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

Monday, May 4, 2015

The News Tool

Have you been searching for a convenient way to keep your students up to date on important class information? Try out the News Tool! The News Tool in D2L allows you to post announcements for your students. These announcements will display on your Course Homepage, under the “News” widget.

Announcements are beneficial, because students may not check their email every day. Students do not have to check their emails to view announcements. They must only login to the course. You can let students know about syllabus changes, assignment due dates, class cancellations, and more.
Students can dismiss this message after reading it, by clicking the “x”.  If students wish to see announcements they have previously dismissed, they can do so by clicking the “Show All News Items” link.

Take advantage of these great features, by giving the News Tool a try! To add a new announcement, follow the directions in the following guide: NLU Posting Announcements Handout

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Return of Grid View

You may recall that in D2L 10.0 that you had the option to change the way you viewed discussion posts, in the discussion tool. With the upgrade to 10.3 we unfortunately lost grid view, and reading view became the only option.  While reading view is great, some instructors strongly preferred grid view, and were upset to see it go.
If you were one of those instructors, D2L has heard your cries! D2L 10.3 has now implemented the option to again, choose between reading view and grid view. If you need a refresher on the difference between reading view and grid view, please see the images below.

Reading View (Default in D2L 10.3):

 Grid View (Now an option in D2L 10.3):

 How to change your settings:

1     1.     

Locate the “Discussion Too” on the Nav bar at the top of your course. 

2. Click the “Settings” link on the top right of the Discussion Tool screen.

 3. The first heading beneath “discussion settings” on the next screen reads “Personal Settings."  Here, you will see the “Default View." Select “Grid View."

That’s all there is to it! Three steps to easily changing your discussions back to grid view!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

D2L 10.3 Restore Feature

Have you ever accidentally deleted a Dropbox folder or Discussion Topic inside a course in D2L? Then you know how frustrating it can be to delete something you needed, by mistake. Don’t worry. The 10.3 version of D2L has now implemented a new feature that will allow you to undo these mishaps!

That’s right! D2L version 10.3 has introduced the “Restore” feature. You can now restore any Dropbox folder or Discussion Topic that you have previously deleted from your course. In addition, when restoring either a Dropbox folder or Discussion Topic, the student work is also restored! This includes all student submissions for a Dropbox folder, and all student posts and replies to a Discussion Topic.

It is important to note however, that if you delete an individual submission from a Dropbox folder; or post from a Discussion Topic, those items will not be restored. The restore feature only applies to whole folders or topics.

To Restore a Dropbox Folder:

To restore a Dropbox folder, first access the Dropbox tool page by clicking the “Dropbox” link on the Navigation bar of your course. 

Next, choose the “More Actions” dropdown menu at the top of the page, and click “Event Log”

You will notice a list of all Dropbox folders you have deleted. Locate the one you’d like to restore, and click the “Restore” button. 

That’s it! Your Dropbox folder and all student submissions within that folder will be restored on the Dropbox tool page.

To Restore a Discussion Topic:

In addition to restoring Dropbox folders you can also restore Discussion Topics, complete with all student posts. To restore a Discussion Topic, first access the “Discussion Tool” page from the Navigation bar within your course. 

Next, choose the “More Actions” dropdown menu on the top left of the Discussion Tool page. Then, choose “Restore”. 

You will then see a list of all deleted Discussion Topics. Locate the one you want to restore, and click the “Restore” button.

Your restored Discussion Topic will re-appear on the Discussion Tool page.  With such few easy steps to recovering your Droobox folders and Discussion Topics, never worry about accidentally deleting them again!

To see video tutorials and other resources regarding D2L and its tools, visit the LMS faculty resources webpage at: