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 September 2021/20.21.9 release that were added to our system this month:
1) Assignments – Create select box grade items in the New Assignment Creation Experience
This feature builds on the Add categories capability in the Assignment Creation Experience | New feature released in July 2021/20.21.7.
With this release, the new assignment creation experience supports creating new select box grade items. Previously, only numeric grade items could be created from the new assignment creation experience.
In addition, this feature provides support for choosing a grade scheme when creating numeric or select box grade items. Grade categories now progressively display when creating a grade item. Previously, grade categories always displayed when available.
Also, to make interface text more clear, the following labels have been renamed in the new assignment creation experience:
- Score out of is now Grade out of
- In Grades is now In Gradebook
- Choose in Grades is now Edit or Link to Existing
- Remove from Grades is now Not in Gradebook
When creating a new assignment as an instructor, under Grade Out Of, click Ungraded.
Click In Gradebook, and then select Edit or Link to Existing.
From the Edit or Link to Existing dialog, the following options may display under Create a new grade item:
- If the Grades tool has available grade categories, the Choose Grade Category option displays. Clicking this button displays available grade categories for association.
- If the Grades tool has multiple grades schemes, the Change Grade Type & Scheme option displays. Clicking this button displays available grade types and schemes for association.
Click OK, and then Save.
2) Assignments - Restricting file extensions for submissions
Instructors can now specify the extensions of files that learners can upload as assignment submissions. When an instructor is creating a file submission assignment, there is a drop down in the Submission and Completion section of the New Assignment Creation Experience. In this drop-down list, instructors can choose the restrictions they want. Choices include:
- Annotatable files, which include all file types supported by the Annotation tool in Assignments.
- .PDF only
- Files that can be previewed without any conversion, such as .HTM, .HTML, .MHT, .MHTML, and .BMP
- Images and Videos
- Custom File Types
- When a .GIF file is converted to PDF, only the first frame of the .GIF displays.
- If an instructor choses Custom File Extensions, they can then enter file extensions that are allowed for file submissions. When this restriction is set, learners are presented with a list of acceptable file extensions for their assignments. When a learner attempts to upload a file submission for an assignment of an file extension type that the instructor has restricted, an error message appears.
3) Brightspace Learning Environment - Set and view user pronouns
Users now have the option to indicate their preferred pronouns in their user profiles. Brightspace user profiles are visible to anyone who shares a course with a particular user, including students, instructors, administrators, etc.
NOTE: You can find the option to indicate your preferred pronouns in your Account Settings.
4) Discussions - New Discussion Evaluation Experience
This feature is a continuation of the Discussions - Consistent evaluation experience feature introduced in August 2021/20.21.8.
With this setting, the new evaluation experience for Discussions appears first for all users, but they have the ability to opt-out until the December 2021/20.21.12 release, at which time the new evaluation experience for Discussions will become the only option available.
For more detail about the improvements in this new experience, visit the Welcome to Our New Discussion Evaluation Experience post on Brightspace Community.
5) Import / Export / Copy Components – Export Release Conditions in course packages
Now when you export Brightspace Learning Environment course packages, you can export Release Conditions and any associations. As a result, you no longer need to re-create these Release Conditions when you import the course package.
6) Rubrics - Additional information on Grade tiles
When a rubric is collapsed, instructors can now see if the rubric is complete. If the rubric is complete, the collapsed rubric shows the overall level of the rubric, and if the rubric is not complete, the number of unscored criteria appears on the tile.
Previously, it was only possible to see the overall score of the rubric when the rubric was expanded.
7) Rubrics – Brightspace Editor Additional Functionality
This feature updates the Brightspace Editor – Additional Functionality | Updated released in June 2021/20.21.6 and updated in Brightspace Editor – Available in ePortfolio External Comments and Quiz Builder | Updated released in July 2021/20.21.7. This update includes the following:
- The Brightspace Editor toolbar now appears in the following locations:
- Rubrics Creation and Edit experiences in the Description field
- Rubrics Creation and Edit experiences in the Feedback field
- Evaluation mode in the Feedback field.
- The Insert Stuff and Insert Quicklink buttons now appear in the different views with additional formatting options.
8) Rubrics - Copy and delete criteria groups
In response to client feedback about the New Assignment Evaluation Experience, it is now possible to copy or delete a criteria group on a rubric. The delete option is only available if there is more than one criteria group.
Note: When a rubric with attached assessment items has submissions evaluated against it, the rubric is locked and can no longer be edited or deleted.
After you click Copy Criteria Group, a new criteria group appears below the original criteria group.
If you are using keyboard-only navigation, these options are available in the tab order after the criteria group name. Once the criteria group is copied using keyboard navigation, the keyboard focus moves to the new group's name.
9) Discussions – Improvements to visibility and posting restrictions
There is a new workflow that makes it easier for instructors to set visibility and posting restrictions for discussion forums and topics. More specifically, this change simplifies date management for discussion activities, offering a more consistent, simplified, and consolidated experience for instructors.
The following changes are visible to instructors when creating or editing discussion forums and topics:
Note: These changes also affect the Classic Content and Manage Dates tools.
- From the Restrictions tab, the previous Locking Options are now consolidated with the Availability Start Date and End Date options and display as the following new options:
- Visible with access restricted before/after start/end. The topic/forum is visible to learners before/after the start/end date, but they cannot access it. Previously, Classic Content was the only tool to make discussions visible without access.
- Visible with submission restricted before/after start/end. The topic/forum is visible to learners before/after the start/end date and they can access it, but they cannot post new threads or replies. This effectively makes a discussion read-only. Previously, this was accomplished with the lock option or unlock dates.
- Hidden before/after start/end. The topic/forum is hidden from learners until the start/end date. This is a new feature. Calendar events for Availability Starts and Availability Ends are hidden until the start/end date. Notifications are also not sent until the start/end date. Previously, the hidden status of a discussion topic was decided by the tool displaying the topic.
- From the Restrictions tab, the Display in Calendar option is now consolidated with the Availability Start Date and End Date options, which adds the start date and end dates to the calendar. Previously, the tool decided which calendar event should be added to the calendar. With this change, calendar events for availability dates may change and additional events for Availability Start Dates may be added.
- Calendar events for unlocked dates are now hidden from learners.
- Where Discussions and User Progress may have previously hidden a topic or forum when outside of availability dates, those tools now may show them as visible, but inaccessible.
- From Discussion Settings, instructors can now set the default visibility and access behavior for new discussion forums and topics. The defaults can be set at an organization level.
If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the September Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform September 2021/20.21.9 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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