August 14

Intelligent Agents Tool in D2L Brightspace

A list of all tools under Course Admin i nD2L with Intelligent Agents circled


Intelligent Agents is a tool in D2L Brightspace that can increase instructor presence by sending pre-set, automated emails triggered by pre-set criteria.  I like to call it the Virtual Teaching Assistant as it helps with some administrative tasks, acting on your behalf.  You can see on the picture above where it is located under Course Admin. Below are the details about the tool, as well as how to set them up in D2L.

  • Automated Messaging System: Sends emails once pre-set criteria is evaluated for students.
  • Most common: log-in criteria or release conditions (e.g. no submission to a folder).
  • Notifies the course instructor about a potentially troubled student (providing additional background information, such as an unattempted quiz, a quiz grade or a task (in)completion).
  • Only the instructor sees this tool. When users are evaluated as true on the condition you have set, an email you have previously wrote is automatically sent. A personalized message with the ability to link to resources (remedial or reinforcing) leads to increased instructor presence and student satisfaction.

To set them up in D2L:

  1. Go to Course Admin, find the tool by name or in Communications category. Go to settings and Set custom values for this course (name that emails come from (your name) and put your preferred reply-to email). Save.
  2. Click on New.
  3. Name it, check it as enabled, set criteria (Course Activity log-in or Create and Attach a Release Condition (determine the Condition Type and Details from the dropdown menus)).
  4. Determine whether the Agent will act only once or set a schedule for running dates.
  5. Choose HTML as the Email Format. Copy-Paste the replace strings (To*: {InitiatingUser}; Email Subject: e.g. Reminder for {OrgUnitName}; start the email with, for example: Hello, {InitiatingUserFirstName}). Save and Close. Do a Practice Run, if you wish, to see identified users.

February 8

Instructor Presence and Immediacy

Dwinnells (2017) gives great advice on how to keep up with your online students and give them the feeling that you are present, or as he called it: How to Keep from Going MIA in Your Online Course. Many researchers have confirmed that instructor presence or immediacy positively correlate with student satisfaction and success. I will list his suggestions with my comments below. Click here to view the full Faculty Focus post.

  1. Set times to “go to class.”  Advise your students (and do the same yourself) to check in every day for a few minutes and see if t here is a new discussion post or a question (for you), but actually “attend” the class for a half hour to an hour, two to three times a week.
  2. Find ways to personalize your course with your presence. Include media such as a welcome video or audio at the beginning of the course, or in Announcements, and consider video/audio feedback for some assignments. If you can’t do an audio/video try to post a picture of yourself and add some biographical information such as your hobbies and interests, besides your office hours and syllabus. This helps humanizing and personalizing you as an instructor, which ultimately creates a sense of presence and a feeling of community and safety for your students. Encourage them to do the same in a designated discussion forum.
  3. Seek opportunities to engage students in creative ways. Try to personalize feedback, mention your students’ names whenever you can.
  4. Use discussion boards wisely and often.
  5. Remember that online does not mean off-line: “One could have a beautifully designed online course, but with an off-line professor the learning experience will lack the depth, breadth, and richness of a true learning experience.”

Another point to consider is how nonverbal communication and gauging emotions is lost in online courses. There are ways to assess your student’s emotions and behavior in a fully online class.  Here is a short article on emotional presence and why it matters.