Get to know your way around Brightspace by familiarizing yourself with some of the most common tasks your company needs to do when building courses in Brightspace.
Whether you're already familiar with Brightspace and want to know how to extend your use of Brightspace features an tools, or you're brand new to Brightspace and need some help getting started, the information on this page is right for you!
The information in this topic is most relevant to corporate customers using Brightspace for their organization's internal learning programs or extended enterprise learning.
This article maps some of the functionalities available to customers through different Brightspace features and tools. We help you link common tasks to Brightspace features and tools that can help you accomplish the task, Then, we provide some How to resources that will help you learn to use the tools that you think might best help you.
When talking about the Brightspace platform, there are a few key terms that we use frequently to talk about the kinds of courses and learning activities you might be designing and building in the learning environment and to talk about the kinds of people that typically work and/or interact with the platform.
Here is a list of a few key terms that you should be familiar with:
Course: A course in Brightspace is a shared online workspace in the learning environment. A course can take many forms, depending on your organization's learning needs.
Learner: Anyone who participates in a learning experience.
Content Creators: Anyone who is responsible for creating or curating content for a course. Content creators may be employees across your organization and tend to be instructional designers, subject matter experts, or learning and development professionals.
Course managers: People whose role it is to manage specific courses in the learning environment. Course managers don’t necessarily create the content; their role is to oversee courses, ensuring your organization’s learning program is accurate, up-to-date, and meeting the learning needs of your organization’s workforce.
Facilitators: People who support learners as they participate in learning experiences. Facilitators provide feedback and moderate discussions.
System Administrators: People who manage the technical side of the learning platform. System administrators might be from your IT department and might manage more than one software platform for your organization.
Note: Depending on the size of your organization, one person may take on more than one of the content creator, course manager, facilitator, and/or system administrators roles.
I'm just getting started. What are the foundational elements of Brightspace?
Let's start with getting you familiar with the foundational elements of the Brightspace platform so that you know how to navigate in Brightspace and how to get the information and learning materials you want into the learning environment.
To build your course site, you need to know how to find the things you need. A navigation bar is available at the top of the page that contains links to tools and materials that managers, facilitators and learners will use in your course.
Hot Tip: Use the Course Admin navbar link to access all the tools available to build and maintain a course.
Homepages and Widgets
Create a homepage for your organization, and for each individual course offered. Consider adding widgets to a homepage that put the information you want you learners to see right upfront!
Hot Tip: The most common components to add to a course-level homepage are the Activity Feed widget and the Content widget.
Use the Content tool to build the framework for your course site. Set up folders and sub-folders (modules) to organize your learning materials. You can import/export course components from previous versions of a course, drag and drop content from 3rd party tools like Google Docs, create new content with the HTML editor, and create learning activities like assignments, discussions, or quizzes.
Engage your learners through communication and social learning
Make Brightspace the center of your workplace learning culture and ensure that learners feel like they play an important role in their learning journeys by using communication tools like Announcements, Activity Feed, Discussions and Calendars to distribute information, connect employees to the larger organization, and promote a sense of community across the entire organization.
“Through this new modern learning approach, associate proficiency is accelerating. Engagement is strong.” - Daniel Hinojosa, Senior Manager, PI L&D Transformation Architect / E2E learner experience, Fidelity Investments
Do you need a way to make company-wide announcements without any interactive elements? Using the announcements tool is a convenient method to cascade company communications in large organizations.
Hot Tip: Announcements are most commonly used at the organization-level, not at the course-level.
Activity feed provides an informal, interactive, social-media like way to share information in a course - both facilitators and learners can author activity feed posts and write comments on posts.
Hot Tip: Activity feed is most commonly used at the course-level.
Discussions is a tool for learners to discuss course materials in an organized way, moderated by a course manager or facilitator. Course managers or facilitators create create discussion posts to ask questions and learners reply. Discussion forums are a safe and controlled environment where communication can occur between employees and leadership or other cross-functional teams.
Hot tip: You can set up discussion forums for all learners enrolled in a course, or for specific groups of learners.
Add the calendar widget to your course homepage so learners can see what events are coming up at the departmental level or company-wide. The calendar will automatically display anything that has assigned availability dates when you added it in content.
If providing your learners with learning experiences tailored to each learner is important to you, consider using these tools to accelerate onboarding and fast-track skills development. With personalized learning, every employee is enabled to do the best work of their lives by providing learning that works for everyone.
“Compared to our last LMS, there’s now a lot more personalization and engagement between our learners and subject matter experts and a lot more peer-to-peer communication and interaction. That simply wasn’t possible before.” - Nancy Robert, EVP and Chief Product and Marketing Officer, American Nurses Association
Create collections of employees with similar training needs. You can create rules which automatically create groups based on common user attributes, such as Department (such as Human Resources) or Location (10th floor). Alternatively, you can manually create groups based on any corporate need; for example, new hires, first aid responders, or special interest groups within your organization. Within a Learning Group, you can find details about course completion, due dates, and overdue alerts.
Use the Discover tool to allow employees to find the courses that are of greatest interest them and create their own learning path by self-enrolling in courses. Your organization controls which courses appear as available for self-enrollment.
Awards and Badges
Provide merit-based awards to motivate and engage learners as they progress through your course. There are two types of awards: Badges and Certificates. You can automatically award Badges and Certificates based on release condition criteria or you can manually awarded them.
Hot Tip: You can create your own custom badges that reflect your organization’s learning culture and branding.
Use Intelligent Agents to trigger automatic and proactive messages for communication, notification, and feedback. The intelligent agents tool finds activity that matches predetermined criteria, and then automatically triggers an action. For example, you can set up an automated email message containing encouragement, recognition, or feedback to be sent directly to learners, or send an automated email to notify a course manager or facilitator that a learner needs feedback.
Use release conditions to create a custom learning path through the materials in your course. When you attach a release condition to an item, users cannot see that item until they meet the associated condition. For example: attach a release condition to the second topic in your course’s content area that hides that topic until users viewed the first topic; or attach a release condition to a quiz at the end of a module that restricts the start of the next module until the quiz has been attempted.
Add special access for learners who require different access to content or quizzes in your course, For example: use special access to allow a student to submit an assignment after the due date or take more time to complete a quiz.
Monitor Learner Progress
Keeping track of what skills your employees have, and what new skills learners are gaining through participation in the learning environment is important for making the most of your organization’s workforce. Use the tools in this section to monitor your workforce’s skills development and make sure your learning program is meeting the needs of your learners.
“The D2L online courses really help people develop skills quickly—we have seen a 90 percent pass rate on many of the pretest quizzes in each module.” - Michael Barrett, President & CEO, Gay Lea Foods
Manage enrollment and track course completion for teams, organizational groups, cohorts, or individual users.
Create document-based learning activities for learners to practice and demonstrate mastery of the new skills they’re developing.
Develop skills with video assignments, role-plays through simulations, game-based learning, and capturing retrospectives on actual projects.
Build quizzes from a question library or from scratch. The quiz tool allows for many question types including equations, multiple choice, short answer
Create or use existing rubrics to fairly and consistently evaluate a learning activity or item based on a predefined set of criteria. Using Rubrics is beneficial to course managers and facilitators because it streamlines the assessment workflow and creates consistency and transparency in the feedback being delivered. For learners, the benefits come from having visibility into the criteria that will be used to evaluate their work and providing access to feedback directly in the learning environment.
Sset up a grading system for your course and connect it to your course assignments, discussions, and quizzes. It takes a bit of effort to set up the grade book for your course, but once you’re done, the Grades tool records the grades you assign learners for any of the associated learning activities in your course site and calculates each grade contributes to the learner’s final grade. The Grades tool can even record the grades you’ve assigned to learners through Rubrics.
Use the Competencies tool to create competency structures to help you assess users' learning outcomes and determine if they have acquired the intended knowledge, skills, and abilities from a learning experience. Using this method of assessing learners allows you to track which learners have achieved what skills.
Use Data to improve learner success and inform decisions
Data analytics is an exciting area of the Brightspace platform that allows your organization to create reports and data visualizations to analyze what people (course managers, facilitators, and learners) are doing in Brightspace. Typically, these data-related tools are used by your organization’s Brightspace administrators, not by individual course managers and facilitators. To learn more about data and your organization’s Brightspace site, speak to your organization’s Brightspace administrators.
“We were trying to make this a completely data-driven exercise. D2L’s platform will help us do that.” - Stuart Pedley-Smith, CLO, Kaplan Financial
Data Hub combines Brightspace data sets and Advanced Data Sets to provide a picture of all your data from Brightspace. Advanced data sets give a slice of the overall data and a more complete report. You can download Brightspace Data Sets regularly and load them into a data warehouse for use with a Business Intelligence tool by joining them together.
Note: Data Hub is only available to clients clients who have purchased the Brightspace Core package.
Insights contains the Adoption, Engagement, Learner Engagement, and Assessment quality dashboards. Each dashboard is built for mid-level to administrative roles that need to have data visualized across courses or the entire organization.
Note: Brightspace Insights is only available to clients clients who have purchased the Performance+ package.
Not in Corporate?
If you're a Higher Education or K-12 Customer, we have a Mapping Brightspace Functionality article just for you!