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 August 2021/20.21.8 release that were added to our system this month:
1) Activity Feed – Date picker change
This feature updates the date picker component in Activity Feed. The new date picker has a more streamlined design and requires slight workflow changes: to clear a date/time, use the Clear option and to set the calendar to the current day, use the Set to Today option.
Note: The Date field in the Post Later dialog box is a mandatory field. There remains to be no option to clear this field. You must set this date to a future date or click Cancel to exit this dialog box.
2) Assignments - Icons in attachments toolbar
This release updates the attachments toolbar which appears in the evaluation panel on the right side of the new Assignment Evaluation Experience.
Users can now add attachments to their feedback from QuickLinks, web links, Google Drive, and OneDrive using the new icons in the toolbar. Previously, users could only add attachments by uploading a file from their computer, recording an audio note, or recording a video note.
This change aligns the attachments toolbar in the new Assignment Evaluation Experience with the attachments toolbar in the new Create and Edit Assignment Experience.
3) Brightspace Editor – Available as the default editor
This feature updates the Brightspace Editor – Available in ePortfolio External Comments and Quiz Builder | Updated feature released in July 2021/20.21.7.
This release sets the new Brightspace Editor as the default editor across Brightspace Learning Environment.
As mentioned in the Brightspace Editor – Replaces The HTML Editor | New release note in April 2021, 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. However, the d2l.Tools.Quizzing.ShowSpellCheckInAttempts org unit configuration variable is still respected and marks text in Quizzes to be ignored by the browser spell checker. It can be turned off for all quizzes at the org unit level.
The inline limited version of Brightspace Editor is now available in Activity Feed as the default editor.
Brightspace Editor HTML options in Activity Feed include: Bold, Italic, Underline, Strike-through, Superscript, Subscript, Font Color, Bulleted Lists, Numbered Lists, Increase/Decrease Indentation, Insert Stuff, Insert Quicklink, and Emoji. Insert Stuff now includes various capabilities, including Video Note functionality.
The Account Settings > HTML Editor Settings option is no longer available as it is not applicable with the new Brightspace Editor. This setting was previously used to make the HTML Editor more accessible to screen readers by removing the RichText presentation layer. Improved accessibility workflows in the new Brightspace Editor make this setting redundant.
Additionally, 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.
The Brightspace Editor now uses pixels (px) in the font size menu in order to match the Content Settings menu for an org unit’s default font size.
4) Brightspace Pulse – Comment on Activity Feed posts
To encourage class engagement, learners can now comment on Activity Feed posts in Brightspace Pulse. Previously, learners could only read Activity Feed posts and comments in Brightspace Pulse.
In Brightspace Pulse, tap the Courses tab, and then tap a course with Activity Feed enabled.
From the Activity Feed tab, tap the post you want to comment on, and then tap Add Comment. A browser opens, displaying the Activity Feed for the course in Brightspace Learning Environment.
Tap the post you want to comment on, add your comment, and then tap Post. Your comment displays.
To close the browser and return to Brightspace Pulse, tap Done.
In Brightspace Pulse, refresh the page to display your comment.
5) Brightspace Pulse – View all grades for a course
Learners can now view all grades for a course from a new Grades tab in the course. Previously, learners could only view course grades from notifications in Brightspace Pulse or by opening a browser and navigating to the Grades tool in Brightspace Learning Environment.
To view all grades for a course, tap the Courses tab. Next, tap a course, and then the Grades tab. All received grades for the course display, indicating if feedback is available. To open the Grades tool in a browser and view full grade breakdowns and calculations, tap View Grades in Browser.
To view feedback, tap a grade. The grade and text feedback display. To view details about the associated activity in Brightspace Learning Environment, tap View Activity.
This implements Product Idea Exchange item D6422.
6) Brightspace Pulse – View content module descriptions
Learners can now view content module descriptions in Brightspace Pulse. Instructors use module descriptions to communicate vital information to learners about specific course content. Previously, module descriptions were only visible from Brightspace Learning Environment, which may have caused learners to miss important information when accessing courses from Brightspace Pulse.
This feature implements PIE items D4547 and D6460.
7) Rubrics – Increased accessibility with labels on radio buttons
To provide a better experience to clients using screen readers, criterion levels now indicate the level name and point value of each radio button when it has the focus. Previously, screen readers only indicated “radio button X out of Y” or “radio button, not selected” depending on whether the focus is on a selected criterion.
In addition, the mobile view of Rubrics now has radio buttons implemented to describe the level name and point value of each criterion level, consistent with the view on a larger screen.
Note: Depending on the screen reader you use, the way of listing all the radio buttons on a page differs. For example, In NVDA, press INSERT+F7; in JAWS, press CTRL+INSERT+A. In general, D2L tests compatibility with the following screen readers: NVDA, JAWS, and Voiceover.
8) Rubrics – Inline grading improvements
There have been improvements to the ease of use of the inline grading experience, including changes to ensure grading experience parity for screen reader users. Previously, screen reader users were unable to grade or review tasks due to missing information. In addition, the updates now include the following:
- The interaction of the arrow buttons at either end of the evaluation slider now indicate a hover state compared to a focus state. If there is no level under the hover pointer, the level area is empty.
- Keyboard navigation of the slider evaluation levels identify the focus and indicate the criterion you are viewing. When the keyboard focus is on a level, you can press the arrow keys at the beginning and end of the slider or use the left and right arrow keys on the keyboard to move the focus within a scale. In grading mode, moving the focus to a level directly selects the level. You can also press Enter to select or unselect a level. In preview mode, the selected level does not change when you review other levels’ information.
- Keyboard navigation of the slider evaluation levels more clearly identify the focus and level you have selected in grading mode. You can use the right or left arrow key at the beginning and end of the slider to move the focus within a scale. Press Enter or use the left and right arrow keys on the keyboard to select and deselect the level.
- The level name and description of an evaluation level appear below the evaluation slider in the selected state, and the selection indicator appears on the slider at the chosen level.
- When the rubric has been graded, the level information area displays the selected level’s information by default, unless other levels are in hover state in grading mode, or in hover or focus state in reviewing mode.
- When you move the selection block to a different level, there is now an animation to smoothly transition to the new level.
9) Rubrics - Overall Score now appears in Mobile View and the New Assignment and Discussion Evaluation Experiences
When an instructor using the New Assignment Evaluation Experience opens a rubric in a new window, the Overall Score displays for each rubric, and the instructor can override the level if necessary. Previously, if an instructor did not open a new window, rather, they viewed the rubrics inline in the New Assignment Evaluation Experience tool, the Overall Score did not appear, and the instructor could not override the level. As a result, text-only rubrics could not be assessed because the Overall Score was not available.
Now, instructors using Mobile view can evaluate text-only rubrics for assignments (using the New Assignment Evaluation Experience) and can evaluate text-only rubrics for discussions (using the New Discussions Assignments Evaluation Experience) as expected.
If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the August Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform August 2021/20.21.8 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.
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