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A Quicklink is a way for instructors to insert a direct link to content that is inside or outside of their course.

insert link in HTML Editor

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.

Instructors should take advantage of Quicklinks, they are useful for pointing students to specific content in the course!

Follow these steps to do it.

Watch this short video for instructions on inserting Quicklinks:

Want more information?

Brightspace Tip #43: HTML Editor
HTML Editor Quick Reference (pdf)
Making Use of the HTML Editor (video)
Format HTML course content
HTML Editor Basics
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push pin

The My Courses widget (on the My Home page) uses tile-based images to make finding your courses easier. Users can choose which courses they see in their My Courses widget by pinning and unpinning courses.

  • Pinning a course makes it appear in the My Courses widget.
  • Unpinning a course makes it disappear from the My Courses widget.
  • Pinning a course also makes it rise to the top of the Select a Course list and on the My Courses widget.

Search through all of your courses and manually pin and unpin courses to ensure that your most relevant courses are visible on the My Home page.

Follow these steps to do it.

To pin/unpin a course, you should:

  1. From the Minibar, click Select a course (i.e., the waffle icon).
  2. Select a Course

  3. Type the name of the course that you want to pin or find it by searching in the Search for a course field or scroll down to find the course.
  4. Click the Pin icon beside the course. The pinned course will move to the top of the Select a Course list and to the first position in the My Courses widget.
  5. pin/unpin course

Note: To unpin a course click the Pin icon beside the course.

If you want to completely change the order in which your courses are displayed, unpin all of them and then pin them in the order you want them to appear. The most recently pinned course will always appear first.

Want more information?

Pin courses to the top of the Select a Course list
How to Pin Courses (pdf)
How to Reorder Pinned Courses
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call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

copy stamp

There are a some situations where you may want to copy components of a Brightspace course OR copy an entire Brightspace course into another one. For example,

  • You have a course from a previous semester and you would like to copy the course contents into your empty course shell for the current semester.
  • You have a Master Course Shell that you input content into and would like to copy the course contents into your empty course shell for the current semester.
  • You are teaching multiple sections of a course, you created all the content in one Brightspace course section and want to copy the content into the other sections.
  • You created content in one course (e.g. rubrics, discussions, quizzes, etc.) and would like to copy that specific content from one Brightspace course into another.

Copying an entire Brightspace course OR copying components of a Brightspace course into another Brightspace course is not hard. As long as you are the instructor for both courses, it is a simple process you can do.

Follow these steps to do it.

If you want to copy an entire Brightspace course OR copy components from a Brightspace course into another course, you should:

  1. Get into the course you want the content copied into.
  2. In the NavBar (of the course you want the content copied to), click on "Course Admin".
  3. Click on the "Import/Export/Copy Components" link.
  4. Click on the "Copy Components from another Org Unit" radio button.
  5. In the Course to Copy option, click the "Search for Offering" button.
  6. Click on the magnifying glass in the "Search for" field OR enter the name of the course you want to copy from in the search field.
  7. Click on the radio button to the right of the course you want to copy content from and then click on "Add Selected".
  8. Verify your selections are correct before proceeding.
  9. At the bottom on the browser window you will click on either "Copy all Components" OR "Select Components" and follow the prompts.

Important:

Double-check to make sure that you are in the course you want the content copied into AND that you have selected the correct course you want to copy content from. There is no way to reverse the copy process once the wrong course is selected and the copy request is submitted.

Want more information?

Copy Course Components
Import/Export/Copy - Copy Components video [1:31]
About Copying Course Components
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Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Announcements are a great way to communicate a lot of details around an event or schedule, but announcements do not have a way for learners to engage with the content of the announcement that you posted; that's where Activity Feed comes in!

activity feed

The Activity Feed provides a central location for instructors to post messages and links to course materials, web links, and files on Google Drive. It gives learners the ability to quickly access links to important materials, and comment on messages made by instructors and classmates.

Both Announcements and Activity Feed are great ways to share information, but sometimes one tool is a better fit than the other. To get a better understanding of how to use these tools effectively consider these examples of how instructors can use the Announcements tool and the Activity Feed tool.

Activity #1 - Post a News Article for Learners to Read and Comment On:

Reason: Instructor wants to share a news article about a recent event for learners to comment on. The news article the instructor wants them to read was not originally part of the curriculum, but is a real world example of what they are working on in the course.

Action: Instructor uses the Activity Feed tool to post a quick note about the article, including instructions to read and comment on the article. The instructor attaches a link the website the article is published on.

Result: Learners are able to read the article and ask questions, share thoughts, and read comments from their peers.

Activity #2 - Create an Automated Quiz Deadline Reminder:

Reason: Instructor wants to remind learners that they have two days remaining to complete a quiz before the deadline, but doesn't want to remind those who have already completed the quiz.

Action: Instructor creates an announcement that includes a text reminder of the quiz deadline, and adds a quicklink to the quiz in the announcement. In addition, the instructor adds a release condition to the announcement to share the quiz reminder with learners who have not completed the quiz.

Result: Using a release condition along with the announcement will target learners who have yet to complete the quiz, but won't clutter the Announcement tool with irrelevant messages for learners who have completed the quiz.

Activity #3 - Share Content from Google Drive:

Reason: Instructor wants to share something that was saved on their Google Drive.

Action: Instructor can create a post in the Activity Feed or in Announcements, then select the option to share the desired item from Google Drive. Both tools now have the ability to share from Google Drive, so the instructor gets to choose the interface he/she prefers.

Result: Instructor is able to quickly share something from their Google Drive for learners to see by choosing the tool they like most!

Are you interested in using Activity Feed? Keep This in Mind:

Typically, a course homepage would contain either the Announcements widget or the Activity Feed widget. Instructors should choose one of the two tools that is a better fit for their course. The default course homepage contains the Announcements widget. Instructors who decide to use the Activity Feed widget will have to modify the course homepage to include the widget.

If you are the instructor for the course, you can customize your course homepage to add/remove widgets. Information on customizing course home pages can be found in this Brightspace tip on customizing your course homepage.

Want more information?

Activity Feed Widget for Instructors Video Playlist
Homepages and Widgets
Design a Course Homepage with Widgets (pdf)
Google Apps Integration
Announcements Tool Quick Reference Guide (pdf)
Create an Announcement (video)
Quicklinks
Getting Started with Release Conditions (pdf)
Best Practices for Creating Release Conditions
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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.

The first page students see when they enter your course leaves a lasting impression. Use this first look to orient students and convey important information.

course homepage
Example of a Brightspace Course Homepage

Instructors can personalize their course with a banner image. A course banner is an image that appears in the My Courses widget and at the top of the course homepage.

Instructors can use Replace Strings to personalize Brightspace. Replace strings allow instructors to customize course content and communications in Brightspace by incorporating the intended learner's personalized information, such as their name, automatically.

Instructors also have the option to customize their Brightspace Course Homepage Layout to suit their needs. Brightspace course Homepage Layouts are frames (panels) that contain Widgets. Widgets are sections of content that provide information and links to tools, courses, and personal settings. Widgets are placed within the frames in the Homepage Layout. Both the course Homepage Layout and the Widgets are customizable.

Want more information?

Change Course Image
Change the Name of Your Course
Using Replace Strings (pdf)
Teaching Tip - Use Replacement Strings for Personalization (video)
Homepages and Widgets
Design a Course Homepage with Widgets (pdf)
Place Twitter Feed in Custom Widget
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.

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.
  • 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. The course merge process requires that a brand new empty Brightspace course be created that will serve as the primary course for all the merged sections. If you have any course content that needs to be retained in one of the courses to be merged, it will have to be exported and then imported into the newly created combined course. Please include that information with your request to merge courses.

Want more information?

Merge Courses
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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.

checklist

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

NOTE: If you do not see your fall 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 fall 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 setting up your course, 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.

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 materials 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.

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
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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.

Twitter in education is a good idea

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.

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 course find it useful to embed Twitter feeds into their Brightspace Course Homepage.

Twitter recently announced 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. A button for the Twitter hashtag is your only option.

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
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.

update

D2L (the company that owns Brightspace) uses Continuous Delivery to update our Brightspace system. The Continuous Delivery model is different from the previous update model we had with Blackboard. With Blackboard we used a system of “Big Bang releases” (large updates released once or twice a year that required 24-48 hours of system downtime).

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 July 2018/10.8.3 release that were added to our system:

1) Assignments - New Text Submission type and workflow

Instructors can now create Text Submission assignment types in Brightspace. The new Text Submission type allows learners to create text documents for submission directly in Assignments using a rich text editor, eliminating the need to attach a file. Previously, learners had to create documents outside of Brightspace, then add them as attachments to their submissions within Assignments. This feature enables learners to work directly within Brightspace, allowing for a simpler workflow and standard file type submissions.

assignment submission - submit text option
Text submission is an option as part of the workflow to create a New Submission Folder

2) Turnitin - Improvements in the Turnitin Integration

Improvements have been made to version 2 of the Turnitin (TII) integration:

  • Updates have been made to automate date management in TII. Start and End dates are no longer managed separately or prohibitive when learners make a submission in Brightspace and the TII dates are not set correctly.
  • Learners have access to formative feedback left in GradeMark (even if there is no score, which can be found in the assignment submission folder, in User Progress, or in Grades).
  • Feedback on Group Assignments is now provided to all learners in the group.
  • Submissions made to a TII enabled assignment submission folder are pre-validated at time of submission to ensure they are within the file type and size requirements enforced by TII.
  • Previously, when instructors used GradeMark to score or provide feedback, they had to sync each submission one by one to copy the score to Brightspace. A new configuration variable enables you to set up the default behavior of TII assignment submissions. Once set, scores can be copied automatically to Brightspace as a draft.

Grade Mark Options
TII Integration page with GradeMark turned on

3) Quizzes – Removal of image and text information items

As images and text can be included in any type of question using the features of the HTML editor, there is no longer a need for image and text information items. Image and text information items in existing quizzes or question libraries convert into sections, and are still displayed to learners attempting the quiz. One section is created for each existing image or text information item. Once the conversion of existing image and text information items is complete, the ability to create new image and text information items is no longer available.

If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the July Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform July 2018/10.8.3 Release Notes.

Additonally, 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.

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
Grades Tool Training Recap
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.