Part II: Implementing Your Plan in Brightspace
Now that you have a sound plan for your course, you can begin setting up your Brightspace learning environment. Part II of this guide provides other tips and resources to help you build and facilitate your course in Brightspace. Again, a list of additional resources and QM standards are provided if you want to dive in and learn more.
About six weeks prior to the start of the semester, a Brightspace course site is automatically generated for each credit course offering and access provided to instructor. This is the ‘live’ site that registered students will access. If you wish to prepare in advance prior to the generation of the ‘live’ site, you can submit a request to CITL’s Support Centre for a ‘sandbox’ or ‘development site with no student registrants added. You can copy content from a previous offering into the ‘live’ or ‘sandbox’ site. If you are starting from scratch, consider uploading the course setup kit into your Brightspace course site. The setup kit was designed to meet accessibility standards and can easily be edited using the HTML editor within Brightspace.
1. GETTING STARTED: WRITE WELCOME AND OVERVIEW
The Goal: Introduce learners to purpose and structure of the course, learning environment, and what is expected.
- Welcome students to the course and introduce yourself.
- Describe your teaching philosophy and how course is designed.
- Consider sharing some information about you and your experience teaching the course to help students establish a connection with you, see examples of course/module introductions.
- Write a general description and describe the overall format of the course. Draft in Microsoft Word or similar application first and then copy and paste into Brightspace using HTML Editor (page provided in CITL Course Setup Kit Template).
- Make clear how to get started, how to navigate the site, and find various components (e.g. syllabus, descriptions of assessments, due dates).
- List overall course goals/learning outcomes, if not included in syllabus section.
- Communicate the course workload to help students plan and manage their time (e.g. include formal study time and self-study time).
- Explain what is expected for asynchronous discussions and synchronous activities/interactions (e.g. participate in discussion forums regularly and how you will hold students accountable for group work).
Want to know more?
2. SET COMMUNICATION EXPECTATIONS
The Goal: Create a sense of community by informing students how communication and interaction occurs in the course.
- Describe how students will communicate with you and their classmates and outline the technology tools used (e.g. students can use Brightspace classlist to email you, individual classmates or group members).
- Provide more than one way to contact you (e.g. an Institutional email or telephone number for emergency situations).
- Include contact information for any assistants helping deliver the course (e.g. teaching assistant or librarian/research assistant).
- Set response time expectations. Being online does not imply you need to be available 24/7.
- Communicate when students can expect grades and feedback.
- Use the Announcements tool in Brightspace to update students of any changes in course schedule or resources.
- Provide schedule of online synchronous sessions if you are including these in your delivery. This will help students prepare to actively participate in the course (sample already included in CITL Setup Kit Template).
- Hold online office hours using Online Rooms.
- Review ‘Best Practices for Video Conferencing’ created by CITL.
- Include netiquette rules (already included in CITL Course Setup Kit Template).
- Discuss with students the built-in video and audio recorder and whether want to use it for participating in discussion forums.
Opportunities for Social Interaction
- Foster social interaction so students can learn from each other by:
- Inviting students to introduce themselves and share a personal comment or video.
- Creating a course discussion and encourage students to ask and respond to questions related to the course and post relevant resources.
- Encouraging study groups.
- Creating a ‘student cafe’ discussion forum for students to talk about things not related to the course.
Want to know more?
Using Announcements to Give Narrative Shape to your Online Course
Improving Online Communications
Community of Inquiry Framework
7 Strategies to Promote Community in Online Courses
Building Community and Creating Relevance in the Online Classroom
Which Tool Should I use?
Other Educational Technologies
3. PROVIDE RESOURCES ON HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL AND GETTING HELP
The Goal: Set the tone for success by informing students where to go for help, including academic and student support services.
Academic and Student Support Services
- Add supports and services (e.g. library service and writing center) available at Memorial and your specific campus (list provided in CITL Setup Kit Template).Note: Items identified in Setup Kit as a WEB PAGE can be edited by you using the HTML Editor and LINKS (e.g. Library Service, Technical Help) are managed by CITL, so updates will automatically be applied to your site.
- Check with your academic unit and colleagues for other discipline-specific resources or institutional policies to add.
Tutorials and Guides
- Provide guidance on study skills and time management as students are required to work more independently in an online/remote environment (already included in CITL Course Setup Kit Template).
- Include tutorials on using Brightspace and how to get help (already included in CITL Setup Kit Template).
- Share tutorials to help students become familiar with other technology tools being used, (e.g. Google Sheets).
4. MAKE SYLLABUS ACCESSIBLE
The Goal: Present the syllabus in various formats to meet the needs of your learners.
- Format using a template from your academic unit, if available.
- Consider placing each component in your syllabus on an individual page as per CITL Setup Kit and/or uploading an accessible printable version that can be easily read by assistive technology, such as a screen reader.
- If you using CITL Setup Kit Template, delete any pages you will not be using.
- Summarize all assessments, including sub-components, and value of overall grade (page already included in CITL Course Setup Kit Template).
- Suggest including a detail description of each assessment that clearly states its purpose, what students are to do, when, how.
5. CREATE COURSE SCHEDULE
The Goal: Create a schedule that provides a snapshot for each week of the semester, including topics, activities, assessments, and due dates to help guide student learning.
Schedule at a Glance
- Review your syllabus and compile into a schedule at a glance the weekly content/topics and activities and assessments (sample provided in CITL Course Setup Kit Template).
- Add due dates for graded assessments, including sub-components.
- Ensure ample time between assignments for students to receive feedback before the next assignment is due.
- Consider the time required for your students to complete assignments and for you and your teaching assistants to mark and return graded work.
Policies and Regulations
- Review general academic regulations related to ‘Scheduling of Parts of Evaluation’ and ‘Correct and Return of Student Work’ in University calendar to ensure your dates meet the requirements of these regulations and your academic unit-wide policies.
6. SETUP CONTENT MODULES
The Goal: Add the content that students need for a successful learning experience following the weekly schedule developed for the semester.
Organize and Add Content
- Create a module for each week (sample provided in CITL Course Setup Kit Template) or organize content modules according to the topic/theme noted in course schedule, see Content tool overview.
- Establish a routine structure for each week or module so students can plan and organize, for example: introduce the content (concepts/ information) to be covered (e.g. write an introduction and include a activity to appraise students’ knowledge of and experience with the topic).
- Add learning outcomes for the module so students know what is expected and can prioritize their learning.
- Link to or upload your course resources (e.g. readings in text, resources on eReserve through the library, instructor notes, PowerPoint slides, audio and video (see How to Upload a Topic Page and Using HTML Editor to add resources).
- Explain purpose of reading(s), resources, and highlight things students should pay particular attention to.
- Provide descriptions and detail instructions of any activities. (e.g. group activities and expectations of group members). Use this template as a guide for explaining activities and assignments.
- Provide relevant examples of previous students’ work when useful/possible.
- Include clear information about assessment due or place a reminder. Consider using Intelligent Agents in Brightspace to send reminders.
- Use ‘Manage Files Area‘ in Brightspace if want to create/copy the file structure currently on your computer or to upload a number of files at one time.
- Determine how you will release content – entire content on first day of classes or set weekly release conditions.
- Refer to Copyright Help for assistance with determining appropriate credit lines when attributing other’s work.
- Use headings to organize content and signal important information – see Basics of HTML.
- Avoid adding elements (e.g. images) that are distracting and don’t crowd too much text one page.
- Include transcripts for video and audio added, see Transcribing Recorded Video and Audio Files.
- Check how the content you have added will look to students to ensure it is as you intended, see Check your Content as a Student.
7. SETUP COMMUNICATION AND ASSESSMENT TECHNOLOGY TOOLS
The Goal: Set up all technology tools used in the course as outlined in your syllabus.
- Set up discussions forums and topics, restrictions, and link to gradebook.
- If group work is required, create groups in Brightspace. Each group can have its own discussion forum and submission Assignment (Dropbox) folder.
- Add important dates.
- If using the Brightspace Assignments (Dropbox) tool, create folders, add student instructions, link to gradebook, and set any restrictions.
- Create any Brightspace rubrics or upload/link to rubrics.
- Review your Gradebook and add any additional assessments. Having all assessments referenced in the gradebook allows students the ability to track their own progress in the course.
- Hide an assessment so final grade is not visible to students before released by the Registrar’s Office.
Library Reserve and Textbook
- Make Course Resources (Reserves) link available in your site if you created a reading/resource list at the library.
- Order any textbook(s) with your academic department.
Contact Support Centre for help on setting up technology tools or to book a consultation.
8. FINALIZE AND ACTIVATE YOUR COURSE SITE
The Goal: Do a final review to ensure everything is ready and activate for student viewing.
- Ensure all links to resources are still working.
- Check credit lines and make sure citations are accurate.
- Check Course Resources (Reserves) is available.
- Complete final check for Accessibility and Quality.
- Prepare for the unexpected – test technologies used to anticipate and solve problems ahead of time.
Course Admin Tasks
- If working from a ‘development’ or ‘sandbox’ site, copy your content into ‘live’ semester course site.
- Activate your course site so visible to students.
- If you want to combine course offerings (sections), contact Support Center.
- To provide a TA or others with access to your course, submit a request to the Support Center, include name and email address.
CITL, Phillips, P.; St. Croix, L.; Wicks, C.; & Beaton, N. (2020). Adapted from original Course Set Up Kit Guide by St. Croix, L. & Wicks, C. (2014).