Technology Assistance Center Newsletter

February 2021

A look at the upcoming changes and improvements to Brightspace that will take effect during the last week of February 2021, Webex updates, I.T. news, and more!

Course Evaluations Are Out

Course evaluations for Spring 2021 Block A courses began on 2/19 at 8:00am and will close on 3/9 at 11:59pm. Please urge your students to complete their course evaluations. 

The initial email that went out to faculty regarding the course evaluations contained a bad URL. The reminder that is sent to faculty on 2/24 contains a new URL to best practices instructors can use to increase response rates. 

Second Block Begins on March 10th

Here are some quick reminders for things you need to have done no later than the morning of Wednesday, March 10th for each of your second block courses.

In addition to the absolutely required things listed above, if you need to have course sections combined, please be sure that you have not added content to the shells prior to combining them (all content added prior to combining sections will be lost) and that you request the sections be combined as soon as possible by sending an email to with the specific sections of the course you want merged into one. Once I receive the request, I will process it and reply to let you know that your new combined shell will be available the next day.

Brightspace Upcoming Changes

Accommodations – Quiz Accommodations | New

This feature enables instructors to grant learners accommodations through the Classlist tool. Accommodation options currently available include: more time to complete quizzes at the course level and the ability to bypass right-click restrictions in quizzes. The right-click restriction in quizzes is the ability for learners to right-click in the quiz while taking the quiz.

Figure: The new Edit Accommodations dialog box

Once granted, these accommodations apply to all quiz activities in a course for that learner. The additional time can be applied in terms of quiz time multipliers (for example, 1.5x quiz time) or +minutes (for example, an additional 30 minutes) on every quiz in a course.

Quiz-specific special access can overwrite an accommodation for any user on a quiz-by-quiz basis. When you overwrite an accommodation and then click Save, a warning describing the impact of overwriting an accommodation appears. Further accommodation options and enhancements are planned for this year.

Assignments – Rubric pop-out window for consistent evaluation | Updated

This feature adds onto the Assignments – Consistent evaluation experience | New feature that was introduced in the December 2020/20.20.12 release, and the Assignments – Multiple rubric support in consistent evaluation experience | Updated feature introduced in the January 2021/20.21.1 release.

When using the new Consistent evaluation experience in Assignments, rubrics can now open to a new pop-out window when assessing assignment submissions. This change provides a larger, detailed view of rubrics in table form and encourages the use of split screens when viewing assignments.

This is an additional functionality in the new Consistent evaluation experience that matches the functionality of rubrics in Assignments when the Consistent evaluation experience is not enabled.

Assignments – Save progress and visual enhancements | Updated

This feature builds on the Assignments – The new assignment creation experience | Updated feature that was released in the January 2021/20.21.1 release.

  • Now, the Save button in the new assignment creation experience enables an instructor to save their progress while creating or editing an assignment. Previously, Save and Close was the only option.
Figure: The Save button in the new assignment creation experience
  • The scrollbars on the main and right-hand panels now appear thinner and less noticeable, providing more vertical space when creating or editing an assignment.
  • The name of the assignment appears in the immersive navbar along the top of the page.
Figure: The name of the assignment on the immersive navbar and the less obtrusive scrollbar in the new assignment creation experience

Brightspace Pulse – Course access events added to Brightspace Data Platform | New

To allow administrators and instructors to see when learners access courses from Brightspace Pulse, the app now sends course access events to the Brightspace Data Platform (BDP). The BDP stores these events, and then computes and stores the aggregated data, which can then be accessed through various course reporting tools, such as Classlist, Class Progress, Adoption Dashboard, Engagement Dashboard, and the Course Overview widget. For example, in Classlist, the Last Accessed column now displays a timestamp when a learner accesses a course from Brightspace Pulse. In the September 2020/20.20.9 release, Brightspace Pulse started sending session events to the BDP when learners logged in from the app; however, it did not send course access events when learners accessed courses from the app.

Figure: The Last Accessed column in Classlist now updated when a learner accesses a course from Brightspace Pulse

Quick Eval – Homepage widget | New

Quick Eval can now be added to organization and course homepages as a widget to allow instructors to view and access any submissions awaiting evaluation. The Quick Eval widget displays a list of up to six activities with submissions to evaluate. The activities are sorted by due date, with the earliest date first. The icon indicator in the widget shows the type of activity (assignment, discussion, or quiz), and the number of unevaluated submissions for each activity. The due date and course information are also visible below the title of each activity. Course information is only shown if the widget is accessed from the organization homepage.

Activities dismissed in the Quick Eval tool are not displayed by the Quick Eval widget.

Figure: The Quick Eval widget on the Organization homepage displaying unevaluated activities from multiple courses

Rubrics – Warning dialog for partial evaluations | Updated

Previously, if an instructor attempted to publish a partially completed rubric evaluation, the partial evaluation dialog appeared. If the instructor tapped Enter on their keyboard, the partial evaluation was published.

Now, the default button behavior has changed so that tapping Enter on the page returns the user to the rubric to complete the evaluation. This change adds a verification layer to reconsider their action and ensure that instructors are not mistakenly publishing incomplete evaluations.

Figure: The partial evaluation warning dialog appears the same, but has updated default behavior.