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RLDB

Respondus LockDown Browser (RLDB) is a customized browser that increases the security of test delivery in Brightspace. Respondus LockDown Browser is intended for use by students while taking assessments that have been prepared for use with Respondus LockDown Browser. When students use Respondus LockDown Browser to access an exam, they are unable to print, copy, go to another URL, or access other applications. Once an assessment is started, students are locked into the assessment until it’s submitted for grading.

Respondus Monitor, an option that is used in conjunction with Respondus LockDown Browser, is a tool that will allow for proctored, or supervised, exams that students will take online in front of a web cam. Respondus Monitor can help ensure exam integrity for students taking their tests online outside of a testing center.

There are advanced features available when setting up an assessment that requires Respondus LockDown Browser. Advanced settings that instructors have the option to use are:

  • Allow students to take the exam with an iPad, using the free LockDown Browser app
  • Allow students to access to specific external web domains during the exam
  • Provide students with a calculator or print function in the LockDown Browser toolbar

RLDB settings

The “Allow access to specific external web domains” option is a relatively new feature of RLDB. By default, if an exam contains a link to an external web domain, students can view the initial page but all links and navigation from that page are blocked.

When the “Allow access to specific external web domains” setting is selected it allows a student to access any page or link within the specified domain when taking the exam. This is useful, for example, to provide access to an e-book during an exam. More information about the “Allow access to specific external web domains” setting can be found in this Knowledge Base article.

RLDB external web domains

Additionally, RLDB includes a tool that enables .xls/.xlsx spreadsheets to be viewed and manipulated during an exam session. To enable spreadsheets to be accessed in RLDB, the instructor would add a link to the spreadsheet in the question wording. When a student selects the link within LockDown Browser, an Excel-like spreadsheet tool will open. The spreadsheet can be pre-populated with content or it can be a blank spreadsheet created in Excel that students use to prepare their answers. The instructor can require the students use the spreadsheet to calculate their answer to a quiz question as shown in this example:

spreadsheet link in quiz question

Alternatively, the instructor can require students to create or modify a spreadsheet and submit the spreadsheet for grading as shown in this example:

spreadsheet link in quiz question

Spreadsheet functionality is available for students taking RLDB exams using Windows, Mac, and iPad editions of LockDown Browser. More information about this feature and how to set it up can be found in the “Can spreadsheets be used with LockDown Browser?” Knowledge Base article.

Want more information?

Respondus LockDown Browser FAQ
RLDB Instructor Quick Start Guide
LockDown Browser Advanced Settings webinar recording
Respondus Monitor FAQ
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Brightspace Known Issues
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call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

The HTML Editor is the primary method of creating content in Brightspace. It allows users to enter text, pictures, or embed audio/video. Advanced users can even embed HTML code.

You can create course content using the HTML Editor. For example, the HTML Editor is available when you edit discussion topics, create custom instructions for assignment submission folders, create quizzes, create ePortfolio artifacts, and create content topics.

HTML Editor
HTML Editor

Don’t let the name fool you. You don’t have to know anything about HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) in order to use the HTML Editor.

The HTML Editor has many icons that match those of common word processing software: bold, left justify, bullets, tables, and so on. It’s important to remember the HTML Editor is not a word processor. When you add pictures, links or embed videos, you are creating references to items that are stored internally (in Brightspace) or externally (another web site). If those items are changed or deleted, the reference will not display properly.

Want more information?

HTML Editor Quick Reference (pdf)
Making Use of the HTML Editor (video)
Format HTML course content
HTML Editor basics
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Brightspace Known Issues
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Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
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call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

journaling

Many instructors are using reflective journaling as a teaching strategy. They use reflective journaling 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 discussions for journaling.

Follow these steps to do it.

To setup private discussions for journaling:

Want more information?

Use Private Discussions for Journaling (video)
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call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

update

D2L (the company that owns Brightspace) uses Continuous Delivery to update our Brightspace system. The Continuous Delivery model is different from the previous update model we had with Blackboard. With Blackboard we used a system of “Big Bang releases” (large updates released once or twice a year that required 24-48 hours of system downtime).

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 2018/10.8.2 release that were added to our system:

1) Rubrics - Control rubric visibility for learners

This release introduces the ability to control rubric visibility for learners. This is useful for preventing learners from using preview rubrics as answer keys for activities. For example, an instructor can now describe assessment expectations in assignment instructions, hiding the associated preview rubric. Once the assignment is graded, the instructor releases the graded rubric as part of the learner's assessment details.

Rubric visibility options
Rubric visibility options in a rubric

2) Grades – Linked discussion threads are now available

When assessing a discussion post in the Assess Post pop-up, an instructor can now see a link to the original discussion post. This allows instructors to see more information about why the user posted that reply, or what other learners replied to their post. Previously, there was no hyperlink, and instructors had to open Discussions and manually find the information.

Access Topic pop-up
Access Topic pop-up now includes a hyperlink to the full discussion post being graded

3) Copy Course Components - Date Offset

When instructors copy the content of one course to another, old course dates are also copied over. This feature enables instructors to offset those old dates to dates relative to the new semester. This feature also eliminates the burden of tweaking delivery and due dates for their learners. When instructors copy course components in bulk, they can enable the offset to occur to the items copied into the course by days or hours.

If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the June Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform June 2018/10.8.2 Release Notes.

Additonally, refer to the Brightspace Release Notes for Continuous Delivery Releases, for details about all continuous delivery updates.

Want more information?

Continuous Delivery release notes
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Brightspace Known Issues
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You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
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or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Would you like to congratulate your students for a job well done or give them a nudge when they might need to work harder -- without having to do a lot of extra work to make it happen? The Brightspace Intelligent Agents tool can help automate this process for you.

idea

Intelligent Agents allow instructors to delegate some of the course communication and notification tasks to the system, based on specific triggering activities in the course. Intelligent Agents can be used to both recognize student achievement and warn of potential problems. For example, you can use Intelligent Agents to:

  • Check for users that have not logged into the course
  • Check for users that have not logged in within a specific number of days
  • Notify users with grades below a certain level
  • Congratulate users with grades above a certain level
  • Check for users that view a specific content topic

The automatic notifications that are generated when specified course performance criteria are met can be sent to instructors, advisors, and/or students.

Follow these steps to do it.

To create an Intelligent Agent:

Want more information?

Intelligent Agents Tool Quick Reference Guide (pdf)
Create an Intelligent Agent (video)
View and Edit the Schedule of an Intelligent Agent (video)
Delete and Restore Intelligent Agents (video)
Perform a Practice Run for an Intelligent Agent (video)
Manually Run an Intelligent Agent (video)
View all the Brightspace training recaps
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You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
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Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
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call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

hourglass in the foreground and a clock in the background

Managing your time when teaching an online class can be a bit of a challenge. How do you manage time when there are no set course hours and when the classroom is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week? Online instructors need to develop effective time management behaviors to be efficient and not just busy.

In a Faculty Focus article, Dr. Deborah A. Raines shared ten strategies she uses to manage her time. Those strategies are:

  1. Roll call – Take attendance on the first day. A simple discussion board with a response of “I’m here” alerts you to who has not found the classroom site.
  2. Syllabus quiz – Give a syllabus quiz during the first week. This quiz provides an opportunity for students to experience the online testing environment and provides an incentive for students to read the syllabus and other important information.
  3. Ask the class – Create an “ask the class” discussion area where students can ask general questions and encourages students to respond to each other.
  4. To-do list – Create a to-do list as the first item in each module. This item provides an introduction to and guidelines on how to approach the material in the module.
  5. Establish rules and expectations – Disseminate clear and consistent rules and expectations such as when to turn in assignments, the beginning and ending date of units, turn-around time for responses to questions or feedback on assignments.
  6. Private office – Create a dropbox or private journal function for students to communicate with you on confidential matters.
  7. Roadmap to success – Write a clear and concise document of student expectations, responsibilities and accountability for learning.
  8. Take advantage of tools and technology – Use online tools within the learning management system such as student tracking, testing automation, self-grading or rubrics added to assignment dropboxes, to increase your efficiency. In general, handle each item only once—if you open an item, do something with it, don’t just peek and plan to come back later.
  9. Establish a routine – Set your schedule. Get in the habit of going to your online courses at consistent times and know what you are going to do while at the course site.
  10. Don’t re-invent – Use existing resources. There are a number of quality learning activities available on the web. Using existing resources can reduce the time needed to develop similar materials.

For more information you can read Dr. Raines’ blog post Be Efficient, Not Busy: Time Management Strategies for Online Teaching.

Photo credit: time is money by ewvasquez2001 | CC BY 2.0

online classroom management

One key to a successful online course is instructors’ ability to manage their online classroom. Yet many online instructors don’t realize that the best practices in traditional environments should not be discarded simply because the participants are interacting online. The students still need to be managed as a cohesive group of learners.

In an Edutopia article, Heather Wolpert-Gawron provided suggestions for successfully managing online classes. The article was written with a K12 audience in mind. However, her suggestions can be used in a higher education environment as well. Heather’s suggestions for successfully managing your online class are:

  1. Build an engaging online environment. Build an online environment where students want to come back week-after-week.
  2. Build community. By building community right from the get-go and encouraging it throughout the course of the class, you’ll save yourself from some issues later on.
  3. Curate answers in an organized way. Find ways to curate resources and responses to questions so that participants can find them easily. Consider a Q&A discussion forum or develop FAQs.
  4. Be present. Make sure students know you are present in the course.
  5. Establish norms for office hours and video conferencing. Have a dress code when meeting virtually (e.g., no pajamas if you are participating via webcam). How should students ask questions without interrupting the current speaker?
  6. Don’t group randomly. Create group assignments where students can self-enroll and other assignments where students are randomly assigned to groups.
  7. Teach about plagiarism. Use strategies to ensure the student’s work is original or cited.
  8. Don’t shy away from difficult conversations. Stay on top of issues as they arise.
  9. Use various means to contact participants. Contact small groups of students and also the whole class routinely, but know when it’s time to do a behind-the-scenes intervention and email a participant directly.

For more details on Heather's suggestions for online classroom management, you should read this Extending Classroom Management Online article.

Additionally, check out these CAT FooD blog posts related to online teaching:

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.

1

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.