Brightspace 101: Getting Started in the Learning Environment

I’m hoping this session is more about what is different with Brightspace rather than a general overview of LMS platforms. Otherwise I may have to step of this session also…

Intelligent agents

  • Send automated/customized messages to students based on conditions (things done or not done)
  • Can be used for students and instructors

Activity feed

  • Can post comments/documents/links for “real-time” communication
  • Cannot do date restrictions/adaptive release (would have to be done in announcements)


  • Can use “replace strings,” allowing you to customize announcements (ex: {FirstName})
  • Possible use: MDTP survey embedded field (2017MDTPATL) – Use SIS id?

WYSIWYG editor

  • Pointing to a file or announcement within a course and then copying course with auto update links to the new course.

Learning Object Repository

  • Can make changes to content or assessments and cascade the changes to courses (if desired)

Modules can have details/descriptions.

  • Possible place to put objectives?

Completion tracking within the course

  • Interactions are only “done” when the interaction is submitted (not auto checked when opened)
  • Content pages can be set to manual completion checking, where students would have the ability to check/uncheck items for completion (can be used as a reminder to view something later on).

Check That Off My List! Engaging Students with Checklists

Checklists are an easy way of allowing students to see what requirements are needed for a period of time. You can create due dates for the requirements, as well as use Intelligent Data for release conditions. With the due dates, you can put checklist items on the course calendar, which can show on the course home page. The checklists can include links, HTML, videos, etc.

The question I have is, how is this different than announcements? Why use checklists instead of assignment due dates, which I assume would also show up on the course calendar.

The presenter did say that the checklist alone is not to be used as an assessment tool, which I agree with.

Overall, a pretty great session(for what I caught of it).

Getting Your Feet Wet: An Introduction to Brightspace

I’m hoping that this session answers some of the questions that I have. It seems like from the show of hands, only 1/2 of the group has logged into D2L before, and I may be the only enterprise/corporate user.

  • You do have the ability to create sub-modules. The sub-modules will appear in the content list on the left side of the course, but it does not appear in the table of contents.

I started feeling like this session was for people who have no knowledge of any LMS. Since that’s not my situation, I started getting bored/lost. Time to move onto a new session…

Let’s Fidget With Our Custom Widgets

The first breakout session of D2L Fusion. I have absolutely no idea what to expect and I have no idea what I plan to do with the results of this session. Not even being a D2L customer, I’m hoping to get ideas on what the course homepages can do/how they can be customized.

So with that, let’s look at some custom widgets…

So overall, the session was fairly basic. From a beginning user, it seems like the steps of creating a widget in D2L seems pretty straight forward. The hardest part is getting the embed code or generating the iframe for the content. What I didn’t see, that I would be interested in, is how to put checklists in a widget on the course homepage. A visual representation of what the students still have to do for that week or module, and one that updates as assignments are completed would be beneficial. Add that to the list of questions to have answered…

Moving Beyond Text: Integrating Audio, Video, and Interactive Elements in the Online Classroom

Kristine Roshau”Multimedia learning is learning from words and pictures.” showed a diagram showing what happens with information when it is consumed through various multimedia methods. It’s an interesting diagram – one that I hadn’t seen before. discussing the diagram, Kristine began talking more about multiple methods of learning, as well as sthe concern about over-stimulating students. spending about 10-15 minutes talking about theory, we started getting into more LMS-specific tools and methods of moving beyond text. Her institution uses Blackboard, but similar tools should be available with other LMS platforms. She shows a quick slide of Flickr integration within Blackboard (called “mashups”) and what you can do with the mashups without ever having to leave the LMS.Aside from the built-in tools, you can utilize various HTML tools, such as Google Maps, SoundCloud, YouTube, etc. It doesn’t involve any more knowledge than just being able to copy and paste. Kristine said, “They (the service providers) want you to use their content. What she doesn’t mention, is that it’s only with appropriate permissions. This is an important detail that shouldn’t be overlooked. Just because the provider wants you to use their content, doesn’t mean the content creator wants you to. Be sure to get permission from the content creator.In addition to using web-based tools to create content, Kristine goes back to using tools, like Kaltura, for lecture capture. While her institution uses Kaltura, any/other lecture capture tools would be useful. Obviously, doing a voice-over-PowerPoint presentation isn’t very engaging, it is a way of doing 2 delivery methods (text on slides and audio), which meets the basic definition of “multimedia learning.”Kristine then goes into some info about OERs (open educational resources). OER is more than just textbooks, you can find open course, Creative Commons material that includes, videos, games, assessments, handouts, etc.

  • Softchalk Share
  • Khan Academy
  • Creative Commons

The only one that was new to me (and others) is She showed some screenshots from where you can filter and sort OERs by type, rating, etc. She does indicate that some/most of the OERs can’t be directly integrated into the LMS – you’d have to use links to external sites. Not a bad trade-off for a free resource. of Kristine’s faculty have indicated that they feel “restricted” in their LMS and want to look at alternate delivery methods. Some examples include Google Sites, Softchalk Create, Adobe Presenter, Techsmith Relay. Some of these I have tried, but I really don’t think any of these are an alternate to the LMS.Alternate Presentation Tools

  • iSpring
  • Sway
  • Adobe Presenter

The last part of this presentation was focused on UDL and accessibility. There have been a lot of sessions that cover accessibilty and UDL this year, which is great, but I wasn’t expecting it to be in this session. I suppose it is unavoidable though. There was 1 thing that was new to me in this, however:, not a bad session. Was expecting/hoping for more live examples of how some of her courses used these multimedia approaches, but there were certainly things that could be utilized later on (like the YouTube reference above). I just have to remember to use the tools…

Best Practices for Engaging Team Projects

Karen Valaitis & Amanda YazejianAt the start of the session, the presenters asked us to answer a few short questions through Poll Everywhere. Questions included, “have you ever incorporated team projects in an online course,” “have your students ever had a positive team project experience in an online course,” and “what are the primary issues identified by you or your students.” The interesting results was that last question. It was short answer and most of the responses that came up on the screen were along the same lines:

  • Students who live in different time zones / coordinating avaiable time to meet.
  • Grading concerns
  • Students who don’t want to do the work / slackers

After these questions, they presented the outline of the original and revised team project:Original project:

  1. Team project
  2. Reflection

New project:

  1. Individual project
  2. E-Learning discussion (meet & greet)
  3. Team project
  4. Reflection
  5. Peer assessment

Without knowing the details yet, I’d say the revision process between the old and new projects was pretty substantial. Going from 2 project steps to 5 steps (with the old steps being #3 and #4) is a pretty big jump.Based on their research, some important components to team project success included team interdependence (relevance, goal setting), trust among team members, and frequency/quality of communication. I haven’t done any research on team projects on my own, but these certainly sound like some core fundamental values that shape the success of team projects.One of the interesting things that they keep referring to is that they do these team projects using Wikispaces. It’s been years since I’ve heard that name – makes me wonder why they take it outside of the LMS (or simply why that tool)?One of the important aspects of the peer assessment step in the team project can assist with:

  • Reduce social loafing
  • Develop critical thinking skills
  • Enhance student learning

When implementing the team projects, they run into issues with:

  • Introduction of new technology (tools outside of the LMS)
  • Accountability (communication, team roles, peer assessment)
  • Team size (social loafing, course withdrawal)
  • Project assessment (overall project, individual participation, instructor ratings vs. peer ratings)

One of the things mentioned is that the peer review component encourages critical thinking. I agree that it can be a way of getting them to think critically, but what about those who use peer assessments as a popularity contest? I’ve run into that issue in the past. The presenters do acknowledge that social bias is an issue, but it sounds like that’s just a thing that exists and that there isn’t anything that can be done about it.The survey product that they use to do peer reviews is Qualtrics, which I personally find interesting. I’ve had a hard time designing this type of a survey at work, so I definitely want to see how this plays out for them. The survey started off incorporating a self-assessment for the project. The criteria was based on an AACU rubric. Note to self: I need to find that rubric.The students then receive the same questions, but are asked to answer the questions based on their team members. What isn’t clear is how they identify which peers they are evaluating. It almost seems like they are answer these questions for the group, overall (rather than for individual team members). The last part of the survey contains 2 questions on the Wikispaces technology.Overall, I liked the session. I have some follow-up questions that I want to ask:

  1. Do the peer reviews allow students to evaluate individual peers, or just the overall group?
  2. Are there any special settings in Qualtrics to keep in mind?
  3. Do you restrict students from evaluating themselves?
  4. How do you identify which groups have “that 1 student…”?

During the Q&A, one of the presenters did mention that there are no names tied to the evaluations currently, but that it will happen in the future. I’m curious to see what the statistical differences would be. Another one of the things that the presenters mentioned that Wikispaces does have a history review (similar to Google docs) – they go through the history to ensure that the participation is equitable.

Gamify Your Syllabus in D2L

Leslie Van WolvelearIn reading the title & description on the schedule, I missed the fact that the session is specifically for D2L. I’m still hoping I can take something away from the session.Leslie spent the first bit of the session talking broadly about gamification, does it help students learn, and who the intended audience is. technique that Leslie talks about and uses is a scavenger hunt. Some ideas to keep in mind:

  • Clear and consise instructions
  • Use of images for the visual learners
  • Links to LMS
  • Points for completing assignments

Leslie had an issue with students using the electronic syllabus for the scavenger hunt, so this semester she went back to using hard copies. I’m not sure what the issue is, but continual improvement is important, so whatever works for her. Some of the activities include a scavenger hunt quiz, a welcome discussion, uploading a profile picture, and a conference with the instructor. Note: clicking live links (like to the syllabus PDF) is done in a new tab/window so it’s easy to get back.One of the things that Leslie has all of her students do is send an email through the LMS messaging tool. This helps students learn how to use the LMS in addition to making sure they can follow directions. The quiz she sets up is multiple choice, true false, and short answer. She indicates in the quiz directions that she manually grades the short answer questions. One of the last assignments in the syllabus activities is the welcome discussion, allowing students to talk more about what their goals are (in the class, life, etc.).Leslie also has some orientation videos for the various websites needed throughout the class. She has 2, 1 for D2L and another for WileyPlus (Accounting software). Those videos are re-recorded each semester.Overall, I really like the session and what she’s done with gamifying the syllabus. I would love to incorporate some of these ideas into a course. Now I just need to find a course to teach. As Brenda Boyd put it:, but I don’t think so.