June 19

D2L Brightspace Awards Tool: What do you need to know?

Photo credit: www.brightspace.com

With the new D2L update SCSU went through  earlier this month, the Awards tool has been made available. I will summarize the main functionality and features here,but you can always access the full Awards Tool Guide here and a Webinar on the Awards tool.


The Awards tool can be used to create Badges and Certificates to reflect the achievement of different milestones within a course offering. In the Awards tool, instructors can design badges and certificates and link them to release conditions to allow automatic awarding. Learners can see the awards that they have already earned, as well as those that they have yet to earn, in the associated My Awards tool.


  • Reward learners with badges and certificates immediately after they have completed an activity or assignment.
  • Build an element of gamification into your course and better engage your learners.
  • Provide a consolidation/ celebration piece to the completion of an assignment or activity.
  • Track learner progress and development.
  • Build a hands-off method of instant feedback.
  • Provide learners with certificates that they can share through social media.


Go to Course Admin and find the Awards tool. Select Create Award to build from scratch. Add a name and description, and select the Award Type (badge or certificate). The award icon image can be selected from the existing images in the Award Icon Library, uploaded from your computer, or created using Badge Designer.

Once your award has been created, you can associate it with release conditions and credits by selecting Edit Properties on the Course Awards page.  Once associated with release conditions, the award will automatically be awarded to all learners who achieve that condition, including those who completed the condition in the past.

D2L Awards five badgesD2L Awards handshake badgeAwards a description of an issued badge

April 18

D2L Brightspace The Daylight Experience

**Attention – If you don’t want to read further just check out this super short overview video! 🙂

D2L Brightspace is bringing a new design with their updates. Daylight: the overarching project name for the user interface change of design – to help everything be more web responsive.

The biggest reason for this change is to make D2L easy to use on tablets or mobile devices – keeping up with e-learning trends.

Here are some of the visual changes:

Courses will be listed  by tiles instead of text links.

courses as tiles not text in D2L

D2L will keep the same functionality, this is just a change in the user interface design, new font style, more pictures, slight changes on home page and navigation bar, and drop down menu more defined.

deesktop vs. mobile page widthIn addition, click here for a starter guide to Daylight experience.

Finally, a full one-hour Webinar about the Daylight experience (click to access).



November 14

STAR Symposium 2017 – Call for Proposals

STAR Symposium photo credit to: https://mnqm.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/logo2.png

There’s still time to submit a proposal to present at the STAR Symposium! This is a state-wide conference focused on teaching and learning best practices. The all day conference is completely virtual – attend and present from your home or campus office. 

Call for proposals is open until November 21.  All presenters will receive training related to effective web-based presentation.

Share your Ideas

Do you have an innovative approach for engaging your students, managing your classroom, integrating best practices or collaborating for improvement? This is your opportunity to share the innovative work you’re doing at your institution, for your department and in your classroom! The STAR Symposium Planning Committee is seeking proposals  related to best practices and innovation related to teaching, technology, course design, faculty support, etc. for face-to-face, blended, and online courses and/or programs. Check this list for ideas for topics:

– Faculty Development and Support
– Course Design and Delivery
– Grading, Assessment and Feedback
– Student Engagement
– Technology Integration
– Measuring the Impact of Best Practices
– Other Innovations…

The committee is seeking both 50 minute and 25 minute presentations which will be offered concurrently. Individuals looking for information about the types of sessions offered last year are encouraged to review the STAR Conference Guide. (http://bit.ly/STARGuide16)

To submit your proposal, please complete this form. The conference planning committee will review all proposals and will contact everyone regarding the status of their proposal in December.

Registration is open!

Registration for the STAR Symposium is managed by Northland Community & Technical College. To register individuals or a group, use the STAR Symposium Registration Link (opens in a new window). The cost to attend the all-day conference is $50 (presenters pay $25).

October 20

CBE 101: Competency-based Education Lessons

EducationDive newsletter provided a summary about a study on CBE:

  • A new study from the American Institutes for Research outlines the profile of students in competency-based education programs and how they are engaged to participate in the curriculum. But researchers say it is too early to determine the efficacy of such programs on postgraduate success.
  • The study reveals that 68% of CBE programs are comprised of adult learners, with more than 70% of participants having previous college experience. Retention rates in the programs range from 63-80%, while completion rates range between 15-80%, depending on the type of program.
  • With challenges in schedule flexibility and technology to track student performance, CBE still presents as a valuable learning environment, but there is not enough data to suggest that graduates fare better in professional placement or earnings as a result.

However, if you are interested in learning more about CBE and its future, sign up for the five free lessons from the D2L Brighstspace team here.

img-cbe-badgeYou will learn:

  • What is Competency-based Education (CBE)?
  • Who is CBE for?
  • How does CBE work?
  • Where has CBE succeeded?
  • When will I be ready for CBE?
May 20

What Makes an Online Instructional Video Compelling?

Woit_100426_225We encourage the use of different instructional materials for your face-to-face, hybrid, or online courses. Videos are a big part of classes nowadays, but it may be hard to decide on how to integrate videos in your course or how to create professional quality videos of your own.

“With the advent of new technology tools and new online programs, many research questions around instructional media have begun to emerge. For instance, how might student-produced media (through lightweight tools such as cell phones or webcams) influence instruction and social interaction? In hybrid programs, how can video best supplement face-to-face sessions? How do graphic design elements (such as the video thumbnail, a video embedded on a course page, or types of text surrounding a video) influence viewing habits? Online tools and online programs continue to increase, and many opportunities exist for further investigating best practices of online instructional design.”

Here is a full article by Melanie Hibbert for EDUCAUSE Review, and you will find the summary of here findings below. These emerging findings, taken from both quantitative and qualitative data, provide some insight as to what characteristics of online videos students describe as compelling, and what types of videos receive the most views:

  • Strategizing videos to tie directly to course assignments and/or assessment
  • Advising faculty members to use conversational language in production; also encouraging them to use humor and draw on past experiences
  • Adding audio/visual elements to the video that supplement the content; the videos should not convey information that students could just read as text
  • Producing high-quality videos (despite mixed findings related to production values, elements such as professional sound, lighting, and graphics are considered important when creating high-quality media)
  • Keeping the four-minute view time as a design consideration, especially when producing longer-form content lectures that can be broken up into shorter segments

Let us know if you plan to post videos for your course and schedule a consultation for best practices/video help. Stop by our ofice: Academic Technologies Team is here all summer, Miller Center 118.

May 11

The Humanities and Technology Camp in Twin Cities

You might be unfamiliar with the format of THAT Camp, which was started as an unconference. So what does that mean? First of all, as you may assume, it is an informal gathering, open to people of various interests and skill levels. It still is a conference of sorts, so you can propose a session, hold a presentation, or discussion. However, the decisions on proposals are decided by all the participants, on the day of the conference. Here is a video to help you understand it:

There are several unconference rules: be productive, have fun, and stay collegial.  New sessions are added last minute, and you are encouraged to switch to a different session that would be more interesting for you. So, save the date: May 23, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Free for all! 🙂

April 26

Brightspace Minnesota Connection Follow-up

Photo credit: www.brightspace.com

Photo credit: www.brightspace.com

As promised, we are giving the highlights from the Brightspace Minnesota Connection conference two weeks ago.  You can find the links to presentations, photos, and videos from various breakout sessions here. Topics varied from D2L Brightspace tools and pedagogical applications, to flipped classrooms, widgets, accessibility, and many more! Enjoy!

November 16

Recorded Webinars on Online Learning Accessibility

3Play media Recorded Webinars


Implementing Universal and Inclusive Design for Online Learning
This webinar discussed how the principles of universal and inclusive design can be applied to the online learning environment, with a particular focus on the accessibility of course content and materials.Here you can find the Recorded webinar of Implementing Universal and Inclusive Design for Online Learning, which includes closed captions and a searchable interactive transcript, as well as the slide deck.

10 Tips for Creating Accessible Online Course Content
With recent lawsuits in higher education and updates to Section 508 on the horizon, it is more important than ever that online learning content be made accessible to students with disabilities. In this webinar, Janet Sylvia, Web Accessibility Group Leader and Web Accessibility Trainer, will provided 10 tips for making your online course material accessible. Here you can find the Recorded webinar of 10 Tips for Creating Accessible Online Course Content, which includes closed captions and a searchable interactive transcript, as well as the slide deck and handout.

Also, see additional free recorded webinars on various topics, including accessibility, captioning, and universal design.

October 28

TK20: Graphite Upgrade

Photo Credit: http://www.tk20.com/

Photo Credit: http://www.tk20.com/

The Tk20 Graphite upgrade is on its way! Tk20 has been touting this system change for months, so I am happy to report that it is nearly here… or is it???

The interface with TK20 is changing:

  • Gone are the tabs across the top of the screen—navigation is being centralized into one left hand sidebar menu.
  • “Create” and “Search” functions will no longer be separated. If you are looking at student learning outcomes, then buttons for both functions will be available to you.
  • You can switch roles at any time from the top of the screen. You do not have to return to the “home” page to do so.
  • A new “Ad Hoc reports” feature will allow us to combine information from different areas of the system.
  • And many more new features!

Additional information about Graphite and its features can be found both on the Tk20 website: http://www.tk20.com/comingsoon/index.html and in their recent topical webinars, recordings of which can be found on the assessment website: http://stcloudstate.edu/assessment/tk20/webinars.asp.
In the aforementioned webinars, they state that the upgrade is coming in November. However, at a recent TK20 Mn User Group meeting, Tk20 stated that the upgrade will not be made available to those that have the Faculty Qualifications and Accreditation Managements modules until later—and that means us. They did not provide a target date for that roll out, which is called Graphite II.
We will have to patient for a little bit longer, but I think the wait will be worth the new features. I will update campus with new information as soon as I have it.

As always: let us know if you have questions!

Holly Evers



October 6

Building Community in an Online Course

Woit_081002_223Thursday, October 8 is Fall break for our students. However, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at SCSU organizes the Faculty Workshop Day. This year’s sessions are on student retention and success. Among many excellent presentations that will discuss this year’s topic, online and distance education are certainly a setting to be taken into account.

A member of our Academic Technologies Team, Roseann Wolak, will be holding a session on  Effective Online Teaching – Creating a Sense of Community from 2:15-3:30 pm in Voyageurs North, AMC:

“Sense of Community Theory is based on the work of Seymour Sarason (1974).  Sarason’s research explored community identity and social bonding.  In the online environment, where students are physically separated from one another, the strength of the learning community depends on the extent to which students feel like insiders rather than outsiders.
Faculty play a key role in designing an online learning environment which fosters interactivity, connectedness, and meaningful learning.  This hands-on session will cover instructional design that gets students interacting with one another:  student led discussions, peer review, collaborative research projects, and group presentations.”

Until then, here is an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education that focuses specifically on building community in an online class by doing student video presentations.