Quarterly updates for Spring 2024

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In a warmly lit home office filled with bookshelves and academic decor, a female faculty sits in surprise and delight atThere are a few important updates to our online learning ecosystem for the spring term. We highlight things we imagine will be interesting for faculty and share a few important previews. Make sure you check out the update on navigation coming for the summer term!

D2L Brightspace

  • Creator+ is a content styling and activity creation tool built in to the HTML editor in Brightspace. It allows you to add style elements like accordions, simple “check your understanding” activities, and other neat options to make your content more engaging without requiring any knowledge of scripting or coding.
  • Course Crosslisting/Merging Improvements
    • A bug that prevented crosslisting for courses with really long names (primarily in Welding and Math) has been fixed. This might be more exciting to our admin team, but it also was a nuisance for some faculty.
  • New course template
    • The team has been hard at work creating a new course template that merges the exciting features of the Columbia template used by our Instructional Designers, and the standard accessible and mobile friendly template that takes advantage of the new Creator+ elements. You can learn more from our ITS workshop How to Make Your D2L Content Page Accessible and Stylish on May 3rd, 2024.


  • Zoom will be requiring a new minimum client version for meetings on April 15, 2024. Our team will reach out to users who are connecting with an older version. Users will be required to upgrade before they can join a meeting after April 15th. You can also download the latest version from Zoom.
  • Community Education courses
    • Thanks to funding from LT&I, we’ve been able to develop a custom tool that handles bulk Zoom meeting creation. This allowed Community Education to schedule meetings for over 200 classes in less than 10 minutes. It also provided Community Ed staff access to all the meeting details to help students who cannot access the meeting links.
  • Zoom will be launching Zoom Workplace, the major version 6 update, in late April. The major update includes interface improvements as well as better integration with other platforms like Google Workspace. While the new version is very AI-focused, we will be reviewing the AI-based features with our Information Security team before those are released. Look for more updates soon!

New Tools & Previews

  • The ITS are working with faculty to start piloting an interactive video platform called Annoto. It allows you to add time-based comments and discussions into videos right in your courses. It’s similar to Hypothes.is’s social annotation concept but designed specifically for video. We’re excited at how this can help improve interaction in lectures, support authentic assessment, and just make videos even more fun.
  • For more information please visit the Annoto Pilot information page.
D2L Brightspace
  • New Navigation Experience
    • We will be standardizing the course navbar in Brightspace for Summer term. This change will help provide students with consistent and predictable navigation between courses and is a common practice for course design. We’ve known for years that students strongly prefer consistent navigation so they spend less, and have learned from many other schools that they do not (or cannot) customize navigation between courses.
    • Our team has spent the last year collecting input from faculty and data from Brightspace usage to develop and test a few different navigation layouts. We then tested these different layouts with students in usability studies during winter term. After all this feedback, we arrived at a final design that we will be testing with a handful of courses over the spring term for additional input.
      Preview of the new navbar. It is cleaner and combines some activities in sub-menus.
    • The navbar attempts to consolidate common activities by type to streamline and de-clutter the interface for students.
    • A links option has been added to allow instructors to provide access to external sites and resources that are not part of the Brightspace toolset.
    • The Content tool is still the preferred place to organize content and activities in modules to help students organize their weekly activities.
  • Self-Merge Tool
    • We’re exploring a tool that would allow faculty to merge their own courses (like crosslisting, but not in Banner). During Spring, our team will be validating this new tool with the hope for launching for the summer.
    • Crosslisting is incredibly time-consuming for our admin team, especially when there are course changes, new instructors, cancelations, etc.
  • Game Map
    • Improvements to the functionality of the Game Map content type in H5P. New finish stages can be added by the author during creation that serve like waymarkers and achievements that can be earned during the activity.
  • Smart Import
    • Smart Import allows authors to generate new activities automatically from content sources using ChatGPT 4. Early feedback is incredibly positive
    • The ITS team will be providing training for H5P in Spring term
  • We are piloting Kahoot! with over 60 faculty and staff. This will help us determine if it meets the polling needs of in-person and remote (or likely to be online with live meeting) courses.
  • If you’re interested in participating in the pilot, please complete the Interest form.
  • A new user interface coming in June 2024! The interface should simplify the current experience for students and should not cause any disruption. Learn more from Voicethread.

Faculty and Student Help Desks

As part of our Bold, Innovative Growth initiative, we are merging the student and faculty help desks to provide a single source for support with our instructional toolset. Staff are currently training so they can provide everyone excellent support, and we’ll be able to expand our hours for faculty support later in the evenings and on weekends. Look for more news soon!

About Andy Freed

I'm the Director of Learning Technology & Innovation (LTI!), where I oversee our infrastructure, technical support, and online student services teams. I've been with the College since 2001 and have worked in several positions, from tech... more »

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