Originally published 5-May-2022
The Work To Do Widget
We’re excited to introduce the new Work To Do widget! We know that learners sometimes have a hard time keeping track of what they need to get done. They may need to hop in and out of several courses to determine if there are upcoming assignments or projects with due dates in the near future (or even in the past!).
Figure: An example view of work in the Work To Do widget.
Now all quizzes, assignments, checklists, etc., with due or end dates in the near future or in the past appear in one place on your homepage. Any overdue work will appear at the top of the list, and upcoming items appear below. If there are more than six items available, you’ll have a link to View all work, which takes you to a new page with all recently overdue work and all work for the upcoming year! You’ll never again have to manually create a to-do list of assignments across your different courses.
This can be helpful for students juggling a range of activities in Brightspace each week, but it can also help ground corporate learners who only log in only occasionally. Entire courses with due dates assigned via Learning Groups appear in the widget, in addition to specific quizzes or activities. Regardless of what you’re learning, the clarity on date-based priorities sets you up for success!
Figure: The Work To Do widget appears on an organization homepage.
Q: What permissions are required to use this widget?
A: The Work To Do Widget requires the View Work To Do Widget permission. The org level at which you should enable the permission is determined based on the level of the org structure where the widget is deployed. For example, if you add the widget to the course level home page, then the View Work To Do Widget permission would need to be enabled at the Course Offering level. If you add it to the main organization home page, then the permission must be enabled at the Organization level.
Q. Will the widget display activities that don’t have a Due Date or an End Date?
A. No. The Work To Do Widget specifically displays learning activities with an overdue or upcoming deadline.
Q. Does it always display activities across all Courses?
A. No. The Work To Do Widget displays activities across all courses except when it is placed on a Course Homepage. In this case, it is scoped to display only activities from that course, which allows you to zero in on the tasks at hand.
Q. Does the widget display items that have been completed?
A. No. The focus of this widget is on actionable items, work to do, not work that has been done. With the exception of Modules, once an item has been completed, it will disappear from the widget. If you want a Module to disappear from the widget, we recommend adding an End Date.
Q. Does the widget display all Overdue and Upcoming items? How far back in time and how far into the future does the widget go?
A. By default, it displays overdue items from the past twelve weeks and upcoming items in the next two weeks, with a maximum of 16 weeks . As of the 20.21.11 release of Brightspace, these time ranges can be customized for an org with the following config variables:
- d2l.Tools.WorkToDo.WeekLimit manages the number of weeks to display overdue items up to a maximum of 52 weeks.
- d2l.Tools.WorkToDo.UpcomingWeekLimit manages the number of weeks to display upcoming items to a maximum of 16 weeks.
Regardless of the time range, the widget will display a maximum of 6 items. If additional items are available, they can be seen in the full-screen view via the “View all work” button. On this page, all items with due/end dates for the upcoming year can be seen.
Q. The widget was added to my homepage but I can’t see it. What’s wrong?
A. Most likely, your user role needs the new permission to view the widget. Have an administrator enable this permission for the appropriate roles/orgs via Roles and Permissions > Work To Do > View the Work To Do widget.
Q. The widget appears out of sync with the Content Experience. (E.g. A student has completed an activity, but it still shows in the widget. I’ve added a new items with a date, but it hasn’t appeared in the widget. I’ve updated the date on an activity, but my students are still seeing the original date.) What’s wrong?
A. Allow 2 minutes for updates to appear in the widget, or have learners clear their cache to see updates immediately.
Q. Does it matter which Content Experience I’m using as an instructor?
A. In most cases, no. However, dates are handled slightly differently if you’re using the original Content experience or the New Content Experience (aka Lessons). In the original Content experience, it was possible to assign Due Dates to Discussions and Modules. In the New Content Experience, these dates are no longer supported. Therefore, the widget does not display Discussions with Due Dates. It does display Modules with Due Dates, but Modules are not automatically removed from the widget upon completion.
Q. I know there’s an overdue item, but the learners don’t see it. Why isn’t it showing up in the Overdue section of the widget?
A. There are three reasons an overdue item might not show in the widget. It’s either outside of the range set by the configuration variable (defaulted to 12 weeks in the past); it has been completed by the learner; or its End Date has passed. If an item is overdue, but it also has an End Date that has passed, the item no longer appears as Work to Do. This is true for the End Date of the individual activity or the entire course.
Q. Does the widget support Special Access overrides?
A. Yes. If a student has a different due/end date due to Special Access, the student will see their individual date in the widget.
Q. What if there’s an activity due soon, but it’s start date hasn’t come yet?
A. If the course is active and started but the activity’s start date is in the future, the activity will appear in the Upcoming section of the widget, but it will not be clickable and it will have a label to indicate its start date until the date has arrived. If the entire course has not yet started, the activity will not appear in the widget.
Q. What about Course due dates and end dates?
A. Course end dates do not appear in the widget, but courses with due dates assigned via Learning Groups do appear.
Q. What’s the difference between this widget and how work to do is displayed in Pulse?
A. Pulse displays work to do in a more graphical week-by-week view, and it doesn’t explicitly call out overdue work. Also, Pulse includes Calendar Events in a separate tab, and Pulse allows users to add their own tasks to the work to do view. On Homepages, you’d need to use the separate Calendar and Tasks widgets for these items.
Q. I marked a Module Not Visible to students, or I put a Release Condition on it, but an activity within that module still shows in the widget. What should I do?
A. Add the visibility setting and/or release condition to the individual activity in addition to the module. It is a current limitation that these settings do not cascade down from the module to the activities within it. It is on our longer-term roadmap to address, but in the meantime, these settings must be associated with the individual activity in order for them to be respected in the widget and other tools.
Q. What’s the difference between this widget and how work to do is displayed in Brightspace for Parents?
A. Instead of displaying all work in one widget, Brightspace for Parent separates overdue work at the top of the page in a banner, and upcoming work appears in its own list on the left-hand side of the page. Also, the full-page view in Brightspace for Parents is based on a date range picker, while the full-page view of the widget by default displays all overdue work from the past 12 weeks and all upcoming work in the coming year.
Q. What’s the difference between this widget and other widgets like Updates, Calendar, and Tasks?
A. Each widget has its own unique benefits. For instance, the Updates widget includes items like ungraded assignments and quizzes, making it a more useful tool for instructors, whereas the Work To Do widget is geared towards learners. The Calendar widget does not display course activities with due dates when on the Org Homepage, but it does display activities with due dates when on the Course Homepage. So, the Calendar and Work To Do widgets can live in harmony on the Org Homepage, but they may display some duplicate items when both widgets are on the Course Homepage. And lastly, the Tasks widget shows tasks manually created by the user for the user. Unlike the activities displayed in the Work To Do widget, Tasks are not assigned by an instructor.
Q. How do we get the widget set up?
A. By default, the Work To Do tool is available for all clients on Brightspace Core. To set it up, an administrator just needs to do the following:
- Turn the Work To Do Org Tool to On (this will be done by default for new clients - only existing clients need to manually turn the tool on)
- Add the widget to the desired homepages via Homepage Management.
- Turn on the permission to view the widget for appropriate learner roles.
We hope this new widget helps you stay on top of your work! How do you plan to use the Work To Do widget?