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D2L Instructor Guide

About D2L Brightspace

D2L Brightspace is our online learning platform for Motlow State. Every course that is offered at Motlow has a corresponding D2L course site.

D2L Homepage

After you login, the first page you come to is the homepage of D2L. Here you'll find a listing of courses that are available to you, as well as listings of help information. Take a look at the image below to get an idea of the features of the D2L homepage.

Image of the D2L homepage with the following areas highlighted: course selector, email and alerts, account settings, help links, list of courses, and TN eCampus information.

Click to view image of the D2L homepage in a new window.

Supported Browsers for D2L Brightspace

For an optimal experience that offers better performance, accessibility, and security, D2L recommends that all users access Brightspace with the latest version of a supported browser.

Desktop/Laptop Computers

Brightspace is supported on the following desktop platforms with the latest browser versions:

Platform

Apple® Safari®

Google® Chrome™ Microsoft® Edge Mozilla® Firefox®
Apple® Mac OS® Yes Yes Yes Yes
Microsoft® Windows® Not Applicable Yes Yes Yes

Tablets and Mobile Devices

Brightspace is supported on the following tablets and mobile devices with the latest browser versions:

Platform

Apple® Safari®

Google® Chrome™ Microsoft® Edge Mozilla® Firefox®
Apple® iOS® for iPhone® and iPad® Yes Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable
Android™ OS for Android phones and tablets Not Applicable Yes Not Applicable Not Applicable

Note: By default, most browsers automatically update to the latest version. To ensure you are always running the latest browser version, D2L recommends that you set your browser to auto-update. Additionally, Brightspace requires your browser to enable both JavaScript and cookies.

About Chromebooks

Google supports Chromebooks six years after the initial release of the device, regardless of purchase date. D2L recommends knowing when Google’s Auto Update Expiration is set to occur for your device. This can be found by referring to Google Approved ChromeOS devices and searching for your device.

When Google’s support ends, Chrome will no longer update and no further updates to features, performance, or security will occur, and after will fall into Legacy followed by Unsupported browser coverage. D2L’s Legacy browser support is covered below. If Chrome support on the Chromebook has expired, there is an option to install an alternate browser like Edge (via Play Store) or Firefox (instructions available). In this situation, a ChromeOS version of 80 or higher is required.

Retro and legacy browsers

D2L moves browsers onto the Retro or Legacy list twice a year in January and July. When this occurs,  a notification begins appearing in Brightspace to prompt the user to update their browser.

You can still access Brightspace with either Retro or Legacy browsers; however, you may encounter unexpected user interface behavior and appearance or broken and unsupported functionality.

Using a browser below the latest update threshold prompts the message "Your browser is looking a little retro". The browsers currently include:

  • Chrome 112+ (released March 2023)

  • macOS Safari 16+ (released September 2022)

  • Android Chrome 107+ (released October 2022)

  • iOS Safari 16+ (released September 2022)

  • Firefox 112+ (released April 2023)

If you use a Legacy Browser, you may have difficulty accessing parts of Brightspace if your browser is not up to date. This prompts the message "Unsupported Browser" when logging in. Browsers older than these receive legacy messaging:

  • Chrome 74 (released April 2019)

  • macOS Safari 13 (released September 2019)

  • Firefox 67 (released May 2019)

  • Chrome OS Chrome 74 (released April 2019)

  • iOS Safari 13 (released September 2019)

  • Android Chrome 74 (released April 2019)

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my browser is outdated?

  • Chrome: Navigate to the menu → Help → About Google Chrome
  • Firefox: Navigate to Help → About Firefox
  • Safari: Navigate to the Safari menu → About Safari
  • Edge: Navigate to Settings and more → Settings → About Microsoft Edge

These screens display the browser version number, and informs you if it is the latest version. Depending on the browser, it may give you the option to update your browser.

What steps should I take if my browser is outdated?

  • On a desktop/laptop computer, you can update your browser from the screen that shows you if your browser is updated (refer to the question above). 
  • On a tablet/mobile device, navigate to the App Store or Play Store, navigate to the Updates section, and select your browser.

Will I receive a warning if my browser is going to no longer be supported by Brightspace?

Brightspace provides a warning during login if the browser is on either Legacy or Unsupported list.

How to create a content module

Organize your course materials by creating content modules. Think of these modules as “folders” that can group together files and D2L activities (such as Assignments, Discussions, or Quizzes). 


file is in PDF format How to create a content module


  1. In your D2L course, click on Content.
  2. Under the “Table of Contents” area on the left side of the screen, click on Add a Module…  
    Image of the "Add a module" text field.
  3. Type a name for the module (e.g. Module 1, Chapter 7 or Week Three) and then press the Enter (or Return) key on your keyboard.
  4. The module will be created. Optionally, set the following settings for the new module:
    • You may add date restrictions to this module. (Start and End dates will determine when the module is visible to the student.)
    • You may create a release condition for the module information. (Release conditions determine if a task should be completed before this module is visible to students.)
    • Lastly, you can add a description for the module to aid students in understanding the content or assignments you have included.

NOTE:  It is recommended that modules be developed as if you were creating a lesson plan. Consider all of the elements -- including assessments and supporting documents -- that are needed in order for students to successfully complete that lesson, and place them within the module.

How to delete a module

Note: Deleting a module deletes all topics within that module.

  1. On the navbar, click on Course Materials and select Content.

  2. In the Table of Contents panel, click the module or topic you want to delete.

  3. If you are deleting a module, click Delete Module from the module's context menu. If you are deleting a topic, click Delete Topic from the topic's context menu.

  4. Decide whether you want to remove the module or topic from the Content view only or permanently delete the module or topic from the course (this will also delete all associated objects including discussions, quizzes, etc).

  5. Click Delete.

How to upload file to a content module

  1. In your D2L course, click on Course Materials and select Content.

  2. Click on the content module where you want to add the file.

  3. Click the blue Upload/Create button.
    Image of the "Upload Files" option in the content area.

  4. Choose whether you’re uploading a file from My Computer or Course Offering Files (if it has been uploaded to this D2L course before).

  5. Click the Upload button to locate the file OR drag the file to the dotted rectangle.

  6. When you see the filename listed within the "Add a File" window, click the blue Add button.

How to create a file for a content module

Webpage files can be created within the Content area.

  1. In your D2L course, go to the content module where you want to add the file.
    • Click on Content  on the course navigation (navbar).
    • Click on the content module name or click on “Add a Module…” to create a new content module.
  2. Click the blue Upload/Create button.
  3. Choose the Create a File option from the drop-down menu.
     

  4. Click the blue Upload/Create button.
    Image of the "Upload Files" option in the content area.

  5. Choose whether you’re uploading a file from My Computer or Course Offering Files (if it has been uploaded to this D2L course before).

  6. Click the Upload button to locate the file OR drag the file to the dotted rectangle.

  7. When you see the filename listed within the "Add a File" window, click the blue Add button.

How to create, edit and delete an announcement

Announcements allow you to post information and instructions to your students. Think of this space as you speaking to the whole class in the classroom. 

Create an announcement

  1. Click on a D2L course. You will be taken to the course home page.

  2. Click the drop-down arrow to the right of Announcements.

  3. Select the option New Announcement.
    Image of the "New Announcement" option.

  4. Enter a Headline for the announcement.

  5. (Optional) Check the option to "Display Author Information."

  6. Use the Content text area to compose the message to students.

  7. Set the Start and End Dates for the announcement. (These dates determine when the announcement is visible to students.)

  8. (Optional) Add attachments or release conditions for this specific announcement.

  9. Click the blue Publish button to post the announcement.
    The "Save as Draft" option will save the announcement, but leave it in a draft state. The announcement will need to be published in order to be displayed to students. 

Edit or delete an announcement

  1. Click the drop-down arrow to the right of the announcement title

  2. Select Delete or Edit.
    Image of the "Edit" and "Delete" options for announcements.

NOTE:  Selecting the "X" in the upper right corner of an announcement will only dismiss the announcement from your view. Your students can still see this announcement until it is either deleted or expired past your end date setting.

About Assignments

The assignments tool allows students to turn in work directly to the instructor. Assignments eliminate the need for student work to be submitted physically in-person, or through mail, fax, and email methods. As an instructor, the assignment designates a specific area to collect, keep track of, and evaluate student work.

IMPORTANT:  Previously, D2L assignments were known as "Dropbox folders" or simply "Dropbox." However, this term is no longer utilized by the platform.  

What file types can students submit to assignments?

For file submission type assignments, students can submit the following files:

Text documents:

  • Word (.doc, .docx),
  • Rich Text Format (.rtf),
  • PowerPoint (.ppt, .pps, .pptx, .ppsx),
  • Excel (.xls, .xlsx),
  • Text (.txt),
  • OpenDocument (.odt, .odp)

Image files:

  • .jpg, .jpeg,
  • .png,
  • .tif, .tiff

Note: Files created using the Apple program Pages (.pages) can be submitted to an assignment, but will not display in the Assignments document viewer when the instructor is ready to evaluate. It is recommended that students export (save) Pages files as either a Word or PDF file before submitting.

IMPORTANT:  Students need to be sure their file name does not contain special characters (such as  ” * / : % # $ @ ! < > ? \ | –).

Please know that if the name of the file contains a special character, students may see an error message that states, "Oops, your file could not be uploaded." If this error occurs, please have the student change the name of the file to only contain letters and numbers, followed by the file extension (i.e. ".docx" or ".pdf"). 

How to create an assignment


file is in PDF format How to create an assignment


  1. In your D2L course, click on Assignments on the course navigation (navbar).
  2. Click the blue New Assignment button.

  3. Enter a Name for the assignment.

  4. If the assignment is for a numerical grade, enter a points value in the Grade Out Of field.
    Note: the status will change from “Ungraded” as soon as you click on the box.

    • After you enter the total amount of points for this assignment, a corresponding grade item (a column in Grades) will be created at the same time.

    • If you need to link this assignment to an existing grade item, set it to not appear in Grades, OR change the assignment back to ungraded, click on In Grade Book for these options.

  5. Enter a Due Date for this assignment. 
    Note: students will be able to submit to this assignment after the due date with a “late” designation.

  6. Enter Instructions for this assignment in the provided text area.

  7. On the right-hand side, click on the Availability Dates & Conditions area to expand.

  8. Enter the Start Date and End Date for the assignment. These dates determine the window of time students can submit.

  9. If needed, specify any Release Conditions or Special Access for this assignment. 

  10. On the right-hand side, click on the Submission & Completion area to expand.

  11. Select an Assignment Type: Individual assignment or Group assignment

  12. Select a Submission type:

    • For File submissions, set the number of Files Allowed Per Submission and the Submission rules.

    • For Text submissions, set the Submission rules.

    • For On paper submission, set Marked as completed to one of the available options:  Manually by learners, Automatically on evaluation, or Automatically on due date.

    • For Observed in person assignments, set Marked as completed to one of the available options: Manually by learners, Automatically on evaluation, or Automatically on due date.

  13. On the right-hand side, click on the Evaluation & Feedback area to expand.

    • To associate a rubric to the assignment, click Add Rubric. You have the options to Create New or Add Existing D2L rubrics to this assignment. 

    • Click the Manage Turnitin setting to enable the Similarity Report and Online Grading features of Turnitin for this assignment if it is a file submission. (Do not enable Turnitin if students are submitting a D2L ePortfolio presentation.) 

  14. When ready, click Save and Close to finish creating the assignment.

How to add special access to an assignment

How to create a discussion forum or topic

Discussions are a great tool to use to have students talking about a subject matter together.

The following steps demonstrate how to create a discussion forum or topic. Keep in mind that a forum is a way to group one or more topics. Every discussion topic must be associated with a forum.

  1. In your D2L course, click on Discussions on the course navigation (navbar).

  2. Click on the blue New button

  3. Select either New Forum or New Topic

  4. Enter the Title, Description, and availability Start / End dates

  5. Select the Display in Calendar option

  6. If it is a new forum then select Save and Add Topic to complete the topic setup form

  7. On the "Assessment" tab for a topic, select or create a New Grade Item and enter the Score out of input

How to create a quiz

The Quizzes tool enables you to create and manage points-measured tests. A quiz can be a timed assessment that includes multiple-choice, true or false, matching, fill-in-the-blank, and/or written response (essay) type questions.

How to add accommodations and special access to a quiz

At times it may be necessary to grant one or more students a different set of parameters for a quiz than the other students in the class. The following steps will walk you through setting those quiz parameters.

EXAMPLE:  The instructor is notified that a student has registered with the Office of Disability Services and needs extended time on a test. In this scenario, the time for all quizzes can be adjusted at once through the D2L Classlist.

How to add time accommodations to all quizzes for one student

  1. In your D2L course, click on Tools.
  2. Select Classlist.
  3. Locate the student needing time accommodations. Click to the right of the student's name and select Edit Accommodations on the drop-down menu.

EXAMPLE:  A student was unable to take the quiz and the instructor is allowing the student to take the quiz at a later date. In this scenario, editing the quiz to set "special access" will allow the quiz to be available to the specific student.

How to add special access to an individual quiz

  1. In your course, click on Quizzes.

  2. Click on the name of the quiz to which you'll be giving special access.

  3. Expand the Availability Dates & Conditions section on the right-hand side.

  4. Click on the Manage Special Access link.
    Image of the "Manage Special Access" button

  5. Make sure the "Allow selected users special access to this quiz" button is selected (this is the default option.)

  6. Click the Add Users to Special Access button.
    Image of the option to add users to special access.

  7. Set the special access that you want to grant (i.e. adjust the availability dates).
    If needed, you also have the options to adjust the timing and the number of attempts.

  8. Scroll down and check the box next to the name of the student(s) who will have special access to the quiz.

  9. Click the Save button at the bottom of the screen.

  10. You'll return to the Special Access page. Verify that the student(s) has now been listed with the updated quiz settings.

  11. Click the Save and Close button.

  12. You'll return to editing the quiz. Notice the new indication that a user (or users) can submit outside of normal availability dates.
    Notice of 1 user with special access.

  13. Click the Save and Close button to save your changes.

How to setup your gradebook

The Grades Setup Wizard will walk you step-by-step through the process of setting up your gradebook.


file is in PDF format How to setup grades


  1. In your D2L course, click on Grades on the course navigation (navbar).
  2. Click the Setup Wizard option (if you are not automatically taken there).
    Image of the Grades navbar with Setup Wizard selected.
  3. Review the current settings. Then, scroll down and click the blue Start button.
  4. Step 1 of 7: Select between a “Weighted” grading scale or a “Points” grading scale.  
    Keep in mind that you will designate the weight percentages or the point values when you create your grade items and categories.
  5. When ready, click the blue Continue button.
  6. Step 2 of 7: Select whether you will release the “Calculated Final Grade” or the “Adjusted Final Grade” to students.  
  7. You can also choose to “Automatically release final grade” to students. 
  8. When ready, click the blue Continue button. 
  9. Step 3 of 7: Select to either “Drop ungraded items” or “Treat ungraded items as 0 (zero).”

    IMPORTANT: 
    If you choose “Drop ungraded items,” be sure to enter zeros (0) for those students who do not earn a grade for a specific grade item. With this setting enabled, D2L will not include any “blank” grade items in the grade calculation. 

  10. When ready, click the blue Continue button. 
  11. Step 4 of 7: Choose the Default Grade Scheme.
    “Percentage” is the default grade scheme and will be the only one listed unless you create an additional grade scheme. 
  12. When ready, click the blue Continue button. 
  13. Step 5 of 7: Designate the number of decimals places to display to you the instructor.
    The default value is 2.
  14. When ready, click the blue Continue button. 
  15. Step 6 of 7: Student View Display Options.
    On this step, you can designate the settings for when students view their grades.
    • Points grade: Determines if students see the point value earned for a grade item.
    • Weighted grade: Determines if students see the weighted percentage value for a grade item. (Option only available if a Weighted grading scale was chosen in Step 1.)
    • Grade scheme symbol: Determines if students see the percentage value of a grade item. (For instance, if a student earned 90 out of 100, the student would see 90%.)
    • Grade scheme color: Determines if students see a grade item’s color associated with the grade scheme. 
    • Decimals Displayed: You can decide how many decimals to show the students.
    • Characters Displayed:  If using a “Text grade item,” set the number of characters to display for students.
    • Final Grade Calculation: Determines whether or not students can view how the final grade was calculated.
  16. When ready, click the blue Continue button. 
  17. Step 7 of 7: Summary. Review the settings you chose, then scroll down and click the blue Finish button when ready.
  18. After completing the Setup Wizard, you will then be directed to create grade items and categories.

How to create a grade item


file is in PDF format How to create a grade item


  1. If you have just finished completing the Setup Wizard, click the link to Create a New Grade Item.
    – OR – 
    Within the Grades area, click the option Manage Grades, then select the blue New button and choose Item.
    Image of the option to create a new grade item on the Manage Grades page.
  2. Next, choose the type of grade item to create. The majority of the time you will be selecting “Numeric.”
    • Numeric – for when assigning a value out of a specified total (e.g., 25/30 points).
    • Selectbox – use this option to assign a letter grade (A-F) or Complete/Incomplete grade scheme.
    • Pass/Fail – the best choice for when you’re using a simple pass/fail grade scheme.
    • Calculated – for when you want a cumulative total across multiple grade items.
    • Text – best to use when entering comments in the gradebook.
  3. Enter a Name for the item.
    (Optional) Enter a short name for your view only to abbreviate the item.
  4. If the grade item belongs to a category, choose the Category from the drop-down menu or create a New Category.
  5. Enter the Maximum Points a student can earn for this item.
    • If using a “Weighted” grading scale, also enter the weight for this item. Note that this option will be grayed out if a category was chosen that is set to distribute the weight evenly or by points. 
      • Please keep in mind that all items within a category must sum to 100% for the category. 
      • In the following example, the “Tests” category is worth 40% of the course grade. 
      • With four tests within the “Tests” category, each individual test is worth 25%.
        Weighted example showing a "Tests" category worth 40% of the course grade and 4 tests within the category worth 25% each.
  6. (Optional) Select the following options if they are needed for this specific grade item.
    • Can Exceed – check this option if a student can earn more than the maximum points.
    • Bonus – check this option if this grade item is for extra credit.
    • Exclude from Final Grade Calculation – check this option if this grade item should not be utilized in the calculation for the course grade.
  7. (Optional) Adjust the grade scheme to be utilized. For the majority of the time, the default (percentage) grade scheme is what is needed.
  8. (Optional) Add a D2L rubric to the grade item. 
  9. (Optional) Adjust the display options of this specific grade item for the students and/or yourself. For the majority of the time, the default display settings are utilized. 
  10. Click the blue Save and Close button to finish creating the grade item.
    (Repeat this process if additional grade items are needed.)

How to create a grade category

Categories are used to group grade items (columns) together. Example categories would be: Tests, Assignments, Homework, Project, etc.


file is in PDF format How to create a grade category


  1. If you have just finished completing the Setup Wizard, click the link to Create a New Grade Item.
    – OR – 
    Within the Grades area, click the option Manage Grades, then select the blue New button and choose Item.
  2. Enter a Name for the category.
    (Optionally) Enter a short name for your view only to abbreviate the category.
  3. If using a Weighted grading scaled, enter the Weight (Percentage) for this category. 
    (For example, if Tests are 40% of your course grade, enter “40” for the Tests category.)
  4. Distribution: 
    • If using the “Points” grading scale, selecting the option Distribute points across all items will allow you to designate the Points per item. 
      • This will also allow enable the option to drop the highest or lowest grade item within the category. Simply enter the number of grade items to drop (for example, enter a “1” to drop only one lowest non-bonus grade item.”
         
    • If using the “Weighted” grading scale, determine how the weights for each grade item within the category will be distributed:  Manually, By Points, or Weight Evenly.
      • If the option to Distribute weight evenly across all items is chosen, you also have the option to drop the highest or lowest grade item within the category. Simply enter the number of grade items to drop (for example, enter a “1” to drop only one lowest non-bonus grade item.” 
         
  5. Click the blue Save and Close button to finish creating the category.
    (Repeat this process if additional categories are needed.)

How to delete grade items and categories

  1. Click on Grades on the course navbar.
  2. Select the Manage Grades option.
  3. Click on the More Actions button.
  4. Select Delete.
  5. Place a checkmark next to the items to delete.
  6. Click the Delete button at the bottom of the window.

Note: If you are unable to place a checkmark next to a grade item, this is an indication that the grade item is associated with an activity in D2L (such as an assignment, discussion, or quiz.) You will need to edit the activity and remove the associated grade item before you can delete the grade item from the Grades area. 

How to reorder grade items and categories

  1. Click on Grades on the course navbar.
  2. Select the Manage Grades option.
  3. Click on the More Actions button.
  4. Select Reorder.
  5. Change the sort order using the numbered drop-down menus to the right of the grade items/categories.
  6. Click the Save button at the bottom of the window.

How to view evaluation survey results


file is in PDF format How to view evaluation survey results


  1. Login to D2L and click on one of your courses to open it.
    Note: Any course you are teaching can be opened. It does not need to be the section that received the survey.

  2. On your D2L course’s homepage, scroll down to locate My Surveys. Click the blue Click here to access course evaluation information and results link.
    My Surveys area with the link to access course evaluation information and results.
     

  3. You will then be directed to Watermark’s Course Evaluations and Surveys dashboard with a list of recent survey projects.

    • Note:
      The Watermark homepage/dashboard has a limit and can only list the 10 most recent surveys. To view surveys not displayed on this page, click the Results option at the top and select Project Results. 
      Image of the Results menu with the Project Results option highlighted.
       

  4. Click on the link for the project you wish to view (i.e. “Fall 2023 Student Evaluation of Faculty). 

  5. A list of courses that received the survey will be displayed under Project Results. To view the available reports for an individual course section, click on the download icon (download icon), located to the right of the course name (under the Report heading).
    List of project results with the download icons highlighted.
     

  6. Select the desired report:
    Image of the report options.
     

  7. A Generating Report notification will appear and the PDF file of the report will be downloaded to your computer.