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Technology Assistance Center Newsletter
September 2020

A look at the upcoming changes and improvements to the Brightspace learning environment that will take effect during the last week of September and more!


News From The TAC

Course Evaluations For First Block Courses

Can you believe we are nearly to the end of the first block of the Fall Semester?

Course evaluations for first block courses will run from 8:00 a.m. on September 23rd through October 7th at 11:59 p.m. Students and faculty will receive a notification at 8 a.m. by email that course evaluations have been made available. Students will continue to receive emailed notifications roughly every other day until the evaluation period closes on October 7th. Instructors will receive a couple of reminder emails during the evaluation period.

The easiest way for students to access their course evaluations is to navigate to any of their courses within Brightspace and click on "Course Evaluation". This will open a new browser tab or window where the student can complete all of their open course evaluations.


Combining Course Shells For Second Block Courses

Are you an instructor who is teaching two identical sections of a course simultaneously? Would you prefer to create/edit/grade from one place instead of two? If you answered yes to these questions then combining your course shells may be for you!

If you would like course shells combined, there are some things to be aware of:

  • If any of the shells to be combined contain content the content will be erased during the process of combining them. So, please request course shell merges prior to adding content.
  • The process of merging course shells will take 1 business day to complete. If you submit the request on Monday, you should receive a confirmation email back on Monday letting you know that your new combined shell will be available for you on Tuesday morning.
  • Merging course shells should only ever be requested prior to students submitting any kind of work in the courses to be combined. Content can be moved but course work cannot, so it is very important that any course merges be completed prior to the start of the term and prior to the course shell being activated.

If you would like to request upcoming course shells be merged or combined, please submit your request either via the form at http://elearning.gfcmsu.edu/d2lsupport.html or via email to elearning@gfcmsu.edu. If you have any questions regarding the process, please feel free to contact Wayne in the Technology Assistance Center by email at wayne.breau@gfcmsu.edu, phone at 406.771.4444, or stop into G116!


Webex Education Connector

If you've used Webex in the last couple of months you may have noticed that Cisco is working hard to improve and enhance their Webex Meetings service, which is fantastic! We now have features such as "push to talk" when muted, backgrounds, and a tiled grid default view. I've also heard from some instructors and departments that the Education Connector integration is working very well for creating meetings in classes for live lectures and allowing students to join meetings right from within their courses in Brightspace.

Since the integration was setup we've had 22 courses create 82 meetings using the education connector and 8 courses using the virtual office hours, with 12 hours and 15 minutes of office hours booked!

Figure: Webex Education Connector statistics.

If you haven't yet tried the Webex Education Connector and are using Webex Meetings for your courses, please consider implementing it as it will provide a more seamless experience for you and your students. Instructions can be found in the Faculty Tools Training course shell in Brightspace or please feel free to contact Wayne in the Technology Assistance Center if you have questions or need help setting it up.


Brightspace Upcoming Changes

Assignments - Additional functionality in the new assignment creation experience | Updated

Instructors will now be able to add special access conditions to assignments as well as receive a notification email when assignments are submitted when using the new assignment creation experience.

Figure: The new assignment creation experience with the Special Access functionality.
Figure: The new assignment creation experience with the Notification Email functionality.

Class/User Progress - Include Pulse activity in usage data | Update

Learner activity data is now captured more accurately through the addition of a new system usage metric. Previously, Pulse usage was not tracked, and learners who accessed their courses through the app were misrepresented as having low engagement and could not access conditionally released content.

These changes affect the following areas of Brightspace:

  • Class Progress has a new System Access performance indicator, which displays the number of times each course participant has accessed the system through the Learning Environment or Pulse in the last 30 days. Instructors can add System Access to the Class Progress dashboard by clicking Settings.
  • User Progress has a new System Access History section, which displays the number of times the user has accessed the system through the Learning Environment or Pulse in the last 30 days. Instructors can select System Access History to display in the User Progress report by clicking Settings.

Figure: Class Progress dashboard showing System Access indicator.
Figure: User Progress sidebar showing location of System Access History section.
Figure: System Access History summary in the User Progress tool.

Copy Course Components - Select copying of LTI Links | New

When using Select Components to copy individual components from one course shell to another, instructors will now be able to select individual LTI links to copy. Using Copy All Components will still copy all LTI links. This change only affects using Select Components.


Discussions - Visual word count for discussion posts | New

A visual word count is now visible in the HTML Editor for discussion posts. All words in a discussion post are counted and include filler words such as “the,” “if,” and “to.”

The word count is dynamically displayed to learners while they type in the HTML Editor and it also appears next to posts they have created in the Discussions Reading View and Grid View. Learners can view the word count for their posts only.

For instructors, the word count appears on the Assessment page during the discussions assessment process and it also appears inline with the post details in the Discussions Reading View and Grid View. Instructors can view the word count for all user posts.

Figure: A discussion post with the dynamically displayed word count.

Question Library - Search for and select questions in Question Library sections | Updated

This feature enables instructors to search for sections in Question Library by section title, as well as the ability to select and import the section in its entirety from the search results list. Previously, you could only search for questions by question text and you could not select sections in the search results.

Figure: The updated search and select capability in Question Library.
Figure: The previous search and select questions capability in Question Library.

Quiz Builder - Enhanced question reordering | New

To simplify the movement and reordering of questions in Quiz Builder, a new Move To option is visible when a question is selected. The Move To option allows questions to be moved to the Top of the Quiz, Bottom of the Quiz, or to a specific section within the quiz.

Previously, to move multiple questions into a section, instructors had to individually drag the questions into the desired section. Now, instructors can select multiple questions and move them all at once using the Move To menu. The drag and drop reordering of questions has not been affected by this feature and remains available.

Figure: The Move To option is visible once quiz questions are selected.

We're Happy to Help!

If you have any questions about the upcoming changes, troubleshooting questions, or anything else related to Brightspace or the Technology Assistance Center, please let us know!

Visit us in G100,
give us a call at 406-771-4440,
or fill out our support form at http://tac.gfcmsu.edu/ticketform.html.

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