Distance Education https://www.pcc.edu/distance Wed, 22 Mar 2017 23:47:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.3 Big changes to D2L for Summer 2017 https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/03/big-changes-to-d2l-for-summer-2017/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/03/big-changes-to-d2l-for-summer-2017/#comments Tue, 21 Mar 2017 19:24:40 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/distance/?p=7620 Announcing a change for distance education

Tired of those blue stripes, dated looking widgets, and small fonts in D2L? Summer 2017 brings a clean new design with a modern interface (and bigger fonts) to D2L! This update will also make D2L truly mobile-friendly. Additionally, PCC Gmail will be integrated with D2L so that students and faculty no longer have to manage two separate PCC email accounts.

Things to note about the Summer update

  • No major changes to how D2L functions and where to find tools, just a better looking interface.
  • Much improved mobile experience.
  • One familiar email tool for all of your classes (f2f and online).
  • Lots of options for training on email management strategies (i.e videos, webinars, in-person sessions, and 1-1 appointments).


Many of you have been using D2L since we adopted it in 2010. Visually, not much has changed with the interface. D2L has been doing intensive testing with students and instructors to modernize the interface. Many now access D2L from multiple devices and sometimes struggle with the current layout on mobile devices. Some students (and newer instructors and staff) scoff at the dated LMS look. We believe Daylight will modernize the interface without causing confusion for long-term users.

the daylight interface is much lighter

This is a preview of the Daylight interface when you first log into D2L. This is not the final version as there will be a few more updates before we launch during the break week on June 20th. However, it hopefully gives you a glimpse of some of the changes. The layout of most of the tools will remain the same.

PCC Gmail replacing D2L email

We are going to be replacing the internal D2L email tool with PCC Gmail. Having separate email systems has been problematic for students for years, and with the recent increase in campus-instructors using D2L, the complications of separate email systems has only increased confusion among our users.

Starting in summer, messages generated in D2L will be delivered to PCC Gmail. This includes messages sent from the classlist and from the homepage. The interface to send the messages will still look roughly the same, and you will still be able to send messages directly from the classlist, discussion, gradebook and other tools. Here’s the new compose window from the classlist:

The email interface remains the same when sending from the classlist

Notice that the subject automatically includes the name of the course? We know that one of the biggest concerns about this change was the potential to lose student messages in the sea of PCC email messages. Putting the course in the subject line will be just one of many ways to help you manage these messages. We will be offering a number of training opportunities, videos, and drop-in sessions over the coming months (though more in May, June, and September) to help ease the transition.

The D2L email tool hasn’t seen any development for years and is really on a end of life path. We want to get ahead of the change and move to a better platform that supports mobile users and greatly reduces confusion for students.

Next Steps

Over the coming months, we will continue to make slight updates to the interface based on our testing and feedback. We will also be offering updates as we approach the June 20th date, including a number of training opportunities in a variety of modalities. The training sessions will show you how to master your Gmail inbox and avoid losing any messages from your students. Please stay tuned for more updates via email.

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The various flavors of course development https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/03/the-various-flavors-of-course-development/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/03/the-various-flavors-of-course-development/#respond Mon, 13 Mar 2017 23:01:43 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/distance/?p=7604 Picture of variety of yummy ice cream

               Copyright: pitrs / 123RF Stock Photo

Baskin Robbins is known for promoting 31 flavors of ice cream. Sometimes it seems we have a comparable number of course development options here at PCC, though in this brief post, I have time to include our usual vanilla and chocolate, and add the variations of rainbow sherbet and perhaps even spumoni. This topic is complex, and throughout the years Distance Education has endeavored to find the best approach given limited funding, the desire for academic freedom in course creation, the need for guidance on quality course design, and time for course reviews. There are actually a number of methods to choose from, and much depends on personal preference and guidelines already established by a specific SAC.

One of the most common methods at PCC is for an instructor to take on an existing course that has already been developed and reviewed by an online faculty mentor using our Quality Matters based course review rubric. A number of SACs, e.g. HE, CAS, CIS, CH, have opted to maintain one main version of each online course, and they update that version on a consistent basis depending on the need. This often involves a collaborative effort of a few instructors, sometimes one from each campus. In this way, it is easier to maintain a current course that new online instructors can use as a starting point. As for flexibility to make changes, this varies by the SAC, but all disciplines that I’m aware of allow the freedom to adjust some of the discussions and add some personal touches to the content. Still, being locked into one main shell with few options for creative choice can feel quite restrictive.

Picture of man in a room with multiple doors closed, starring at one red door with a ladder up to it.

                 Copyright: ismagilov / 123RF Stock Photo

One of the often expressed concerns about starting with a pre-developed “takeover” course in this way is the desire to create a totally personalized course and the need for students to have a choice of different learning experiences. These are valid concerns. On the flip side, the barriers we run into with a system of totally personalized courses include lack of funding to support those course development efforts and lack of support staff needed to guide new course development, review those courses, and help keep them current in future years. Indeed, faculty in many SACs do have the option of creating their own personalized course from scratch, even when a previously developed and approved course already exists. There is no Distance Education funding for this type of development, but it is possible. Such courses also need to be reviewed and recommended just like any other course development.

The course development options mentioned above fall on the extreme ends of the spectrum – a SAC course that allows for minimal changes, and a completely personalized course. I would like to call your attention to possible variations of these flavors that fall toward the middle of the spectrum.

Picture of palette with mixture of paint colors and paintbrush.

               Copyright: maria111 / 123RF Stock Photo

Recently, a team from our Communication Studies SAC collaborated to develop a COMM 214 course that is basically 75% complete. The result is viewed as a “master course” that all instructors start with, yet the individual voice of the instructor is preserved because instructors need to add their own color to the mix in the form of personalized learning content. Communication Studies instructor Stacie Williams recently presented on this collaborative course development method at the national Quality Matters and ITC conferences, and I’m sure she would be happy to provide more information.

I recently learned of another variation of the “master course” concept through an ITC conference presentation by Angela Davis and Cristina Sullivan from Tarrant County College. They use a team approach to develop a “master shell” for each course. The flexible component built into their design approach is to create many more lessons than are needed, e.g. 24-40 lessons from which each instructor selects 16 to use any given term. In this way, there is choice in terms of selecting content and activities. Before going live, the course is reviewed by a team including a department chair, instructional designer, dean, and their equivalent to our district SAC. This master course needs to be maintained, but it never needs to be built again.

Colorful rainbow eye on white background

Copyright: delcreations / 123RF Stock Photo

My question to you, would one of these alternative approaches to course development, or a variation of one, be something of interest in your subject area? I know there are good chances of finding funds for collaborative design efforts. Let’s start the conversation. I encourage you to share your thoughts by posting a comment, or feel free to contact me directly, and I will help facilitate the conversation with those who need to be involved to help you discover the color palette choice that works best for your situation.

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Communication is key when it comes to serving students with disabilities https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/03/communication-is-key-when-it-comes-to-serving-students-with-disabilities/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/03/communication-is-key-when-it-comes-to-serving-students-with-disabilities/#comments Mon, 06 Mar 2017 17:55:12 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/distance/?p=7573 John Hinman

John Hinman evaluates the VI accessibility of 3rd party applications and online homework platforms for Distance Education at PCC . He is also a graduate of PCC and a student at PSU.

An ideal best practices educational scenario involves what I like to call the communication triangle. In truth it is more like a circle with the student on one side and the instructor on the other; however, for visually impaired (VI) students, it is a triangle. This is because the disabilities office comes into the picture.

The Student

I’ll begin with the student. The student holds all the cards. This is because the student is the one learning and paying. This means they are in a position where self-advocacy is key.
Students who query their instructors as needed stand to benefit most from the higher education system.

The Disability Services Office

Likewise, VI students who make the extra effort to keep the disabilities office as well as their instructor on the same page, will experience maximum benefit from the system. Bear in mind that the disabilities office does not police the situation beyond an initial beginning of term introduction. From there, it is up to the student and the instructor to shape a student’s educational experience.

The Instructor

As for the instructor, a willingness to be open to and keep up on correspondence is very important. Each student has different needs of course, but situations are complex. I have personally found that instructors who mention their willingness and comfort with direct correspondence for questions and advice are much easier to understand.
I once had an English instructor who told all of us on the first day of class, “If you don’t have a degree, you won’t get an A in this class.” Needless to say, I dropped the class. Later, I took an English class where the instructor made it mandatory to see her twice at different times throughout the term. At first this seemed strange but having an instructor at your fingertips for questioning can make all the difference; especially in a course where the instructors methodological preferences impact grades.

In closing it is really the communication that makes the wheels of education turn. This is doubly so for a VI student. Students must advocate for themselves. However, self-advocacy is not helpful if instructors don’t want to make the extra effort. Likewise, students may be stubborn to ask for help or unsure about asking if the situation is unclear to them. In these cases the instructor can always reach out first, which will make all the difference.

John Hinman evaluates the VI accessibility of 3rd party applications and online homework platforms for Distance Education at PCC . He is also a graduate of PCC and a student at PSU. He has been blind for 14 years.

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Project Learning Glass https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/02/project-learning-glass/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/02/project-learning-glass/#respond Mon, 27 Feb 2017 20:02:39 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/distance/?p=7534


Since this post is a little long I’ll give you the condensed version:

  • ‘Learning Glass’ is our team’s name for the myriad of illuminated transparent whiteboard solutions blooming in instructional technology, especially since we’ve evolved plans initially posted from SDSU
  • ‘Project Learning Glass’ is the name we’ve coined our efforts to create one with student help in our Machine Manufacturing program here at PCC.
  • PCC now has a Learning Glass! Want to produce some of this content for your course? Apply for Spring 17 Video Camp by Monday, March 13th at 8 AM
  • Faculty input on emerging instructional technology helped drive our selection and adoption of Learning Glass- your input from the field directly influences how we support you!

Background of the project

Instructor interest in transparent whiteboards began to bloom here at PCC in spring 2016 just as we were hearing about the technology in distance learning via an Instructional Technology Council (ITC) webinar titled “Learning with Glass” (Spaces- PCC login required.) Initial feedback about transparent whiteboards from the field was positive and media created seems to improve instructor presence online. At the same time, discussions in our distance ed emergent technology workgroup at the state level uncovered interest in transparent whiteboards concurrently growing at Chemeketa. Sage Freeman, Chemeketa’s instructional media specialist and I coordinated a trip to OSU with faculty to explore the pros and cons of a retail off the shelf solution they are already using in their studio. OSU’s Nick Yee and team graciously hosted our crew in their studio for a morning of intensive exploration. We discover that OSU’s off the shelf version cost approximately 8K, well above what we’ve got to explore with.

Armed with information, hope, and the creativity induced by restrictive budgets, we return to our respective institutions and move forward…


DL technology manager Andy Freed used the plans from SDSU and a little additional guidance from lightboard.info to improve our version based on feedback from our trip to OSU. He was stalwart in his following up with leads to get us connected with the Machine Manufacturing folks, a budget for ingredients, and a student who could create our mounting brackets to specification. Once bracket mount construction was concluded, we moved forward into assembling the board and conducting tests. Although we haven’t yet had our pioneer Bryan Hull back to try the PCC version yet- He’s our faculty who used the gear down at OSU and would be able to give the best comparative feedback once he returns in the spring.


  • Instructors can face the camera when they are presenting, allowing for natural body gestures and eye contact which improves instructor presence
  • Less post-production is needed, and instructors can be coached to pause whenever an error is made making ‘clean up work’ simple and quick
  • Getting our hands and gesturing involved in communication may be beneficial to guiding focus and learning
  • Students are also responding positively, reporting that being able to see their instructor and lecture content concurrently is “pretty cool”

Current status

We are now recording initial content with faculty, you can see our earliest work starting to bloom here on PCC’s Video Production Unit Playlist on YouTube – look for BA 211. Next term, Video Camp will focus on productions that will use learning glass so that we have the opportunity to build a body of work to help us all learn how to best utilize and support this technology.

Cost savings

While a commercial off the shelf solution cost OSU over 8k, PCC’s DIY solution cost approximately one-fourth. A DIY solution was possible for us at PCC because we have a large institution full of resources like the MakerSpace and budget that supports values dedicated to continuous improvement of course development and delivery.

Student participation= win

We’re always happy to find opportunities for our students to apply their skills to help our community solve problems and raise self-sufficiency. We create career collateral for our students from the participation products that emerge from these partnerships. A win/win was found in our Machine Manufacturing shop, where both equipment and abilities were available to help us machine our mounts. We now understand the process and can replicate it to improve access to this technology at a cost that makes more sense to our community college budgets.

Faculty excitement, yay!

We love to support faculty innovation, so we strive to match toolkit candidates with emergent technologies which are turning our faculty on. We explore a wide set of technology tools to instructional problems and then diligently select appropriate solutions to evolve forward in concert with faculty instructional plans and institutional goals. We were lucky in this case that Bryan Hull stepped up to inquire about Learning Glass in synchronicity to when our team had just participated in a similarly themed webinar. As faculty who use these tools ‘where the rubber meets the road, you can help us improve our luck by connecting with us to let us know which emerging instructional technologies catch your interest as they do.

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Announcing Kaltura My Media update https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/02/announcing-kaltura-my-media-update/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/02/announcing-kaltura-my-media-update/#respond Wed, 22 Feb 2017 22:17:02 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=7519 We’ve been using Kaltura to host streaming media for over 5 years and have been very happy with the platform. We haven’t been the happiest with the upload tool, but that’s about to change. On Wednesday, March 8th, we’ll be updating the Kaltura integration so that you (instructors) will see a “My Media” link on the navbar in D2L Brightspace.

My Media will allow you to see all the videos you’ve uploaded in the past in a single place. You’ll still add videos to your pages, announcements, and discussions using the Insert Stuff tool, but now it will be much easier to add and create new media. To add media, just click the Add New button and select your media type.
add new button in Kaltura

Media Upload

This first option allows you to upload your own video or audio files from your computer (or device). When you select the media, it will start uploading and allow you to add a title, description, and tags for the media. We already have an extensive set of tags based on PCC’s subject areas (e.g. aviation science), but you’re welcome to add any that seem useful. A good description will help you find the video later.

Webcam recordings

The old webcam recorder was flaky. Sometimes it would work, and sometimes you’d finish recording your weekly update and *poof* it would stop responding. The new recorder works much better. You have the same options for titling and describing your video here as well.

the new webcam interface for kaltura

CaptureSpace Lite

Lastly, you can download and install the CaptureSpace Lite application to your computer and do screen captures, webcam captures, or both, then do some simple editing before uploading to the Kaltura server. I’m really excited about this functionality because it allows you to capture from almost any computer without having a license for Camtasia. We’ll still recommend Camtasia for the hardcore screen capturing folks or if you need better editing tools, callouts, the ability to add captions, etc. Here’s a very quick demo.

Insert the media

When you want to add your media in to your course, just launch the Insert Stuff option from the HTML editor and select My Media and search for your media.

My Media is now an option in Insert Stuff

We hope you’ll find the new interface far easier to use. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for assistance creating media for your course, but this will help those of you who already are creating content.

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D2L CD 10.6.11 update for March 2017 https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/02/d2l-cd-10-6-11-update-for-march-2017/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/02/d2l-cd-10-6-11-update-for-march-2017/#respond Wed, 22 Feb 2017 00:25:24 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=7516 I swear I just posted the February updates, but the March updates are coming soon as well. It’s leading up to more robust changes coming this summer. The update lands on Friday, March 17th.

Grade Exemption workflow

Do you have a student with whom you arranged missing some activity but then their grade gets thrown off? This tool allows you add grading exemptions so that the missed activity doesn’t count against their grade. This may not be very exciting for most instructors, but for those of you who do end up in a situation where you’ve allowed an exception, you can now easily manage these agreements without there being too much clickety-clicking.

Further updates to Quiz tool

There are a few more updates to the new Quiz tool interface, including an option to require students to answer all “blanks” in the short answer format. You can now either score against (-.5 pts) blanks or require some input to the blanks.

If you decide not to use the new interface, there’s a quick question that pops up asking you why you’ve not adopted it. This will help the developers/designers understand your reason(s).

Non-D2L updates

There are a few updates that are timed about the same as the new CD release that are worth mentioning.

Kaltura MyMedia

I think the biggest is an update to the Kaltura streaming media server interface that will make it way easier to upload your own media and make recording your webcam far simpler. There will be a larger announcement shortly.

a preview of the My Media tool in D2L

A preview of the new My Media area in D2L. It lets you upload videos, do screen captures, and do webcam recordings easily. Click the image for a full size image.

BB Collaborate Ultra

This web conferencing tool also gets monthly updates. Some recent updates that you may be interested in include:

  • Ability to present from Firefox with a WebRTC extension
  • Chat transcript can be included in the recording
  • You can now get a shareable link to a recording, making it easier to share the link with your students.
  • Students can attend your office hours, etc., from an iOS device with the BB Student app.
  • Collaborate Ultra now supports up to 250 participants. Just don’t have everyone use their webcam….

See more updates on the Release Notes page.

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Ready, Set, Go! But when? https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/02/ready-set-go-but-when/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/02/ready-set-go-but-when/#comments Mon, 20 Feb 2017 18:00:35 +0000 https://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=7455 Fingers on the starting line for a race trackMany of us online teachers used to, or still, teach in the classroom. On the first day of class I used to arrive at the classroom early to find numerous students already waiting. Showing up early gave me a chance to chat with my students and they could get to know me. Having this calm time before class started helped me feel more relaxed on Day 1 of class. I propose that a similar experience can happen with online students.

Do you open your D2L shells to your online students: 9am on Monday? midnight? Perhaps you’re ready and open your class Sunday afternoon. Might I suggest a new best practice: let’s open our online classes one week before the terms starts.

Results from a volunteer sample of my current MTH 243 students

In preparation for this  blog post, I surveyed my two sections of online MTH 243 about the early opening of the D2L class. Twenty-five students responded to my survey. Friday before the term started I sent out an email letting my students know the class was open early: 48% of the students opened the class early or completed work, 8% opened the class Monday or later, while 44% didn’t know the class was open early.

Did you know that Mrs. Ward opened the online MTH 243 before the official start of the term? 48% of students accessed the class early, 44% didn’t notice that it was opened early.

Let’s explore a few great reasons why opening your D2L class early benefits the students and teachers.

Students can start learning sooner
  • If your class is opened up early, students can have up to a week’s time to start reading a completing their first assignments. Because the dues dates are still days away, there’s less stress about deadlines.
  • Students who are new to online learning my be anxious about taking an online class because the face-to-face class may not be an option for them this term. With extra time to browse the classroom, the student can learn to navigate the classroom at their own pace. There’s also time to get their questions answered from the instructor or classmates without the burden of deadlines.
  • Do you use publisher materials? A few extra days before class starts can allow students to sign up for, say, MyStatLab before the term starts. The student is then ready to read by Day 1.
Students can make an informed decision about their fit in your class
  • Have you had a student with different abilities? If so, the student can see if your class needs some modifications sooner rather than later. Videos would have a chance to be captioned before the term starts so the wait-time for close-captioning wouldn’t put the student behind schedule.
  • Students can be fickle. A student may choose another class if they find your style of teaching to not jive with how they learn. The sooner the student learns this, the student can sign up for a different class and not lose precious days of learning.
  • “[I would drop the course] if the course work is way to far above my current level of knowledge and it is apparent that I should take a more gradual course instead of such a steep one.” – Taylor
Less stress for you, the instructor
  • Back in my early teaching days,  I was still creating my D2L shell Sunday before class started. I was frazzled leading up to the first day of class. My ways have since changed. When I open my class a week (or even 3 days) early, I am fully relaxed for the first day of class. I can enjoy my weekend before class starts, too!
  • I also like the opportunity to start grading my students’ Mathography (math biography), which gives me more time to respond to questions and “be present” during the first week of classes. The students answer 5 questions about their math history, their expectations for statistics, and if there are any events in their life that could make it a challenge to successfully complete their course. I use this time to respond to everyone with a personal message and welcome them to class.

Thirteen students gave me feedback about how far in advance to open a class. The sample is small, but the general preference is 3-7 days early, with 1 week early being most popular.

survey results pie chart

Would you like to see all online classes opened before the first day of the term? If so, how many days? 54% say 1 week early, 39% say 3 days early. 8% gave some other response.

I asked a couple more questions in the survey regarding what makes students stay or leave an online class, since a class that is opened early give students the opportunity to chance their mind about the class they have signed up for.

What characteristics of a course would make you stay in the course?

  • “The more open the communication channels the more likely I am to be excited to learn because I know the support is there.” – Taylor
  • “A detailed syllabus is helpful with clear dates for exams and assignments.” – Andrea
  • “Have a positive voice and presence. Give clear expectations.” – Grace
  • “All coursework is laid out for the quarter and you are able to visualize the due dates.” – Eleanor
  • “I like to see a layout of the course so I know what I am getting myself into.” – Bradley
  • “Organization, accessibility of the professor, exam procedures, lots or resources.” – Laura

What characteristics of a course would make you drop the course?

  • “Too many due dates throughout the week, too many assignments due the first day, expectations that aren’t clear.” – Destinee
  • “Heavy “busy work” load, deadlines and schedules that conflict with other classes and obligations.” – Grace
  • “I have had a variety of classes and for me that is the surprise. Every teacher has a different method or way, so I don’t think I would drop the course even if I had a chance to browse prior to the start of the term. It’s hard to get an understanding about an instructors methods by simply viewing the class set up.” – a student

The extra planning to open your class early benefits students so they organize their school and life schedule for the next three months, make an informed decision about the accessibility of your course, and start learning when due dates are not looming. You, too, may enjoy the calm start to the term. Overall, it’s win-win!

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Send a Course Progress Notification (CPN) https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/02/send-a-course-progress-notification-cpn/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/02/send-a-course-progress-notification-cpn/#comments Sat, 18 Feb 2017 21:51:18 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=7506 Do you have students in your online courses who are struggling after midterms?  Do they know that they are struggling and do they know who to contact for assistance?  How about students who are doing well in your course, could they use feedback from you to reinforce their progress in your course?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should consider sending feedback to your students using the Course Progress Notification (CPN) tool.

What is a CPN?

A CPN is an early alert tool that allows instructors to quickly provide feedback to students regarding their course progress.  This can include notes about attendance, participation, grades and overall performance.  Additionally, the CPN tool allows instructors to include directions, resources and referrals that can help students get back on track. When you complete a CPN the information you entered is sent to the student’s PCC email account.  In some instances a copy is sent to advising staff if the student receiving the CPN is connected with a Trio program or Oregon Promise.

When to complete a CPN?

CPNs can be submitted at any time during the term.  You should consider using the tool whenever you have a student in one of your courses who is struggling.  With that being said, the tool can be most effective during the first half of the term as this provides students with enough time to evaluate their progress, seek out assistance, and improve their performance before the end of the term.

Students who are on Academic Probation or Academic Continued Probation are required to request CPNs from all their instructors during the fifth or sixth week of the term.  Once received, students review their CPNs with an academic advisor.

How can you find and use the CPN tool?

Go to the MyPCC Faculty tab and click on Summary Class List in the Tools channel.

On the Class Summary List, or roster, click on the CPN link located at the far right of each student name

Select the message type that addresses your concerns or commendations.  You also have the option to providing a current course grade and space additional comments.

After the CPN entry form has been completed, you can preview the message prior to sending it to the student. Both you and the student will receive the CPN email.

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D2L CD update 10.6.10 for February 2017 https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/02/d2l-cd-update-10-6-10-for-february-2017/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/02/d2l-cd-update-10-6-10-for-february-2017/#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2017 17:05:44 +0000 http://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=7492 February’s release is primarily focused on Daylight preparation, so you won’t see some of the updates until June 20th. There are a few nice updates that will appeal to many though.

Math & HTML updates

If you use the equation editor in your classes, the HTML editor has been updated so that you can actually see your equations while in editing a document. This is a vast improvement over the yellow placeholder box in previous versions.  Take a look:

Example of the new equation layout

The new format allows you to see the equation while you’re editing your post!

Example of the old equation layout

The old equations showed up with a placeholder image. Is this the right equation? I sure hope so…

Short Answer Question design

This month’s quiz interface update comes to the Short Answer Question format. It uses the new responsive design that gives you a bit of a preview for Daylight. It’s nothing fancy, but I figured I should share something new from the update.

Firefox/Updates link fix

A few of you  noticed that if you clicked on a link in the Updates widget that it would load the link within the Updates widget and it was very cramped. This has been fixed in the new release. Here’s an example, for historical reasons.

Assignments is awkwardly loading in the Updates widget

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Make your class activities Pulse friendly https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/02/make-your-class-activities-pulse-friendly/ https://www.pcc.edu/distance/2017/02/make-your-class-activities-pulse-friendly/#respond Mon, 13 Feb 2017 18:00:11 +0000 https://www.pcc.edu/about/distance/?p=7466 D2L has a student focused mobile app called Pulse that allows students to see what activities and due dates are approaching. Recently, the app was updated to allow students to view rudimentary content and reply to discussion posts. The app is intended to help students stay on top of their work, but it’s only as good as the information in the calendar tool in D2L Brightspace.

Here’s a student introduction to the Pulse app and how to use it at PCC. A glossier intro video from D2L is available, and it’s much shorter.

Here are a few things you can do to improve the usefulness of the tool.

Check “Display in Calendar”

Most activities, like Assignments, Quizzes, and Discussions, allow you to set the start and end dates for each activity. You can automatically add those dates to the calendar simply by clicking on the Display in Calendar option. This is usually found under the Restrictions tab where you set the date information.

The Display in Calendar check box

Use HTML for content

You’ve probably heard this chorus for us for decades by now, but it’s true. Using HTML – especially using one of our DL templates – means  your content will likely display well on a mobile device. HTML and our style sheets allow the content to size appropriately for the device. If you’re interested in learning more, talk to one of our Instructional Technology Specialists.

Frequent updates

We have waited to promote Pulse until we though the features were compelling enough for our students. Each Continuous Delivery update brings new features, so the app is evolving rapidly. It will remain a student-centric app and is never intended to replace the web interface that we use on a daily basis. Fortunately, the whole interface is getting an update after Spring term. We’ll have some opportunities for you to see the new interface in March.


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