Written by Catrina Ascenuik & Shayne Fogle, Instructional Designers from D2L's Learning and Creative Services.
This article outlines the differences between Brightspace's content experiences (Classic vs. New Content), to help you make the right decision on which one to use in your course.
D2L offers two (and a half) different experiences in Brightspace. In this article, we are going to discuss the different experiences within Brightspace to help you decide which one is best for you, and try to answer some frequently asked questions about the New Content view.
When setting up a new course, choosing between the Classic and New Content views will be one of the first decisions you are faced with. It can be confusing and even overwhelming if you don’t have all the information. We’ll do our best to explain the differences and equip you with all the information you’ll need to make an informed selection about which view will be most suitable for your purposes. We’ll compare and contrast the two and will point out some of the advantages for each.
What’s great is that you can actually play with both experiences and determine which is best for you.
I’m sorry, what’s your name?
One of the most confusing things that educators and designers have come across when looking up material regarding the experiences are the naming conventions. There have been different names for all experiences, so first, we are going to clarify those terms for you.
Classic Content, also known as Legacy or just Content, is the experience that is the original from Brightspace. If you’ve been using Brightspace for several years, you’ve been working in Legacy. The content in the classic view is referred to as modules.
New Content is also referred to as Lessons. Within New Content, while the view never changes from an instructor perspective, there are two options from the student perspective. The first is for learners to simply see the same view as the instructor, however, there is the possibility for learners to also view content in the New Learner view (hence the two and a half). This is controlled by the administrators. The content in the new experience is referred to as units.
Here’s a quick look at what you’ll see in the content section of each.
New Content/Learner View
How do I navigate in each view?
This is most easily explained with a chart. Consider the navigation options of the sidebar which is clearly visible at the left side of the page, breadcrumb which shows various levels of the organization, and arrows for easy clickability.
**It is important to note that while in Lessons the sidebar is the same as the table of contents, in the classic and new learner experiences these function separately and both the sidebar and the table of contents are present.
- Can only navigate through sidebar items, but no preview window is available
- Once the content file is clicked, a new page opens and the sidebar is hidden until the learner wants to pop it out
- Can also navigate course content through breadcrumb trail located above the content (ex. Table of Contents > Module 1 > Lesson 1)
- Arrows at top and bottom of page
New Content / Lessons
- Is always present and needs to be used to move through content
- Any submodules display in the TOC below the selected module
New Content / Learner View
- No sidebar is visible until clicked to access, and all content appears in the middle of the screen
- Arrows at top of the page
How do I organize and set up my course?
If you’re a first-time course creator, Lessons is more intuitive and most new users find it simple to use. This is a result of the clear graphics such as a very prominent “make visible” toggle, visual icons, and a simple “create new” button to create new units, lessons, folders and materials.
- Select +New Unit
- Select Create New
- Select New Lesson.
Once you’ve created a new lesson when you select “Create New” from within that lesson, the icon will change to “New Folder”, and from within the folder it will show as “HTML Document”.
- Modules, Submodules and Material, which includes documents, HTML pages, external links, and internal tools such as discussion boards and checklists (capable of having as many layers of submodules as needed)
- Not colour-coded
**Recommended to keep it at module level to make it easier for student navigation.
- Units, Lessons, Folders, Material, which includes the same list of possibilities as in classic content (can’t go more than 4 layers deep)
- Colour-coded within a unit (same colour family but different shading for each layer of lesson and folder)
** Recommended to keep it at the unit level to make it easier for student navigation.
Which features are unique to each experience?
One factor that may persuade you to choose one experience over the other are the different features that are offered within each experience.
Start/End/Due Date Restrictions
In Classic Content, you can add start, end, and due date restrictions to each page added to the Content. This feature is also available in Lessons if the new Edit pages are enabled. For more information, refer to New Content Experience: Content Is Getting A Refresh.
In Classic Content, there is an Overview page automatically embedded into the experience. Though this does not exist in Lessons, there is the option to add widgets including Welcome and Meet your Instructor among many others. The widgets are also available in Classic view.
In Classic and New Learner, you can track module completion; however, tracking is not available for Lessons at this time.
In Classic Content, the user has the ability to search and bookmark content, while in New Learner and Lessons this is not possible.
In Classic view, the headings are on the sidebar, and the pages are accessed directly from there; however, in New Content, there is a title page visible with a description of what the module or folder is about. There is the option to add images and text descriptions here which creates the need for extra thought and organization when being designed but also adds a level of clarity for the learner. To achieve this same effect in Classic view, the course designer would need to add an extra HTML page at the start of each section or have them appear before the list of topics, activities and assessments for the module when selected from the table of contents; it would not actually have a separate module description page as is seen in New Content.
Which experience suits my course?
For users in K-12 and our Corporate clients, New Content is often the preferred view as it is clean and simple from the learner perspective. For higher ed. users who are more familiar with Classic Content, they may have better utilization of the release conditions and restrictions options for releasing content. Ultimately, the decision is based on user preference as all views have their advantages.
Please check out our next article, coming soon, to get more information on creating and editing HTML pages within each content experience.
One very comprehensive site detailing everything about the New Content Experience that you may consider taking a look at was created by Eastern Illinois University.