Getting Started with D2L

Learning to use D2L Brightspace can be difficult if you don’t know the terminology, tools, layouts, features, etc. This guide will help you learn a little about the system to help you create your course.

About D2L Brightspace

D2L Brightspace/eLearning is the online learning management system (LMS) used throughout the Minnesota State System.  Each semester, all LSC courses receive an empty “course shell” for you to use as you wish.

Some of the main D2L Brightspace tools are Announcements, Assignments, Attendance, Checklist, Classlist, Class Progress, Content, Discussions, Glossary, Grades, Groups, Intelligent Agents, Quizzes, Rubrics, and Surveys. In this guide, we’ll talk about the most used tools, where they’re located, how you could use them, and show screenshots of what they should look like.  If you’d like to learn how to use these tools, please see the D2L Brightspace Tools page.

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Logging into D2L Brightspace

Screenshot of the L S C Login menu with D 2 L Brightspace e Learning link highlighted

You can find the link to log into D2L Brightspace/eLearning in the Login dropdown menu on the Lake Superior Collage website.
Screenshot of the D 2 L Brightspace Login screen
On the D2L Brightspace/eLearning Login page, click the Sign in with StarID button.  You’ll need to type your StarID and password to enter your Brightspace account. Note: Before you log into your account, you might want to bookmark this page as a shortcut.

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Inside D2L Brightspace

Screen shot of the D 2 L My Home screen

Like students, the first thing you’ll see is the My Home screen after you log into D2L Brightspace. This is where you will find Announcements from the D2L Brightspace administrator and the courses you’re enrolled in.

Screenshot of a course home page

After you’ve selected a course on the My Home page, the first thing you and your students will see is the Course Home screen. This is where you’ll be able to post Announcements and see the Calendar, Office 365, Updates, and other helpful widgets.

Screen shot of the course navigation bar with each menu expanded to see the tools in each

Each course has a navigation bar that includes Content, Materials, Communication, Assessments, Resources, Quick Eval, and Course Admin. You’re able customize what is listed in the dropdown menus.  If you don’t plan to use a tool, you can remove it.  Note: There are some tools that rely on others to function properly, so be careful when you turn things off. For example, to be able to add or edit questions in a quiz or survey, the Question Collections tool needs to be left on.

Screenshot of the H T M L Editor with the tool bar highlighted

The HTML Editor can be found in all the tools in D2L Brightspace, giving you the ability to create HTML content and give feedback to students.

Students also have access to the HTML Editor when submitting Assignments, Starting New Threads and replying in Discussions, and answering Written Response question types in Quizzes.

Screenshot of the H T M L Editor with an example of text and links

The HTML Editor has basic word processing functions as well as ones for adding video, images, and links.

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Materials Menu

This is the dropdown menu for the tools that allow you to share information with your students using Checklist, Content, and Glossary. These are the most used tools on this menu.

Checklist

Screenshot of the Checklists tool

Located in the Materials dropdown menu. Create Checklist for activities within your course that you want your students to complete. You can have as many Checklists as you’d like to create.

Screenshot of the Checklist student view and instructor preview with categories and items highlighted

Checklists are organized by categories and the items the student must complete. You can add due dates as another way to remind your students when activities are due.

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Content

Located on the Navigation bar and in the Materials dropdown menu.​ The Content tool in D2L Brightspace is a one-stop shop for course materials and links to other Brightspace tools. Display syllabi, course assignments, and instructional materials in text, image, video, and file formats.​

Screen shot of the Table of Contents with arrows pointing to Modules and Topics

Content is organized by modules and topics. Module organizes similar groups of topics, like a folder on your computer or chapters in a book. You need at least one module to be able to have topics.​ Topic are the links to the documents, D2L Brightspace tools, or websites that has the information you want your students to read or complete. You can create multiple topics in each module.

Screenshot of the student view of the Content Table of Contents with the completion bar highlighted

Students are able to see the modules and topics you create. A Content Completion bar will appear near the top of the Content area to show students their progress. They can collapse and expand modules as needed.

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Glossary

Screenshot of the Manage Grades Point System with arrows pointing to categories and grade items. The Max Points column highlighted

Located in the Materials dropdown menu.​ The Glossary can be used to create a list of class terms and definitions for your students to learn.​ Terms are the words or phrases and their definitions listed alphabetically.  You can create multiple terms in the Glossary.

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Communication Menu

This is the dropdown menu for the tools that allow you to engage with your students using Announcements, Classlist, Discussions, Groups, and Intelligent Agents.  These are the most used tools on this menu.

Announcements

Screenshot of the Announcements tool with several announcements listed

Located in the Communication dropdown menu. Create course related news articles that will be the first thing your students see when they enter your course.​ The Announcements tool is available from the Course Home page as well.

Examples of Announcements:​

  • Welcome to class​
  • Weekly reviews or reminders
  • Where to get help
  • New discoveries in your field of study​
  • Congratulations for doing well on Assignments or Quizzes

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Classlist

Screenshot of the Classlist tool showing the All tab with the teacher and students listed

Located in the Communication dropdown menu.​ The Classlist shows all registered students and allows for quick group or individual e-mails to the students in a single course.​

You’re able to:​

  • See who is in the course​
  • Email everyone or selected individuals​
  • View students’ progress​
  • Give Accommodations for Quizzes to individual students
  • Display and print students by Groups​
  • Use Enrollment Statistics to see course withdrawals

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Discussions

Screen shot of Discussions with arrows pointing to Forums and Topics. The Threads, Posts, and Last Posts information is highlighted

Located in the Communication dropdown menu.​ Facilitates student-to-student and faculty-to-student communication throughout the semester.​ Discussions are organized with forums and topics. Forums organize similar groups of topics, like a folder on your computer or chapters in a book. You need at least one forum with one topic for your students to post threads in.​ Topics are where you and your students communicate with each other. You can create multiple topics in a single forum. Threads are the individual messages that you and students can post in the topics.

Examples of Forums and Topics:

  • Course related conversations like introductions and getting help.
  • Weekly discussions with a topic for each chapter or subject matter.
  • Group project discussions, each group has a topic they can collaborate in.
  • Conversations with individual students, that could be used as journals or blogs. Note: The Groups tool is used to make this to work.

Screenshot of the student view of the Discussions area with forums, topics, and threads posted

Students are able to see the forums and topics as they are released in the course. They’re able create new threads and reply to their classmates’ messages.

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Groups

Screenshot of Groups area with arrows pointing to Category and groups with workspaces

Located in the Communication dropdown menu.​ You can use the Groups tool to create small group areas in the Discussion and Assignments tools.​ Groups are organized by categories and groups. Categories organize your groups. You need to have at least one category in order to create small groups within your course. You can have multiple categories in the Groups area for different projects or activities. Groups are a smaller portion of your class that can have Discussions and Assignments work areas to complete projects in. You can create multiple groups per category.

Screenshot of the Available Groups area with the Actions column's start date, expiry date, and Join group links highlighted.

You can manually enroll students in the groups, have the system automatically do it for you, or allow students to self-enroll.

Screenshot of the Groups area Student View with an arrow pointing to selecting View Available Groups. The message This group is not available for unenrollment because this category is not available for self enrollment for group that doesn't have a self enroll option is highlighted

Students aren’t able to self-enroll in groups that aren’t created to be self-enroll groups.

Screenshot of the Discussions area with the Single User, Member Specific Group Discussion Forum and Topic highlighted

You can also create single member groups that could be used for journal assignments or private conversations with your students in the Discussions area.

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Intelligent Agents

Screenshot of the Intelligent Agent message with the replace strings highlighted

Located in the Communication dropdown menu.​ Intelligent Agents is a way to provide automated notifications to yourself and/or your students​.

Intelligent Agents can be used to:​

  • Welcome students to the course​
  • Contact students who haven’t logged into D2L​
  • Acknowledge students’ course accomplishments​
  • Supply additional materials for poor scores on Assignments and Quizzes

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Assessment Menu

This is the dropdown menu for the tools that allow you to evaluate with your students using Assignments, Attendance, Class Progress, Grades, Quizzes, and Rubric. These are the most used tools on this menu.

Assignments

Screenshot of the Assignments area with arrows pointing to a Category and Folders. The Grade Associated icon and Group Folder icon are highlighted

Located in the Assessments dropdown menu.​ Assignments allows students to turn in files electronically for your review and feedback.​ Assignments is organized by categories and folders. Categories organizes your Assignment folders, like a folder on your computer or chapters in a book. You can create multiple categories within the Assignment tool.​ Folders are where your students submit their files for you to review.  You can create multiple topics per category.  There are two types of folders – individual and group.​ You can also determine what type of submissions they make – file, text, on paper, or observation in person.

Screenshot of the student view of Assignments with different folders available

Students are able to see when assignments are due and submit their electronic files, links to websites, and embed videos they’ve created using VidGrid or MediaSpace. They’re also able to see feedback you’ve left for them.

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Attendance

Screenshot of an Attendance Register with data entered for two sessions

Located in the Assessment dropdown menu.​ Attendance allows you to create registers that track attendance for activities within your course.​ Attendance is organized by registers and sessions.

Register organize your sessions, like a folder on your computer or chapters in a book. You can have multiple registers for the different sections or activities in your course. You need to create a new register in order to use this tool.​

Sessions are the events you want to use to keep track of your students’ participation in. You can create a session for every day or week your class meets and by special event. You can create multiple sessions per register.

Screenshot of the student view of the Attendance Data

You’re able to allow students to see what their attendance has been for the course.  Note: Students only see their own attendance, no one else’s.

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Class Progress

Screenshot of the Class Progress screen

Located in the Assessment dropdown menu.​ Class Progress allows you to see how your students are doing in four of the different tools or features:​

  • Assignments Performance Summary
  • Checklist Completion Summary
  • Content Completion Summary
  • Content Visited Summary
  • Discussions Participation Summary
  • Grades Performance Summary
  • Login History (Last 30 days) – We don’t recommend using this because it doesn’t include if the students access the course through the Pulse app.
  • Objectives Completion Summary
  • Quiz Performance Summary
  • Survey Completion Summary
  • System Access (Last 30 days) – Use this instead of Login History, this includes activities done through the Pulse app as well.

You can change the indicators by using the Settings link. You must have 4 indicators on display.

Screenshot of student's view progress for the Discussions area

You can view more details by selecting one of the students on the Class Progress. On the Progress Summary screen, there will be a list of their activities for the tools in the course. For this example, we’ve selected the Discussions tool.

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Grades

Located in the Assessments dropdown menu. ​Grades are organized by categories and items. Categories organize similar groups of items, like a folder on your computer or chapters in a book.  You can create multiple categories in the Grades area.​ Item are the project, assignment, or activity you want your students to be scored or assessed by.  You can create multiple items per category.​ There are two types of grading systems – Points and Weighted:
Screenshot of the Manage Grades Point System with arrows pointing to categories and grade items. The Max Points column highlighted
The Points Grade System allows you to have as many points as you’d like from 100 to 1356 points if that’s what the individual grade items add up to.

Screenshot of the Manage Grades Weighted System with arrows pointing to categories and grade items. The Weight column highlighted and the Notes area highlighted
The Weighted Grade System allows you to have a total of 100% for all of your categories and non-category items that goes towards the final grade. The items within each category also needs to equal 100%. When your grade book doesn’t equal 100%, notes will appear across the top that let you know what needs to be fixed.

Screenshot of the Enter Grades screen with Categories and Grade Items highlighted

You can manually enter grades for each of the Grade Items within the Grades area. You can use the Switch to Spreadsheet View to make it easier to enter multiple assignments for the students.

Screenshot of the student view of Grades with arrows pointing to Final Grade Information, Points for individual assignments, and bonus items

The Grade System will calculate and show students their individual grades as the semester progresses.​ You’ll need to release the final grade when needed during the semester.

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Quizzes

Screenshot of the Manage Quizzes screen with a category and quizzes highlighted

Located in the Assessment dropdown menu.​ Quizzes can be used to assess students’ knowledge using a variety of question types.​ Quizzes are organized by categories and quizzes. Categories organize similar groups of Quizzes, like a folder on your computer or chapters in a book. You can create multiple categories in the Quizzes area. Quizzes can be created to assess your students’ knowledge about a specific subject in your course. You can create multiple quizzes per category.​
Screenshot of the student view of the Quiz List
Students can see Due dates, Availability dates, Feedback, and their Attempts from the Quiz List. If the availability dates haven’t been reached or have already passed, students aren’t able to take the quiz.

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Question Library

Screenshot of the Question Library with sections for questions

Located in the Quizzes area. The Question Library tool can be used to create, organize, and import questions for your quizzes and exams. It is also the place where you can store all the questions you would like to use in your quizzes.  If you use Question Pools while building your quiz, you’ll need to import your questions from the Question Library.

The Question Library is organized into sections and questions. Sections organize your questions, like a folder on your computer or OneDrive organizes your documents. You can create multiple sections, one section, or no sections. Questions are what you create to test your students’ knowledge on the course materials.

The Question Library is also available through the Surveys tool.  Questions in the Question Library can be imported into Surveys as well as in Quizzes.

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Rubrics

Screenshot of the Edit Rubric screen with arrows pointing to criteria along the side and levels across the top

Located in the Assessment dropdown menu.​ Used to generate an assessment of the students’ knowledge.​​ Rubrics can be used separately or with Competencies.​ Rubrics can be reused, so you could create one rubric that can be added to all of your Assignments or Discussions. You could also create a special rubric for an assignment or a Discussions topic if it needs to be assessed differently. Rubrics are organized by levels and criteria. Levels, the horizontal headings, are the achievements or points your students are work towards.​ Criteria, the vertical headings, are the evaluation their work is scored against.

Screenshot of a Rubric in Assignments with levels selected for the criteria

Rubrics can be used to assess students’ submissions in the Assignments tool.

Rubrics can be used to assess students’ messages in the Discussions tool.

Screenshot of a Rubric in Grades with levels selected and an arrow pointing to selecting the Rubric icon the Assessment column to open the Rubric window

Rubrics can be used to assess students’ work in the Grades area.

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Surveys

Located in the Assessment dropdown menu.​ Surveys allow you to obtain, calculate, and display information from your students without assigning a score to their responses.​ Setting up a survey is like setting up a quiz, with a few different question types.

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Other Tools

There are a few other tools that will benefit you and your students. They are Import/Export/Copy Components, Manage Dates, Release Conditions, and the Pulse App for students.

Import/Export/Copy Components

Screenshot of the Import Export Copy Components screen

Located in the Course Admin area. The Import/Export/Copy Components tool allows you to:

  • Import – You can import an exported D2L Brightspace course package or a textbook company’s test bank package in to LSC D2L Brightspace/e-Campus.
  • Export – You can export a copy of a course structure from LSC D2L Brightspace/e-Campus. Note: No student generated content is included.
  • Copy Components – When you’ve developed one course in LSC D2L Brightspace/e-Campus and wish to copy part or all the course into another LSC D2L Brightspace/e-Campus course.

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Manage Dates

Screenshot of the Manage Dates tool

Located in the Course Admin area. Manage Dates allows you to create and update start, due, and end dates after a past course structure has been copied into the new offering.

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Release Conditions

Screenshot of the Create a Release Condition window with Visted content topic selected as the Condition Type and Week 1 Readings and Activities selected as the Condition Details topic

Can be used in most of the tools in your course. Release conditions allow you to create a personalized learning experience for your students. When you attach a release condition to an item, students cannot see that item until they meet the associated condition.

Screenshot of a quiz with the release condition icon next to the name highlighted

For example, you could create a release condition so that your students won’t see a quiz until after they’ve read the materials in the Content area the quiz will assess them on. Note: Let your students know you’ve used release conditions in your course and what that means for them.

Where Release Conditions be used:

  • Awards (badges and certificates) ​
  • Announcements items ​
  • Assignment folders ​
  • Checklist items ​
  • Content modules and topics ​
  • Discussion forums and topics ​
  • Grade items and categories ​
  • Intelligent Agents ​
  • Quizzes ​
  • Surveys

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Pulse App for Students

Screenshot of two cell phones with the Pulse App detail screens and what the Pulse app looks like the Android and i O S app stores

Brightspace Pulse is a free mobile app (iOS and Android devices) that can help students stay connected and on track with their courses in D2L Brightspace. It tracks due dates for all current courses in one app. It provides one easy view of course calendars, readings, assignments, grades and announcements.

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