Technology Assistance Center Newsletter
June 2020

A look at the upcoming changes and improvements to the Brightspace learning environment that will take effect during the last week of June and more!

Updates from the Technology Assistance Center

TAC Department Updates

Beginning on June 15th, TAC staff will be working in the office once again, while continuing to follow social distancing guidelines set forth by the CDC and Montana University System.

In addition to our return to campus, we also have some unanticipated leave causing the I.T. side of the TAC to be short staffed. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work as quickly as possible to fulfill your I.T. related requests. Please continue to utilize the Helpdesk Ticket Form to request assistance from I.T. and eLearning which will help us to schedule your requests and to maintain social distancing guidelines.

Fall Course Shells

Fall course shells are avaiable as of June 18th. If you need course sections combined, please email those requests to and include the specific sections you want combined. For example, if you needed WRIT 101 section 80 and section 81 combined, please phrase it with the section numbers like "Please combine WRIT 101 section 80 and 81." Please note that you must request course sections be combined prior to adding content to them. The process of combining shells creates a brand new combined shell and any existing content in either shell will be obliterated.

Course Evaluations

Summer course evaluations will run from 6/26 at 8:00 a.m. to 7/10 at 11:59 p.m. Students will access the course evaluations by navigating to any one of their courses within Brightspace and clicking Course Evaluation. The window that opens will allow the student to complete all of their current course evaluations and they do not need to go back to Brightspace to access the evaluation for another course.

Please note: The course evaluations link in Brightspace should only be used by students. Instructors will want to use to access their course evaluations dashboard and results.

Workshop Wednesdays

The Teaching and Learning Center (formerly the Faculty Development Center) began their Workshop Wednesdays a few of weeks ago and the first couple of recordings are up on the website for anyone who missed seeing them live or wishes to revisit them!

Two-Year Teaching and Tech Podcast - Coming Soon!

Coming soon to a podcast app near you! Join Mandy, Becky, and Wayne as they explore effective teaching and educational technology ideas, concepts, and tools and how they relate to two-year institutions. The first episode titled, "The one where they talk about captioning" drops on June 22nd, with new episodes published on the 2nd and 22nd of each month.

Check it out at

What's New In Webex

Webex Meetings has some sweet new features rolling out in our next monthly update!

New Webex Assistant for Webex Meetings

Enjoy automatic note-taking, live transcription, and post-meeting follow-ups, in the mobile and desktop apps.

Figure: Webex Assistant for Webex Meetings view

Default Grid View on Tablets and Smartphones

Enjoy 3x3 or 2x4 grid view on any tablet, iPhone, or Android phone or use in-app settings to switch back to a 3x2 view.

Figure: Default Grid View on mobile device

Blur Video Background on Mac

Blur distracting backgrounds during video calls when you join through the desktop app on a Mac. This feature is coming to Windows soon!

Figure: Blue Video Background on Mac view

Brightspace Changes

Assignments - Create and edit experience | New

The create and edit Assignments page will have an updated look and feel. The classic tabbed view has been transformed into a new, fully immersive page layout.

Figure: The updated look and feel of the new Assignment creation screen.

The primary panel on the left contains frequently used fields that are always displayed. These fields are most relevant to learners and are the core details instructors want to add; a due date, instructions, and attachments.

The panel on the right organizes additional, more advanced options such as start and end dates, rubrics, annotation tools, and Turnitin. When these options are collapsed, summary text provides details about which settings are active and subtle hints that aid in the discovery of additional settings. As a result, you can see everything at a glance with little to no scrolling, and without having to navigate through any tabs.

The new experience streamlines the process of linking assignments to your gradebook and builds on a pattern first introduced in Activity Feed. When you enter a score, your assignment is added to Grades, and the name and score are automatically synced for you. If you traditionally create grade items in advance, support for selecting existing grades and categories is also available.

Figure: The new add to grades workflow
Figure: The new assignment create/edit page with the opt-in/opt-out pull down menu

As an Instructor, if you are opting out of the new experience, a prompt appears encouraging you to leave feedback on the new experience.

Learning Outcomes – Transfer Rubric feedback to General feedback | Updated

Rubrics can be set to three types of visibility to learners: Always visible, Visible after assessment, and Always hidden. When a rubric is set to Always hidden, there is now a checkbox to indicate that you want the feedback provided on hidden rubrics to be displayed to learners in general feedback. The feedback from a rubric with this option enabled appears to the learner when reviewing feedback on the activity. This approach is useful when instructors provide rubrics as a marking scheme for teaching assistants (not appropriate for learners to view) but want learners to benefit from the feedback provided on those rubrics. Instructors can also use this approach to provide learners with feedback on specific criteria listed in a rubric without knowing all the details for that criteria, such as a lab simulation for nursing.

This feature was released for the Assignments tool in May 2020/20.20.5. The update is to include the Grades tool integration not previously released. This feature now includes the ability for the feedback on hidden rubrics to be visible to all assessment items, including assignments, discussions, or grade items.

Note: If you select the option to display hidden rubric feedback in general feedback, the content does not also appear on the Outcomes Progress page for the submitted learner evidence. Outcomes Progress pages are scheduled to be updated in a future release.

Figure: When you select the Rubric is hidden option, there is the option to include rubric feedback in overall feedback.

New Content Experience - Workflow and performance improvements | Updated

Previously, in the New Learner Experience, using any widget that directed you to a module or topic, such as the Content Browser widget, when you completed the module or topic, you were always returned to the Table of Contents. Now, in the New Learner Experience, using any widget that directs you to a module or topic, when you complete the module or topic, you are returned to the homepage where you launched the New Learner Experience. This feature builds on a pattern introduced in learning paths and promotes consistency.

Building on improvements made to the Table of Contents in the May 2020/20.20.5 release, you will also observe a reduced Table of Contents load time and a more responsive experience while using the New Learner Experience.

Rubrics – Accessibility improvements in Rubric creation workflow | Updated

The following updates have been made to improve the accessibility of the rubric creation workflow:

  • The button next to the page title is now labeled so a screen reader reads “Actions for [title]” when the button has the focus.
  • The Overall Score now has the proper heading level so screen reader users can navigate directly to it from the heading list. Previously, users were required to tab through all previous headings in the list first.
  • There is no longer a skipped heading level between Rubric Levels and Criterion (both level 3) and Standards (previously level 5).
  • In the rubric preview window, Criterion Score has been added as a column header. Previously, the column did not have any header text.

We're Happy to help!

If you have any questions about the upcoming changes, troubleshooting questions, or anything else related to Brightspace or the Technology Assistance Center, please let us know!

Visit us in G100,
give us a call at 406-771-4440,
or fill out our support form at,

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