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Video Notes is a built-in media recording tool in Brightspace that allows instructors and learners to record short videos (up to 3 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.

Instructors can use Video Notes to:

  • Create a new Topic in Content area
  • Add a Description to a Module or a Topic in the Content area
  • Create an Announcement
  • Provide instructions when creating a Submission Folder for Assignments
  • Provide a feedback on students’ Assignments
  • Give a description of a new Topic in Discussions or make a post on a Discussion topic
  • Give students feedback in the Grade Book
  • Compose an email inside of Brightspace
  • Anywhere HTML editor is available

Students can use Video Notes in these areas of Brightspace:

  • When adding comments to uploaded assignments in a Submission folder
  • When posting a new thread or replying on someone’s thread in Discussion topic
  • Composing an email inside of Brightspace

Follow these steps to do it.

To create and insert a video note in the HTML Editor:

  1. In the HTML Editor, click the Insert Stuff icon.
  2. Click Video Note.
  3. Select Record Webcam Video, or Upload File.

    If Record Webcam Video is selected, follow these steps:

    1. Click New Recording.
    2. Record up to 3 minutes of video and click Stop Recording.
    3. To view the video note, click the play icon.
    4. If you are satisfied with the video, click Next.
    5. Enter a title and description for the video note, and click Next.
    6. Click Insert.

    If Upload File is selected, follow these steps:

    1. Click Choose File and select the file you want to upload from your computer.
    2. File format must be MP4, FLV, F4V, or MOV, and file size can be no larger than 5.00 MB.
    3. Click Next, and enter a title and description.
    4. Click Next, and then Insert.

insert video note window

Want more information?

Create Video Notes
Create and insert a Video Note in HTML Editor
Reuse Video Notes
Understanding the HTML Editor
Add closed captions to a Video Note

View all the Brightspace training recaps
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.

Video is one of the most powerful, motivating, and visual ways to learn. You can use videos to promote critical thinking and active learning.

There's a big difference between watching a video and learning something from it.

Emily A. Moore, M.Ed., instructional designer in the online learning office at Texas State Technical College – Harlingen Campus, gives suggestions to help increase the educational effectiveness of an online course video. Read more in her article, "From Passive Viewing to Online Learning: Simple Techniques for Applying Active Learning Strategies to Online Course Videos."

Additionally, you can ask students to create videos to demonstrate learning. If you are interested how to use videos to demonstrate learning, read my “Video Assignments” blog post.

PowerPoint slide with a video assignment

Video can easily and effectively be incorporated inside your Brightspace courses to provide just-in-time feedback and/or to build in spontaneous interaction.

There are several ways to add videos to your Brightspace courses. Brightspace supports embedding and/or linking to video from many other systems and solutions. Sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, or other video repositories can be embedded easily by clicking the Insert Stuff button in the HTML Editor, choosing the Enter Embed Code option from the list, and then pasting the embed code.

image showing Embed Video using HTML code

The benefit of embedding video into a course is that it enables the students to stay within the context of the course and within the sequence of instruction, rather than linking out away from course content.

It is a good idea to embed or link to videos rather than uploading video files to your course. You can upload your videos to YouTube, Vimeo, or other media server and then embed or link to the video within the course as explained above. Detailed instructions on recording, uploading, and sharing videos on YouTube can be found in the "Want more information?" section below.

Lastly, you can create Video Notes in Brightspace. Video Notes is a built-in media recording tool that allows instructors and learners to record short videos (up to 3 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.

Want more information?

Simple Techniques for Applying Active Learning Strategies to Videos
Best Practices for Posting Video Announcements
Video Assignments
Record, Upload, and Share Video on YouTube

Create Video Notes
Create and insert a Video Note in HTML Editor
Understanding the HTML Editor

View all the Brightspace training recaps
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.

hands on computer keyboard with binary numbers in foreground

Are you slow at typing? Try dictating using Google’s voice typing.

Voice typing is a feature that is available in Google Docs. Voice typing is available in more than 40 languages. Although the results of the voice dictation is not 100% accurate, it can be a quick and easy way to start a rough draft.

To get started with voice typing, you need Google Chrome web browser and a functioning microphone connected to your computer. Login to your Google account and open an existing Google Doc or start a new one. In the ‘Tools’ menu, select ‘Voice typing’. A small pop-up window will appear to the left of your document with a dark microphone icon inside it. Click on the microphone icon. Once the microphone icon turns red you can start speaking. When you are done dictating, click the microphone icon again to turn off the voice typing service.

Google Docs Voice Typing

If you would like to learn more about the commands you can use with voice typing, refer to this Type with your voice help document or simply say “Voice commands help” when you are voice typing.

ICYMI, read my Getting Started with Google Apps blog post.

Photo credit: Binary Hands Keyboard | CC0

update

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 2019/20.19.5 release that were added to our system this month:

1) Assignments – Annotate in full screen

When annotating submissions in Assignments, instructors can now toggle to a full screen view. This allows for more screen space to display learner submissions and insert annotations, while removing unnecessary navigation menus.

2) Assignments – Opt-out of Annotations

Instructors can now determine if they want to use the annotation tools when assessing submissions for a specific assignment. Previously, if you had Annotations enabled in a course, all assignments displayed the annotation tools with no option to disable them. The new option allows instructors to easily opt-out of using the annotation tools, without the need to request a configuration change from their administrators.

3) Assignments – Rotate page using annotation tools

Instructors can use the Page Rotation function when assessing assignments using the built-in annotation tools. Depending on the format of a learner submission, documents may appear rotated when initially rendered in the document viewer. Use Page Rotation to quickly reorient the document so it displays as expected.

Page rotation options available in annotation tool
Page rotation options available in annotation tool

4) Discussions - Save feedback in draft state

This feature provides instructors the option to save feedback on assessments in draft state prior to publishing it to learners. Now when instructors add feedback to assessments, the Save Draft and Publish buttons display.

Note: The Save Draft button does not appear when a discussion topic is only associated with a rubric.

General Feedback page with the Publish and Save Draft buttons
General Feedback page with the Publish and Save Draft buttons

5) Grades - Transfer rubric score to grade item score

This updated feature provides instructors the option to save feedback on assessments in draft state prior to publishing it to learners. Now when instructors add feedback to assessments, the Save Draft and Publish buttons display.

This feature sets the default value of the d2l.Tools.System.Features.GradingExperience configuration variable to Automatic transfer of rubric score to Grade Item. As a result, rubric scores are transferred to the grade item score by default.

The Rubric evaluation page is visible to instructors if a rubric is associated to a grade item, and the grade item is not associated with an activity such as an Assignment, Discussion, etc. When an instructor saves changes made on the Rubric evaluation page, the rubric score is transferred to the learner's grade item score automatically and instructors no longer have to manually transfer the rubric score to a learner's grade item score.

6) Quick Eval – Find and prioritize unevaluated learner submissions in one location

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

Educators can sort, filter, and search submissions to prioritize their evaluation work. Sorting can be done using the first or last name of the learner, Activity Name, Course Name, and Submission date. Filtering can be done using one or more of the following categories: Activity Name, Course Name, and Submission Date. Clicking on a user’s name opens an evaluation screen directly from the Quick Eval list where the evaluator can complete their assessment. The search function in Quick Eval allows evaluators to locate submissions for evaluation by searching for a specific user, assignment, quiz, discussion topic, or course.

When learner submissions are evaluated and published, they no longer show up in the Quick Eval list. An empty Quick Eval list gives educators confidence that no learner submissions are pending evaluation.

Evaluator view of the Quick Eval list
Evaluator view of the Quick Eval list

7) Quizzes - Full-screen quiz evaluation

Now instructors can evaluate quiz attempts in full-screen mode. This update enhances an instructor's quiz evaluation experience.

Quiz evaluation in full-screen mode
Quiz evaluation in full-screen mode

8) Rubrics - Rubrics Grading Experience available for Group Assignments and Discussions

The Rubrics Grading Experience available for assignments and discussions is now available for group Assignments and group Discussions. When a rubric assessment is in draft state, the assessment is not viewable by members of a given group. Once the assessment is published, all group members can view the rubric assessment. Previously, the new Rubrics Grading Experience was only available for regular Assignments and Discussions.

In addition, when a non-file submission assignment is connected to a grade item in the gradebook, the assessment symbol on the Grade All screen launches the assignment assessment experience.

The assessment symbol on the Grade All screen now launches the assignment assessment experience
The assessment symbol on the Grade All screen now launches the assignment assessment experience

If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the May Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform May 2019/20.19.5 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
View all the Brightspace training recaps
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.

1

film strip, film reel, and clap board

Traditional writing assignments are appropriate for many types of assessments, but there is no law that says traditional writing assignments are required for all.

In a Faculty Focus article, Dr. John Orlando explains how student videos can be used to demonstrate learning. He writes,

A good video assignment is to put students into small groups with instructions to make a video that teaches a key concept related to class. If done well, the video not only demonstrates students’ understanding of the concept, but also serves as a resource that can be used by others.

Recent technologies have made video creation remarkably easy and video assignments can be shared in Brightspace. However, you should opt to have the students upload their video files to a video sharing site like YouTube and just provide a link to the video inside Brightspace.

If you are interested in video assignments, you can read more in Dr. Orlando’s “Ask Your Students to Create Videos to Demonstrate Learning” article.

Additionally, I prepared some instructions for recording, uploading, and sharing video on YouTube that you should provide to your students to help them post a link to their video in Brightspace.

zen garden with bamboo in the background and stacked zen stones in the foreground

I usually get a lot of questions from faculty related to setting up their Brightspace courses. In the spirit of starting the summer session with less stress, I offer the following course design suggestions to reduce your course setup and management stress:

Setup Grade Book First

Setting up your Grade Book before adding assignments and activities that will be graded simplifies your course creation workflow. Grade items are not automatically created in the Grade Book. Instructors have to setup their grading system and create grade items separately.

When you setup your Grade Book first, you can associate the assignment/activity with the corresponding grade item in the Grade Book at the time you are creating the assignment/activity. This eliminates going back and forth between creating assignments/activities and the Grade Book.

Use Due Dates

Use due dates in Brightspace to help students stay on track. Dates automatically populate into the course calendar. Students will see due dates when they look at entries in the course calendar.

Enter due dates and availability (start/end) dates when you create assignments, assessments, discussion topics and forums, etc. Keep dates aligned with the dates in your syllabus to prevent student confusion about when an assignment/activity is due.

Make Names Consistent

Avoid naming assignment/activities one thing in the syllabus and another in the course (and/or still another in the Grade Book). If your assignment is listed as "Week 5 Short Essay Paper" in the syllabus, but your assignment submission folder is labeled "Educational Technology", you can expect to field questions and/or excuses from students who can’t figure out what they’re supposed to do.

Make things easier for students by making sure an item is named consistently throughout the syllabus and course, and things will be easier for you as well.

Keep Information Consistent

Posting multiple copies of assignment instructions or supplemental material in multiple places in the course is an invitation to trouble because there isn’t necessarily a correlation between them—they can be completely different documents. When there’s a change to the assignment, you have to remember to make edits everywhere you might have posted the information, or risk giving students conflicting information.

Instead of posting multiple copies use Quicklinks, as they are great for making sure information is consistent throughout the course. Quicklinks are useful because they allow instructors to provide students with a direct link to content in the course. For example, instructors can create an announcement or email for students with links that take students directly to specific content files or assignments inside of the course. Because this is a direct link to information in the course, when you make a change to the information it will be updated everywhere in the course because it’s linked.

Copy Course or Copy Components

You do not have to start from scratch when creating content for your course. If you created content in one course you can copy that content or copy components from that course into another course. For example, if you are teaching multiple sections of a course, you can create all the content in one course section and then copy the content into the other sections. Likewise, if you created content in one course (e.g. rubrics, discussions, quizzes, etc.) you can copy that specific content into another course. Copying course content is particularly useful at the start of a semester as it allows you to copy content from a previous semester to a newly created empty course.

Follow these steps to do it.

Listed below are links with instructions for:

Want more information?

Setup your Summer Course
Setup your Grade Book
Use Date Management
Using Quicklinks
Copy Course or Copy Components

View all the Brightspace training recaps
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.

celebrate GAAD

Today 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 HTML 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 HTML Editor, click the accessibility checker icon.
  2. HTML 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?

Brightspace Accessibility Checker
View all the Brightspace training recaps
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.

GAAD written in the clouds

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.

1

Being prepared is a must for teaching online. In addition to using better practices for online teaching you should be thinking about how to deliver your online course for maximum success while avoiding the 7 deadly sins of online course design.

globe with a computer mouse and teaching online text

In an IDDblog blog post, Alex Joppie listed a few tips for keeping your online course running smoothly. I’ve combined his tips with a few of my own to provide you with suggestions to help your online course run smoothly. Those suggestions are as follows:

Before the semester starts—touch base with your students

Send an email to your students before the first day of class. In your email,

  • Make sure students know they’re enrolled in an online class. Some students take online classes because they think it will be easy. When in fact, some students struggle in online courses because they do not have the skills to be self-directed learners. You should let the students know that online classes take time and self-discipline.
  • Inform them of technology requirements, textbooks, and other required materials. This will help them hit the ground running.
  • Let the students know when your Brightspace course will be available.
  • Let the students know you’re there. This email can also serve to ensure to students that even though the entire course is going to facilitated by computers and networks, that there is a human being involved who cares about their success.
  • Make sure they got the email (and read it). Ask students to respond to the email. You may need to pursue other means of communication if a student doesn’t seem to be getting your email.

Additionally, take advantage of intelligent agents to automate sending email.

The first week—setting the tone

Follow these steps to set a healthy culture for the course and make sure everyone gets off to a good start.

  • Make sure students log in to your course. Use the Class Progress Tool to check to make sure everyone has logged in sometime within the first few days of class.
  • Create a welcome video for your course. Using a short video clip of yourself helps the students to have a picture of you in their mind. This video will help you to become a “real” person to your students.
  • Add a profile picture to humanize your course. Humanized learning increases the relevance of course content and improves students’ motivation to log-in to your course week-after-week. Your profile picture will create an inviting space for your students.
  • Create a more personalized learning environment in your course by using Replace Strings. Replace Strings allow you to create personalized messages for your students. A personalized welcome message, for example, will make your course feel more inviting to your students.
  • Be active in introductory discussions. Your introductory discussions will set the tone for the entire course. Make sure there’s a positive culture in your discussions by being engaging in the first one.
  • Encourage students to select their Brightspace personal preferences by configuring their account settings and notifications. Also encourage students to use the Brightspace Pulse app to keep up with critical and timely course related information and assignments.
  • Utilize the Brightspace Class Progress, Completion Tracking, and Checklists tools to help students stay on track. Students are more likely to be successful in an online course when they check-in regularly and keep up with their coursework. If a student falls behind early, they may never catch up.

Mid-course—checking in

  • Give your students an anonymous survey to get feedback from them on how the course is going. Do this sometime after you feel your students should have gotten a sense of the rhythm of the course but you still have time to make meaningful course corrections based on the feedback. This is especially important the first time you teach a new course.

Every week—the routine

Provide students with weekly communications that recap the previous week’s activities and prime students for the following week:

  • Highlight insightful discussion posts – Draw students’ attention to important points made by their classmates. It’s positive reinforcement for students and shows that you’re engaged.
  • Respond to gaps in student learning – Did everyone miss a question on the quiz, or skip over an important point in a discussion? If so, address it.
  • Contextualize the week’s main topics – Tie the week’s activities back to the learning goals of the course. Why is what we did this week important?
  • Prime the students for the next week’s main topic – Give some context about why they should care about what’s coming up next.

Consider presenting your weekly communications in the form of video announcements. Doing so will give your students more exposure to you as a "real" person speaking to them while giving them a presentation of material or virtual tour of the week's lesson.

Here are a few more ideas to keep your online course interesting.

End-of-semester evaluation—develop your teaching persona

  • An end-of-semester evaluation is a good opportunity to get feedback from your students to help you develop your teaching persona. Getting a “learner-sighted” view of the course-experience can add to your understanding of the learning environment, including aspects of your teaching persona that have framed it.

Studies show that students withdraw from online courses at a higher rate than in face-to-face courses. There are many reasons for students withdrawing from an online course. Some reasons are beyond the instructor’s control. Educators do not like to see students withdraw from courses for the wrong reasons. The suggestions in this blog post will help you to improve retention and reduce attrition by making sure that your students are prepared, that they get off to a good start, and that they’re engaged.