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This content was published: October 30, 2017. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

Using Release Conditions to guide your students

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Why use Release Conditions?

Release conditions allow you to create a custom learning path through the materials in your course. When you attach a release condition to an item, your students won’t be able to view or access that item until they meet the associated condition.

For example:

  1. Require students to complete an activity (i.e. Syllabus Quiz, Introduce Yourself,etc.) before accessing course content.
  2. Require students to obtain a certain percentage on an activity (i.e. 100% on Syllabus Quiz) to access content items.
  3. Require student to complete a non-graded activity before accessing a graded activity.
  4. Release an answer key to students who completed the assignment.

If you attach multiple conditions to an item, students must meet all conditions before they can access the item. For example, you could require students to complete a Syllabus Quiz with a 100%, post an initial post and 2 replies to the Introduce Yourself discussion, and get an 85% on a Math Skills Assessment.

Release condition for module
Release condition for topic

Instructors need to identify whether students are meeting the learning outcomes beforehand and guide them through the content. Have you read Peter’s excellent blog post back in August 2017 about Make the spacing effect work for online students where he describe using 3 strategies: spacing, interleaving, and variation to promote learning.

You can make release conditions more powerful and effective by using it along with Intelligent Agent. Read Andy’s blog post on March 2016 on New, more powerful Release Conditions where he talked about combining the Release Conditions and Intelligence Agent tool in D2L Brightspace to automate routine activities in a course like sending an email when a student has completed a quiz with a low score. He also showed an example how to set one up.

NOTE: Once a student meets a release condition, the condition is cleared for that student and cannot be reset. For example, if you attach a release condition to a discussion topic requiring students to achieve more than 60% on a quiz before they can access that topic, and one of your participants receives 72% on the quiz but you adjust their grade to 55% they will be able to access the topic because they did meet the requirement at some point.

Where do you access Release Conditions?

Depending on the tool, release conditions can be found in various places. Follow this instructions to learn more how to add Release Conditions. The Release Condition icon Release condition icon1 or Release condition icon2will be displayed any time a release condition is involved with a tool. You always place the release condition on the item that you would like to be released, not on the item that triggers its release. For example, if I want a content topic to be released after a quiz has been taken, I will place the release condition on the content topic, not the quiz.

Below is an example of creating a release condition inside the Assignment.

Create release condition in Assignment tool

Choose a release condition item

  • Content modules and topics
  • Discussion forums and topics
  • Assignments
  • Quizzes
  • Checklist
  • Custom widgets
  • Grade items and categories
  • Intelligent Agents
  • Announcements items
  • Surveys
Practical advice for using release conditions
  • Inform your students
    One drawback about using release condition is your students do not know that you are using them unless you let them know beforehand. Let them know that you have set up these release conditions by posting in the Announcements, or post in the descriptions of the module/topic, etc.
  • Don’t overdo it!
    It will lose the meaning of why you’re using it in the first place.
    It is easy to get carried away creating release conditions along your course. It is a great idea to use it sparingly as needed. Don’t burden students by making your course a maze. They will spend more time navigating your course instead of learning the content.
  • Set up conditions before students access the course
    Create all of your course materials and set up your release conditions before the course opens to students. This gives you a chance to check for mistakes in the conditions or for circular, contradictory, or unnecessary conditions. If you add new release conditions after students have accessed the course, students might be confused by resources disappearing. Since conditions cannot be reset, you also risk having students meet conditions before your resources are ready (for example, accessing a content topic before it is finished).
  • Avoid unnecessary conditions
    Each condition you associate with a tool takes additional time for Brightspace to process. Using as few conditions as possible to set up a learning path minimizes the amount of time that students spend waiting for pages to load. For example, you set up a content topic, a quiz, and an assignment submissions folder for the second week of class. You want students to read the topic before taking the quiz, and you want them to read the topic and attempt the quiz before submitting the week’s work to the assignment submissions folder. For the assignment submissions folder, you only need to attach the condition that students attempt the quiz. Since students must read the content topic before they can take the quiz, it is not necessary to add this condition to the assignment submissions folder.
  • Avoid circular references
    A circular reference makes it impossible for students to satisfy a set of conditions. For example, if you set the condition that students must view a content topic before they can access an assignment submissions folder, and then set a condition that they must submit a file to the assignment submissions folder before they can access the content topic, you have a circular reference. Students can’t satisfy either condition without satisfying the other one first. Circular references are more likely to occur with long chains of conditions. For example, a content topic that depends on a quiz that depends on an assignment submissions folder that depends on a checklist that depends on the content topic.
  • Avoid impossible conditions
    Ensure that your conditions are not impossible for students to satisfy. For example, a condition that students must achieve greater than 100% on a grade item would be impossible (unless the grade item is set to Can Exceed). If students are unable to satisfy a condition, they are unable to access the content or tools to which the condition is attached.
  • Avoid contradictory conditions
    Contradictory conditions occur when two or more conditions that cancel each other out are associated with an item. For example, the conditions Student must achieve greater than 49.9% on Grade Item 1 and Student must achieve less than 50% on Grade Item 1 are contradictory. Students cannot satisfy both conditions at the same time; they would not be able to see the item associated with these conditions.
  • Release content based on learning ability and course performance
    Include additional content in your course specifically for students who need extra help and release this content to students who score below a specified threshold on a quiz or grade item. Alternately, release a special survey to students who attain a high score.
  • Release content in stages
    To reveal content topics to students only after they have read prior content, attach release conditions on the subsequent topics or modules that require students to view earlier topics. This can provide a clear path through the material and prevent students from becoming overwhelmed by a large table of contents at the start of the course.
  • Customize content for groups within a course
    If your course has group projects and you want to provide different instructions or resources for each group, you can create separate content topics or modules for each project and attach release conditions based on group enrollment. Group members working on one project will see content related to their work without being distracted by content not relevant to them.
  • Use a checklist to organize activities
    You can create a checklist that lists the activities students should complete throughout the course. For example, a checklist for the first week might include reading the course’s introductory content, posting to an introductory discussion topic, and submitting a list of learning goals to assignment submissions folder. You can set release conditions based on students checking off items from their checklist. For example, you might release an Announcements item on your course’s homepage once students check off that they have completed the first week’s activities.
  • Use intelligent agents to monitor student activity or non-activity
    You can set up intelligent agents with release conditions using the not operator to intervene with students who have not completed course work. For example, create an intelligent agent that sends a reminder email to students who have not yet completed a quiz attempt or submitted an assignment to an assignment submissions folder.
  • Test it yourself by being a student in your own class
    Try it out yourself how easy and how long it takes for students to navigate inside your class. Your students may have their own personal agenda why they take online class, so they may have different expectation when they take your class. Again, the keyword is: to guide your students!
Still have questions?

Don’t worry, if you still have any questions or need more guidance, contact the Online Faculty Helpdesk (email dlhelp@pcc.edu), 971-722-8227 or contact the Instructional Technology Specialist will be there to help you every step of the way. Good luck!