Written by Peter Gibbon, Instructional Designer in D2L's Learning and Creative Services
Some Brightspace users gravitate toward a self-driven, ongoing-enrollment model for courses. They may not necessarily view a Brightspace course shell as a good place to rally participants from disparate places or organizations and collaborate within a single course shell. For example, perhaps multiple universities are using Brightspace as a place for students to collaborate and organize campaigns.
In this case, Brightspace acts more like a hub where key content can live, learners have a Calendar to organize their assignments with due dates, and learners can participate in group discussions. This gives distributed individuals the opportunity to collaborate, but what if the distributed learners are associated with multiple institutions, and their enrollment is semestered? In this scenario, we might have multiple sections of the same course participating in the same course shell. What tools are available to instructors if there are more than one instructor in a course? How can you provide differentiated learning to students across organizations and maintain continuity for the entire course? What tools and settings are available within Brightspace that promote complexity in course design? And how can we maintain an accessible, flattened navigation experience but add dimension to our delivery?
If more than one instructor is grading within a single course shell, they may need to create Assignments for learners within their course shell but restrict the visibility of those assignments to avoid confusing students under the supervision of other instructors. There are two ways that instructors can differentiate the visibility and availability of Assignments for students. These involve “special access” settings in the Assignments tool or assigning student roles and release conditions.
Option 1: Using Special Access with Assignments Tool
To restrict assignment folders to a specific group of learners within a single course shell, one option is to restrict access to your specific section of learners enrolled in the course. This is possible through the “Availability Dates & Conditions (Special Access)” tab in the Assignment tool itself. Here are some instructions for managing access to Assignments:
- When setting up an Assignment, select the Availability Dates & Conditions tab.
Figure: Step 1.
- Under Special Access select the link that reads Manage Special Access.
Figure: Step 2.
- In the Manage Special Access dialog box select the option Allow only users with special access to see this folder.
Figure: Step 3.
- Select a specific user under the Users section. You can view by Users or view by Groups.
Figure: Step 4.
It’s important to note that the Availability Dates & Conditions menu in the Assignments tool is more dynamic than simply creating custom start and end dates for this content. If you need it, this gives you the ability to customize Assignments down to the individual learner, if necessary. For example, if you have a need to level Assignments within the same course shell, you could use this option and create more or less challenging Assignments for a segment of your course. You could also use these options to create extra credit, add extensions, or create make-up assignments for students trying to improve their grades or catch up after falling behind.
Option 2: Using Roles with Assignments Tool
You can also use Release Conditions and Roles to restrict access/visibility to Assignments. Administrators would have to create a specific role for students, then change the “role” of a user based on conditions you create for your Assignments. If you create a role and assign that role to users or groups in your course, you can then add a Release Condition in the Availability Dates & Conditions section of the assignment. The Criteria would be “enrolled as” and the role would match the role the administrator created for students. There are other condition types under Classlist that may meet your needs as well.
There are dimensions to Brightspace courses and the Assignments tool that you may not be aware of that can be an asset to any type of moderated course. Exploring elements of Assignments, Enrollment and Conditions can give you the ability to level, segment, and target learning for any type of organization. You just need the knowledge to use it!
- Create group work areas for learners: an overview of a function of the “groups” element, which allows you to create “work areas” and achieve differentiation
- Restrict a forum or topic to specific groups or sections: This is instructions on how to customize Discussions for specific groups within a section.