Changes coming to Brightspace/D2L for Winter 2022

The update to Brightspace/D2L that will happen at the end of this week has a few major changes that may be important for instructors.

The Assignment Creation Experience

The first of these is the “New Assignment Creation Experience” will now become permanent. Until now we have had the option to revert back to the old experience, but that will be removed in the update. Click here to watch a video about this change, or read on for more information.

There are a few things to keep in mind with the update, particularly that the process to attaching assignments / dropboxes to the grade book. The first thing to note is that there was an update to the text descriptions around linking grades to assignments. Beyond that, to connect an assignment to the gradebook you need to click in the “Grade Out of” “Ungraded” text box to have the options for how the grade is set up.

The Grade out of dialog before being selected.
The grade out of dialog with choice of grade linking, once it has been clicked on.

If you leave it as “In Gradebook” a new grade item will be created with the same name as the dropbox, with a default weight of 10% in the course grade. Note that if you already have a grade item with the same name it will create a second grade item with the same name.

The Grade linking dropdown menu, including Edit or Link to Existing, Not in Gradebook and Reset to Ungraded.

If you would like to connect a dropbox to a grade item you need to choose “Edit or link to an existing grade item” and then choose “Link to an existing grade item.” From there you can choose from all the unlinked grade items to link to the dropbox.

The Edit or Link to Existing dialog. It has two options to create and link a new grade item and to link to an existing grade item.
The Link to existing grade item dialog showing a dropdown menu with all unlinked grade items.

The alternative option, “Create and link to a new grade item” allows you to choose a category for the grade (not the dropbox) and assign a grade scheme, but does not allow you to adjust the weight. If you choose to create a grade item from the dropbox, you will need to edit the grade item from Grades later and adjust the weight (unless you wanted it to be 10% of the total course grade).

The other two options for the grade are to allow you assign a grade to the dropbox without linking it to the gradebook, or to have a dropbox with no associated grade at all. Note that in order to have an unlinked grade, you must enter the maximum grade in the textbox and then choose “Not in gradebook” or the item will revert to “Ungraded”.

Quiz publishing terminology

D2L has updated some of the terminology around how quizzes are graded automatically and the results are recorded in the gradebook and shared with students. The functionality remains the same, but D2L has tried to clarify how grades are managed.

Brightspace will automatically grade any questions you were able to set a correct answer for (true/false, multiple choice, fill in the blank, etc), any questions Brightspace can’t automatically marked are set as zero. Note that both check boxes need to be check for grades to publish automatically to the grade book.

The option “Allow attempt to be set as graded immediately upon completion” in the Assessment tab will become “Auto-publish attempt results immediately upon completion”. In both cases if this check box is checked it means students will be to see the grade on their a quiz attempt as soon as they submit it. You can control what the students see by setting the submission view.

The option “Allow automatic export to grades” will become “Automatically update evaluations in grade book when published”. In both cases, if the quiz is linked to an item in the gradebook, as soon as the student submits, the grade will be entered in the gradebook.

These options are helpful for assessments where you want students to quickly see what they’ve understood and still need to work on in your course. For assessments where you want to give more complex feedback to students or assess a more complex activity, it may be better to manually assess their work instead.

How discussions are automatically shared and accessed

D2L is restructuring how access to discussion topics works, rather than having separate start/end dates and locking/unlocking dates, they have been unified into start and end dates with three different behaviours.

The discussion restriction dates dialog with the options Visible with access restricted before start, Visible with submission restricted before start and hidden before start and the same options for after end.

As per D2L’s announcement:

  • Visible with access restricted before/after start/end. The topic/forum is visible to learners before/after the start/end date, but they cannot access it. 
  • Visible with submission restricted before/after start/end. The topic/forum is visible to learners before/after the start/end date and they can access it, but they cannot post new threads or replies. This effectively makes a discussion read-only. Previously, this was accomplished with the lock option or unlock dates.  
  • Hidden before/after start/end. The topic/forum is hidden from learners until the start/end date. This is a new feature. Calendar events for Availability Starts and Availability Ends are hidden until the start/end date. Notifications are also not sent until the start/end date. Previously, the hidden status of a discussion topic was decided by the tool displaying the topic. 

This change will affect how you set up discussion within your course, but should reduce the chance for confusion around making discussions automatically for students.