What's New In D2L Brightspace? - September 2020 

Many new features have arrived in Brightspace over the Summer in preparation for our Fall semester.

Below I present to you some of the highlights for Instructors. 

With our Summer configuration changes we now have:

(Click on the headings to watch the videos of the new features.)

Quick Eval 

Quick Eval offers instructors a single location to view all learner submissions that are awaiting evaluation. Submissions made to Assignments, Quizzes, and Discussions are displayed in a sortable list and can be selected to take you directly to their assessment page. Find and prioritize unevaluated learner submissions using the Activity view in Quick Eval.



When students submit WORD docs, PDF files, EXCEL spreadsheets, or images as Assignment submissions, you can add comments, and other markups right on the file in D2L. This tool is especially handy for short assignments where commenting is minimal (rather than using the feedback box and referring back to the document). - this is one of the most anticipated features for our faculty, it works quite well. As a side note this also comes at the time where the assignment grader mobile app (which allowed some annotation and some of you may have been using) has been retired for the app stores. 


Activity Feed 

Activity Feed is a course homepage widget that provides a central location for learners and instructors to post messages that are visible to the entire class. For example, your instructor might post reminders about upcoming assignments and links to course materials. Use Activity Feed to create a central place for users to engage and stay up-to-date on what's happening in their course in a more interactive way where learners can reply to posts rather than the news tool if you prefer it. Our instance will continue to place the News tool in new courses by default.  

The following tools are enabled, but still being integrated and tested more rigorously. If you use them and encounter an issue, please let us know.

This tool is a new robust version of self-enrolment which will replace self enrolment. This tool allows students to search for active courses and self-enroll into course which have been created and registered into Discover using the various discover configuration options. In addition, learners can self-unenroll from the courses they self-enrolled in. This newer interface is more consisted with the rest of the learning environment and allows for greater discoverability of open courses at UNB. 

Learning Object Repository 
D2L's Learning Object Repository (LOR) enables storage, tagging, searching, sharing, linking, reuse and management of learning objects. A Learning Object Repository is a file storage area accessible in any of your courses. We are still working to integrate this feature into our instance.

Brightspace ePortfolio is a personal portfolio tool for storing, organizing, reflecting on, and sharing items that represent your learning. You can include items such as documents, graphics, audio files, videos, presentations, and course work to demonstrate your improvement or mastery in certain areas. This is only planed for use by certain faculties who require specific legacy functionality. For the rest of us there is:

Curate learners’ work in your course by managing, reviewing, and editing their portfolios. 
Brightspace Portfolio provides an online artifact space for students. Learners can maintain their portfolio year after year, as they progress through their learning journey.

Brightspace Portfolio consists of two pieces of software:

  • To collect evidence, learners or instructors can use the Portfolio app for iOS® or AndroidTM. The Portfolio app is available for download from any global Google Play™ store or Apple App Store®.

  • To manage or import evidence, learners or instructors can use the Portfolio tool within Brightspace Learning Environment, which is available on a browser from your laptop, tablet, or mobile device.

Brightspace Portfolio is intended to replace the legacy Brightspace ePortfolio product. Combined with all Brightspace Core functionality, Brightspace Portfolio will provide a complete solution, to not only replace Brightspace ePortfolio, but to enhance the entire experience. To schedule a roadmap presentation with the D2L Product Management team, contact your Customer Success Manager or Technical Account Manager.

Note: D2L recommends that you do not use Brightspace Portfolio and Brightspace ePortfolio in the same Course Offering concurrently.

In addition to all that, there are many welcome changes to our existing tools, here are some highlights: 

Calendar - Bulk delete items | New

To create parity with other tools and improve workflow, the Calendar tool now offers a Delete interface. Previously, it was impossible to bulk delete calendar items. This change enables users to multi-select and delete calendar items using the More Actions menu.


Rubrics – Accessibility improvements in Rubric creation workflow | Updated

This feature was originally released for the Rubrics tool in June 2020/20.20.6. This update includes the following accessibility improvements in the rubric creation workflow:

  • When you change the names of levels in the rubric create or edit experience, screen readers now read the updated name rather than the original default level names.
  • Screen readers now indicate when new levels, criterion, groups, and overall score levels are added to a rubric. Previously, there was no loading progress indicator.
  • Screen readers now state that there is a new level, criterion, group, or overall score level.
  • The keyboard navigation tab sequence is improved when navigating to the Add and Cancel buttons in the Outcomes Picker window.

Widgets – Pinned tab in My Courses widget | New

A new Pinned tab now appears in the My Courses widget (Update Sort Logic view only). The Pinned tab allows learners and instructors to create a curated view of their pinned courses.

The Pinned tab appears in the widget only after a user pins a course in the Course Selector. The tab remains in view until all courses are unpinned. The My Courses widget remembers the last viewed tab and shows that same tab the next time the homepage is viewed. This makes it easy for instructors and learners who only wish to view pinned courses to see those courses upon login.


Figure: The Pinned tab appears in the My Courses widget when users pin courses

Assignments - Copy assignment option | New

This feature adds the ability to copy existing assignments. Instructors with the existing permission Add/Edit Assignment Submission Folders can select the Copy Assignment option in the drop-down menu for an existing assignment to quickly create new assignments. 

Checklists – Copy a checklist | New

Instructors can now perform copy actions for checklists. You can copy a whole checklist, a checklist category (including all items within it), or individual items in a checklist. This functionality is controlled by the Manage Checklists permission.


Figure: The Copy Assignment option appears in the drop-down menu for existing assignments

Brightspace Assignment Grader – End-of-life | Removed

Effective August 15, 2020, the Assignment Grader mobile app is no longer available to new users. Existing users may continue to use the app if they have it installed, but no further updates or support will be made available by D2L and the app will be removed from app stores. As an alternative mobile grading option, D2L recommends using the Quick Eval tool in Brightspace Learning Environment.

Brightspace ePortfolio mobile app – End-of-life | Removed

Effective August 30, 2020, the Brightspace ePortfolio mobile app is no longer available to new users. Existing users may continue to use the app if they have it installed, but no further updates or support will be made available by D2L and the app will be removed from the iOS App Store and the Google Play Apps store. Refer to Intent to End of Life Notice for: ePortfolio Mobile for additional information. Note that Brightspace ePortfolio is still available for use - only the mobile app version is unavailable.

Classlist – User experience changes | New

When adding participants to a classlist using the Enrolling Existing Users interface, search results now include users who are currently enrolled in the course. Previously, enrolled users were not displayed in these search results. On the search results page an icon displays beside an enrolled user's name to indicate their enrollment status. Instructors can also use the drop-down menu beside each username to update a user's enrollment status, remove them from the class or change the role they were enrolled with.

The inactive_icon_40x40Inactive icon has also been updated on the Classlist page. Previously a gray dot was displayed, which was identical to the offline indicator.

Question Library – Attach files in written response questions | New

When creating a written response question, instructors can now allow learners to upload files in their answers and include embedded images. Learners can also record audio or video responses when answering written response question types. Written response questions are available in surveys.

When grading a quiz, similar to the behavior in the Discussions tool, instructors can download and open these attachments in another tab.

When learners are reviewing their quiz submissions, if they are allowed to view their quiz responses, they can view their uploaded attachments.

The maximum file size for a single file or embedded image attached to a quiz response is set to 102400 KB (100MB). The maximum file size for all files attached or embedded in a single quiz question response is set to 102400 KB (100MB).


Figure: The updated Written Response question creation screen.

Question Library – Attach files in arithmetic and significant figures questions | Updated

Building on the attach files in written response questions functionality released in the August 2020/20.20.8 release, when creating arithmetic and significant figures questions, instructors can now allow learners to include external files with their responses and record audio or video responses when answering these question types. This feature is only available in the new Quiz Builder Experience.
When grading a quiz, similar to the behavior in the Discussions tool, instructors can view a list of attachments, download them, or open them in another tab. When reviewing their submission in Submission View, the learner can see their uploaded attachment if allowed to see their responses.

To support attachment responses, Quizzes data sets and quiz reporting enhancements will be released in the November 2020/20.20.11 release. 

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 updated search and select capability in Question Library

Quizzes -Editing quizzes with previous attempts| Pt1.

To improve the user experience for instructors who edit quizzes with previous attempts by learners, the following updates have been made:

  • Points for past quiz attempts are no longer modified when edits are made that affect the overall points and/or the grading calculations for a quiz. A learner's grade on previous quiz attempts must now be changed directly by the instructor using the Update All Attempts workflow. Previously, the points for all past quiz attempts were modified automatically, which could alter a learner's grade unexpectedly.
  • Warning messages now appear when editing a quiz question with previous attempts to clearly communicate to instructors that editing quiz questions does not affect the content or automatically change the score of learners' past attempts.

Quizzes - Editing quizzes with previous attempts | Update!

This feature updates the Quizzes – User experience updates for editing quizzes with attempts feature released in August 2020/20.20.8.  
Points for all past quiz attempts are no longer modified when edits are made that affect the overall points and/or the grading calculations for a quiz. In the previous release, this update extended only to quizzes with attempts started after the June 2020/20.20.6 release. Now, all previous quizzes with attempts started before Brightspace Learning Environment version 20.20.6 will display the quiz and grading calculations that appeared to the learner at the exact time they made the attempt. 

Looking into next semester we will be completing remaining configurations of the new tools. We are also looking forward to releasing more updates, like new Assignment Creation Experience and a better MS Teams integration which may be possible before the Winter semester.

For a complete list of the items in the Continuous Delivery Summer Releases,
 Click Here.