By: Susan Kleisath, Product Manager
Originally published June 2018
History behind why we initially introduced the New Content Experience
Adopting new technology can be a daunting challenge; however, online and hybrid learning has become a reality. A challenge in getting set up online is organizing your course content. One of our customers likened the classic Content experience to “being introduced to math by starting with calculus.” For many instructors and course designers, the rich functionality of our Content experience can feel intimidating and adversely affect LMS adoption overall.
Development of the classic Content experience gradually introduced features used only sparingly; however, these advanced features get the same prominence as features used daily. Features used while planning the course are mixed in with features needed when delivering the course. Over time, this has resulted in long menus, an overload of options always available, and the general feeling of complexity.
The initial design of the New Content Experience focused on simplifying the tool by making only a few key features available, and to ensure creating a collection of content could be done quickly. The simple designs met the initial use case and have helped numerous customers get started, particularly over the last few years.
Where are we now?
New Content Experience is beneficial across all segments for new Brightspace users and users who don’t require all the features available in Classic Content. The clean visual presentation makes it easy to get started.
Instructors can build up their course as they go by creating new pages or using existing activities and resources. The new experience supports the same content types and activities as the classic experience. While building this content, instructors have access to file templates, easy drag-and-drop, and release conditions.
New Content Experience fully supports custom language management for the terms used in New Content and Learner Experiences. For example, in Classic Content, objects are referred to as Modules and Topics, while in New Content, the initial language used was Unit, Lesson, Folder, and Topic. Now, administrators can update the terms Unit, Lesson, and Folder to Module to help instructors already familiar with the previous terminology. Another common example is when creating a new topic. The menu option is HTML Document rather than just a File or Page. Using language management, administrators can adjust the terms as required for your organization to ensure the language used is clear to instructors.
New Content Experience includes additional functionality unavailable in the classic Content experience to provide a seamless way to interact with other parts of Brightspace. As content is added to the course, communication to learners highlighting the material can be planned at the same time by posting the content immediately or at a scheduled time to the homepage through Activity Feed. Instructors can also associate topics with Learning Outcomes as part of continuous planning and teaching of the course content and assessments.
Recently, across Brightspace, we introduced new consistent create/edit pages for Assignments, Quizzes, Discussions, and Content topics. The pattern used on this page includes the basic functionality in the primary panel and more advanced functionality in a secondary panel with collapsed categories. Within content, these new pages provide a framework to add functionality from Classic Content into the New Content Experience without introducing complexity.
The features from Classic Content that we have already introduced into the new edit pages today are the ability to set availability (start and end) dates, due dates and managing grade associations for SCORM and LTI topics. Note, the availability dates also control when Units/Topics are made visible to Learners.
A few years ago, the Learner Experience was launched. Administrators can optionally enable this tool for Learners to use in the courses where Instructors use New Content. This view offers value to help learners navigate by presenting an overview of the available content in their course, tracking personal completion, and an immersive reading view so they can focus on the material they need to learn.
What are we currently working on?
As we continue maturing New Content Experience, one key functional limitation is setting the completion type and viewing user completion. Recent features that show the beginning of investment into closing completion limitations:
- January 2023 (20.23.1) - allow Instructors to toggle content activities from being Required or Optional.
- February 2023 (2.23.2) - allow Learners to mark activities as complete in Learner Experience manually.
What is our direction for Completion?
Currently, in Classic Content, there are 3 options for completion ‘Required: Automatic’, ‘Required: Manual’, and ‘Not Required’. Between these 3 options, it functionally defines 2 different settings: 1) If the learner is required to complete the content topic for course completion; 2) How the content topic gets marked as completed.
The January 2023 release introduced the ability for Instructors to decide if Learners are required to complete the activity for course completion or not.
Before we can release the ability to set a topic to require manual completion, we need to provide a way for Learners to mark a topic as manually complete. We introduced this capability into the Learner Experience in the February 2023 release and are working on the steps to introduce this in New Content Experience.
We have also been working on New Display pages - introduced in this blog post:
These New Display pages also include a 'Completion Summary' section for Instructors to monitor learner progress on the activity so that they can provide support and intervention when needed, and launch into evaluation workflows to view and evaluate evidence for one or more learners. Please review our blog post introducing these exciting changes for additional
Before we can release the ability to set a topic to require manual completion, we need to provide a way for Learners to mark a topic as manually complete. We introduced this capability into the Learner Experience in the February 2023 release.
We are continuing to work on building out the New Content Experience functionality. Stay tuned to the release notes and roadmap updates for details on our plans and future changes. As we get closer to releasing additional changes, we will also update this article.
What is the Future?
In 2018, it was announced that our future vision was to extend the functionality of the New Content Experience to be as rich and flexible as the classic Content experience is today and offer new capabilities. We recognize that crucial functionality is still not included in the New Content Experience today. The extended timeframe has resulted in recent questions about the future vision.
After a few years of building and iterating to provide an excellent experience for learners through Learner Experience, we are now actively investing in maturing the New Content Experience. This investment aims to expand the functionality of the tool while maintaining the simple to use designs. This goal will not be a quick task and will continue to take time to ensure we do it right.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question 1: Will we need to switch to New Content, and if so, what is the timeframe when we need to start planning to switch?
All available content experiences are fully supported.
While we have a future dream of reducing the number of content experiences, we have multiple features that need to be addressed first. As a result, there are no timeframes available.
Please be assured that as we continue our journey to mature the New Content Experience, we will provide lots of communication around what those changes are and the direction we are heading. When we get closer to our dream, we recognize that switching in the middle of a semester or year will not be possible for many organizations. We are also aware that a significant number of resources are used and owned by each of our customers that would require updates. We will account for this in any future planning.
What would be beneficial for your organization is to think about which Classic Content features are most crucial. As we continue maturing the new experience, watch for when those features are addressed to re-assess the tool. We also welcome your continued feedback to share the priorities for your organization.
Question 2: What guidelines are available for choosing which experience to use?
The choice of content experience is currently an organization preference. There are a few considerations for administrators to think about when making this decision:
Question 3: Where can I share feedback to help shape what the New Content Experience becomes?
There are a few areas we are reviewing for feedback to help shape the future:
- Product Idea Exchange – Many ideas already exist! Please upvote the items most important to you. As needed, create new ideas to share use cases from your organization to help us ensure they are considered
- Within the Brightspace – If your organization is using New Content Experience in any courses or trialing it on your test environment, users with the ability to toggle between the experiences are prompted to leave feedback if they switch back to the classic content experience
- Through the Account team – If your organization is having a conversation with the account team about content experiences, we welcome feedback on which features are most important