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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.

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.

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

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.

checklist

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 summer 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 summer 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.

classroom with empty chairs

As we approach the end of the semester there are a few things you can do in Brightspace to wrap up for the semester.

Release final course grades

Unlike other grade items and categories in the Grade Book, final grades are not available to students by default. Final grades must be released. If you did not choose to enable the automatic release of final grades when setting up your Grade Book, you will have to manually release final grades in order for students to see their final grade.

Export your Grade Book

Student access to courses is removed two weeks after the end of a semester. This process of making the courses inactive allows student work and grades to be visible to instructors but students no longer have access to the course. Courses will remain on the Brightspace system for three semesters before they are removed. You should export (download) your Grade Book to your local computer after you submit your final grades.

NOTE: The export file that is created will NOT contain any student work or instructor feedback. Only the grades in your Grade Book will be exported.

Create a master copy of your course

Courses remain on the Brightspace system for three semesters before they are removed. You can request a Master Course Shell that you can use to develop and maintain your course materials. Master Course Shells will not be removed from the Brightspace system.

Follow these steps to do it.

Instructions are available for releasing final course grades, exporting your Grade Book, and requesting Master Course Shells.

Want more information?

Release Final Grades
Export your Grade Book (video [2:03])
Master Copies of Courses
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.

Photo Credit: School/Classroom/Inside | 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 April 2019/20.19.4 release that were added to our system this month:

1) Activity Feed – Learners can create posts

Learners can now create Activity Feed posts on a course homepage. Previously, learners were only able to comment on posts created by their instructors. A new posting option in the Manage commenting and posting widget dialog allows instructors to enable or disable learners from posting in their course feed.

Activity Feed manage commenting and posting option
Activity Feed manage commenting and posting option

Activity Feed manage commenting and posting widget dialog
Activity Feed manage commenting and posting widget dialog

ICYMI, here's a link to my previous blog post which has more information about the widget: Brightspace Tip #51: Engage Learners with Activity Feed.

2) Activity Feed – Visual enhancements updated

As part of the Learners can create posts update, user profile images now display beside each post to provide a visual representation of the contributor. Previously, a message or assignment icon displayed to indicate the type of post. Also, inline feed updates now alert users that new posts have been added to Activity Feed since arriving on the course homepage.

Profile image displays with posts, and alert indicates that new posts are available
Profile image displays with posts, and alert indicates that new posts are available

3) Assignments – Notification improvements

When instructors evaluate assignments and new or updated feedback is published, email instant notifications are available for learners.

4) QuickLinks - Create Quicklink to Rubrics

Users can now create Quicklinks directly to Rubrics. In addition, users can also access Manage Rubrics at the bottom of the Quicklinks menu.

ICYMI, here's a link to my previous blog post which has more information about quicklinks: Brightspace Tip #54: Quicklinks.

If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the April Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform April 2019/20.19.4 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.

Brightspace calculates final grades for each student based on the grading system and the students' grades that are entered into the Grade Book. If the instructor wants more control over the final grades, perhaps to adjust the final grade for a student that is on the cusp of a higher grade, then adjusted final grades can be used and released to students instead of the calculated final grade.

adjustment

If the instructor decides to use adjusted final grades for one student in the course, adjusted final grades must be used for all students in the course. This does not imply, however, that final grades must be manually adjusted for all students.

Adjusting final grades are implemented by the instructor for only the student or students that are deemed to need an adjusted grade. The remaining students final grades would be the final grade as calculated in the Grade Book.

Note: The Grade Book must be configured to use adjusted final grades. If you plan to use adjusted final grades, you should make the adjustments before you release final grades.

Follow these steps to do it.

To adjust final grades for all students:

  1. Get into the course where you want to adjust final grades and click Grades in the NavBar.
  2. Click on the Enter Grades link.
  3. Scroll over to the Final Calculated Grade column and click on the arrow on the right of the column name and select Grade All.
  4. In the Final Adjusted Grade section for each student, enter the adjusted grades and then click Save.
  5. Once you have ensured that students' grades are accurate, you can release the final grades.

To adjust final grades for one or more specific students:

  1. Get into the course where you want to adjust final grades and click Grades in the NavBar.
  2. Click on the Enter Grades link.
  3. Scroll over to the Final Calculated Grade column and click on the arrow on the right of the column name and select Grade All.
  4. Click on the arrow on the right of the Final Grades and click Transfer All, then click Yes.
  5. In the Final Adjusted Grade section, enter adjusted scores where necessary and click Save.
  6. Once you have ensured that students' grades are accurate, you can release the final grades.

Want more information?

Understanding the Grades Tool (video)
Adjust Final Grades
Release Final Grades
Final Grades FAQs
Grades FAQs
Brightspace Tip #85: Grade Book
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.

final grade

Unlike other grade items and categories in the Grade Book, final grades are not available to students by default. Final grades must be released. When setting up the Grade Book, the instructor can choose to automatically release final grades so that the students can see their final grade throughout the semester. If you did not choose to enable the automatic release of final grades when setting up your Grade Book, you will have to manually release final grades in order for students to see their final grade.

Additionally, you can selectively release final grades for some students now and release the final grades for other students later. For example, you can release the final grades for graduating seniors on one date and release the final grades for everyone else on a later date.

Follow these steps to do it.

Watch this video for instructions on how to release final grades:

Want more information?

Adjust Final Grades
Release Final Grades
Final Grades FAQs
Grades FAQs
Brightspace Tip #85: Grade Book
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.

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 March 2019/10.8.11 release that were added to our system this month:

1) Assignments - Annotate learner submissions

Instructors can now use the built-in annotation toolbar in Assignments to provide contextual feedback with highlighting, free hand drawing, shapes, and associated commenting. This allows instructors to complete all their evaluation and feedback work directly in Assignments, without the need to use any external tools or applications. Annotations remain editable until the feedback is published by the instructor. If instructors want to add additional feedback after publishing, they can update the annotations and re-publish them.

Document viewer toolbar
Document viewer toolbar
Annotation tools when grading assignment submissions
Annotation tools when grading assignment submissions

ICYMI, here's a link to my previous blog post which has more information about the tool:
Brightspace Tip #82: Annotate Assignment Submissions

Note: D2L does not recommend annotations for use with assistive technology.

2) Assignments - Improvements in Assignments

This update includes the following improvements:

  • Learners can now submit .cs file types as assignment submissions.
  • The Publish All Feedback on Anonymized Assignment Submission permission has been renamed to Publish All Feedback on Assignments. When the permission is turned on for the instructor role, instructors can publish draft assignment feedback in bulk by clicking Publish All Feedback.

Publish All Feedback
Publish All Feedback

3) Rubrics - Rubric icon criteria changed

The checked rubric icon now displays only when a rubric has been fully scored by the instructor. Previously, the checked rubric icon displayed for partially or fully scored rubrics. The unchecked rubric icon displays when a rubric is unscored, or partially scored to provide instructors and learners with more visual information about the status of the rubric.

Unscored rubric icon
Unscored rubric icon
Partially scored rubric with additional information
Partially scored rubric with additional information

Scored rubric icon with check mark
Scored rubric icon with check mark

4) Rubrics - Override criteria scores before selecting a level

Instructors can now enter a score for a criterion on a points-based rubric before clicking on a level within the rubric. Previously, an instructor could only manually enter a score after selecting a level.

If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the March Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform March 2019/10.8.11 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

picture of a person's hand marking on a survey

Instructors can create surveys in Brightspace and use the statistics tools to monitor current course trends, seek opinions, and assess user satisfaction.

Surveys are an excellent way to solicit feedback from learners regarding any aspect of a course. You can gather anonymous or non-anonymous opinions and information from users. Unlike Quizzes, survey questions do not have to have right or wrong answers and Likert-style rating questions are possible.

Some examples of the types of uses for surveys are: seeking feedback on the effectiveness of active learning exercises, the need for clarification of course material, and/or seeking suggestions for course improvement.

Follow these steps to do it.

To create a survey:

  1. On the NavBar, click Activities, then click Surveys.
  2. On the Manage Surveys page, click New Survey.
  3. Enter a Name and select additional settings for your survey (e.g. choose the option to give instant feedback and/or make results anonymous).
  4. To add questions directly to the survey, click Add/Edit Questions. Alternatively, you can add questions from the Question Library.
  5. Click Done Editing Questions to return to the survey page.
  6. Click the Restrictions tab to modify the survey's availability.
  7. Change the survey status to Active.
  8. Specify a date range for the survey, if appropriate.
  9. Set the attempts allowed for the survey.
  10. Click Save and Close.

To track survey progress and results:

Based on how you have set up the survey properties, you might see a list of all users or just the overall survey results with anonymous responses.

  1. On the NavBar, click Activities, then click Surveys.
  2. On the Manage Surveys page, click the context menu next to the name of your survey and click Statistics.
  3. In the Users tab, search for users and their listed attempt types. You can restrict your search of survey results by attempt in the Attempts tab.
  4. To view a specific user's results, click on an individual attempt. To view the number of attempts per question within a survey, click View Overall Results at the bottom of the page.

Want more information?

Setup a Survey (video)
Track Survey Progress and Results
Monitor Course Trends and Assess Satisfaction

Question Library Quick Reference Guide (pdf)
Benefits of Question Library (video)
Create a New Question (video)
Import Questions into Question Library (video)

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.