Activity Feed – Date picker change
This feature updates the date picker component in Activity Feed. The new date picker has a more streamlined design and requires slight workflow changes: to clear a date/time, use the Clear option and to set the calendar to the current day, use the Set to Today option.
Figure: The date picker component in Activity Feed prior to the update
Figure: Updated date picker component in Activity Feed for due dates
Figure: The Post Later dialog box in Activity Feed
Note: The Date field in the Post Later dialog box is a mandatory field. There remains to be no option to clear this field. You must set this date to a future date or click Cancel to exit this dialog box.
Assignments – New Assignment Evaluation Experience
The new Assignment Evaluation Experience will default to ON, and the opt-in period has now expired. From August, 2021 on, the new experience will become the default experience.
Assignments – Icons in attachments toolbar
This release updates the attachments toolbar which appears in the evaluation panel on the right side of the new Assignment Evaluation Experience.
Users can now add attachments to their feedback from QuickLinks, web links, Google Drive, and OneDrive using the new icons in the toolbar. Previously, users could only add attachments by uploading a file from their computer, recording an audio note, or recording a video note.
This change aligns the attachments toolbar in the new Assignment Evaluation Experience with the attachments toolbar in the new Create and Edit Assignment Experience.
ePortfolio is a “new” tool returning to Avenue to Learn. As part of our package to license Avenue to Learn, McMaster University also has a license for Brightspace ePortfolio. We envision that this tool will help give students a place to reflect, think and document their learning while at McMaster.
Brightspace ePortfolio is a personal portfolio tool for storing, organizing, reflecting on, and sharing items that represent your learning. You can include items such as documents, graphics, audio files, videos, presentations, and course work to demonstrate your improvement or mastery in certain areas.
You can control what items you want to include in your portfolio, how they are organized, and who you want to share them with. When you share items with your peers, mentors, or potential employers, you can give them permission to view items, edit items, see or add comments, and see or add assessments to receive feedback.
Learning Environment – Supported Browsers
As an update to previous deprectated browser warnings, the warning banner for legacy Edge has been removed on Aug 1st and replaced with a “your browser is unsupported” page with a Your browser is looking a little retro… pop-up message.
D2L, the vendor and developer of Avenue to Learn, recommends using Avenue to Learn with an up-to-date browser that provides robust support for all features. If you are using a legacy browser, a pop-up message appears directing you to update your browser, change to a supported browser, or dismiss the message.
Currently, the browser version check displays a warning for versions previous to:
- Chrome 90
- Chrome OS Chrome 90
- Mobile Chrome 90
- Safari 14
- Mobile Safari 14
- Firefox 88
- Chromium-based Microsoft Edge 90
Figure: The Your browser is looking a little retro… pop-up message.
The following message appears if you are using one of the following browsers (or older):
- Chrome 67 (released March 2018)
- macOS Safari 12 (released September 2018)
- Firefox 67 (released May 2019)
- Chrome OS Chrome 67 (released Mar 2018)
- iOS Safari 11 (released September 2017)
- Android Chrome 67 (released Mar 2018)
Figure: Legacy support tier/really prominent warning.
If you are using Legacy Edge (older than version 79) or Microsoft Internet Explorer 11, the following message appears:
Legacy Edge (Microsoft Edge versions <79) is now blocked from accessing Brightspace. Cannot proceed at all.
Figure: Blocked support tier warning.
Learning Environment – End of Life for Secondary Window Pop-Ups
This update brings End of Life status to the Show dialogs as pop-ups setting under Username > Account Settings. All secondary windows now open in Dialogs. Historically, this setting was used as an Accessibility accommodation as not all Screen Readers were able to handle dialogs. Modern screen readers provide better support for dialogs.
Brightspace Pulse – Comment on Activity Feed posts
To encourage class engagement, learners can now comment on Activity Feed posts in Brightspace Pulse. Previously, learners could only read Activity Feed posts and comments in Brightspace Pulse.
In Brightspace Pulse, tap the Courses tab, and then tap a course with Activity Feed enabled.
From the Activity Feed tab, tap the post you want to comment on, and then tap Add Comment. A browser opens, displaying the Activity Feed for the course in Brightspace Learning Environment.
Tap the post you want to comment on, add your comment, and then tap Post. Your comment displays.
To close the browser and return to Brightspace Pulse, tap Done.
In Brightspace Pulse, refresh the page to display your comment.
Figure: The new Add Comment button in Brightspace Pulse’s Activity Feed
Brightspace Pulse – View all grades for a course
Learners can now view all grades for a course from a new Grades tab in the course. Previously, learners could only view course grades from notifications in Brightspace Pulse or by opening a browser and navigating to the Grades tool in Avenue to Learn.
To view all grades for a course, tap the Courses tab. Next, tap a course, and then the Grades tab. All received grades for the course display, indicating if feedback is available. To open the Grades tool in a browser and view full grade breakdowns and calculations, tap View Grades in Browser.
To view feedback, tap a grade. The grade and text feedback display. To view details about the associated activity in Avenue to Learn, tap View Activity.
Figure: The new Grades tab for a course in Brightspace Pulse
Figure: A graded activity with feedback in Brightspace Pulse
Brightspace Pulse – View content module descriptions
Learners can now view content module descriptions in Brightspace Pulse. Instructors use module descriptions to communicate vital information to learners about specific course content. Previously, module descriptions were only visible from Avenue to Learn, which may have caused learners to miss important information when accessing courses from Brightspace Pulse.
Discussions – Consistent evaluation experience
This feature updates the user evaluation experience when assessing a topic or an individual learner, allowing instructors to better review and evaluate discussion contributions. The evaluation interface for Discussions has a similar layout as the evaluation experience that is available this month in Assignments.
This feature will be set to be ON (Opt-Out).
This new experience involves a new page layout, with evaluation tools and the post being evaluated displaying side-by-side. Assessment workflows have not changed.
Figure: New evaluation experience for Discussions, with posts and evaluation tools displayed side-by-side.
D2L expects this redesign of Discussions assessment to be completed in December 2021, and at that point, will move to make the design permanent.
Discussions – Improvements to visibility and posting restrictions
For the August 2021/20.21.8 release, a new workflow that makes it easier for instructors to set visibility and posting restrictions for discussion forums and topics will be opt-out. More specifically, this change simplifies date management for discussion activities, offering a more consistent, simplified, and consolidated experience for instructors. All existing settings for visibility and posting restrictions are migrated to the new locations in the Discussions tool. Instructors do not need to make any changes to their new or existing courses.
Once the new workflow is enabled, the following changes are visible to instructors when creating or editing discussion forums and topics:
Note: These changes also affect the Classic Content and Manage Dates tools.
- From the Restrictions tab, the previous Locking Options are now consolidated with the Availability Start Date and End Date options and display as the following new options:
- Visible with access restricted before/after start/end. The topic/forum is visible to learners before/after the start/end date, but they cannot access it. Previously, Classic Content was the only tool to make discussions visible without access.
- Visible with submission restricted before/after start/end. The topic/forum is visible to learners before/after the start/end date and they can access it, but they cannot post new threads or replies. This effectively makes a discussion read-only. Previously, this was accomplished with the lock option or unlock dates.
- Hidden before/after start/end. The topic/forum is hidden from learners until the start/end date. This is a new feature. Calendar events for Availability Starts and Availability Ends are hidden until the start/end date. Notifications are also not sent until the start/end date. Previously, the hidden status of a discussion topic was decided by the tool displaying the topic.
- From the Restrictions tab, the Display in Calendar option is now consolidated with the Availability Start Date and End Date options, which adds the start date and end dates to the calendar. Previously, the tool decided which calendar event should be added to the calendar. With this change, calendar events for availability dates may change and additional events for Availability Start Dates may be added.
- Calendar events for unlocked dates are now hidden from learners.
- Where Discussions and User Progress may have previously hidden a topic or forum when outside of availability dates, those tools now may show them as visible, but inaccessible.
- From Discussion Settings, instructors can now set the default visibility and access behavior for new discussion forums and topics. The defaults can be set at an organization level.
Figure: The new consolidated options for visibility and posting restrictions in the Restrictions tab
Figure: The previous options for visibility and posting restrictions in the Restrictions tab
Figure: The new default options for visibility and posting restrictions in the Discussions Settings
Rubrics – Increased accessibility with labels on radio buttons
To provide a better experience to clients using screen readers, criterion levels now indicate the level name and point value of each radio button when it has the focus. Previously, screen readers only indicated “radio button X out of Y” or “radio button, not selected” depending on whether the focus is on a selected criterion.
In addition, the mobile view of Rubrics now has radio buttons implemented to describe the level name and point value of each criterion level, consistent with the view on a larger screen.
Note: Depending on the screen reader you use, the way of listing all the radio buttons on a page differs. For example, In NVDA, press INSERT+F7; in JAWS, press CTRL+INSERT+A. In general, D2L tests compatibility with the following screen readers: NVDA, JAWS, and Voiceover.
Figure: Criterion level rows behave as radio buttons for screen readers.
Rubrics – Inline grading improvements
There have been improvements to the ease of use of the inline grading experience, including changes to ensure grading experience parity for screen reader users. Previously, screen reader users were unable to grade or review tasks due to missing information. In addition, the updates now include the following:
- The interaction of the arrow buttons at either end of the evaluation slider now indicate a hover state compared to a focus state. If there is no level under the hover pointer, the level area is empty.
Figure: If the hover pointer is on a level, the name, description, and score appear in the level information area below the slider.
- Keyboard navigation of the slider evaluation levels identify the focus and indicate the criterion you are viewing. When the keyboard focus is on a level, you can press the arrow keys at the beginning and end of the slider or use the left and right arrow keys on the keyboard to move the focus within a scale. In grading mode, moving the focus to a level directly selects the level. You can also press Enter to select or unselect a level. In preview mode, the selected level does not change when you review other levels’ information.
Figure: The focused level is highlighted inside the slider segment.
- Keyboard navigation of the slider evaluation levels more clearly identify the focus and level you have selected in grading mode. You can use the right or left arrow key at the beginning and end of the slider to move the focus within a scale. Press Enter or use the left and right arrow keys on the keyboard to select and deselect the level.
Figure: When the level is selected, a larger box outlines the slider level, and a checkmark appears in the level
- The level name and description of an evaluation level appear below the evaluation slider in the selected state, and the selection indicator appears on the slider at the chosen level.
Figure: When a level is selected, the level name and description appear, along with the selection indicator
- When the rubric has been graded, the level information area displays the selected level’s information by default, unless other levels are in hover state in grading mode, or in hover or focus state in reviewing mode.
Figure: When a non-selected level is in hover state, the name, description, and score appear in the level information area below the slider.
- When you move the selection block to a different level, there is now an animation to smoothly transition to the new level.
Rubrics – Overall Score now appears in Mobile View and the New Assignment and Discussion Evaluation Experiences | Updated
When an instructor using the New Assignment Evaluation Experience opens a rubric in a new window, the Overall Score displays for each rubric, and the instructor can override the level if necessary. Previously, if an instructor did not open a new window, rather, they viewed the rubrics inline in the New Assignment Evaluation Experience tool, the Overall Score did not appear, and the instructor could not override the level. As a result, text-only rubrics could not be assessed because the Overall Score was not available.
Now, instructors using Mobile view can evaluate text-only rubrics for assignments (using the New Assignment Evaluation Experience) and can evaluate text-only rubrics for discussions (using the New Discussions Assignments Evaluation Experience) as expected.
Figure: The Overall Score in Mobile and New Assignment Evaluation Experience views