Quarterly Updates for Winter 2021
Here are a few notable changes in our online learning ecosystem that supports your online, hybrid and remote classes. Most of the updates happened over the last few months, and while we provide monthly updates, we think these quarterly updates posts do a more complete job of highlighting the most notable changes.
If you missed the previous post, here are the Fall 2020 Quarterly Updates.
Brightspace serves as the core of our online learning ecosystem. These changes have been made over the last few months or are being enabled in time for Winter 2021.
Now students can retake a quiz and only have to answer the questions they got wrong the first time. This is a new setting you can apply to your quizzes and is just one option. Students can still retake the quiz with all the questions. However, this option is great for formative assessment.
Word count in Discussion posts
Discussion posts now show a word count to the author and the readers in posts. This feature was tested by a few faculty members in fall term with great responses so we’ve enabled it for all courses.
If you haven’t tried out QuickEval yet, I strongly recommend taking a look. Here’s a QuickEval demo of how you can use it to filter by specific course activities and more. You can access QuickEval from the menu from the main Brightspace home page.
DL Template feedback
We’ll be reaching out over the coming weeks to get feedback on our DL template. We’ve used the same template for several years for most online classes and some hybrid/campus classes. The template includes mobile-friendly and accessible HTML pages and a standard modular design. It’s worked very well for a while, but we’re working on the next iteration.
New Assignment creation workflow
D2L has been working on updating the way that you will create new assignments for many months. We are now enabling the feature for January but you can still opt-out of it if you want to use the old interface. The new interface is meant to put all the most important options at your fingertips and reduce the number of steps when creating a new assignment. If you decide to opt-out, there’s an option to leave feedback that D2L’s developers receive. The old interface will be retired before June 2021.
File type restrictions
For security reasons, students can no longer submit files with certain extensions. This includes cgi, cmd, jar, lib, pl, ps, sh, and vbscript. Students can still upload text files and zip files.
For a complete list of updates, see our Continuous Delivery page.
Zoom gets used extensively for class meetings, office hours, student meetings, group assignments, staff meetings, public events and more. It’s used so much that we’ve both implemented a 180 day recording removal process and still needed to purchase additional cloud storage. We’re glad it’s working for you and your students, but if you no longer need recordings from Summer or Fall, please consider deleting them.
Remember to update your software
If you have a PCC managed device, IT is already including Zoom software updates as part of their normal maintenance.
If you are not on a PCC managed device, you should remember to check for updates to get the latest version of the software. Updates include new features and security improvements.
Zoom continues to make improvements to security settings in the client. The following changes have been made to improve the security of your meetings.
- Hosts and co-hosts can delete inappropriate chat messages.
- Improvements to the encryption used for meetings.
- If encryption isn’t available due to a participant being on an old client or phone, you’ll get a message letting you know.
- You can suspend all participant activity (mute microphones, end sharing, stop chat, etc. with one click by clicking on the Security button and selecting Suspend Participant activities.
- A bunch of stuff behind the scenes that is mostly invisible but will make us all sleep a little better.
Co-hosts and Breakout rooms
Co-hosts now have almost as many permissions to work with breakout rooms as the hosts. While there is not feature parity, it makes it easer for cohosts to move between meetings and move participants to breakout rooms.
There are more non-verbal reactions available, and all buttons have been moved to the Reactions menu. These will show up in the corner of the video feed of whomever uses them.
With a change to your meeting settings, you can now assign participants to be language interpreters. You can even have multiple different interpreters in the same meeting.
Other minor updates
- Hosts and co-hosts can now raise their hands as well!
- You can download full poll data while the meeting is still in session.
- You can spill over your meeting to a YouTube Live stream. This is of limited functionality for classrooms, but is being used by Media Services for events.
- We expect that live auto-transcription with Otter.Ai will be available for everyone at some point in January. This will provide real-time machine transcription services for everyone. More details will be shared when we have them.
Voicethread has updated the assignment tool to provide a new interface and workflow that integrates in Brightspace. The new assignment interface offers a few improvements, and allows for scores to be saved back to your Brightspace grade book. (note: it currently saves in a “out of 100” or percentage format). See this overview video for more details.
There will be more to share each month, so stay tuned!