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This content was published: January 17, 2017. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

Other ways to display content in D2L

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In my last blog post, I talked about ways you can use the style sheet in the D2L template to make really boffo-looking HTML pages.

But there are many other ways to display content in D2L.

First a few words about what I mean by “content”:

D2L has a standard link to the Content tool on the navbar, but you can link to almost anything in the Content tool, including traditional learning activities like Discussions, Assignments, and Quizzes. For the purposes of our discussion today, when I talk of “content,” I mean traditional files – the type of file that lives in your “Manage files” area – or a resource that lives elsewhere on the web, and which displays inside the Content tool in D2L. Maybe the simplest way to think of content is that it’s one of the choices in the top-half of the box that appears when you click the Upload / Create button:

upload / create dropdown menu





In Greg’s blog post in November, he pointed out that curating content on the web is just as valuable as creating your own content. But you can combine curation and creation by selecting “Create a link” and then linking to a Google Doc – either one of your own, or someone else’s doc that you have access to. The Google Doc will display nicely in the Content tool in D2L, like this:

how a google doc displays in D2L







Adding a Google Doc

If you want to display a Google Doc like this, simply follow these steps:

  1. From your Google Drive, open the document you want to display and click the Share button in the upper right-hand corner
  2. Under Link sharing, select the setting that says others can view, then click Get shareable link
  3. Now that the link is copied to your clipboard, go back into D2L and open the module where you want to display the page
  4. Click the Upload / Create button and select Create a Link
  5. In the Title box, type in the name you want students to see in the module (e.g. “Directions for homework assignment”) and in the URL field, paste the link to the Google Doc from your clipboard
  6. Click the Create button

Your Google Doc will now display in the frame of the page for your students – and the really nice thing is that you don’t need to know HTML in order to keep this page updated. As long as you keep the document updated in your Google Docs, it will always be updated for your students.

Keep in mind!

One thing to keep in mind: Use headings, lists, and other accessible formats that will allow users with disabilities to access these pages. Distance Ed’s accessibility guide contains great tips on how to make your content accessible.

Word docs and PDFs also display beautifully in D2L, but again you will want to create them so that they are accessible. And updating Word docs and PDFs is somewhat onerous, as you need to replace the source file with a new, updated file, unlike an HTML page or Google doc that can be updated on the fly.

Each format has its own advantages and disadvantages, but linking to a Google Doc in D2L has the fewest disadvantages of any approach I have yet seen. Try it and see how it works for you and your students.