly sins depicted by an eye that has makeup in a different color to reflect the deadly sin

In an Edvocate article, Daniel Stanford listed his seven deadly sins of online course design from a faculty developer’s perspective. These resonated with me; and I thought I would share Daniel's seven deadly online course design sins with you.

#1. Overwhelming Discussions

“Post to the discussion board, and then respond to three classmates’ posts.” Sound familiar? These are often the instructions for online discussions even though it would be impossible to replicate this level of participation in a face-to-face class. The result is a massive number of posts that instructors and students dread sorting through.

#2. Lack of Scannable Text

Staring at a computer screen trying to read the information is tiring enough as it is. Don’t make it worse by writing long paragraphs that lack visual interruptions and organizational cues. “Chunk” the content to make it easier to scan through.

#3. No Progress Indicators

Within seconds of entering a course or a specific unit of content, students should know what they’ve completed, what is incomplete, and when the incomplete items are due. The worst nightmare of any online student is to think he or she has met all the course requirements for a given day or week, only to stumble upon additional ones after a critical deadline has passed.

#4. Bad Narration

There are two reasons most instructors create narrated PowerPoints.

  1. They believe it will be faster to deliver a lecture verbally than write it out.
  2. They believe it will be more engaging for students than reading.

Both of these motivations have their pitfalls. First, faculty are often surprised how long it takes to produce an effective narrated presentation. Second, delivering information via audio with no text alternative makes it difficult for students to control the pace of their learning. Also, audio-only approaches to instruction can be challenging for ESL learners (English as a second language) and a deal breaker for students with disabilities.

#5. Buried Leads

Don’t make students read through or listen to several minutes of non-essential fluff before you get to the good stuff. Burying the lead wastes students’ time and hurts your credibility as a curator. As a result, students will struggle to find the part where you finally say something important. Worse yet, they might begin to ignore your emails, readings, or videos altogether.

#6. Digital Hoarding

Face-to-face courses come with limitations that encourage instructors to prioritize what they share with students. Examples include the number of hours in each class meeting and the number of photocopies the instructor has time to print. In online courses, these limitations are removed or relaxed, which makes it tempting to share every interesting reading, video, and website you’ve ever encountered. All too often, the result is a course site that feels like one of the homes on Hoarding: Buried Alive, but with more scholarly journals and fewer cats.

#7. Faceless Professor Syndrome

Online courses provide limited natural opportunities to reinforce that you’re a real human being and help students put a face with your name. Don’t squander these opportunities by obscuring your identity and increasing your anonymity on the discussion board and in your self-introduction. Humanizing your online courses improves the learning experience as well as student success and retention rates. This Humanizing Tool Buffet developed by Teaching and Learning Innovations at CSU Channel Islands has a collection of emerging tools just right for humanizing your online course.

If you are interested in knowing how Daniel Stanford suggests you atone for these deadly online course design sins, read his Edvocate article “Seven Deadly Sins of Online Course Design.”

Brightspace calculates final grades for each student based on the grading system and the students' grades that are entered into the Grade Book. If the instructor wants more control over the final grades, perhaps to adjust the final grade for a student that is on the cusp of a higher grade, then adjusted final grades can be used and released to students instead of the calculated final grade.

adjustment

If the instructor decides to use adjusted final grades for one student in the course, adjusted final grades must be used for all students in the course. This does not imply, however, that final grades must be manually adjusted for all students.

Adjusting final grades are implemented by the instructor for only the student or students that are deemed to need an adjusted grade. The remaining students final grades would be the final grade as calculated in the Grade Book.

Note: The Grade Book must be configured to use adjusted final grades. If you plan to use adjusted final grades, you should make the adjustments before you release final grades.

Follow these steps to do it.

To adjust final grades for all students:

  1. Get into the course where you want to adjust final grades and click Grades in the NavBar.
  2. Click on the Enter Grades link.
  3. Scroll over to the Final Calculated Grade column and click on the arrow on the right of the column name and select Grade All.
  4. In the Final Adjusted Grade section for each student, enter the adjusted grades and then click Save.
  5. Once you have ensured that students' grades are accurate, you can release the final grades.

To adjust final grades for one or more specific students:

  1. Get into the course where you want to adjust final grades and click Grades in the NavBar.
  2. Click on the Enter Grades link.
  3. Scroll over to the Final Calculated Grade column and click on the arrow on the right of the column name and select Grade All.
  4. Click on the arrow on the right of the Final Grades and click Transfer All, then click Yes.
  5. In the Final Adjusted Grade section, enter adjusted scores where necessary and click Save.
  6. Once you have ensured that students' grades are accurate, you can release the final grades.

Want more information?

Understanding the Grades Tool (video)
Adjust Final Grades
Release Final Grades
Final Grades FAQs
Grades FAQs
Grades Tool Training Recap
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.

final grade

Unlike other grade items and categories in the Grade Book, final grades are not available to students by default. Final grades must be released. When setting up the Grade Book, the instructor can choose to automatically release final grades so that the students can see their final grade throughout the semester. If you did not choose to enable the automatic release of final grades when setting up your Grade Book, you will have to manually release final grades in order for students to see their final grade.

Additionally, you can selectively release final grades for some students now and release the final grades for other students later. For example, you can release the final grades for graduating seniors on one date and release the final grades for everyone else on a later date.

Follow these steps to do it.

Watch this video for instructions on how to release final grades:

Want more information?

Adjust Final Grades
Release Final Grades
Final Grades FAQs
Grades FAQs
Grades Tool Training Recap
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.

bonus

There are two ways to give extra credit in Brightspace. The first is to allow the grade item to exceed the maximum number of points for the assignment. The other option is to indicate the grade item is a “Bonus” item.

The differences between the two options are explained here:

  • Can Exceed means in grading an item you are able to add extra credit to the assignment, quiz, or any item in the Grade Book. You indicate this by checking the Can Exceed box.
    • The Can Exceed option can boost student’s score on activity making it feasible to earn more than 100%. For example, on a grade item where the maximum points is 10 and the Can Exceed option is selected, a grade of 12/10 is a perfect score with 2 extra credit points added.
    • When you choose Can Exceed for a grade item in the Grade Book, you should also select Can Exceed for the Category in which the grade item resides.
  • Bonus refers to optional activities. Students are NOT penalized for skipping the activity. Points earned for Bonus activities will improve the student’s grade. Checking the Bonus option means that any points earned will be added onto the Final Calculated Grade.
    • Bonus items appear in the Grade Book with a Star next to them.
    • Bonus grade items are not included in the maximum points for a category or final grade. They are added on top of the calculated grade. Bonus grade items cannot make users' grades exceed the maximum points specified, unless the Can Exceed option is selected.

The Can Exceed and Bonus options can both be selected for a grade item.

bonus grade item

Want more information?

About Bonus Grade Items
Bonus Marks FAQs
Extra Credit
Create a Grade Item (video)
Grades Tool Training Recap
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery Updates
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.

checkmark

Brightspace’s Completion Tracking feature allows instructors to monitor whether students have completed or visited/viewed a specific topic in the Content area. This feature can help instructors gauge how effective specific documents, videos, or other learning materials have been, as well as allow instructors to monitor whether students viewed important class materials before completing an assignment.

All content topics are set to automatically track for completion by default. Instructors can change the method of completion for a required activity to be either manual or automatic.

When Completion Tracking is set to automatic, the topic is marked complete when the user clicks on the topic to view it. For some activities, automatic tracking requires users to participate in a discussion, submit a file, or complete an assessment such as a quiz or survey before completion is successful.

When Completion Tracking is set to manual, users select the completion check box beside each content topic to indicate they have completed it. Although users can use manual tracking to indicate that they have accomplished a task before it is completed (for example, selecting the completion check box beside a quiz activity before attempting the quiz at all), this does not affect assessment scores or user attempts counted towards an activity.

Completion Tracking is helpful for students as well. The Completion Tracking progress indicators allow students to monitor their own progress in the course.

Follow these steps to do it.

To view the Completion Summary, you should:

  1. Get into the course where you want to see the Completion Summary.
  2. Click on the Content link in the NavBar.
  3. Click on the topic that you want to review the completion activity for.
  4. Click on the Completion Summary tab. A list of students in the course and information on their activity related to the topic will be displayed.

completion summary

Want more information?

Track content completion (video)
Use completion tracking in content
About tracking content completion and participation
Check completion tracking for a content topic
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery Updates
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.

growth arrow up

The Class Progress tool helps track student progress in a course by measuring their completion of 9 different progress indicators. The Class Progress tool tracks students' overall progress as a class and individually. Instructors can use the Class Progress tool to do any of the following:

  • Monitor progress for any or all users in the course
  • View user profiles, email users, or instant message users
  • Track when a user accesses the course and downloads course content
  • Track a user's grades, completion of learning objectives, access of content topics, participation in discussions, assignment submissions, quiz submissions, checklist completion, survey responses, and login history
  • Prepare progress reports
  • Set up Intelligent Agents for users who are falling behind in a course

Instructors can customize the Class Progress page to make it easier to track and compare the performance of class participants.

class progress overview

Students can use Class Progress to keep track of all of their course-specific assignments and feedback.

Follow these steps to do it.

To access the Class Progress page, you should:
  1. On the NavBar, click Course Admin.
  2. Click on Class Progress.
  3. Click on a student’s name or one of the progress indicators to get more information about the student's progress.
To email or instant message a student from the Class Progress page, you should:
  1. On the Class Progress page, roll your mouse over the student’s profile picture (avatar) and click on the Send Email or the Send Instant Message button.
To change the Class Progress settings, you should:
  1. On the NavBar, click Course Admin.
  2. Click on Class Progress.
  3. On the Class Progress page, click Settings.
  4. From the context menu of the indicator you want to replace (i.e., the arrow on the right of the performance indicator name), select Replace.
  5. In the Select Progress Indicator dialog box, click on the progress indicator that you want to use as a replacement.
  6. To replace more progress indicators, repeat the previous steps.
  7. From the context menu of a progress indicator, select Move Up or Move Down to rearrange the order in which it appears in Class Progress.
  8. Click Save and Close.

Want more information?

Class and User Progress Quick Start Guide
Track Class progress
Understand and Modify the Class Progress page (video)
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery Updates
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.

Do you require students to a write a minimum or maximum number of words for a discussion post, etc.? Unfortunately, there is no word count feature inside of Brightspace. You will have to go outside of Brightspace to get a word count.

word count example

Word Counter.net can be used to count words and characters right inside your web browser. To get the word count, you would simply copy and paste the text into Word Counter.net’s online editor where the number of words and characters are automatically updated and displayed. You can have Brightspace opened in a web browser tab and Word Counter.net opened in another tab and go between the two tabs to get the word count.

Want more information?

Word Counter.net
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery Updates
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.

push pin

The My Courses widget (on the My Home page) uses tile-based images to make finding your courses easier. Users can choose which courses they see in their My Courses widget by pinning and unpinning courses.

  • Pinning a course makes it appear in the My Courses widget.
  • Unpinning a course makes it disappear from the My Courses widget.
  • Pinning a course also makes it rise to the top of the Select a Course list and on the My Courses widget.

Search through all of your courses and manually pin and unpin courses to ensure that your most relevant courses are visible on the My Home page.

Follow these steps to do it.

To pin/unpin a course, you should:

  1. From the Minibar, click Select a course (i.e., the waffle icon).
  2. Select a Course

  3. Type the name of the course that you want to pin or find it by searching in the Search for a course field or scroll down to find the course.
  4. Click the Pin icon beside the course. The pinned course will move to the top of the Select a Course list and to the first position in the My Courses widget.
  5. pin/unpin course

Note: To unpin a course click the Pin icon beside the course.

Want more information?

How to Pin Courses (pdf)
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery Updates
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.

celebrate GAAD

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). GAAD aims to get you talking, thinking and learning about digital access/inclusion and people with different abilities and talents.

Accessibility is about everyone. It is extremely important for students with disabilities to have access to accessible course content.

The Brightspace HTML Editor has a built-in accessibility checker that makes it easy to check for issues or offer suggestions to fix identified accessibility issues.

Follow these steps to do it.

To check for accessibility issues:

  1. After you add content to the HTML Editor, click the accessibility checker icon.
  2. HTML Editor accessibility checker icon

  3. The checker indicates if the content is free of accessibility issues, or offers suggestions to fix them.
  4. accessibility issues detected

Want more information?

Brightspace Accessibility Checker
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery Updates
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.

GAAD written in the clouds

Thursday, May 17th is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.

While people may be interested in the topic of making technology accessible and usable by persons with disabilities, the reality is that they often do not know how or where to start. Awareness comes first.

The key to embracing accessibility – whether online, in the classroom, or on campus is realizing that taking the time to address an issue doesn’t just help a handful of individuals; in the end, everyone benefits.

Participants in global accessibility awareness day are encouraged to attempt to go an hour without using a technology most people take for granted – such as not using a computer mouse, attempting to navigate a website using a screen reader, or enlarging all of the fonts in a web browser to 200 percent, to see how functionality may be lost when accessibility isn’t taken into consideration in the design.

Whether you participate in an organized activity with others or not, join in and take an hour out of your day to experience digital accessibility first-hand.