Technology Assistance Center Newsletter

April 2021

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

Course Evaluations

Student course evaluations for 16-week and second block courses will be available from April 20, 2021 at 8:00am – May 4, 2021 at 11:59pm. Students can access their course evaluations by going to any one of their courses in Brightspace and clicking on Course Evaluations on the navigation bar. Students will also receive an email, sent to their “preferred” email address the morning of April 20th and every other day until they complete their course evaluations.

Any students who have trouble accessing their course evaluations or who do not see courses they believe should be listed, should contact the Technology Assistance Center at 406-771-4440 for assistance prior to the end of the evaluation period. Course evaluations cannot be re-opened after the evaluation period has ended.


Brightspace Upcoming Changes

Accommodations – Improvements in Classlist, Quizzes, User Purge, and User Progress | New

The following improvements have been made in the Classlist, Quizzes, User Purge, and User Progress tools:
Improvements in Classlist for Instructors:

  • An icon now appears next to the learner’s name in the Classlist to indicate that the learner has an accommodation.
  • Instructors can filter the Classlist by Accommodations.
  • If there are no accommodations granted to a learner, the View accommodations menu option from the learner context menu in the Classlist does not appear. If the instructor role has the Add/Edit Accommodations permission, the Edit Accommodations menu option appears instead.
  • Instructors can also Print or Email a list of users with accommodations by adding the filter to those pages.

Improvements in Classlist for learners:

  • An icon appears next to learners’ own names to indicate they have an accommodation. To view accommodation details, learners can click My Accommodations from their learner context menu.
  • When commencing a quiz, the accommodation icon appears next to a learner’s quiz time to indicate that their accommodation has been applied. If a learner’s time accommodation has been overridden by a quiz-specific special access, this icon does not appear.

Improvements in Quizzes for instructors:

  • Instructors can now grant learners special access in terms of quiz time multipliers (for example, 1.5x quiz time) or +minutes (for example, an additional 30 minutes). Refer to the Quizzes – Improvements to Special Access functionality | Updated release note for more information.
  • 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 the accommodation appears. Previously, this warning appeared at the top of the Quiz special access screen. Now, it appears on clicking Save.

Improvements in User Progress:

  • The accommodations icon now appears in the User Progress tool alongside the Quiz domain if the learner has a quiz accommodation in that course
Figure: The User Progress screen (Classlist>User drop-down menu > User Progress)

Quizzes – Improvements to Special Access functionality | Updated

Instructors can now grant learners special access in terms of quiz time multipliers (for example, 1.5x quiz time) or +minutes (for example, an additional 30 minutes). For example, if an instructor has a 30-minute quiz and using the Special Access page, grants three learners 1.5x the quiz time, their updated quiz time of 45 minutes displays. Instructors no longer have to manually calculate the updated quiz time.

Note: After extending the learners quiz time by way of quiz time multipliers or +minutes on the Special Access page, if an instructor updates the duration of the quiz, the learner’s quiz time on the Special Access page does not dynamically update at this time.

Figure: The Add Special Access screen before the updated quiz time functionality
Figure: The Add Special Access screen with the updated Timing area

Assignments – Action menu for group assignments in New Assignment Evaluation Experience | New

The New Assignment Evaluation Experience now includes a drop-down menu from the group name. This menu contains links to:  

  • Email the group (opens in a new window) 
  • See all group members  
  • Instant message the group (opens in a new window) 
Figure: The drop-down action menu appears from the Group Name on the File Submission page in Assignments

Brightspace Editor – Replaces the HTML Editor | New

As of the April 2021/20.21.4 release, the new Brightspace Editor permanently replaces the previous editor in the new Assignment Evaluation Experience and the new Assignment Creation Experience. The new Brightspace Editor will be the only editor available in all new experiences released from April 2021 onwards. The new Editor will be released in the following tools at a later date:

  • Quiz Builder
  • Activity Feed
  • New Rubrics
Figure: The previous HTML Editor
Figure: The new Brightspace Editor

Assignments – Context menu on the Evaluation screen in the New Assignment Evaluation Experience | New

A new context menu appears in the side panel of the updated assignment evaluation screen. This menu links to the following:

  • Edit Activity (opens assignment page in new tab). This option appears for users who have the See and Manage Assignment Submission Folders permission.
  • Special Access Dates (opens the Edit Activity screen so users can update Special Access rules). This option requires the Set Special Access on Assignment Submission Folders permission.
Figure: The new context menu appears when grading a submission in the New Assignment Evaluation Experience

Assignments – Single file submissions open directly in the New Assignment Evaluation Experience | New

In the New Assignment Evaluation Experience, when a learner has submitted only one file, the evaluator no longer has to click into the evaluation and then into the file. The file opens directly for the evaluator, saving a click during the evaluation process. Late submission information continues to display above the file, as it currently does.

Content – URL topics now Open as External Resource by default | Updated

Previously, when a user created a new URL Content type, the Open as External Resource option was not selected by default. In some cases, this caused a Cross-Origin resource sharing (CORS) error to appear when viewing the content topics. Now, the URL Content type has the Open as External Resource check box selected by default.

When viewing a content topic that is a URL, the button to open the resource in a new window always appears so that if the content cannot load in an embedded frame, a user can choose to open the content in a new window.

Quizzes – Secure and consistent editing experience | New

For a more secure and consistent editing experience in Brightspace, creating any of the following question types now automatically filters out JavaScript and non-standard HTML: Likert, Ordering, Matching, Fill in the Blanks, Short Answer, Multi-Short Answer, Arithmetic, and Significant Figures. For existing questions containing JavaScript and non-standard HTML, the questions continue to display as intended until an instructor edits and saves the questions, which removes the JavaScript and non-standard HTML. Previously, instructors could add JavaScript or non-standard HTML to question types in order to create dynamic content for quizzes.

Note: If you don’t know whether or not this affects you, it almost certainly doesn’t affect you. 🙂 If you do have non-standard HTML or Javascript code that needs to be displayed as part of the question, please use the <code></code> tags around the code, so it displays to the learners.

Rubrics – Navigation Accessibility Improvements | Updated

To increase the value of the rubric tool in Brightspace Learning Environment, there have been accessibility improvements to the rubric creation and evaluation workflows: 

  • Screen readers now inform users of controls for adding feedback to criteria when reading the criteria group table. The table summary now includes the following text: This table lists criteria and criteria group names in the first column. The first-row lists level names and includes scores if the rubric uses a numeric scoring method. You can give feedback on each criterion by tabbing to the add feedback buttons in the table.  
  • When a score field has the focus, the screen reader now informs the user if it is a criterion score or a total score based on the field label. It also indicates which criterion the score is associated with and what action the user can take. For example: 2/4, score of Criterion 1. Press Enter to override the criterion score. 
  • Previously, the Total Score and Criterion Score fields did not clearly indicate whether the score is a manual override. The override information appeared in a tooltip that was not visible to assistive technology including screen readers; an asterisk was the only differentiator. Now, the screen reader can read the tooltip content when the Total Score or Criterion Score fields have the focus.  
  • Previously, when the Total Score was a manual override, the Clear Override button appeared; however, when Criterion Score was a manual override, the Clear Override button only appeared if the focus was on the score. Now, Clear Override appears when either the Total Score or the Criterion Score is a manual override, regardless of where the focus is. 
  • To improve usability with assistive technology, the Add Feedback button indicates to screen readers the criterion to which the feedback is associated. The Clear Feedback button also indicates the associated criterion.  
  • When the keyboard focus moves to the default rubric group or new criteria group, the screen reader now tells users the number of rubric levels and criteria in the group.  
  • Previously, users who used keyboard-only navigation and screen readers were not able to delete aligned outcomes. Now, when a user navigates to the Browse Standards button and focuses on an outcome tag, the screen reader reads the tag content and provides guidance that they can press Delete to remove the aligned outcome 
  • Previously, the screen reader only read the content of the level name and points fields and indicated that it was a text field. There was no indication of the significance of the field. Now, when the level name text field has the focus, screen readers indicate that the field is for editing the name of a specific level. When the points text field has the focus, the screen reader indicates that the field is for editing the points of a specific level. 


Webex Updates and News

Zoom In and Zoom Out in Grid View

Need to get a closer look at someone’s video? By default, the Webex Meetings desktop app grid view adjusts automatically based on the number of people in the meeting. In this update, we’re introducing a new slider, giving you more control of how many videos you want to see at any given time. Zoom in to see videos larger, or zoom out to see more people on screen.

Figure: Webex Meetings Zoomed Out
Figure: Webex Meetings Zoomed In

Customize the Stage View

Our new customizable stage allows you to easily control who or what you want in view at any time in Webex Meetings and the “all-new” Webex Events.

When in the Stack or Side by side view, you can now easily grab a participant from the filmstrip and move them to the stage. This is a great way to get a closer look at a participant, to place an active speaker right next to the content that’s being shared, or to keep users who aren’t actively speaking in view (for example, a sign-language interpreter).

Simply drag a video from filmstrip on to the stage with your mouse, or select Move to stage from the more options menu of the user you would like to move.

You can easily add and remove videos from the stage at any time. Up to four videos can be added to the stage, in addition to the shared content or active speaker.