James M. Lang has written a series of articles for the Chronicle of Higher Education on distraction and attention in higher education. The articles draw from his new book, Distracted: Why Students Can’t Focus and What You Can Do About It. In his book he makes a compelling argument that rather than thinking about how to ban distractions you should focus on creating learning environments that support and sustain attention. If this has piqued your interest, you can find his series of articles on distracted minds at these links:
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.
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.
Repetitive emails may lose their effectiveness, so use Intelligent Agents sparingly. Consider using Intelligent Agents when there isn't a better way of communicating. Ask yourself,
Would an announcement work better?
Would a personally crafted email work better?
Would a discussion board posting work better?
If the answer is no, then consider using an Intelligent Agent!
Release conditions allow instructors to create a custom learning path through the materials in their course. When a release condition is attached to an item, users cannot see that item until they meet the associated condition.
For example, instructors can setup release conditions to:
Require students to complete an activity (e.g. Syllabus Quiz, Introduce Yourself discussion forum) before accessing course content.
Require students to obtain a certain percentage on an activity (e.g. 100% on Syllabus Quiz) to access content items.
Require students to complete a non-graded activity before accessing a graded activity.
Release an answer key to students who completed the assignment.
Require students to view a content topic before gaining access to a quiz.
Require students to post to a discussion topic before they can see a content module.
Release content based on a student's group enrollment to customize the content each group receives.
Require students to acknowledge they have read and agree to an honor pledge before releasing a quiz.
Release conditions can also be added to Intelligent Agents to create email notifications for users. For example, instructors can create an Intelligent Agent that would automatically send a reminder email to users who have not yet completed a required quiz or assignment in the course.
Example of multiple Release Conditions applied to a module
If you attach multiple conditions to an item, users must meet all conditions before they can access the item. For example, you could require users to visit the first three content topics in a unit before gaining access to an associated quiz.
NOTE: Once a user meets a release condition, the condition is cleared for that user and cannot be reset. For example, if you attach a release condition to a discussion topic requiring users to achieve more than 60% on a quiz before they can access that topic, and one of your participants receives 72% on the quiz but you adjust their grade to 55% they will be able to access the topic because they did meet the requirement at some point.
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:
From the Minibar, click Select a course (i.e., the waffle icon).
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.
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.
To unpin a course click the Pin icon beside the course.
Change the order of your pinned courses:
If you want to completely change the order in which your courses are displayed, unpin all your courses and then pin them in the reverse order of how you want them to appear in the My Courses widget. The course that is pinned last will appear first.
D2L (the company that owns Brightspace) uses Continuous Delivery to update our Brightspace system. The Continuous Delivery model gives us regular monthly updates allowing for incremental and easily integrated changes with no downtime required for our Brightspace system.
Our Continuous Delivery update occurs on the 4th Thursday of each month. D2L provides release notes to help users stay up-to-date with the changes.
Here are a few updates in the May 2021/20.21.5 release that were added to our system this month:
1) Assignments – Annotations available for TXT file-based assignments
Previously, annotations enabled instructors to use highlighting, free-hand drawing, shapes, and associated commenting to provide feedback to learner assignments of the following file types: DOC, DOCX, RTF, ODT, PPT, PPTX, PPSX, ODP, XLS, XLSX, JPG, JPEG, PNG, TIF, TIFF, and GIF. Now, instructors can provide feedback for TXT, in addition to the existing types.
Note: The updates to annotations replaces the Edit a Copy workflow, which is no longer supported in the New Evaluation Experience.
2) Assignments – Download file when using annotations in the New Assignment Evaluation Experience
The New Assignment Evaluation Experience now includes the Download drop-down menu in the Annotations viewer. When using annotations in an assignment, instructors can use this menu to download the original file without navigating to the submission list. Instructors can also download the annotated PDF file.
Copy/paste and/or drag and drop images - You can copy/paste and/or drag and drop images when providing feedback in assignments, discussions, and quizzes. Images are saved in the content folder.
External users adding comments in Brightspace ePortfolio now have the new inline limited version of Brightspace Editor.
Design improvements to enhance use of the Editor on mobile devices and improve general usability.
Accessibility improvements – Improved keyboard navigation for keyboard users and toolbar icons are spaced out more in accordance with WCAG standards.
4) Rubrics – Copy rubric criterion
To improve the value of Rubrics and facilitate reusing rubric criteria that have already been created, an action menu next to the criterion name provides Copy and Delete options. When an instructor copies a criterion, the new criterion is added under the original with the criterion name Copy of [name of original criterion].
The Delete function was previously available as a trashcan icon at the end of the criterion row outside the table. The new location in the action menu improves the discoverability of the Delete and Copy options.
5) Rubrics – Print or export to PDF
To improve the user experience with Rubrics, instructors can now print or download a PDF of a preview or evaluated rubric. Learners can also print or download a PDF of a rubric from the desktop browser implementation of Brightspace Learning Environment. The Print button displays above the top-right corner of the rubric.
6) Widgets - Work To Do widget
The new Work To Do widget provides learners a summary of assigned learning activities from all their courses that are overdue or have an upcoming due date. The widget was added to the Brightspace My Homepage to aggregate data from all courses, and to the default course homepage to show only due and overdue learning activities from the course.
The Work To Do widget displays the following learning activities:
The Work To Do widget organizes course activities by overdue and upcoming due dates so learners can easily prioritize their work and stay on top of their tasks.
Learning activities only appear in the Work To Do widget when the activity has a defined due date or end date. By default, the widget displays activities due in the upcoming 2 weeks, and overdue work from the previous 12 weeks.
The Work To Do widget can be seen by users with the role of student. Instructors will see the Work To Do widget when they view the course as a student.
NOTE: If you customized your course homepage and you want your students to be able to see the Work To Do widget on your customized course homepage, you will have to add the widget to your customized course homepage.
For additional information and frequently asked questions about the Work To Do widget, see the following article in the Brightspace Community: Introducing the Work To Do Widget.
The Zoom Video Conferencing software allows instructors to record classes and meetings to their local computer or to the Zoom Cloud Recording Storage. While some users may find recording to the Zoom Cloud Recording Storage to be easy and convenient, the Zoom Cloud Recording Storage was NOT meant to be a long term video storage solution.
Our Information Technology Center's current policy is to keep 2 - 3 semesters of archived Zoom cloud recordings in the system before the recordings are deleted. You may recall that earlier this month, ITC announced that Zoom cloud recordings that were recorded on or before December 31, 2019 would be deleted from the Zoom Cloud Recording Storage. Therefore, my suggestion for Zoom cloud recordings that you plan to use from semester-to-semester is that you download them and then upload the video recording to a video sharing service (like YouTube or Vimeo).
Everyone at Xavier has a YouTube account. Videos uploaded to your YouTube account will not be deleted. You can make your YouTube videos unlisted or private if you do not want people to be able to search the Internet and find your videos. You can embed or create a link to your YouTube videos in your Brightspace courses.
ICYMI, we have a site license for Camtasia. Camtasia is a tool for making videos by recording from your screen and camera. Camtasia can also be useful if you want to edit your downloaded video recordings. Read more about requesting a copy of Camtasia in Bart's You’ve Got Camtasia blog post.
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 HTML 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?
Thursday, May 20th, 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.
Video Notes is a built-in media recording tool in Brightspace that allows instructors and learners to record short videos (up to 30 minutes) 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 HTML Editor’s Insert Stuff option is available.