Start of Semester Tips

General Information

There are several things that you’ll need to do to prepare your course for the start of the semester.  If you’ve taught it before, you can copy the materials and make updates as needed.  This will walk you through some of the basic tools and features you’ll need to use to updated your course for the new semester.  If you’re creating the course from scratch, please see the D2L Brightspace Tools page for guides and videos on how to use the tools in your course.

Semester ISRS Codes:

  • Summer 2022 is 20231
  • Fall 2022 is 20233
  • Spring 2023 is 20235

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Minnesota State D2L Support Guides

The Minnesota State D2L Support group has created guides for D2L users, including instructors, students, trainers and campus site administrators. You’ll need to log into the Minnesota State D2L Brightspace Support site using your StarID@minnstate.edu.  These articles are updated as new features are added or changes made to the tool.  The D2L Community web site, accessible to instructors, trainers and site admins, is a good source of documentation. The searchable help can be printed and bookmarked in the web browser. If you do not have a D2L Community account you can create one by clicking on the Enrollment link.

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Import / Export / Copy Components

If you’ve taught the course that you’re preparing for the upcoming semester, you’ve a few options for getting your course materials into the new course offering – copy components from another course, import from a zipped package, or recreate the course from scratch.  In most cases you’ll either copy components or import, but sometimes creating items from scratch may be needed.  For example, if you’ve been copying courses forward for several years and recently noticed odd behavior with some of the tools or features, you may need to recreate the problematic course materials from scratch or possibly rebuild the whole course.

If you are recreating the course or a potion of it, open the past version in a separate browser or on a 2nd monitor while you create the new materials.  You’ll be able to manually copy (control + C or right click then copy) the text from the old course and paste it into the new course materials, just don’t use the D2L Copy Components feature to do this.

Recommendations:

  • Before beginning the copy components process, make sure you select the correct course to copy the materials from.
  • For large course packages, select only the components and items you expect to use.
  • If copy/import/export must be performed during first week of classes, avoid doing this during peak usage hours of 9AM-3PM and 7PM-10PM.

Copy Components from another Courses

D2L has a Import/Export/Copy Components – Copy Components – Instructor video that will show you how to copy your past offering into the new one.  It’s recommended that you copy the previous summer to upcoming summer, the previous fall to upcoming fall, and the previous spring to upcoming spring if possible. If it’s a new or recently revised course, you may not be able to do this, so remember you’ll need to make adjustments for a fall offering copied into a spring offering like for spring break week or a spring offering copied into a summer offering because it’s a shorter semester.  To do this:

  1. In the course you want to copy the materials into, select Course Admin from the course navigation bar.
  2. Select Import/Export/Copy Components from the Site Resources section.
  3. The Copy Components from another Org Unit option should be selected by default.  Click the Search for offering button.
  4. In the Search For… text box, type the name of the most recent offering of the course.  For example, by typing COMM 1120 20211 in the text box D2L will find the COMM 1120 course from last summer.
  5. Click the Search (magnifying glass) icon.
  6. Select the radio button to the left of the course you want to copy the materials from.
  7. Click the Add Selected button.
  8. If you want to copy the whole course as is and make adjustments afterwards, click the Copy All Components button at the bottom of the screen.  If you want to copy only certain materials or use the Offset Dates feature to adjust the dates during the copying process, click the Select Components button.  Note: You can use the Manage Dates tool after the materials have been copied if you don’t want to use the Offset dates option here.
  9. If Copy All Components is selected, you’ll be taken to the Copy Course Components History screen and D2L will start processing the request.
    1. On this screen, you’ll also see a history of when a course has been copied into this one, where it was copied from, who copied the materials, when it happened, and if it was successful or not.
  10. If Select Components was selected, it will ask which components you would like to copy.  You can select the check boxes next to the components you want to copy.  You can also select the Select individual items radio button for any of the tools to copy specific topics or items instead of copying everything from that tool.
  11. Once the components have been selected, click the Continue button.
  12. On the Confirmation screen, you can select the Offset all dates of copied components check box and select Calculate range between two dates.
    1. This option will allow you to type the start date of the previous semester and the start date of the upcoming semester to have D2L adjust the start, due, and end dates of the materials during the copying process.  Please see the Academic Calendar for semester start dates.
  13. Click the Finish button.  It will start processing the request and you’ll be able to make your changes in the new course.

If you copy the wrong course, you can remove any Grade associations, rubrics associations, and manually delete everything in each tool or you can put in an IT Help Desk ticket asking either Christine or Stacy to reset the course for you. If you submit a ticket, make sure you include the course name, number, section, and semester so they reset the correct course. Once a course has been reset, it permanently deletes the materials from that course.

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Importing from a Zipped Package

D2L has an Import/Export/Copy Components – Import Components – Instructor video that will show you how to import components into your new course.  If you have a zipped file from a previously offered course or another campus that uses D2L, you can import the file into your upcoming offering.  To do this:

  1. In the course you want to import the materials into, select Course Admin from the course navigation bar.
  2. Select Import/Export/Copy Components from the Site Resources section.
  3. Select the Import Components radio button.
  4. Click the Start button.
  5. Drag the zipped course package into the dashed line on Import Course Package window or click the Upload button to find the file on your computer.
  6. If you want to import the course package as is and make adjustments afterwards, click the Import All Components button at the bottom of the window.  If you want to import only certain materials, click the Advanced Options… button.
  7. If Import All Components is selected, you’ll be taken to the Import Course Package window and D2L will start processing the request.  You’ll be able to make your changes in the new course.
  8. If Advanced Options… was selected, D2L will read the course package and you’ll need to continue the import process.
  9. On the Customize Your Course Package screen, D2L will ask which components you would like to import from the zipped package.  You can select the check boxes next to the components you want to import, just like you do when copying components.  You can also select the Select individual items radio button for any of the tools to import specific topics or items instead of importing everything from that tool.
    1. D2L will ask what to do when an existing file is encountered during the importing process.  The default option is Do not overwrite the existing file.
    2. You can also select the Offset all dates of imported components check box and select Calculate range between two dates if you want to adjust the start, due, and end dates for the materials you are importing.
  10. Click the Continue button.
  11. On the Confirmation screen, you will have similar options that were on the Customize Your Course Package screen – existing file options, import metadata, offset dates options, etc.  Click the Continue button after any changes have been made.
  12. The Import Course Package window will open and the zipped file will be uploaded, converted, and imported.  When it’s completed, click the View Content button, Import Another Package, or Review and Manage Dates button depending on what you would like to do next.
    1. If you didn’t use the Offset dates option during the import process, click the Review and Manage Dates button to update the start, due, and end dates in the course materials.

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Updating Course Materials and Dates

After you have copied or imported a previous course into your upcoming course, it’s important that you go through and update the materials that are now in the course.  You’ll need to change start, due, and end dates as well as remove old materials and add new ones.  You’ll also want to check any links to websites outside of D2L that you might have included in your course and remove or update any broken links you find.

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Manage Dates – Bulk Offset Dates

The Manage Dates tool will help you update the start, due, and end dates in your course.  You can use the Bulk Offset Dates feature to shift the dates from the previous semester to the upcoming one. You will be able to filter by tools to update the dates for specific items or update all of the items in the course.  To do this in the course you want to adjust the dates for:

  1. Select Course Admin from the course navigation bar.
  2. Select Manage Dates from the Site Resources section.
  3. If you want to update all of the items at once, leave All radio button selected in the Filter by Tool section.  If you want to update the materials by tool, select the Specific Tools radio button.
    1. If Specific Tools is selected, select the check boxes next to the tools you would like to change the dates for, and click the Apply filter button.
  4. Select the check boxes next to the items you would like to update the dates for.
  5. Click the Bulk Offset Dates icon
    1. Please see the Academic Calendar for semester start dates.
  6. Check or uncheck the boxes for the options in the Dates to Offset section.  By default Due Date, Start Date, End Date, and Other activity dates are selected.
  7. Select the Calculate range between two dates option. This will update the due, start, and end dates on the materials to a similar date in the current/upcoming course.
  8. Type the past semester’s start date and time.
  9. Type the upcoming semester’s start date and time.  This will give D2L the time frame to make the date adjustments for.
  10. Click the Save button.
  11. A saved successfully message will appear and the dates should be adjusted for the upcoming semester.

If you copied the materials from a fall course into a spring or summer semester, you’ll need to review the dates and adjust them for the semester differences like spring break week or a shorter semester length.

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Content

There are several things that need to be done in the Content and Manage Files areas:

  • Review the table of contents to make sure the modules and topics are still accurate for the new semester.  Note: You’ll need to check the links to outside websites to make sure they are still active.
  • Delete any modules, topics, and files that are no longer needed.
    • In the Content area, delete the modules and/or topics that you don’t need any more.  There are two deleting option, delete the topic link from the Table of Contents but keep the file/activity or permanently delete the link and any associated file/activity. Note: If you permanently delete something from the Content area, it is gone, there is no restore feature.
    • In the Manage Files area, delete any old materials, like syllabi from past courses, assignments that are outdated, uploaded files that you don’t use any more, etc.
  • Use the Edit in-place option in a topic’s drop down menu to change names, descriptions, dates, restrictions, and status (draft or published).
  • Use the Bulk Edit feature to edit multiple topics at once.  You’ll be able to edit the name, dates and restrictions, description, completion tracking, and the status (draft or published) for each topic selected.
    • Note: The Discussions tool doesn’t have a Bulk Edit feature, you could use the one in Content to update your Discussions forums and topics.
  • Use the Edit HTML, Change File, or Edit Link options in the drop down menu to the right of the name to update any topic that may need small changes or additional information.
  • Use the Upload/Create menu and the Add Existing Activities to add new topics and assignments in the Content area.

It’s recommended that if you didn’t use the Manage Dates tool to update the due, start, and end dates, you update the dates for all Assignments, Discussions, and Quizzes in the Content area.  It will save you time to use the Bulk Edit feature to update the dates all at once.

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Announcements

There are several things that need to be done in the Announcements area:

  • Review the Announcements list to make sure the articles are still accurate for the new semester.
  • Check to see if there are any dismissed announcements.  These will still display for your students if you’ve just dismissed them from your view.
  • Delete any announcements that are no longer needed.
    • If you delete something by accident, use the Restore option from the More Actions menu to recover it.
  • Use the Edit option in the drop down menu to the right of the name to update any announcements that may need small changes or additional information.
  • Use the New Announcement button to create new articles.

The Announcements area doesn’t have a Bulk Edit feature, you’ll need to manually update each article individually.  It’s recommended that if you used start and end dates for your announcements, you use the Manage Dates tool to update them.

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Discussions

There are several things that need to be done in the Discussions area:

  • Review the Discussions list to make sure the forums and topics are still accurate for the new semester.
  • If you plan to delete a topic, make sure you remove any grade association before you do this.  Otherwise it will cause an orphaned grade item that is difficult to remove without D2L’s help.
  • Delete any forums and topics that are no longer needed.  There are three deleting options – Delete All from the More Actions menu, Delete from the forum menu, and Delete from the topic menu.
    • If you delete something by accident, use the Restore option from the More Actions menu to recover it.
  • Use the Edit Forum or Edit Topic options in the drop down menu to the right of the name to update any Discussions forums and topics that may need small changes or additional information.
  • Use the New menu to create new forums or topics.  Note: You’ll need at least one forum and one topic in the Discussions area for students to post messages.

The Discussions area doesn’t have a Bulk Edit feature, you’ll need to manually update each forum and topic individually.  It’s recommended that if you used start and end dates for your discussions topics, you use either the Manage Dates tool or the Content tool to update them.  Note: If you use the lock option, you’ll need to manually update each one in the Discussions area.

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Assignments

There are several things that need to be done in the Assignments area:

  • Review the Assignments list to make sure the assignments and categories are still accurate for the new semester.
  • If you plan to delete an assignment, make sure you remove any grade association before you do this.  Otherwise it will cause an orphaned grade item that is difficult to remove without D2L’s help.
  • Delete any assignments that are no longer needed.  There are two deleting options – Delete All from the More Actions menu and Delete Assignment from the assignment’s drop down menu.
    • If you delete something by accident, use the Restore button from the Event Log in the More Actions menu to recover it.
  • Use the Bulk Edit feature to edit multiple assignments at once.  You’ll be able to edit the name, category, and dates (availability and due dates) for each assignment selected.
  • Use the Edit Assignment option in the drop down menu to the right of the name to update any assignment that may need small changes or additional information.
  • Use the New menu to create new assignments.

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Quizzes

There are several things that need to be done in the Quizzes area:

  • Review the Manage Quizzes list to make sure the quizzes and categories are still accurate for the new semester.
  • If you plan to delete a quiz, make sure you remove any grade association before you do this.  Otherwise it will cause an orphaned grade item that is difficult to remove without D2L’s help.
  • Delete any quizzes that are no longer needed.  There are two deleting options – Delete from the More Actions menu and Delete from the quiz’s drop down menu.
    • If you delete something by accident, there isn’t a Restore button in the Quizzes area so once something is deleted it is permanently removed from the course.
  • Use the Bulk Edit feature to edit multiple quizzes at once.  You’ll be able to edit the name, category, active/inactive, and attempts for each quiz selected.
  • Use the Edit option in the drop down menu to the right of the name to update any quiz that may need small changes or additional information.
  • Use the New Quiz button to create new quizzes.

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Grades

There are several things that need to be done in the Grades area:

  • Review the Manage Grades screen to make sure the categories, grade items, and associations with other tools are still accurate for the new semester.
  • If you plan to delete a grade item, make sure you remove any grade association with other tools for the item before you do this.  You’ll need to do this in the tool that is associated with Grades like Assignments, Discussions, and Quizzes.
  • Delete any categories and grade items that are no longer needed.
    • If you delete something by accident, use the Restore button from the Event Log in the More Actions menu to recover it.
  • Use the Bulk Edit feature to edit multiple grade items at once.  You’ll be able to edit the name, short name, max points, if the item is bonus (extra credit) or not, if it can exceed the max points or not, grade scheme, and category.
  • Use the Edit option in the drop down menu to the right of the name to update any category or item that may need small changes or additional information.
  • Use the New menu to add new categories and items.
  • Check the Settings on the Calculation Options tab:
    • Is the grading system (Points or Weighted) that you want to use for the course selected?
    • If you plan to release the final grade at the beginning of the semester, is the Calculated Final Grade selected to be released?  Note: At the beginning of the semester you won’t be making grade adjustments, so the Calculated Final Grade should be selected.  You can always change this later in the semester as needed.
    • What are you planning to do for ungraded items – drop them or treat them as zero?  Note: If you decide to drop them, make sure you manually type 0 (zero) for students who don’t turn in assignments, participate in class discussions, or take quizzes.
    • Make sure the “Automatically keep final grades updated” box has been selected.
    • Click the Save button if you made any changes to the Calculation Options.

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