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As you move forward with teaching and learning, you may have Brightspace questions. Here is a list of Brightspace help resources you can use to get answers to your questions.

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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.

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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

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 #251: Manage Dates
Brightspace Tip #248: Drip-Feeding

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
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.

Twitter icon on smartphone

Twitter has proven itself to be a valuable tool for educators. ICYMI, read my Teaching with Twitter blog post for more information about the creative ways educators are using Twitter.

Twitter for education? It's actually a good idea.

Instructors have the option to customize the look of their Brightspace Course Homepages to suit their needs. Some instructors who use Twitter in conjunction with their courses find it useful to embed Twitter feeds into their Brightspace Course Homepage.

Twitter made a change to the way you generate an embed code for a Twitter feed. To generate a Twitter embed code you should use publish.twitter.com. Additionally, with this change you can no longer get an embed code for a Twitter hashtag timeline. You can only generate a button for the Twitter hashtag.

Once you generate your Twitter embed code you would place it in a custom widget and then put the custom widget on your course homepage.

sample course homepage
Example of course home page with Twitter feeds

Want more information?

Design a Course Homepage with Widgets (pdf)
Place Twitter Feed in Custom Widget (pdf)

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
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: "Twitter app icon on smartphone screen" by Yuri Samoilov is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One of the changes implemented in our system with our July Continuous Delivery Updates was the end-of-life status for the old My Courses Widget sort logic. This means the old My Courses sort logic has been retired. With this change, the My Courses Widget now uses the Updated Sort Logic setting by default.

The Updated Sort Logic is intended to better organize the courses in the My Courses widget. The Updated Sort Logic presents both pinned and unpinned courses in the My Courses Widget, promoting the pinned courses to be displayed first in the widget.

The updated sorting logic in the My Courses Widget does not auto-pin courses, and allows the end-user to pin and rearrange courses in an order that makes sense to them. The updated sort logic tries to populate the widget with up-to 12 courses, starting with the user’s pinned courses, then pulling in unpinned courses by enrollment date until the widget contains 12 courses. The result is that most users get a sensible My Courses Widget with no intervention on their part, while pinning and customization is still available for the users who need it.

Screenshot of the Pinned tab in the My Courses widget
The Pinned tab appears in the My Courses widget when users pin courses

A new Pinned tab now appears in the My Courses widget. The “Pinned” tab displays only the courses that a user has pinned, similar to the old sort logic. The Pinned tab allows learners and instructors to create a curated view of their pinned courses. Clicking on the push pin to the right of the course name in the Course Selector will pin/unpin the course.

An example of pinning a course from course selector
Pin/unpin courses from the course selector

The Pinned tab appears in the widget only after a user pins a course in the Course Selector. The tab remains in view until all courses are unpinned. The My Courses widget remembers the last viewed tab and shows that same tab the next time the homepage is viewed. This makes it easy for instructors and learners who only wish to view pinned courses to see those courses upon login.

NOTE: The Pinned tab only appears when a user has one or more course pinned – tabs are not displayed to the user that contain 0 courses.

The View All Courses navigation drills down into the courses by showing manually pinned courses, followed by current enrollments, then future enrollments (if available and visible to the user), then past enrollments (if available or visible to the user) as the default sort. If the user changes the sort order, the filter does not separate pinned courses from other courses based on sort order, filters, and search terms.

Want more information?

Retirement of the Old My Courses Widget Sort Logic
About the My Courses Widget

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
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.

Due to the surge of the COVID-19 omicron variant, the university announced plans to start the semester with in-person classes shifting to meeting remotely. This unplanned semester start may force you to rethink how you will approach teaching and learning during this disruption.

When classes start next week, many faculty will move to meeting with their classes remotely at the regularly assigned class time. One question related to teaching remotely that we have been asked is about using Zoom for class meetings. In particular, some faculty want to know if they can use their personal Zoom accounts for class meetings. While there is no university policy that says you cannot, we suggest you use your XULA Zoom account for several reasons.

Zoom link identified in NavBar

If you create a meeting in your personal Zoom account and provide your students with the Zoom link they will be able to attend the class meeting. However, an advantage to setting up the Zoom class meetings inside your course is that this can force your students to login to the course for each class meeting. This is helpful in recording their attendance. To have attendance automatically recorded in Brightspace, students need to access course content from your course for that day. Any activity inside the course is acceptable for recording attendance. It could be a link they click on, submit an assignment, take a quiz, participate in a discussion, etc. Even just clicking on the "Content" menu link in your course will count for attendance.

You must activate your XULA Zoom account in order to use Zoom in Brightspace. Activation is a one-time action on your part.

We have a number of Zoom resources that you may find helpful:

Did you know you can view Zoom usage reports to see the participants who attended the meeting and the amount of time they spent in the meeting? Here’s a link to how-to that explains how to view your Zoom usage reports.

Want More Information?

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
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.

gears

Online groups can enrich class discussion and provide a virtual environment for sharing information. You can use groups to organize users’ work on projects and assignments, or you can create special work areas for users with different learning needs. The Groups tool allows instructors to form virtual groups of students to support peer collaboration.

Users can belong to multiple groups within the same course. For example, each user can simultaneously belong to a group for class projects, a group for special interest discussions, and a group for advanced users. Each group can have its own discussion forums, assignments, and locker area to work in. You can grade members of groups individually or as a team.

Groups have a maximum enrollment of 200 users. If there are more than 200 users in a course, you can create new group categories; there is no limit on the number of group categories in a course.

Groups can be designated as Self Enrollment (allows students to add themselves to a Group), No Auto Enrollment (instructor assigns students to Groups), or random enrollment (Brightspace system distributes students equally into Groups).

Group Enrollment Type Description
# of Groups

Groups of #

Groups will be created by either number of groups (i.e., 4 groups total) or group size (i.e., groups of 4 students). Students will be randomly assigned to each group.
# of Groups - No Auto Enrollment This option allows instructors to manually assign students to groups.
# of Groups - Self Enrollment

Groups of # - Self Enrollment

# of Groups, Capacity of # – Self Enrollment

Blank groups will be created for students to sign-up for. Students will be able to see the other members of their group.
Single user, member-specific groups This option creates groups of one (1). Each group has a single user where the first name and last name of the learner is the name of the group.

Important: Currently, there is no way to hide the names of group members from other students who are in the same group. Therefore, creating groups for remedial or disability purposes could violate confidentiality laws if group names and/or group members makes the purpose of the group obvious.

Follow these steps to do it.

To create a group category you should:

  1. On the navbar, click Groups.
  2. On the Manage Groups page, click New Category.
  3. Enter a Category Name and Description.
  4. Select an Enrollment Type from the drop-down list.
  5. Depending on the chosen Enrollment Type, enter the Number of Groups to create, the Number of Users per group, or both.
  6. To apply a distinctive prefix to each group name and code in the category, enter it in the Group Prefix field. If you do not fill in this field, the prefix defaults to "Group".
  7. Depending on the chosen Enrollment Type, to automatically enroll users to groups, select Auto-enroll new users.
  8. Depending on the chosen Enrollment Type, to randomly place users in groups, select Randomize users in groups. If you do not choose this option, users are placed alphabetically based on the Classlist.
  9. If you select an Enrollment Type that supports self enrollment, to set a deadline after which learners can no longer self enroll in the group, select Set Self Enrollment Expiry Date.
  10. Click Save.

To create a group you should:

Note: Groups reside in categories. You must create a category before you can create a group. These instructions assume you have already created a category for the group.

  1. On the navbar, click Groups.
  2. On the Manage Groups page, from the View Categories drop-down list, select the category you want to add a group to.
  3. From the context menu of the category, click Add Group.
  4. If you do not want to use the default name provided, enter a group name.
  5. If you do not want to use the default group code provided, enter a group code.
  6. Enter a description for the group.
  7. Click Save.

Want more information?

Groups Tool Quick Reference Guide (pdf)
Creating Groups in Brightspace
Create Group Work Areas for Learners
Create a Group (video)
Understand Group Enrollment Options (video)
Modify Group Enrollment (video)
Create Groups and Group-Based Assignments (video)
Best Practices for Setting Up Groups

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
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.

Image credit: image by qimono from Pixabay

Announcements are one of the first things your learners see when they log in to your course. Announcements can provide timely information for your learners about class activities and time-sensitive material. Announcements can be used to remind learners of assignment and/or test dates, post changes to the course, announce upcoming events (such as a guest speaker), etc.

news in type

You can post multiple announcements when setting up your course and select a specific day for the announcement to be displayed by choosing staggered future start dates. For example, you know now that you want to post an announcement about the midterm exam and another about the final. Write both announcements now, but set the midterm announcement to display the week before the midterm and the final exam announcement to display a week before the final. Students will not be able to view either announcement until their assigned start date.

When creating an announcement, you should set an end date for it so that when the information in the announcement is outdated the system will no longer display the announcement.

You can use Quicklinks within the announcement to direct students to a particular section of your course. You can display (release) announcements based on conditions you choose by using Release Conditions.

In the Faculty Focus article, Building Community and Creating Relevance in the Online Classroom, Amy Erickson and Catz Neset suggested creating video announcements as a way to build community in your online courses. Their formula for successful announcements are:

  • Provide an introduction each week and share your availability
  • Give feedback and answer questions from the previous week
  • Showcase exceptional student work from the previous week
  • Highlight the objectives of the coming week and any special preparation or required resources
  • Connect your coursework to relevant current events

Consider using Video Notes (built-in media recording tool in Brightspace) or your favorite video sharing service to create video announcements for your learners.

Here is a video announcement that Dr. Mark Gstohl created for his students. In the video announcement, Mark gives his students a tip that will help them with an upcoming assignment. He also uses humor in his announcement which goes a long way to building a rapport with his students.

In another Faculty Focus article, Using Announcements to Give Narrative Shape to your Online Course, Dr. Nathan Pritts suggests using announcements to create a narrative that increases student engagement. He starts the semester by letting his students know that he will post around three announcements per week—on the first day of the week (to kick things off), then about three days later (positioned to help motivate and encourage forward progress), and finally, at the end of the week (to provide some closure and open a channel for any last questions). He labels the subject lines of his announcements so students can process and sort them at a glance. For example, some labels that he uses in the subject line are Course Policy, Instructional Content, and Dig Deeper. He uses the announcements as a roadmap to help his learners navigate the course.

Follow these steps to do it.

Watch this short video for instructions on creating announcements:

Want more information?

Post Course Announcements
Announcements Tool Quick Reference Guide (pdf)
Create an Announcement
Announcements - Create an Announcement - Instructor (video)
Teaching Tips - Make Regular Announcements - Instructor (video)
Brightspace Tip #164: Quicklinks
Brightspace Tip #237: Release Conditions
Brightspace Tip #273: Video Notes

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
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.

Image credit: image by stux from Pixabay

I usually get a lot of questions from faculty related to setting up their Brightspace courses. In the spirit of starting the 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
Merging Courses
Setup your Spring Courses
Setup your Grade Book
Use Date Management
Using Quicklinks
Copy Course or Copy Components

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
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.

why merge road sign

Faculty can request to have two or more of their courses combined into a single course. Combining courses can be useful when you are teaching multiple sections of the same course or when you are teaching a course that is cross-listed. Merging courses allows you to have all the students in a single Brightspace course which can be useful for collaborative work. Merging courses reduces the number of courses an instructor has to manage within Brightspace, especially when each section has identical content.

Once your courses are merged, you can upload your course content and assignments into the merged course; communicate with the students in the merged course; setup collaborative course work; and have one Grade Book for the merged course. You can create groups within your merged course that correspond to the original course sections. This way you can target a particular course section (group) of students for specific things (e.g. send email to a specific group, make content available to specific group, enter/view Grade Book entries for a specific group, etc.)

NOTE: Merging of courses is typically done at the start of the semester before content is added and before students submit course work. You should wait to request your courses be merged if there is a possibility that there will be last minute changes to instructor course section assignments. You can request a Master Course Shell to build your course and then transfer the content into your merged course.

You should carefully consider whether merging courses is right for you. Some disadvantages to merging courses are:

  • Course enrollments for the merged courses will be combined which can make grading student work a challenge. If you create groups for the different sections, you will be able to view your Grade Book by groups to make grading easier.
  • Only one due date and start/end date can be assigned to an assignment, discussion, quiz, etc. Therefore you will not be able to assign different due dates and start/end dates to the activity (e.g., assignment, quiz, discussion, etc.).
  • If you decide you want to unmerge courses after students have submitted course work, student work and grades will be lost. Only student enrollments are retained when courses are unmerged.

Follow these steps to do it.

A system administrator will have to merge your courses. Send an email to Yamlak Tsega (ytsega@xula.edu) if you want to merge courses. You should include the course ID (including CRN) for all the courses you want merged together.

NOTE: When courses are merged, one of the existing courses will serve as the "merged" course. If all the course sections are empty, it won't matter which one is used as the "merged" course. If you have already created content in a course, you should request that the course with the content be the "merged" course. This will reduce the need to copy content.

Want more information?

Merge Courses
Working with Groups

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
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.

Image credit: "why merge" by jflorent is dedicated to the public domain under CC0 and is a derivative of merging by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

As you prepare to teach this spring, now is a good time to get started setting up your Brightspace courses. Our Information Technology Center (ITC) has created the spring courses in Brightspace.

NOTE: You should see your spring courses in the My Courses widget. The July Continuous Delivery Updates implemented the updated My Courses Widget sort logic. 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). Verify that you are listed as the instructor for the course in Banner.

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.

to do list

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
Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
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.

Photo Credit: "to do list" by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0