Friday, June 17, 2016

Have You Heard About Panopto?

Panopto is a cloud-based video platform built specifically for video-based training, teaching, and presenting. The platform is designed to be an all-in-one solution which includes all of the basic tools and services needed to create and securely share video-based learning materials and activities. In many ways Panopto can be thought of as our university’s private YouTube site.

Once activated in any D2L course, the Panopto platform can be used to create, edit, and share videos. This is done through two main components including the Panopto recorder and the Panopto website. The recorder and website work together to simplify the video capture and upload process. Users also have the ability to bypass the recorder and upload their videos straight to the website.

The Panopto Recorder is a lightweight application which enables users to capture and upload video with only a few clicks. The recorder can capture video and audio from any webcam or microphone connected to the computer, as well as the computer’s screen and audio. Once recorded, the video can be immediately uploaded to the Panopto website (which is integrated nicely into D2L).

Once the video is on the website, users have access to a number of video editing and sharing options. Users simply click an “Edit” link on the video to open the Panopto video editor which is great for performing very simple video edits. The best feature of Panopto’s editor is that it is non-destructive meaning that the original video is not destroyed during the editing process. Once happy with the video, the user can choose how to share the video. Users can choose to share their video only with certain people, they can choose to share the video only with his/her class, or they can make the video public.

Learn more about Panopto in education by visiting Panopto’s website:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

User Progress Tool for Students

If you are taking a class with online components in D2L then you can use the User Progress tool to keep track of your progress. The User Progress tool helps you check your progress in a course through tracking course-specific assignments and feedback, and through measuring 9 progress indicators including grades, objectives, content, discussions, Dropbox folders, quizzes, checklists, surveys, and login history.

Some of the handy uses for the User Progress tool include:
  • Track Discussion Participation – Use the Discussions tab see how many discussion posts you have authored or read each week. Also find links to each of the posts.
  • Check Your Grades – Use the Grades tab to view you most up-to-date grade calculation and instructor feedback.
  • Review Your Quiz Submissions – Use the Quizzes tab to review your quiz scores, attempts, and instructor feedback.
  • View a Summary of Your Course – Use the Summary tab to get a quick idea about your progress in a course. Check to see how much work you’ve done, and how much more is left to go!
To access the User Progress tool, begin by logging in to your D2L course. In the light blue navigation bar near the top of D2L select Other Tools, then User Progress.

Learn more about the User Progress tool by watching the User Progress Learner Overview video.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What's new in D2L?

As you may remember, the NLU Online Campus was upgraded to Brightspace's "Continuous Delivery" system over the winter break. This means that we can deliver improvements, bug fixes, and new features on a planned, monthly basis without downtime! Since these improvements may go unnoticed by users who have no reason to be aware of them, from time to time your LITS staff will use this space to tell you about changes that are likely to be of interest to members of NLU's online community.

D2L Tool Improvement: Discussion Rubric Grading

Here's a spotlight on a February improvement that actually inspired a thank-you letter from an NLU faculty member: Discussion Rubric grading. (There are two potential locations for a Discussion rubric: the Discussion Topic itself, and the Grade item. This improvement is specifically for rubrics that are associated with the Discussion topic, rather than our more usual process of associating a Discussion rubric with the Grade item.
The exciting new improvement is that, for the first time, a user's posts in the Discussion grading interface and the rubric used for grading the Topic are visible in the same window.
How do Discussion rubrics work for students? When students the discussion topic, the rubric can be previewed right there. After you grade with the Discussion rubric, the rubric feedback is available to students through the Discussions area of "User Progress" (not, at this time, in Grades).

Bug Fixes

Each Continuous Delivery wave comes with information about fixed and known issues. There are two fixed issues in the March 2016 release that will be of special interest to NLU faculty.
  • Quiz statistics are so helpful, but have you ever had a timeout error when attempting to view them? No more! PRB0050932, which was responsible for this issue, was resolved in the March 2016 release. [Thanks to our own Anthony Boen for his efforts in documenting this bug for squashing.]
  • Toggling Draft/Published in the Table of Contents is a real convenience, but starting with our December upgrade, the result of such a change did not immediately appear for the user making the change. PRB0050866, which caused this problem, was also resolved in the March 2016 release.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Checking Your Pulse

Brightspace Pulse, a mobile app available for both iOS and Android devices, is an organizational tool that NLU students can use to stay on top of their course assignments, dates, and grades. Because Pulse consolidates information drawn from all the student's courses with personal dates and tasks that the student can enter directly into the app, it is ideal for short- and long-term planning and prioritization. And because Pulse is a mobile app the student has fingertip access anytime, anywhere.

Pulse already is available for NLU students to use with all their courses. With that in mind, what can an instructor do to ensure a Pulse-friendly course? Here are some suggestions.

  • Use dates thoughtfully in your course. Pulse, as expected for a planning tool, is date-driven. It will pull specific kinds of dates from your course: due and end dates in D2L tools such as Content and Quiz, and D2L Calendar dates. Pulse cannot scan through your course documents or pull from descriptive assignment instructions when retrieving date information. Using "official" dates in tool items and in the D2L Calendar will make your course work better for students who use Pulse. An added bonus is that confining specific dates to the D2L fields designated to hold dates streamlines date-related tasks when updating your course each term.
  • Use grades thoughtfully in your course.
    • Have Grades set up in advance of term and, where relevant, have grade items correctly connected to the corresponding Dropbox Assignment folder, Discussion topic, or Quiz.
    • Since a students may consider the weight of a course activity in the final grade when planning the amount of time s/he will allocate to the activity, and since this information is especially easy to find in Pulse, it is more important than ever to have your Grade calculation set up correctly when the course starts.
    • Grade student work promptly. This is always best practice. Feedback to students, including grades, is crucial to student engagement and success. Pulse does not change this equation, it simply gives the student the potential to see the grade even sooner, as well as control over the specific time and circumstances when s/he sees the grade.
  • Post News Announcements frequently in your course. Not only will students see them on your course home page in D2L, News Announcements show up in the Updates area in Pulse.
Want some over-the-shoulder assistance with your Pulse-friendly course initiative? Check the LITS schedule for open labs as well as for professional development and training opportunities.

Having put in the effort to be Pulse friendly in your course, you naturally would like students to benefit from your effort. You can share information about Pulse in a student success page in your D2L course, in a News Announcement, or during class if you are teaching face-to-face or blended.

Additional Resources

How to Use Pulse

Download Brightspace Pulse for iOS or Android

App Store (Apple)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Turnitin Feature in D2L 10.5.5

With the successful upgrade of D2L to the current 10.5.5 version on December 16,2015, a newer version of Turnitin is available for faculty use. The current tool offers a streamlined interface and makes it more intuitive to enable Turnitin when you set up your Dropbox folders. The most noticeable changes are as follows:
  • Turnitin is now a New tab in the Dropbox tool as opposed to an option on the Properties tab as it used to be. So it’s easy to find when faculty set up Dropbox folders.
  • Settings and other options are consequently available through the new Turnitin tab. More options are made available, including sources that instructors may choose to compare papers against, exclusion of checked materials and matches, originality report generation and submission, storing location of submissions, etc. Because of the single page where all options are placed, it is less easy for instructors to miss things during settings setup. 
  • Some instructors may find the GradeMark tool helpful as it allows marking up papers without having to download submissions and re-upload marked papers for student review. There is now a feature that will allow you to bring the numeric Turnitin grade into the Dropbox grade field. However, we still recommend use of comments functionality in Rubrics and Grades tools in D2L due to better integration with the LMS and the course.  
  • The new Turnitin tab can be found when instructors create a New (Dropbox) Folder or access Edit Folder page within the Dropbox tool.
  • The Dropbox is the only venue through which instructors can enable Turnitin.
To get a quick overview of the new Turnitin tool and features, please check out this video tutorial:

There are a few things to note if instructors have some established dropbox folders with Turnitin already being enabled:
  • All copied, imported or exported dropbox folders don’t have the former Turnitin options applied so instructors need to re-enable Turnitin and reset the options.
  • When Turnitin is re-enabled, the new integration is automatically applied. All new dropbox folders use the new integration.
  • To ensure that group submissions can still be checked using Turnitin, instructors can configure Turnitin to check against external sources instead of against submissions from other learners.
General Turnitin Tips:
  • Check to "Allow learners to see Turnitin similarity scores in their dropbox folder”. The originality report is a terrific teaching tool, but only if students can see it!
  • Keep your Dropbox instructions under 1000 characters if you will be using Turnitin. Longer assignment instructions can go in a previous page of the learning module where the Dropbox Assignment folder is linked, or they can be attached as a document to the D2L Dropbox.

Friday, November 20, 2015

D2L Upgrade: Continuous Delivery

Coming Soon: D2L Continuous Delivery


On December 16 we will be upgrading the NLU Online Campus for D2L's "Continuous Delivery," version 10.5.5. Important note: You can expect D2L to be offline on December 16 for the entire day, so plan accordingly.


A major benefit of this upgrade is that in the future we will be able to roll out enhancements and improvements to the learning environment as they become available without the inconvenience of downtime. The biggest impact of this upgrade is found behind the scenes and under the hood. There are, however, some immediate benefits in usability and workflow. When you log in to D2L after December 16, you may notice a subtly cleaner look. We'd like to point out a few of the functional enhancements you also may notice as you work in your learning environment.

Who and What?

The Pulse app for iOS and Android keeps the course info you want at your fingertips when you are on the go.


  • D2L Content's "Course Schedule" feature keeps track of upcoming course work and even points out any past due work.
  • Keep your finger on the Pulse of your learning experience with the new Pulse mobile app for iOS and Android.
  • Online Discussion is a convenient way to communicate asynchronously in any course, and is the heart and soul of many online courses. D2L 10.5 makes reading and participating in online Discussion even more convenient and intuitive. You expand the full text of the root post of a thread in the topic view by clicking "More," and collapse it again by clicking "Less."


  • Course Copy can now include the associated files when copying individual Content modules, Dropbox folders, or Discussion topics. Content pages are analyzed to make sure that the associated files (e.g., images and style sheets) come along so that copied Content modules look as they should in their destination course.
  • "NOT" adds long-awaited power and logic to selective release. It allows faculty to create a release condition for those not meeting a specified condition. For example, there can be a News Announcement that is visible only to students who have NOT submitted an assignment.
  • Personalize your D2L landing page by toggling between the "Classic Home Page" and a new "Personal Dashboard" that puts the focus on specific instructor tasks.
  • Would Badges, awards, and Certificates be useful in your course? D2L can now provide these features.
  • Bulk delete has returned to the Discussion tool, simplifying course revision and the cleanup of unfortunate course copy accidents.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Workshop Announcement: Time Management for Online/Blended Instructors

Does the thought of teaching courses online seem like a daunting and time consuming task? Even if you have already taught a course online, or a blended course that was partially online and partially face to face, you probably found those courses seem to require more time and effort than traditional face-to-face ones. 

Well you are not alone, teaching online frequently requires more work than traditional face-to-face courses. Many online instructors find it daunting to keep up with student emails, questions, announcements, grades, and class discussions. These demands can be challenging. However, once you are armed with strategies for time management of online and blended courses, you’ll be able to take control of your courses, and enjoy the benefits online instruction.

To learn about these strategies, all adjunct and full-time faculty are encouraged to attend our upcoming workshop entitled “Save Time Teaching Online: Time Management Tips and Tools for Online Instruction,” offered by NLU’s Academic Technology Department. In the 1 hour workshop you will learn about tools and strategies to save time and energy while effectively teaching online and blended courses.

For a list of all upcoming technology training workshops offered by Academic Technology please click the following link:

And to attend a workshop please RSVP by emailing