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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

celebrate GAAD heading with disability icons

Thursday, May 16th, 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.

Video Notes is a built-in media recording tool in Brightspace that allows instructors and learners to record short videos with a webcam. This makes it easy to personalize the learning experience with short, video-based feedback, comments, or instructions. Video Notes can be added where video attachments are supported and when the Brightspace Editor’s Insert Stuff option is available.

People who are deaf or hard of hearing rely on captions and subtitles to understand video content. But there are a lot of other great reasons for using captions. For example, you may have some learners who choose not to use the sound or they cannot use it without disturbing those around them. You may have some learners who are not native in your language or who have trouble understanding you. Closed captions and subtitles will allow these individuals to receive your message and understand it.

Did you know you can generate automatic closed captions for newly created Video Notes AND you have the ability to manually add or edit closed captions for all previously recorded Video Notes?

Follow these steps to do it.

To generate automatic captions:

  1. Select Add Video Note from the Insert Stuff option in the Brightspace Editor.
  2. Click on New Recording, click Stop Recording when done recording.
  3. Click on Next
  4. Enter a title and description for the Video Note.
  5. Choose the audio language.
  6. Check the "Automatically generate captions from audio" box.
  7. Click Next and follow the prompts.
  8. After video processing, you can view the closed captions using video player controls.
example of automatically generate captions from audio checkbox
Video Notes - automatically generate captions from audio

Note: As with any automatically generated captions, you should verify the accuracy of the automatically generated captions.

To edit/update Video Note captions:

  1. Select Audio/Video Note Editor from the Admin Tools. Admin Tools are accessed from the cog icon in the top right corner of the page.
  2. Locate the Video Note you would like to review the captions for.
  3. Select the Video Note from the list.
  4. Edit the captions in the Captions Editor.
  5. Click on Save Captions.
Admin Tools with Audio/Video Note Editor highlighted
Audio/Video Note Editor
example showing update to automatic captions
Video Notes - update automatic captions

To add Video Note captions:

  1. Select Audio/Video Note Editor from the Admin Tools. Admin Tools are accessed from the cog icon in the top right corner of the page.
  2. Locate the Video Note you would like to add captions to.
  3. Select the Video Note from the list.
  4. Click on the Closed Captions tab.
  5. For automatic captions, select the audio language and then click Auto-Generate OR select Upload to add a captions file.
  6. After video processing, you can view the closed captions using audio/video player controls.
example showing how to generate automatic captions
Video Notes - add captions

Reminder: As with any automatically generated captions, you should verify the accuracy of the automatically generated captions.

Want more information?

Brightspace Tip #299: Video Notes
Create Video Notes
Create and insert a Video Note in Brightspace Editor
Reuse Video Notes
Understanding the Brightspace Editor
Add closed captions to a Video Note
Edit Video Notes closed captions

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

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

Image credit: "celebrate GAAD" by jflorent is dedicated to the public domain under CC0 and is adaption of "disability symbols" by National Park Service in the public domain

celebrate GAAD heading with disability icons

Thursday, May 16th, 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 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 Brightspace Editor, click the accessibility checker icon.
  2. Brightspace 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?

Improve Your Course with Brightspace Accessibility Checker
Brightspace Accessibility

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

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

Image credit: "celebrate GAAD" by jflorent is dedicated to the public domain under CC0 and is adaption of "disability symbols" by National Park Service in the public domain

GAAD logo

Thursday, May 16th, 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.

Also, thanks to those of you who attended our "Accessibility Is Not Just for Individuals with Disabilities" workshop. The workshop, the seventeenth in our #LEX Advanced series, helps you to build on the skills you learned in the #LearnEverywhereXULA course and gives you the skills and knowledge you need to create accessible course materials that can benefit everyone. You can find the workshop recording and other resources in support of the workshop on the CAT+FD wiki. Additionally, if you did not get the opportunity to earn a digital badge for participating in the workshop, it's not too late to earn that badge. We have a corresponding “Make It Accessible” module in the #LearnEverywhereXULA (#LEX) course that you can complete to earn a digital badge for this topic. The badge will count towards your #LEX Advanced certification.

Image credit: "Global Accessibility Awareness Day logo" by Mindymorgan licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

As you prepare to teach this summer, now is a good time to get started setting up your Brightspace courses. Our Information Technology Center (ITC) has created the summer courses in Brightspace.

NOTE: You should see your summer courses in the My Courses widget. If you do not see your summer courses in your My Courses widget, you should click on the link to "View All Courses" (located at the bottom of the My Courses widget). Verify that you are listed as the instructor for the course in Banner. You can find more information about the updated My Courses Widget sort logic at this link.

To get started, you can post your syllabus, course documents, announcements, and setup your Grade Book in your Brightspace courses. You can also customize your course homepage and/or course image/banner.

to do list

If you teach a course that is cross listed you will have a Brightspace course for each cross listing. You can combine the cross listed courses into one Brightspace course so that you can post course materials and grades to one combined Brightspace course. Combining courses may also work for you if you are teaching different sections of the same course and would like to have the different sections combined into one Brightspace course so that you can post course documents and grades in the one combined course. The beginning of the semester is the best time to submit a request to merge your Brightspace courses before you add course materials or grades to the courses.

Additionally, if the summer course you are teaching is the same as one of your previous courses you can copy the entire course (or copy components) into your "empty" Brightspace summer course.

NOTE: ITC will enroll students in the Brightspace courses at the end of the registration process, usually the night before the start of classes for the semester. If you want to view your class enrollments or email your students before they are enrolled in your Brightspace course, you can do so in Banner or through EAB.

Follow these steps to do it.

Listed below are links with instructions to:

Want more information?

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

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

Photo Credit: image by analogicus from Pixabay

empty classroom

As we approach the end of the semester there are a few things you can do in Brightspace to wrap up for the semester.

Release final course grades

Unlike other grade items and categories in the Grade Book, final grades are not available to students by default. Final grades must be released. 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.

Export your Grade Book

Student access to courses is removed two weeks after the end of a semester. This process of making the courses inactive allows student work and grades to be visible to instructors but students no longer have access to the course. Courses will remain on the Brightspace system for three semesters before they are removed. You should export (download) your Grade Book to your local computer after you submit your final grades.

NOTE: The export file that is created will NOT contain any student work or instructor feedback. Only the grades in your Grade Book will be exported.

Create a master copy of your course

Courses remain on the Brightspace system for three semesters before they are removed. You can request a Master Course Shell that you can use to develop and maintain your course materials. Master Course Shells will not be removed from the Brightspace system.

Follow these steps to do it.

Instructions are available for releasing final course grades, exporting your Grade Book, and requesting Master Course Shells.

Want more information?

Release Final Grades
Export your Grade Book (video [2:03])
Master Copies of Courses

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

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

Photo Credit: image by WOKANDAPIX from Pixabay

the word update written on a chalk board

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 some of the updates in the April 2024/20.24.4 release that were added to our system this month:

1) Brightspace Community – Navigation and content improvements

To enhance the user experience in Brightspace Community, D2L is making the following improvements:

  • New and improved search functionality (available late Q1).
  • Relaunch of the Approved Support Contact (ASC) homepage (available early Q2).
  • New Brightspace tool navigation structure for Instructor Documentation (Higher Ed) (available early April 2024).

New and improved search functionality

An improved search tool is scheduled to be implemented in Brightspace Community.

This improved search uses natural language processing AI to iteratively improve the accuracy of search results and supports the use of search synonyms for terms often used interchangeably (for example, Dropbox and Assignment).

Additionally, this new federated search indexes and surfaces content from external sources such as corporate blogs, the Brightspace Tutorials YouTube channel, Brightspace Learning Center, and Developer (Valence API) documentation.

New Brightspace tool navigation structure for Instructor Documentation (Higher Ed)

Based on higher education instructor feedback gathered during Fusion 2023, we are restructuring the Instructor Documentation (Higher Ed) knowledge base to organize content into alphabetized Brightspace tool categories. This new navigation structure will be available in early April 2024.

The new navigation structure shown on the left of the page to quickly find topics organized into alphabetized Brightspace tool categories.
Higher education instructors can use the new navigation structure on the left of the page to quickly find topics organized into alphabetized Brightspace tool categories.

2) Discussions – View attached file feedback for discussion evaluations

Instructors' attached files now appear in the Attached Files section for each learner's discussion evaluation. Learners can view attached file feedback when viewing their evaluated discussion topic.

Instructors can view all attached files by clicking on the learner's name and selecting Discussions. Learners can view all attached files by clicking on Discussions in Class Progress. Instructors and learners can view all attached discussion evaluation files in the Class Progress tool.

Additionally, the Discussions tool's evaluation process is now consistent with the Assignments and Quizzes tools' evaluation processes.

Learners can view their feedback for a discussion topic in the Attached Files section of their evaluation.
Learners can view their feedback for a discussion topic in the Attached Files section of their evaluation.
Instructors can attach a file in the discussion evaluation experience for their assessment.
Instructors can attach a file in the discussion evaluation experience for their assessment.

If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the April Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform April 2024/20.24.4 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
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
Brightspace Known Issues
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

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

Image credit: image by geralt from Pixabay

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.

wrench

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 Enter Grades.
  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 Enter Grades.
  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)
Troubleshoot Final Grades (video)
Adjusted Final Grades
Release Final Grades
Brightspace Tip #437: Grade Book

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

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

Image credit: Image by webandi from Pixabay

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.

To manually release final grades:

  1. On the NavBar, click Grades.
  2. On the Enter Grades page, from the Final Calculated Grade or Final Adjusted Grade context menu, click Enter Grades.
  3. To release grades for all users, on the Final Grades page, from the Final Grades context menu, click Release All. To release final grades for a specific user, do one of the following:
    • Select the check box by the user name and click the Release/Unrelease link.
    • Select the check box in the Release Final Calculated Grade or Release Adjusted Final Grade column.
  4. Click Save.

OR watch this video for instructions on how to release final grades:

NOTE: There is a slight change in the video instructions. The "Enter Grades" option should be used anywhere in the video where "Grade All" is referenced.

Want more information?

Troubleshoot Final Grades (video)
Adjust Final Grades
Release Final Grades
Brightspace Tip #437: Grade Book

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

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

Image credit: "final grades" by jflorent is dedicated to public domain under CC0 and is a derivative of grade by OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay

extra bonus icon

I am writing this blog post as a follow up to my Brightspace Tip #440: Grade Book - Bonus Points blog post. I've received a few questions about bonus items in a weighted grading system. This blog post addresses how bonus items work in a weighted Grade Book.

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. The Can Exceed option must be selected in order for users' grades to exceed the maximum points specified.

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

bonus grade item

If you allow an item to exceed 100% or include Bonus items, but do not check the box "Can Exceed" in the category and/or “Final Calculated Grade” settings, then extra credit will count but it will be limited to no more than 100% for the category or “Final Calculated Grade.”

If you create a “Bonus” item with no category, limit its weight to the most you wish to add to the final course percentage. For example, if you do not want to add more than 3% to any given final grade, limit the Bonus item’s weight to 3%. The bonus points can be any number of points because the weight makes the difference in the overall calculation.

thought bubble with light blub

Refer to this Demystifying Bonus Items in a Weighted Grade Book document for example of weighted grading system with bonus item and an explanation of the final grade calculation.

Want more information?

Demystifying Bonus Items in a Weighted Grade Book
Brightspace Tip #440: Grade Book - Bonus Points
About Bonus Grade Items
Extra Credit
Create a Grade Item (video)
Brightspace Tip #437: Grade Book

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

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

Image credits: extra png from pngtree.com and image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

the word sms in talk bubble

D2L (the company that owns Brightspace) has announced a July 2024 intent to end-of-life SMS notifications. Refer to the following frequently asked questions for more information.

What are SMS Notifications?

SMS (Short Message Service) notifications allow users to subscribe to select alert bell notifications so that they are forwarded to a mobile phone number.

Why are they ending SMS Notifications?

When D2L originally built their SMS notifications, the world was a different place. We didn’t all have smart phones! They built this using a technology service available from most providers, email to SMS. Now, this service is being deprecated by providers and they are experiencing not only inconsistent delivery times but also large-scale outages at some of the largest mobile providers in North America.

How can users get mobile push notifications without SMS?

Another difference from when D2L built their SMS notifications is that their mobile app, Pulse, wasn’t available. With Pulse, users can receive the same mobile push notifications as what were available via SMS.

Email-based notifications are not going away, so users can still receive email notifications if subscribed.

What will happen to stored phone numbers after this?

Personal Data will be deleted once it is no longer needed to send notifications.

Want more information?

Intent to EOL SMS Notifications
Brightspace Tip #430: Notifications

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

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

Image credit: image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay