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clipart of a rubric

Brightspace interactive rubrics help instructors:

  • Increase Efficiency - Rubrics are built into the grading workflow. Rubrics click-and-score simplicity saves time.
  • Provide Consistent and Quality Feedback - Rubrics enable instructors to provide consistent evaluation and contextual feedback to students.
  • Promote 21st Century Skills - Rubrics make it easier to assign essay questions, individual and group assignments, and discussion forums as assessment activities which foster critical thinking and collaboration.

Rubrics allow instructors to establish set criteria for grading assignments; instructors can attach rubrics to submission folders so that the criteria are available to students before they submit their assignment.

Weighted analytic rubric creation example
Weighted analytic rubric creation example

Rubrics contain criteria that list the attributes on which an assignment will be assessed and levels that list the standards each criterion must meet. A specific grade or score is usually assigned to each level. In Brightspace, you can use a rubric to calculate scores for multiple criteria to determine an overall score for an assignment.

example of grading with a rubric
Grade using a rubric example

Rubrics can be used to display the number of points students were awarded for each criterion after the assignment is graded and rubrics can also be used to provide customized feedback.

Instructors can choose to have the rubrics visible to students at any time, only after grading has been completed, or not shown to the students at all.

NOTE: The Brightspace Rubrics tool is different from Turnitin Rubrics.

Follow these steps to do it.

To create a rubric you should:

  1. On the navbar, click Course Admin.
  2. Click Rubrics.
  3. On the Rubrics page, click New Rubric.
  4. Enter a name for your rubric.
  5. Change the status of your rubric, if necessary.
  6. Choose the rubric Type and Scoring method.
  7. Enter the criteria, levels, criteria/level details, and initial feedback for your rubric.
  8. Enter details for the Overall Score feedback.
  9. Click Options and choose the options for your rubric.
  10. Click Close.

Note: Rubric changes are automatically saved.

Want more information?

Rubrics Tool Quick Reference Guide (pdf)
Create a Rubric
Create an Analytic Rubric (video)
Create a Weighted Rubric (video)
Create a Holistic Rubric (video)
Add a Rubric to an Existing Activity (video)
Grading with a Rubric
Add Feedback and Evaluations to Assignments (video)
Rubrics FAQ

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery release notes
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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: "rubric" by Cleonard1973 licensed under CC BY-SA-4.0

journal with ink pen

Many instructors are using reflective journaling as a teaching strategy. Reflective journaling is used as a means of aiding reflection, deepening students understanding and stimulating critical thinking.

Brightspace does not have a Journal tool. However, you can setup private discussion forums for journaling using the Groups and Discussions tools. A private discussion forum is the same as any other discussion forum, except that only the instructor and an individually assigned student have access to the posted threads and replies. A private discussion forum ensures that students cannot see each other’s posts, but instructors can still respond and assign grades to the discussion threads.

Follow these steps to do it.

To setup private discussions for journaling:

Want more information?

Use Private Discussions for Journaling (video)
Setup Private Discussion Boards for Individual Students
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.

Image credit: Image by CharuTyagi from Pixabay

Class Engagement 1.0

Image Source: Duke Innovation Co-Lab [CC0]
Most anyone who has heard me talk about teaching in recent years knows that in every class I have a Class Engagement grade that counts toward 10-15% of the student's final grade. I started including this a number of years ago because I wanted to help students understand that simply showing up for class isn't enough. So I borrowed quite heavily from Stephen Brookfield (who encourages people to borrow from him) and his "Class Participation Grading Rubric". What I like most about Brookfield's approach is that he provides students with an extensive list of ways they can contribute to the learning that takes place in his classes, including  ways that deviate quite a bit from the basic ideas of asking and answering questions. For example, active listening is a completely acceptable way of being engaged, according to Brookfield ("Use body language (in only a slightly exaggerated way) to show interest in what different speakers are saying"), as is encouraging other students to be a bit more mindful ("When you think it's appropriate, ask the group for a moment's silence to slow the pace of conversation to give you, and others, time to think"). Brookfield's rubric greatly expands what many of us (and many of our students) think it means to be engaged in a college classroom.

Engagement does not necessarily mean talking a lot or showing everyone else what you know.

As I said, for many years now I've used this model to assess my students for good engagement. Theoretically, during every class, I would give each student one of the following "grades":

  • ✔+ (In class on time with good engagement.)
  • ✔ (In class on time with adequate engagement.)
  • ✔– (In class on time with no participation; or in class late.)
  • ✘ (Not in class; or in class but actively disengaged.)

So — theoretically — each week, the students would get a grade through our LMS showing them how engaged they'd been according to me. For the most part, this worked pretty well over the years. When I started, I was worried that students would complain about receiving such a grade, but not only did I not receive complaints, I saw some students adapting to the expectations. They would actually do the things listed on the assignment sheet! Not all of them, of course. I've had plenty of students over the years who have ended up with Cs for their Class Engagement grades because they did little more than show up for most classes.

The problem with this is that it's difficult to keep up with in anything other than a very small class. For the first two or three weeks of the semester, as I'm still learning everyone's name, I can't really assign the grade at all. Then, during the last few weeks of the semester, I'm on a sort of autopilot, and I often forget to make notes about who does what. Last semester was perhaps the worst experience with it, as I was teaching two sections of Xavier's still new XCOR 1000 class, which meant I had 50 students who I only saw once a week, so I had a lot of trouble being accurate with my weekly assessments.

Class Engagement 2.0

This semester, I'm trying something slightly different, in order to A) take some of the burden off my shoulders and B) add a degree of reflection to the assignment. This semester in my XCOR 3010: Dystopias, Real & Imagined class, the students will be grading their own class engagement.

Figuring out how to do this was a bit of a challenge. Brightspace has a Self-Assessment tool, but that's not an accurate name: In Brightspace, Self-Assessments can't be graded. Instead, I set up a weekly quiz that asks students two questions:

  1. Briefly provide examples of your engagement with our class this week. (This is what Brightspace calls a Written Response type question. It provides the students with text box.)
  2. Please rate your own level of engagement in class this week. Based on the input you provided in the previous question, how engaged were you, on average, this week. (This is a Multiple Choice type question, using the same language as the rubric I included above.)

Each week, after our second class, that week's quiz will open up and remain open until the next Sunday evening. Students will have until 6pm on Sundays to submit their self-evaluation of their class engagement for the week. I've set the quizzes to allow the students to revise/resubmit their answers as often as they want during the open window, just in case they have second thoughts (This happens to me every year when I submit my Faculty Update: Within a few hours, I remember some important thing I did that I forgot to include.).

This image shows the settings in Brightspace for the Multiple Choice question and the weighted answer options.
Settings for the Multiple Choice question type in Brightspace.

The quizzes are worth 6 points each. The multiple choice question is worth 5 points, and Brightspace allows you to Add Custom Weights on Multiple Choice questions, so instead of there being a "right" answer on this question, each option is weighted (see the image above for details).

The Written Response question is worth one point (because you can't have a question in a Brightspace quiz that isn't worth anything). At first I was annoyed by this, as it will require me to go in and grade each response, but now I think that will be a good thing, as it will require require me to go in and pay attention to each response. This will also give me a chance to comment on and evaluate the students' self-evaluations.

How will this work? We will see. Look for a follow up post around mid-term. In the mean time, feel free to take a look at the assignment sheet for my modified Class Engagement assignment: Class Engagement Assignment Sheet.

A discussion forum is an excellent tool for student engagement. However, you don’t always have to use the question and answer format to engage students in a discussion forum.

comment bubbles outlined in orange

In the Faculty Focus article, “Discussion Board Assignments: Alternatives to the Question-and-Answer Format,” professor Chris Laney gives his take on alternatives for Q&A discussions. Laney, who is professor of history and geography at Berkshire Community College, was having trouble engaging students in discussion forums in his online class and decided to rethink his use of online discussions. Professor Laney thinks of the discussion forum as a place to foster interaction between the students through a variety of means rather than just asking them questions. Specifically, he uses role-playing, debates, and WebQuest to foster interaction between his students.

Role-play

One example of how Professor Laney used role-play is a discussion forum activity that asks students to do some research on a person living in an urban Roman city in the first century CE. Each student creates a character and writes a diary entry or letter recording what he or she did in the course of a day or a series of days. To perform well in this activity the students need to research a few things about the professions and classes that would have existed during that time. The students end up talking back and forth in character and at no point does Professor Laney actually ask a question.

Debate

One example of how Professor Laney uses debates is he had students debate whether democracy in the Middle East would result in better or worse relations with nations in the region. It’s a pretty straightforward assignment; however, when having students debate it’s important to set clear ground rules to keep things cordial and to avoid simplistic arguments.

WebQuest

Professor Laney gives students a less intense discussion forum assignment in weeks when a major assignment is due. Rather than carrying on a discussion over the usual two-week period, he has students do a simple WebQuest and post their findings without having to respond to each other. For example, he may ask students to post an image, video, or music clip from the Romantic Period of art in the 19th century and write a brief description about why it’s considered an example of Romanticism.

Grading

In a class of 25 people there may be 75 messages in a week to grade. To keep the discussion forum assignments manageable, Professor Laney asks students to post their messages in a single thread. Having all the messages in a single thread makes it relatively easy to grade. When a discussion forum activity is over, Professor Laney can click on an individual student’s name and at a glance assign a grade.

Are you using an alternative to the Q&A format for discussion forums? If so, we would like to hear about it. Please leave a comment to share your alternative to the Q&A format.

If you are new to using discussions in Brightspace, you can find how-to resources for discussion forums on our blog.

Image credit: Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Brightspace Pulse is a mobile app that can help learners stay connected and on track with their Brightspace courses. It provides one easy view of course calendars, readings, assignments, evaluations, grades, and announcement items. The app can help learners make better decisions about how to handle their workload, when to submit assignments, and when to prepare for tests. Real-time alerts can let learners know when classes are canceled, class is meeting in an alternate location, or new grades are available. The schedule view and weekly visualization enables learners to quickly at a glance view what is due today, this week, and upcoming across all their courses.

While the Brightspace Pulse app is designed for the learner, instructors can benefit too.

Brightspace Pulse App on iPhone

While the Brightspace Pulse app is designed for the learner, instructors can benefit too. When instructors enter due dates or end dates for assignments and activities the information is populated in the Pulse app enabling learners to stay connected and on track. Thus, instructors can spend less time reminding and more time teaching.

Instructors can make their courses Pulse friendly by including due dates or end dates for assignments and activities. When instructors do not enter due dates or end dates, no associated information is available in the Pulse app.

The Pulse app is great for helping students stay on track in face-to-face classes as well. Instructors can set up their face-to-face assignments and activities as events in the Brightspace course calendar. Students will get those date feeds in the Brightspace Pulse app.

Help keep students on track for success in all their courses by including a due date or end date for assignments and activities.

Want more information?

Brightspace Pulse App
Brightspace Tip #112: Due Dates
Pulse Dates - Set Date Restrictions for Content (video)
Pulse Dates - Set Date Restrictions for an Assignment (video)
Pulse Dates - Set Date Restrictions for a Discussion Topic (video)
Pulse Dates - Set Date Restrictions for a Quiz (video)
Pulse Dates - Set Date Availability for a Calendar Event (video)
Brightspace Tip #74: Manage Dates

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.

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

course design zen infographic

Accessible PDF version of Course Design Zen infographic.

Want more information?

Course Design Suggestions
Setup your Spring Courses
Setup your Grade Book
Use Date Management
Using Quicklinks
Copy Course or Copy Components

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.

Whether you've had one semester or a few semesters of using Brightspace behind you, you may be thinking it would have been helpful if I had known this about Brightspace beforehand.

whiteboard with light bulb inside a thought bubble

An article in the Brightspace Community provided insights on what professor Lori McIntosh-Belanger wishes she had known about Brightspace when she got started. In the article she provides insights on using Quizzes and Question Libraries, Discussions, Widgets, Rubrics and Marking Assignments. If this has piqued your interest, you should read the article, “What I Wish I Had Known as a Brightspace Instructor”.

Image credit: Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

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 December 2019/20.19.12 release that were added to our system this month:

1) Assignments – File size information in submission receipt email

File size information now displays next to the file name in the submission receipt email sent to learners upon making a submission to an assignment submission folder.

2) Assignments – Submission ID displays for Learners

A new column that displays Submission ID information is visible to learners on the View Feedback page in Assignments.

Submission ID visible to learners when reviewing Submission Feedback information
Submission ID visible to learners when reviewing Submission Feedback information

3) Content – Sort order changes in Upload / Create menu

When using the Upload / Create menu to add activities to Content, the placement of the New Assignment option has moved. Previously, it appeared between New Discussion and New Quiz. Now, New Assignment appears above New Checklist.

Updated sort order of the Upload / Create menu
Updated sort order of the Upload / Create menu

4) Grades - Synchronization with Assignments and Discussions via API and import options

Grades are now fully synchronized in the Assignments and Discussions tools when grades are added to Brightspace via the existing Import as CSV, Import as Excel, and API entry options. This change builds upon recent grades synchronization updates for Assignments and Discussions.

Note: Synchronization only occurs for new grade entries. Existing grade data for assignment submissions and discussions will not automatically be migrated because of the high impact to all past data and reports.

5) Release Conditions – Learners are notified when a release condition triggers new content

In a course that uses release conditions to unlock additional content, learners previously were not informed when new content became available as a result of a release condition that was satisfied. Because there was no automatic notification or refresh of the table of contents, there was the potential for frustration when learners think they are done a module, and are later informed that there are steps left to be completed.

Now, when release conditions are satisfied, the learner is notified using a pop-up ("toast") message that there are new items available in the course.

6) Release Conditions – Updated ordering of Tools

When adding Release Conditions to activities or content, the View Conditions for, and Condition Type menus now display tools in an updated order.

When browsing for release conditions, Assignments is now at the top of the list of tools

When browsing for release conditions, Assignments is now at the top of the list of tools

When creating new release conditions, Assignments is now at the top of the list of tools

When creating new release conditions, Assignments is now at the top of the list of tools

If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the December Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform December 2019/20.19.12 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.

Image credit: image by geralt from Pixabay

keyboard with Help key emphasized

As you work on setting up your courses you may have questions. Here is a list of Brightspace help resources you can use to get answers to your questions.

Live Chat icon

Additionally, if you are having difficulties using any of the course tools, you can get help from D2L. This help is available 24/7 via Email and Live Chat. You will find links for Email Support and Live Chat Support in the Help menu on the NavBar (inside of Brightspace). You must be logged into Brightspace to access the Email and Live Chat Support links.

Help Menu

Want more information?

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.

Image credit: Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

As you prepare to teach this spring, now is a good time to get started setting up your Brightspace courses. According to our Information Technology Center (ITC), the spring courses have been created in Brightspace. If you are listed as the instructor for the spring course in Banner, you should see the course in your My Courses widget in Brightspace.

NOTE: If you do not see your spring 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). If your spring courses are listed when you "View All Courses" but are not shown in your My Courses widget, you should pin the course in order to have it appear in the My Courses widget. Follow these instructions for pinning/unpinning courses.

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.

post it note with to do written on it

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 spring 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 spring course.

Follow these steps to do it.

Listed below are links with instructions to:

Want more information?

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.

Image credit: Image by 11066063 from Pixabay