What’s New with Brightspace in December 2020

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Brightspace Learning Environment

Brightspace Learning Environment – Improvements to language packs | Updated

Improvements have been made to the French (CAN), Spanish (LATAM), and Portuguese (BRAZIL) language packs and are the default language terms across Brightspace Learning Environment. These updates correct spelling, Grammar, and contextual translation errors. They do not override existing custom language terms.

For more information, refer to the Preview of Upcoming Lang pack improvements article.

Impact of Change Technical Details
Moderate impact to users due to the improvements made to the French (CAN), Spanish (LATAM), and Portuguese (BRAZIL) language packs Availability: This feature is available to all clients

To enable: These updates are automatically enabled for French (CAN), Spanish (LATAM), and Portuguese (BRAZIL) language pack users.

Brightspace Learning Environment – Updated video and audio player in Content, Lessons, and New Learner Experience | New

To improve accessibility and create a consistent user experience, a new audio and video media player has been added to Content, Lessons, and the New Learner Experience.

The new media player offers the following features:

  • Consistent keyboard controls, and screen reader support.
  • Keyboard controls improvements and fixes to known issues. The previous media player had an issue where keyboard focus could become stuck in the caption language selection menu.
  • Screen reader improvements with the new media player include off-screen messages for screen readers to announce when a video has loaded or if there was an error loading the video.
  • The Settings menu in the media player provides a Download option and playback speed options. By default, the Download option displays only in the Lessons tool. The Download option can be controlled using the new configuration variable d2l.Tools.MediaPlayer.ShowDownloadButtonInLessons, which is ON by default.
  • Administrators can enable the Download button in legacy Content using the new configuration variable d2l.Tools.MediaPlayer.ShowDownloadButtonInContent. This configuration variable is OFF by default.
  • Administrators can enable the Download button in the New Learner Experience using the new configuration variable d2l.Tools.MediaPlayer.ShowDownloadButtonInLearnExp, which is set to OFF by default.

Each configuration variable can be set at the org unit level.

Impact of Change Technical Details
Slight impact to administrators due to the new configuration variables that must be enabled or disabled for the Download feature in the media player. Availability: This feature is available to all clients

To enable: This functionality is automatically enabled for Content, Lessons, and New Learner Experience users. The new configuration variables must be enabled at the org unit level for users to be able to access the Download button in the media player.

Slight impact to learners due to control playback speed, enable captions, and download files from the media player. N/A

Brightspace Pulse for Android – View Activity Feed posts and comments | New

To keep up to date on course activity, learners can now read Activity Feed posts and comments in Brightspace Pulse for Android. Learners can also receive Activity Feed notifications. For example, in courses with Activity Feed enabled, instructors can use Activity Feed to post reminders about upcoming assignments and links to course materials. Learners then receive push notifications about those posts in Brightspace Pulse, allowing them to view the Activity Feed post details in the app. Future releases will allow learners to post or reply to posts, if they have the appropriate permissions.

From the Courses tab, tapping a course opens it in Brightspace Pulse. If Activity Feed is enabled in the course, the Activity Feed tab is selected after opening the course.

From the Notifications tab, tapping an Activity Feed notification displays the associated post or comment in the Activity Feed.

Impact of Change  Technical Details
Moderate impact to learners due to the new ability to view Activity Feed posts and comments in Brightspace Pulse and receive Activity Feed notifications. Availability: This feature is available to all clients using Brightspace Pulse for Android. This feature is also available to clients using Brightspace Pulse for iOS.

To enable: This functionality is automatically enabled in the latest version of Brightspace Pulse, if Activity Feed is enabled by instructors in their courses.
Download the latest version of Brightspace Pulse, available from any global Google Play™ store or Apple App Store®. The app is generally released at the beginning of the month, and then sometimes mid-month, if issues are found. Depending on how your device is configured, the app may update automatically or you may have to manually check for new versions.
Currently, this feature is read-only and does not support adding messages or assignment posts. In addition, it does not support pinning posts or configuring the Activity Feed.

Grades – Mastery view in the Gradebook now available | New

The Mastery view of the Gradebook provides visibility into additional details of learner performance beyond what is available using traditional grades associated with an activity. Using outcomes associated with various types of assessments (such as quiz questions, rubric criterion rows, assignments or discussions), additional dimensions of performance can be recorded.  The Mastery page provides instructors with information about the overall achievement for leaners in their course. The achievement is related to learning outcomes and standards associated to assessment activities and helps instructors to quickly identify learners who are potentially at risk. The page provides a quick holistic view of aggregated performance across all learners in the course for all outcomes assessed in the course. Instructors can click on individual table cells of the Mastery view to drill-down into individual learners’ performance and view evidence associated with each outcome. In that detailed view, instructors can use their professional judgement to manually override the calculated suggested level of overall achievement.

To access the Mastery view, open the Grades tool, select the Mastery option beside View Achievements By.

Note:  This option is hidden if learning outcomes are not being used in the course.

The Mastery view table displays evaluated outcomes as the columns of the table and learners enrolled in the course as rows of the table.  In the columns for each outcome, there is a color and text indication of the suggested overall level of achievement based on the currently selected calculation method. The color of each cell and the text label is based on the color and level name defined in the default Achievement Scale in the Learning Outcomes tool.

Within each achievement cell, there are several indicators of the status of the learner’s progress toward the achievement, including:

  • Number of activities evaluated (out of the total aligned)
  • Suggested overall level achievement (or manually overridden level of achievement)
  • Manual override indicator in the form of an asterisk beside the overall achievement label.
  • Out of Date icon (if newer evaluations have been made since a manual override was recorded or a feedback is added)
  • Published/Not published icons to indicate the visibility status to the learner
Impact of Change Technical Details
Moderate disruption to instructors who can now use the Mastery view. Availability: This feature is available to all are using the Learning Outcomes.

To enable: The Mastery view is available when you add outcomes to your courses. If the Mastery view is not available, verify that there are learning outcomes in your course offering.
Ensure that you have Grades enabled at the org level and the course offering. There are no new or additional configuration variables required; however, you must continue to have the Learning Outcomes configuration variables set up for the Learning Outcomes tool to function correctly and provide content to display in the Mastery view. For more information, see Brightspace Learning Environment – Configuration Variables And Permissions Administrator Guide.

Insights – Additional cards on the New Engagement Dashboard | Updated

The new Engagement dashboard contains visualizations that provide insight into how users are engaging with their courses. Using this information, users can identify at-risk learners and intervene to get them back on track. To increase the value of the Engagement dashboard, originally released in Brightspace Platform 10.8.11/ March 2019,  and updated in Brightspace Platform 20.20.11/November 2020, this release updates and adds the following new features:

  • The Discussion Summary pie chart indicates the number of discussion threads created, replied to, and read. If you hover over a pie segment, a popup appears with a number and description of the segment. This is helpful for understanding the proportion of passive or active social engagement.  If you click a segment, the rest of the Engagement dashboard automatically filters the returned data for the learners represented by the segment. This is also summarized in the results table.
  • The System Access summary card indicates the number of users who have not accessed the system in the previous 14 days. This can include access of Brightspace Pulse or Brightspace through their internet browser. This is also summarized in the results table.
  • The ability to take action from the dashboard by exporting the results table or emailing one or many users.  Users require permission to see and send emails at the Org Level in order to take advantage of the email option.

Note: The default setting for this feature continues to be Opt-in. Previously, the default setting was Off for the new Engagement Dashboard because clients had the previous version by default.  
Refer to the Welcome to the New Engagement Dashboard article for more details.

Impact of Change Technical Details
Large disruption to administrators who now have a new version of the Engagement Dashboard available in the Insights portal. Availability: This feature is available to all clients who have the Performance Plus package or who have purchased Brightspace Insights in the previous packaging model.

To enable: Administrators must have the Can See Engagement Dashboard permission (for Insights) at all the Org unit levels, and existing Query Data Platform (for Brightspace Data Platform) at the Org level. Enabled roles now see data for all courses in which they are enrolled.
To use the email option, users must have Can See Email and Can Send Email permissions at the Org Level.