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About Janice Florent

Technology Coordinator in the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development at Xavier University of Louisiana

female student looking at laptop screen

Giving students timely, useful feedback can greatly enhance learning and improve student achievement. ICYMI, read my Give Students Feedback That Helps Them Learn blog post for information on providing better feedback.

Are you looking for ways to simplify grading and for providing feedback on assignment submissions? These Brightspace tools can help:

Annotations Tool
The Annotations tool allows instructors to provide feedback directly in submitted assignments. Feedback can be provided as text highlighting, freehand drawing, text annotation, and note annotation.

The use of a stylus is not required when using the Annotations tool. However, it could help to speed up the process of marking up the assignment submissions.

For more information, refer to this how to use the Annotations tool blog post.

NOTE: The Assignment Grader app allows instructors to make annotations on assignments. The Assignment Grader app is no longer available for download to new users. Existing users may continue to use the app if they have it installed on their device, but no further updates or support will be made available by D2L and the app is scheduled to be removed from app stores. As an alternative mobile grading option, D2L recommends using the Quick Eval tool.

Rubrics
Rubrics allow instructors to establish set criteria for grading assignments. Using the rubrics click-and-score simplicity saves time when grading. With a rubric you can provide consistent evaluation and contextual feedback to students. You can add additional personal feedback to each criterion, expanding on why you chose that level and what additional work would be required to improve on it.

For more information, refer to this using interactive rubrics in Brightspace blog post.

Video Notes
Audio and video feedback can provide richer and more detailed feedback than may be possible through written comments. Visual or audio feedback also provides a more personal way of giving feedback. You have the option to provide audio and/or video feedback in Brightspace. Use Video Notes to provide short, video-based feedback, comments, or instructions.

Here are a couple of blog posts with more information:

Quick Eval
Quick Eval allows evaluators to see a list of unevaluated learner submissions from all their courses. Submissions from Assignments, Discussions, and Quizzes are displayed in one location to improve efficiency when locating work that requires evaluation and providing feedback to learners.

For more information, refer to this blog post on using Quick Eval.

The Orange Room

Have you visited The Orange Room (Brightspace Educator Share Showcase)? The Orange Room is a community where educators can learn from each other about efficient and innovative ways to use Brightspace. Several of your colleagues shared tips and suggestions already. Here are two contributions that may be of interest to you:

Want more information?

Brightspace Tip #255: Simplify Assignment Collection
Brightspace Tip #143: Annotate Assignment Submissions
Brightspace Tip #204: Interactive Rubrics
Brightspace Tip #231: Video Notes
Brightspace Tip #233: Video Notes – Closed Captions
Brightspace Tip #120: Quick Eval

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.

Photo credit: photo by #WOCinTech Chat is licensed under CC BY 2.0

two African American females looking at laptop computer screens

In a Teach Thought blog post, Justin Chando writes,

To tell a student “great job” or “this needs work” is a missed opportunity.

Hearing that you did a great job is wonderful. However, the problem with “great job” or “this needs work” is that it is not specific. There is no indication of what was done that was successful, and no information about how to replicate this success in future assignments.

In the blog post, Justin goes on to explain Grant Wiggins’ key characteristics of better feedback. Helpful feedback is:

Goal oriented: Goal referenced feedback creates a roadmap for students; it shows them how far they can go in the mastery of a subject or skill by outlining specific places for improvement or highlighting successful behaviors/techniques.

Transparent: A useful feedback system involves not only a clear goal, but transparent and tangible results related to the goal. The feedback needs to be concrete and obvious.

Actionable: Great feedback begs an obvious action/response from a student. It provides a clear course of action for the next time around or outlines a new plan for moving forward.

User-friendly: Feedback is not of much value if the student cannot understand it or is overwhelmed by it. Quality feedback should be accessible to the student, clear and concise, using familiar language from the lesson/course.

Timely: Vital feedback often comes days, weeks, or even months after. Give students timely feedback and opportunities to use it in the course while the attempt and effects are still fresh in their minds.

Ongoing: One of the best ways to give great feedback is to give it often. Ongoing formative feedback helps students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work.

Consistent: Keeping guidance as consistent as possible allows students to hone in what needs to improve in their work and focus on making it better.

For more information on these key characteristics of better feedback including strategies to give better feedback, read Justin's Teach Thought blog post, How To Give Students Specific Feedback That Actually Helps Them Learn.

Also, check out this Wise Feedback: Using Constructive Feedback to Motivate Learners blog post from the Center for the Advancement of Teaching at Temple University.

Photo credit: photo by #WOCinTech Chat is licensed under CC BY 2.0

You can easily insert images, videos, and other media into your Brightspace course using the "Insert Stuff" option within the Brightspace Editor. Insert Stuff allows you to embed or link to content items and place them within your Brightspace course. Insert Stuff is available anywhere in the course where the Brightspace Editor is available. This includes content item descriptions, announcements, discussions, assignments, quizzes, surveys.

insert stuff window

Depending upon your needs, Insert Stuff allows you to upload and insert media in the following ways:

  • Upload a file from your computer
  • Insert a file from within your Course Offering Files
  • Insert a file from within your Brightspace ePortfolio
  • Create and insert a Video Note (webcam recording)
  • Insert a Youtube video via Youtube Search within Insert Stuff window
  • Insert an image file via Flickr Search within the Insert Stuff window
  • Enter a URL where your media file exists
  • Insert a media file by using the Enter Embed Code option
  • Insert media via a Mediasite Lecture Capture search

The next time you are contemplating using media in your courses, try inserting stuff.

Are you looking for images to use in your courses? Check out my Find Free Images to Use in Your Courses blog post.

Follow these steps to do it.

To insert stuff:

  1. In the Brightspace Editor, place your cursor where you want to insert the media and then click the Insert Stuff button.
  2. Choose the media type you want to insert and follow the prompts.

insert stuff icon shown on Brightspace Editor toolbar

Want more information?

Create a File and Insert Stuff (video)
Brightspace Tip #259: Brightspace Editor
Brightspace Tip #231: Video Notes
Find Free Images to Use in Your Courses

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
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.

D2L rolled out a new modern, upgraded, responsive, accessible, and pretty Brightspace Editor! The new Brightspace Editor became the default editor with our August Continuous Delivery Updates. The Brightspace Editor replaces the old HTML Editor and is the primary method of creating content in Brightspace. The Brightspace Editor allows users to enter text, pictures, or embed audio/video. Advanced users can even embed HTML code.

Brightspace Editor
Brightspace Editor

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

The Brightspace 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 Brightspace 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.

Redesigning the editor provided opportunities for D2L to provide a better experience. Some new features were added to the Editor, but there was also a focus on improvements in accessibility, responsiveness, and ease of use:

  • Improved accessibility – D2L ensured that toolbars met the new WCAG 3.0 standards for button spacing and that the keyboard navigation makes sense to users, especially those using screen reader technology. They also recreated their great color picker that highlights WCAG AA compliance to end users.
  • Enhanced responsiveness – The toolbar collapses intelligently based on the size of your screen, with different breakpoints. This means that formatting options collapse together, alignment options, and 'insert' options - creating a great experience on any device.
  • Ease of use – The editor now looks more like a standard web text editor - with all formatting options at the top. Contextual menus are inside the editing experience for quick access while typing. They included the advanced code editor that makes editing html code easier. They upgraded the tables feature and added: format painter, word count, and @mentions in Discussions. All areas clients suggested for improvement in the Product Idea Exchange (PIE).
A breakdown of the new features in the Brightspace Editor
Brightspace Editor: A Breakdown of New Features

Enhancements to the Editor

  • More and different formatting options.
  • An improved color picker with WCAG compliance checking.
  • A full set of emojis and special symbols
  • The move of footer options like 'preview' ' source' 'accessibility checking' and 'expand' to the main toolbar.
  • Updates to the font size menu
  • Removal of Spellchecker*
  • Removal of Cut/Copy buttons (which no longer worked on most browsers anymore in any case)
  • A refreshed Accessibility checker
  • The Brightspace Editor now remembers the open or closed state of the More Actions button, per user, in order to reduce clicks for users that frequently use options in the expanded editor.

*NOTE: The Brightspace Editor does not have a built in spell checker. Your web browser’s built-in spell check functionality is available in the new Brightspace Editor and D2L recommends using it.

Additions to the Editor

  • Format painter that enables you to copy and apply text formatting.
  • New Advanced Tables that includes sorting options.
  • Contextual menus for editing text, links, and images (image editing is not available in all areas)
  • Word Count including character and selection word count
  • Advanced Source Code Editor that includes code suggestions and color coding for tags.
  • Lato font
  • @mentions support in Discussions
  • An 'Other Insert Options' menu for overflow items to improve responsiveness.
  • Limited text pattern support: * * for italics, ** ** for bold, ## for H2, ### for H3, etc until H6.

Want more information?

Using the Brightspace Editor

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
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.

Our VoiceThread integration was updated to move away from LTI 1.1 and move to LTI 1.3 with Deep Linking. What does this mean for us? We have some new features with the update to LTI 1.3 that should make using VoiceThread easier. The new features include:

  • No longer need to manually enter a URL to create a VoiceThread assignment.
  • Automatic copying of VoiceThread assignments and content between courses.
  • Complete roster sync, which supports adds and drops seamlessly.
  • Increased security and support for future VoiceThread features.

There was no VoiceThread down time at all for this update. All existing activities continue to work as they always have without any interruption or loss of content. Here are some things that resulted from the update:

  • Changes in workflow: The process for adding VoiceThread activities to a course is very similar. The only difference is that now you will select “VoiceThread” from your “Existing Activities” menu without needing to enter a URL manually.
  • Content retention: No work or assignment links were lost as part of this transition. Old links will continue to work even as you build new links going forward using the updated integration.

Example showing Existing Activities menu with VoiceThread menu option highlighted

VoiceThread’s plan is that LTI 1.1 will be deprecated in the next year or two. You should begin to use the updated process of creating VoiceThreads by selecting “VoiceThread” from the “Existing Activities” menu.

Follow these steps to do it.

To create a VoiceThread:

  1. Get into the course you want to create the VoiceThread.
  2. In the NavBar, Click on Content.
  3. Go to the Module where you want to add VoiceThread, click on Existing Activities and then select VoiceThread from the shortcut menu.
  4. Choose the type of VoiceThread you want to create in the VoiceThread Setup window.
  5. Follow the prompts to select/setup the VoiceThread for your assignment.

NOTE: Follow this link to the instructor support page for your next steps in setting up your VoiceThread.

Want more information?

VoiceThread Instructor Support
Add VoiceThread to your Course
How to use new VoiceThread assignments
Submitting new VoiceThread assignments – Students
VoiceThread FAQ

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
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.

#, @ and Twitter bird buttons in a bird's nest basket
#, @, and Twitter bird buttons

Twitter has proven itself to be a valuable tool for educators. ICYMI, read my Teaching with Twitter blog post for more information about the creative ways educators are using Twitter.

Twitter for education? It's actually a good idea.

Instructors have the option to customize the look of their Brightspace Course Homepages to suit their needs. Some instructors who use Twitter in conjunction with their courses find it useful to embed Twitter feeds into their Brightspace Course Homepage.

Twitter made a change to the way you generate an embed code for a Twitter feed. To generate a Twitter embed code you should use publish.twitter.com. Additionally, with this change you can no longer get an embed code for a Twitter hashtag timeline. You can only generate a button for the Twitter hashtag.

Once you generate your Twitter embed code you would place it in a custom widget and then put the custom widget on your course homepage.

sample course homepage
Example of course home page with Twitter feeds

Want more information?

Design a Course Homepage with Widgets (pdf)
Place Twitter Feed in Custom Widget (pdf)

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
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: "#, @, and Twitter bird buttons at OSCON" by Garrett Heath is licensed under CC BY 2.0

old wooden carpenters toolbox

Brightspace has communication and collaboration tools that can enhance the interaction between instructors and students in their Brightspace courses.

When viewing the tools available in Brightspace you see a number of tools listed there. How do you know which tool is right for the job?

The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at Memorial University of Newfoundland developed a guide designed to help you to pick the right Brightspace tool for the job. The guide includes a chart that identifies the tools that align with common scenarios, and a link to further info for each tool.

Want more information?

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

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

Image credit: image by bluebudgie from Pixabay

The disruption due to hurricane Ida may be forcing you to rethink how you will collect and grade assignments in your courses during the disruption. When classes resume this week, many faculty will move to meeting with their classes remotely at the regularly assigned class time or perhaps move to asynchronous class meetings.

One question we have been asked is about collecting and grading assignments in Brightspace. You can use the Assignments tool to help you set and manage deadlines, unclutter your inbox, and save trees!

email inbox showing there are 15644 unread messages

The Assignments tool is an efficient way to manage and collect your student's individual and group assignments digitally. Brightspace's Assignments Tool allows instructors to create a secure location for students to submit class assignments.

The Assignments tool allows instructors to set up a place for students to submit their assignments digitally, with the ability to:

  • Control the window for submission
  • Facilitate individual submissions or group submissions (provided the groups have been set up using the Groups tool first)
  • Collect and assess submissions (with a connection to the Grades tool, if needed)
  • Enable plagiarism detection through Turnitin

Additionally, you can use Brightspace's Interactive Rubrics to increase efficiency. The interactive rubrics allow instructors to establish set criteria for grading assignments. Instructors can attach rubrics to assignment submission folders so that the criteria are visible to students at any time, only after grading has been completed, or not shown to the students at all. The rubrics click-and-score simplicity saves time when grading because rubrics are built into the grading workflow. For more information about rubrics refer to Brightspace Tip #204: Interactive Rubrics.

Follow these steps to do it.

To create an assignment submission folder using the old assignment creation experience:

  1. On the NavBar (of the course you want to create a submission folder), click Activities and then choose Assignments from the drop-down menu.
  2. Click New Submission Folder.
  3. Enter a Name for your submission folder.
  4. Select a Folder Type.
  5. Do any of the following:
    • Select a Category or click New Category to organize your assignment submission folders.
    • Select a Grade Item, or click New Grade Item.
    • To assign a score, enter a value in the Out Of field.
    • To associate a rubric to the folder, click Add Rubric, or Create Rubric in New Window.
    • Enter instructions in the Instructions field.
    • Add attachments in the Attached Files area.
    • Expand Show Submission Options and select the appropriate settings.
    • Enter your email address in the Notification Email field to receive an email message when a new submission is uploaded to this folder.
    • Choose the option to hide student names during assessment, if appropriate.
  6. Click Save.

Follow these instructions if you are using the New Assignment Creation Experience.

Note: You can add the Turnitin plagiarism detection feature to the assignment submission folder using the options in the Turnitin tab. Follow these instructions to enable Turnitin for the assignment submission folder.

Want More Information?

Assignments:
Turnitin:
Rubrics:

Assignments Tool Training Recap
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
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: "I'll never complain about my inbox again" by Clint Lalonde is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

calendar with exam date circled

The disruption due to hurricane Ida may be forcing you to rethink how you will administer tests and quizzes in your courses during the disruption. When classes resume this week, many faculty will move to meeting with their classes remotely at the regularly assigned class time or perhaps move to asynchronous class meetings.

One question we have been asked is about administering quizzes, tests, and exams in Brightspace. The Quizzes Tool in Brightspace enables you to create and manage points-measured assessments in your courses. We held two workshops on using the Quizzes Tool. ICYMI, you can watch a recording of the workshops:

Other workshop recordings that may be of interest:

For recommendations to improve the use of assessments in virtual environments and decrease concerns regarding cheating read my Assessments in a Virtual Environment blog post.

There are a number of how-to resources for the Quizzes tool on our Brightspace documents page.

I have posted many tips about the Quizzes tool. I’ve highlighted some of the tips that may be of particular interest to you:

There are many ways you can leverage the inherent features within Brightspace to encourage independent work during online exams. In a Faculty Focus article, Dr. Stephanie Smith Budhai suggests 14 simple strategies to use when setting up online exams that you may find helpful.

Respondus LockDown Browser (RLDB) and Respondus Monitor are integrated into our Brightspace system. If you are looking to use RLDB/Respondus Monitor to secure the testing environment, you will find information in the following tips that may help:

ICYMI, I recommend that you read my Rethinking Multiple-Choice Tests for Better Learning Assessment blog post for information on using higher-order multiple-choice questions for assessments.

Important: Don't assume your students know how to take an online test. If you plan to have your students take an online test, you should require your students take a practice quiz before they take the first online test that will count towards their final grade. Your practice quiz should have a few questions in it to simulate what the student would experience when taking an actual exam. Include the types of questions you will ask on an actual test or quiz (e.g., multiple choice, true/false, short answer, written response, etc.) Use settings similar to those you will use on an actual test or quiz (e.g., questions per page, no backtracking, etc.)

By taking the practice quiz students can ensure that their computers, webcam (if required), and internet are working properly. Allow unlimited attempts on the practice quiz, so students can take it whenever their device or networking environment changes.

Students should be given the opportunity to take the practice quiz well in advance of the first online test that will count towards their final grade so that they will have ample opportunity to correct any technical issues.

Require students to review this Guide to Taking Tests in Brightspace before they take the first online test that will count towards their final grade.

Offering a practice quiz with question types and settings like you plan to use in online tests that will count towards the final grade can help ensure students will be familiar with taking an online test in your course. Remember the purpose of the practice quiz is to simulate taking an online test so the questions you include in your practice quiz should be questions your students can easily answer.

Additionally, Release Conditions is an advanced feature you can consider using if you want Brightspace to automatically release the test the students will be graded on when the student has completed one attempt at the practice quiz. Your availability dates will restrict when your tests are available to the students. You can find more information about Release Conditions in Brightspace Tip #237: Release Conditions.

Want More Information?

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

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

Image credit: image by geralt from Pixabay

As all of you know, the disruption due to hurricane Ida is forcing you to rethink how you will continue with teaching and learning during this disruption. When classes resume next week, many faculty will move to meeting with their classes remotely at the regularly assigned class time.

One question related to teaching remotely that we have been asked is about using Zoom for class meetings. In particular, some faculty want to know if they can use their personal Zoom accounts for class meetings. While there is no university policy that says you cannot, we suggest you use your XULA Zoom account for several reasons.

Zoom link identified in NavBar

If you create a meeting in your personal Zoom account and provide your students with the Zoom link they will be able to attend the class meeting. However, an advantage to setting up the Zoom class meetings inside your course is that this can force your students to login to the course for each class meeting. This is helpful in recording their attendance. To have attendance automatically recorded in Brightspace, students need to access course content from your course for that day. Any activity inside the course is acceptable for recording attendance. It could be a link they click on, submit an assignment, take a quiz, participate in a discussion, etc. Even just clicking on the "Content" menu link in your course will count for attendance.

You must activate your XULA Zoom account in order to use Zoom in Brightspace. Activation is a one-time action on your part.

We have a number of Zoom resources that you may find helpful:

Did you know you can view Zoom usage reports to see the participants who attended the meeting and the amount of time they spent in the meeting? Here’s a link to how-to that explains how to view your Zoom usage reports.

Want More Information?

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
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.