Emerald Release of D2L Updates Interface, Activity Feed, Parent Edition

D2L has updated its learning management system. The "Emerald Release" of Brightspace offers new analytics features, improvements to the user experience, functions to expedite use of the LMS by educators and updates to a parental version of the software.

One new feature is the Class Progress tool, which provides a view into how students are doing. Teachers can set intelligent agents that enable them to provide feedback via automated emails when students meet defined criteria.

A "daily differentials" addition lets instructors obtain incremental data instead of having to download the entire set of data each time. An optional add-on is also being made available that provides for hourly data updates.

The Activity Feed, launched in 2017, provides a central location for communicating with students about reminders, upcoming assignments, new content or discussions. The new version of the program lets users display images and videos inline and upload content from Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive storage. There are also new formatting options for directing student attention to specific information in the feed.

"Having inline video and displayed images makes a huge impact on our students," noted Matt Waymacke, who does eCLASS development at Gwinnett County Public Schools, in a press release. He said the Atlanta metro district introduced activity feeds into a few courses; now the program intends to roll it out into all of its courses using the LMS. "It's so easy to upload content from other sources. It's a familiar, fun and easy way to keep students connected with their courses."

D2L has added a new, alternative content experience that enables teachers to build up a course as they go along, compiling activities and content, including HTML documents, Google Drive and OneDrive materials, online links and video, external learning activities and video assignments.

A Manage Dates tool offers a single location for handling course scheduling, including dates for quizzes, checklists and surveys. The new release offers improved sorting functionality and access to the manage dates tool from other parts of the software.

Plus, a new question import workflow lets teachers create quizzes faster, with an option for adding due dates and a new way to add sections in a quiz.

Last year the company introduced a parent version of the LMS, Brightspace for Parents, which lets teachers communicate with families to share student work, upcoming assignments and other information. The updated version allows instructors to send out a weekly email summary that updates recipients on the latest activities, grades and feedback. The latest version also provides visibility into individual assignment grades, feedback from the teacher about the grade, the ability to see how the grades tie into assignments and final grades.

Ontario-based Steam Academy at Six Nations Polytechnic, a grade 9-14 secondary school, is adopting the new version of the program as a way to "keep parents connected with what's happening in their child's classroom, but without adding extra work for the teachers," according to Teacher James Medway. "Our parents will no longer have to wait for parent teacher interviews to find out how their child is doing. They will be able to log in whenever they like to get a firsthand look at what assignments are coming, recent grades, announcements from the teacher and even see recent examples of work their child has completed. We're excited to see the impact that this will have on student outcomes as their parents have more information to support their children in reaching their potential."

For more information, go to the D2L site.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.