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Utilize Brightspace to Help Students Stay on Track [56:03]

Thanks to those of you who attended this week's Utilize Brightspace to Help Students Stay on Track workshop. The workshop, the ninth in our #LEX Advanced series, helps you to build on the skills you learned in the #LearnEverywhereXULA course. The focus of this workshop was to provide training on ways you can utilize Brightspace tools to help your students to manage their time and track their learning progress.

In case you missed this week’s training session or if you attended the training session and want to recap what was covered, a copy of the workshop recording and resources referenced in the workshop are available. You can find the workshop recording and other resources in support of the workshop on the CAT+FD wiki.

The Discussions tool has a new @mentions feature. Within the Discussion tool, users can now tag other users within the same course using @mentions. Tagged users are notified by alerts in the Minibar directing them to the thread in which they were tagged. Additionally, users can edit their notification settings and opt to receive email notifications when they are tagged in discussions.

Brightspace Editor with @mentions identifying users who match the criteria
The @mentions will identify users who match the criteria

You may be wondering how @mentions could enhance your class discussions. Here are a couple of examples:

Example 1:

@Mentions can help thread together concepts from multiple people in a discussion. For example, student A may be reading through discussion posts and sees that fellow classmates (Jayne and Francis) are making similar points in their posts but they are coming from completely different starting points. Student A wants to draw Jayne and Francis into a conversation with each other. Student A could post something like, "Hey @Jayne, did you see that @Francis agrees with you on x and y, but starts with presupposition b instead of a? What do you think about his presupposition?" Both Jayne and Francis would receive notification that they have been tagged in the discussion. Likewise, you as the instructor, could use the @mentions to tag students to draw them into a conversation.

Example 2:

You have a student that wants to draw you, as the instructor, into the conversation for clarification. The student could use the @mentions to tag you. You would receive notification alerting you that you have been tagged and you could prioritize responding to that thread before reading through all the others.

Do you have other examples of how @mentions could be useful in discussions? If so, please leave a comment on this post.

Notifications in the minibar showing @mentions the user is tagged in
Tagged users receive notification in the minibar

Follow these steps to do it.

To use @mentions in a discussion:

  1. Navigate to the forum topic or thread where you want to use @mentions.
  2. Post as normal by selecting Reply to Thread or Start a New Thread.
  3. To tag a user, type @ and begin typing their first or last name.
  4. The user will appear on a list under the text. Select the user to tag them.
  5. The @mention will display the user's first and last name.
  6. Select Post when you are done.

Want more information?

Plan and Facilitate Quality Online Discussions
Tips to Improve Online Discussions
How-to Resources for Discussion Forums
Brightspace Tip #201: Notifications

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.

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.

IMPORTANT: Each group in Brightspace has a maximum capacity of 200 participants and is restricted to 200 groups per category. You WILL NOT be able to set up private discussions for journaling if your enrollment is more than 200.

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
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 CharuTyagi from Pixabay

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 first name, automatically.

Example of a personalized Course Homepage
Example of a personalized Course Homepage

Use Replace Strings to create a more personalized learning environment. For example, you can personalize a welcome message, announcement, and/or honor pledge by including the learner’s name.

Follow these steps to do it.

Enter the {FirstName} replace string variable (must be enclosed in curly bracket) in the Brightspace Editor when you want to substitute the learners’s first name. Enter the {LastName} replace string variable when you want to substitute the learner's last name.

Example #1

In an announcement, enter:

Hi {FirstName}! Welcome to this...

Replace String in an Announcement example
Replace String in an Announcement example

Example #2

In module description, enter:

Welcome {FirstName}! Welcome to the study of...

Replace String in a module description example
Replace String in a module description example

Example #3

For an acknowledgement in an honor pledge, enter:

I, {FirstName} {LastName}, acknowledge that...

Replace Strings in an honor pledge example
Replace Strings in an honor pledge example

NOTE: Not all Replace Strings are available in all areas of Brightspace and Replace Strings do not work when sending email inside of Brightspace.

Want more information?

Using Replace Strings (pdf)
About Replace Strings
Teaching Tip - Use Replacement Strings for Personalization (video)
Brightspace Tip #237: Release Conditions
Customize Learning Paths Using Release Conditions (video)
Content - Attach a Release Condition (video)
Quizzes - Attach a Release Condition to a Quiz (video)
Best Practices for Setting Release Conditions
Customize Your Course Homepage

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.

Help road signs

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.

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
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 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