This year marks the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This law was enacted to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
It is extremely important for students with disabilities to have access to accessible course content. Statistics show that 12.9% of students have a disability. One in 25 incoming freshmen have some form of cognitive disability. These students have neurological challenges processing information. *
Forty to 60% of undergrads and 9% of graduate students choose not to report their disability and will just struggle through their courses.*
Chances are you will have a student enrolled in one of your courses that has a disability and has chosen not to disclose that information to you.
Accessibility best practices are built into the Brightspace Learning Management System (LMS) design and development processes. While Brightspace is accessible to persons with disabilities, uploaded content may not be.
While Brightspace is accessible to persons with disabilities, uploaded content may not be. Instructors should make a conscious effort to make sure content is accessible.
Instructors should make a conscious effort to make sure content is accessible. Even though you may not have a student with a disability currently enrolled in your course, there are a few things you can do when creating content that will save you time later when you do have a student with a disability. This is not wasted time as you will find some students without disabilities will take advantage of accessible content as well. Additionally, if you usually copy content from one course to another you will be one step ahead because your copied course content will already be accessible.
Also for cognitive disabilities it’s important to build flexibility into your courses. This is done by using many modes of information and creating a clutter-free learning environment.
In an upcoming series of blog posts I will provide information on things you can routinely do when you create content and setup your Brightspace courses to make them accessible.
The Brightspace Grades Tool is useful for providing students with up-to-date information about their current standing in the course. For instructors, it’s useful for assigning and keeping track of student grades. Students can view grade entries and monitor their progress throughout the course.
As an instructor, you can determine how to set up your Grade Book to best reflect your approach to evaluation, including the grading system and grade scheme that is most appropriate for your course. You can select how grades display to learners, how they update in the Grade Book, and how you want to deal with ungraded items. You can create grade items for projects, assignments, discussions, quizzes, etc. to include in your Grade Book, and even associate them with other tools (e.g. Assignments, Quizzes, Discussions).
Follow these steps to do it.
Listed below are links to how-to documents to help you to use the Grades Tool:
The Class Progress tool helps track student progress in a course by measuring their completion of 9 different progress indicators. The Class Progress tool tracks students' overall progress as a class and individually. Instructors can use the Class Progress tool to do any of the following:
Monitor progress for any or all users in the course
View user profiles, email users, or instant message users
Track when a user accesses the course and downloads course content
Track a user's grades, completion of learning objectives, access of content topics, participation in discussions, assignment submissions, quiz submissions, checklist completion, survey responses, and login history
Brightspace’s Completion Tracking feature allows instructors to monitor whether students have completed or visited/viewed a specific topic in the Content area. This feature can help instructors gauge how effective specific documents, videos, or other learning materials have been, as well as allow instructors to monitor whether students viewed important class materials before completing an assignment.
All content topics are set to automatically track for completion by default. Instructors can change the method of completion for a required activity to be either manual or automatic.
When Completion Tracking is set to automatic, the topic is marked complete when the user clicks on the topic to view it. For some activities, automatic tracking requires users to participate in a discussion, submit a file, or complete an assessment such as a quiz or survey before completion is successful.
When Completion Tracking is set to manual, users select the completion check box beside each content topic to indicate they have completed it. Although users can use manual tracking to indicate that they have accomplished a task before it is completed (for example, selecting the completion check box beside a quiz activity before attempting the quiz at all), this does not affect assessment scores or user attempts counted towards an activity.
Completion Tracking is helpful for students as well. The Completion Tracking progress indicators allow students to monitor their own progress in the course.
Follow these steps to do it.
To view the Completion Summary, you should:
Get into the course where you want to see the Completion Summary.
Click on the Content link in the NavBar.
Click on the topic that you want to review the completion activity for.
Click on the Completion Summary tab. A list of students in the course and information on their activity related to the topic will be displayed.
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.
Evaluators 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.
Follow these steps to do it.
To access the Quick Eval page:
On the NavBar, click Activities, then click Quick Eval.
All ungraded submissions will be displayed. You can sort submissions by first and last name, activity name, course, or submission date. You can also filter results.
Click the learner's name to evaluate the submission.
To return to Quick Eval page, click Back to Quick Eval.
As you complete and publish evaluations they will no longer appear in Quick Eval.
You have been using Brightspace for a few semesters now and you are starting to feel comfortable with it. You have mastered the art of uploading files. You create announcements with ease. You have aced using discussion forums. You navigate the Grade Book effortlessly and collecting assignments digitally from your students via assignment submission folders is a breeze.
If you are wondering what to do next, you should consider taking your course to the next level by adding images.
Images can be used to serve many different purposes. Images are powerful because they:
Can help tell a story
Can explain a technical process
Can convey course information in an alternate format
Can break up the monotony of “text-only” pages
Can increase student engagement
Students pay more attention to articles/readings with graphic content
Just make the course look better
Below are examples of a Brightspace course that has a module without images and the same module with images and details. Which one looks better? Which course would you rather interact with?
The images used in example #2 are for decoration, but they do add color and continuity to the course. Also, the descriptions provide students with additional information and links to go to for help. Thus eliminating the need for the student to search around the course for help or to find details about the assignment.
You can insert an image anywhere you use the HTML Editor in Brightspace. With a few clicks of your mouse, your Brightspace course can go from boring text only to visually engaging pages of text and images that convey meaning to students in different ways!
Are you looking for images to use in your courses? Here are a few helpful resources:
Would you like to congratulate your students for a job well done or give them a nudge when they might need to work harder -- without having to do a lot of extra work to make it happen? The Brightspace Intelligent Agents tool can help automate this process for you.
Intelligent Agents allow instructors to delegate some of the course communication and notification tasks to the system, based on specific triggering activities in the course. Intelligent Agents can be used to both recognize student achievement and warn of potential problems. For example, you can use Intelligent Agents to:
Check for users that have not logged into the course
Check for users that have not logged in within a specific number of days
Notify users with grades below a certain level
Congratulate users with grades above a certain level
Check for users that view a specific content topic
The automatic notifications that are generated when specified course performance criteria are met can be sent to instructors, advisors, and/or students.
You can easily insert images, videos, and other media into your Brightspace course using the "Insert Stuff" option within the HTML Editor. Insert Stuff allows you to embed or link to content items and place them within your Brightspace course. Insert Stuff is available anywhere in the course where the HTML Editor is available. This includes content item descriptions, announcements, discussions, assignments, quizzes, surveys.
Depending upon your needs, Insert Stuff allows you to upload and insert media in the following ways:
Upload a file from your computer
Insert a file from within your Course Offering Files
Insert a file from within your Brightspace ePortfolio
Video Notes is a built-in media recording tool in Brightspace that allows instructors and learners to record short videos (up to 3 minutes) with a webcam. This makes it easy to personalize the learning experience with short, video-based feedback, comments, or instructions. Video Notes can be added where video attachments are supported and when the HTML Editor’s Insert Stuff option is available.
Instructors can use Video Notes to:
Create a new Topic in Content area
Add a Description to a Module or a Topic in the Content area
Create an Announcement
Provide instructions when creating a Submission Folder for Assignments
Provide a feedback on students’ Assignments
Give a description of a new Topic in Discussions or make a post on a Discussion topic
Give students feedback in the Grade Book
Compose an email inside of Brightspace
Anywhere HTML editor is available
Students can use Video Notes in these areas of Brightspace:
When adding comments to uploaded assignments in a Submission folder
When posting a new thread or replying on someone’s thread in Discussion topic
Composing an email inside of Brightspace
Follow these steps to do it.
To create and insert a video note in the HTML Editor:
In the HTML Editor, click the Insert Stuff icon.
Click Video Note.
Select Record Webcam Video, or Upload File.
If Record Webcam Video is selected, follow these steps:
Click New Recording.
Record up to 3 minutes of video and click Stop Recording.
To view the video note, click the play icon.
If you are satisfied with the video, click Next.
Enter a title and description for the video note, and click Next.
If Upload File is selected, follow these steps:
Click Choose File and select the file you want to upload from your computer.
File format must be MP4, FLV, F4V, or MOV, and file size can be no larger than 5.00 MB.
Are there times when you would like your students to sign-up for an activity where there are a limited number of places (e.g., student presentations on a specific class day, study groups, service learning project, office hours, etc.)? The Groups Tool in Brightspace can help you organize sign-ups for one-off events. With the self-enrollment option in the Groups tool, students can add themselves to a group using a sign-up sheet.
The sign-up sheet functions like an electronic version of a paper sign-up sheet. You can make sign-up sheets available to students on the Groups listing page or by inserting a quicklink in the HTML Editor.