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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 January 2020/20.20.1 release that were added to our system this month:

1) Support for Internet Explorer | Removed

As of January 1st, Brightspace has ended support for Internet Explorer. All versions of Internet Explorer will no longer be able to access Brightspace.

2) Brightspace Pulse – Additional languages supported

To provide consistent language support with the Brightspace platform, Brightspace Pulse is now available in the following additional languages:

  • Arabic (Saudi Arabia)
  • Chinese (Simplified)
  • Chinese (Traditional)
  • Danish
  • French (France)
  • German (Germany)
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Swedish
  • Turkish

Previously, Brightspace Pulse was only available in: English (U.S.), Spanish (Latin America), French (Canada), Portuguese (Brazil), and Dutch.

3) Classlist – Total number of users field and floating buttons

To improve ease of use, the total number of users for their selection (whole class, section, group) now appears in a field at the bottom of the Classlist page for at-a-glance viewing to help instructors keep track of the total number of learners, which may extend beyond the users visible on the page. On the Print Classlist and Email Classlist pages, the clickable Print and Email buttons now float consistently on screen, to ensure easy access to these actions without excessive scrolling.

4) Copy Course Components - Add validation logic to the copy process

Copy Course Components now contains a validation logic step to the course copy process, which can inform users if they performed a copy from the source previously, avoiding unnecessary duplication of copied course components.

5) Discussions – Assessment consistency changes

When assessing discussions, instructors have new multi-select options to Publish Feedback and Retract Feedback. In the Status column, the Draft / Published checkbox has been replaced by information on the date when feedback was saved as draft or published. These changes are visible on both the Users and Assessments tabs. The Save, Save and Close, and Cancel buttons have also been removed as their functionality has been replaced by the Publish Feedback and Retract Feedback options.

prior assess discussion topic
Previous view when assessing a discussion topic

Updated view when assessing a discussion topic
Updated view when assessing a discussion topic

6) Grades – Export sorting options

This feature introduces the ability to sort exported gradebooks based on the following options: OrgDefinedID, Username, Last Name, and First name. The sort options available are based on the User Information Privacy permissions for the role.

7) Groups – Self-enrollment group capacity, start dates and descriptions

This feature includes three improvements to Groups:

  • Group members can now see the description of their group. For self-enrolled groups, group members will now see the group description at all times, including before and after enrollment. For other group types, instructors can now choose to display the description to members of the group. This visible group description setting is off by default for non-self-enrollment groups. Previously, all group descriptions were hidden from group members.
  • An instructor can now increase or decrease the capacity for self-enrollment groups after they have been created, and prior to the group sign-up expiry date. Decreasing a group size to an amount smaller than has already signed up for a group will not re-allocate users to other groups. Previously, self-enrollment groups were not editable after they were created.
  • Instructors can set Start dates for self-enrollment groups. This feature allows them to schedule self-enrollment groups availability, ensuring learners are prepared and have equal opportunity to self-enroll.

8) Quick Eval – Dismiss activities from list

To improve the ability to manage items on their Quick Eval list, instructors can now select items that appear in their Quick Eval list and remove them temporarily or permanently. Instructors can view their dismissed items in the Dismissed Activities List and restore them to the Quick Eval list at any time.

9) Quizzes – Synchronization with Grades

Quiz scores and feedback entered in Grades now synchronize automatically with Quizzes. To further streamline the workflow, the Overall Feedback fields in Grades and Quizzes are now consolidated, and the Grade Item Public Comments field has been removed from Grades. All comments entered in the Overall Feedback field in Grades synchronizes automatically with the Overall Feedback field in Quizzes. This update creates a more direct workflow and aligns Quizzes with the consistent feedback experience implemented in Assignments and Discussions. Refer to the blog post Improving Consistency Of Synchronization Between Grades And Quizzes Tool (20.20.01 – January Release) for more information.

Note: Synchronization only occurs for new grade entries. Existing grade data for quizzes will not be migrated due to the high impact to all past data and reports.

10) Rubrics – Share rubrics with other org units during creation

When creating new rubrics, users can now share the rubric created at the organization level with other org units (courses). The rubric creation process provides the capability to either share or, conversely, block rubrics from being shared with other org units (courses). Previously, this was only possible by using the legacy rubric editor.

example of Add Org Unit button on rubric creation page
The Add Org Units button enables users to make the rubric available to other org units

If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the January Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform January 2020/20.20.1 Release Notes.

Additionally, refer to the Brightspace Release Notes for Continuous Delivery Releases, for details about current, past, and to preview upcoming continuous delivery updates.

Want more information?

View current, past, and preview upcoming Continuous Delivery release notes
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Image credit: image by geralt from Pixabay

clipart of a rubric

Brightspace interactive rubrics help instructors:

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

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

Weighted analytic rubric creation example
Weighted analytic rubric creation example

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

example of grading with a rubric
Grade using a rubric example

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

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

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

Follow these steps to do it.

To create a rubric you should:

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

Note: Rubric changes are automatically saved.

Want more information?

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

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

journal with ink pen

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

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

Follow these steps to do it.

To setup private discussions for journaling:

Want more information?

Use Private Discussions for Journaling (video)
Setup Private Discussion Boards for Individual Students
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Image credit: Image by CharuTyagi from Pixabay

file folder with documents inside

Are you still sharing files via email? An article by Lauren Suggett suggests three reasons why you should stop sharing documents via email. Her reasons are:

  • Nothing is trackable
  • Accessibility is limited
  • Email inboxes can be black holes

As you may know, Xavier adopted G Suite (formerly Google Apps). This means everyone has an account that allows them to store files in their Google Drive. Instead of emailing files back and forth, you can share files in your Google Drive. For more information on Xavier’s adoption of G Suite and how to share files using Google Drive, read Bart Everson’s Drive Right In blog post.

Additionally, Google Apps can be integrated into Brightspace. ICYMI, read my Google Apps Integration blog post.

Image credit: image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

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

comment bubbles outlined in orange

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

Role-play

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

Debate

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

WebQuest

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

Grading

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brightspace Pulse App on iPhone

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

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

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

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

Want more information?

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

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery release notes
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

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

course design zen infographic

Accessible PDF version of Course Design Zen infographic.

Want more information?

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

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

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

whiteboard with light bulb inside a thought bubble

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

Image credit: Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

update

D2L (the company that owns Brightspace) uses Continuous Delivery to update our Brightspace system. The Continuous Delivery model gives us regular monthly updates allowing for incremental and easily integrated changes with no downtime required for our Brightspace system.

Our Continuous Delivery update occurs on the 4th Thursday of each month. D2L provides release notes to help users stay up-to-date with the changes.

Here are a few updates in the December 2019/20.19.12 release that were added to our system this month:

1) Assignments – File size information in submission receipt email

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

2) Assignments – Submission ID displays for Learners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6) Release Conditions – Updated ordering of Tools

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additionally, refer to the Brightspace Release Notes for Continuous Delivery Releases, for details about current, past, and to preview upcoming continuous delivery updates.

Want more information?

View current, past, and preview upcoming Continuous Delivery release notes
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Image credit: image by geralt from Pixabay

keyboard with Help key emphasized

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

Live Chat icon

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

Help Menu

Want more information?

View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Image credit: Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay