Tools in D2l at UCalgary


In our Learning Technologies Advisory Committee Processes Working Group meeting this week, we were discussing how instructors access new tools, or enable existing tools. Much of the discussion was about communication, rather than the processes directly - instructors aren’t aware of the tools that are available, or what they can be used for, so they ask for new tools.

We have several applications available as the core online learning platforms at UCalgary:

  • D2L Brightspace
  • YuJa video content management
  • Adobe Connect (but Zoom coming soon?)
  • Top Hat
  • Badges.ucalgary.ca
  • UCalgaryBlogs

Within each of those applications, there are many components that can be enabled or disabled, often at the individual course level. So, if something is disable (but available), an instructor may not even know about it.

When we deployed D2L back in 2013, we had an initial mandate to keep things as simple as possible - to disable tools and features that weren’t essential, in order to streamline the migration from Blackboard. One unintended consequence of that streamlining is that nobody was responsible to circle back and revisit those decisions to see if any of those tools and features should be enabled once the migration was complete. Here’s the very very long laundry list of tools available within D2L, and whether we’ve enabled them for use in courses by default:

Built-in Tools in D2L Brightspace

Tool Name Enabled Notes
Availability
Accelerator
Advanced Data Sets
Ally Integration Not sure what this involves… Why is accessibility testing disabled?
Attendance
Audio Capture
Awards
Blog
Brightspace Data Sets
Brightspace Feed
Broken Link Viewer
Bulk Course Copy
Bulk Course Create
Bulk Course Export
Calendar
Capture a separate video capture platform from D2L, not licensed.
CAS Integration single sign-on. but will be replaced with Shibboleth someday…
Chat it’s a thing, but we haven’t tested or supported it.
Checklist
Class Progress
Classlist
Competencies
Completion Tracking
Content
Content Service
Course Builder
Course Updater
Crosslistings
Custom Course Branding
Custom Data Export
Custom Reporting Framework
Custom Terms and Conditions
Custom Update Sproc
Discover
Discussions
Dropbox
Ecommerce
Elluminate
ePortfolio
External Learning Tools
FAQ
Glossary
Google Apps
Grades
GradesExport
Guided Trial
Help
Import/Export/Copy Components
IMS Configuration
Insights
Intelligent Agents
Learning Groups
Learning Outcomes
Links
Locations
Locker
LOR
Manage Dates
Manager Dashboard
Media Integration
Media Platform
My Org Units
News
Notifications
Office365
Online Rooms Connect
Online Rooms Framework
Online Rooms Lync
Online Rooms WebEx
Pager
Pearson Scripted Links
Portfolio
Publish
Question Collections
Quick Eval
Quizzes
ReadSpeaker DocReader Integration
Remote Plugins
Reporting
Rubrics
Seating Chart
Self Assessments
Self Registration
SIS Holding Tank
Survey
THRIVE
Trusted Sites
Urkund Integration
User Auditors
User Profile
Video Capture
WebDAV

That’s a long list. Of the ones that are enabled, many need additonal configuration before they are made available within courses (like WebEx - we don’t have a license, so I’m not sure what the tool could even do…)

I don’t even know what many of those are. Discover? Sounds useful. I have no idea. And Pager? I mean. It’s 2020. Students have never seen a pager, aside from maybe watching old movies or something. Most instructors probably haven’t seen a pager, either…

Google Apps? We don’t use Google - we’re an O365 campus. How did this even get enabled?

There are a few of those tools that are enabled but unknown - we need to do a better job of communicating what those tools can do. Chat? Could be useful. Blog? Maybe (but it’s a really quirky blogging tool, for anyone that’s used literally any other blogging tool ever made).

And this doesn’t include any third party tools that could be integrated via LTI or the D2L API.

Next steps:

  • Identify which of these tools should be enabled, which might be optional, and which should be disabled entirely.
  • Communicate that clearly to instructors so they know what’s available, and how the tools might be used in their courses.
  • Develop a clear and streamlined process for instructors to request integration of additional tools that aren’t on that list - including third party tools through LTI or other. How can instructors request access to a tool in a timely manner (they often realize they need a tool to do X maybe a week before the semester starts, or much later, and can’t wait for committees or Enterprise Review Processes to take place) so they’re able to effectively use tools without risking students’ privacy or intellectual property or several other things that instructors shouldn’t have to spend time becoming experts in before adopting a tool.

work 

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