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Getting Started Part 2: Reusing D2L shell contents

Have a copied course? Make sure it's ready for a new term!

Instructors often choose to copy a previous D2L shell when they re-teach the same course.

This is a great way to save time, since you don't have to re-upload everything or start from scratch with assessments and activities.

That said, your newly copied course may not be fit for 'start of term'. Here are some tips for getting it ready.

If you are creating a course from scratch (not copying an existing course), you will find our Getting Started: Part 1 tutorial more helpful.

In the Course Shell Request form, you can specify to copy a previous shell of your own, or one that is owned by another instructor.

If you haven't copied a course before, please review our help document below. In particular, requesting a copy of another instructor's shell can be a bit confusing... so we've included some screenshots of that process.

Also, it's important to keep in mind that when an instructor creates course content, a lot of effort has gone into it, so please make sure you ask permission before submitting your request. It couldn't hurt to even buy the person a coffee, and have a proper chat about the content and the strategies behind their approach.

This is an excellent opportunity to take a look at your Gradebook, and ensure that you have set it up correctly to reflect the term's activities.

  • Hide all grade items (see instructions below)
  • Ensure that assessments are associated with grade items.
  • Check the point and weight values of all grade items to ensure they reflect this term's course outline

We highly recommend hiding your grade columns at the start of term.

There are a few reasons for this:

  1. It may be upsetting for a student to see a 0 value grade (or even an F), even if they know it is too early for those grades to be official.
  2. As you begin entering grades, students may receive notification emails (if they have enabled them). Some students may contact you if they hear that their peers have received grades when they haven't yet.
  3. Also related to email notifications, some workflows may send students notifications of incomplete grades - again, leading them to believe they have achieved a 0 on an assignment.

Overall, based on feedback we have received from instructors since we began using Brightspace, setting all grade items  as 'Hidden' (or scheduled for a future date release) seems to offer the best student and instructor experience.

It is also a good idea to hide any tools that you are not using in your course, so that clutter and potential confusion are reduced.

Revise release and due dates across the course to reflect the current term, so that students will not see content or assessments before they should. If you have yet to decide on release dates for some content, consider setting to Draft mode, if you don't wish students to view the content yet.

Check content, quizzes, assignments, grades, etc to ensure all dates are accurate, content is updated, etc. This is a good opportunity to review and revise all details in your assessments, such as checking and editing or removing quiz questions you won't use.

The "Manage Dates" tool enables you to view a list of objects in your course and edit their date availability values for Content, Assignments, Quizzes, Announcements, Discussions and Grades.

For objects/values not covered by that tool, you will need to go into each item to update due dates, quiz submission views release dates, and to 'hide' items that were not initially set with a release date. Look carefully at any items that have release conditions, particularly those with if/then conditions, or that rely on engagement with other content.

Add a course syllabus

Upload this year's course outline. Adding the course outline is one of the first things that all instructors do once they have a D2L course shell.

Attaching the Course Outline is the same as uploading any other content file. We recommend that you position the course outline in the first module below "Table of Contents".

What if the file has the same filename?

Uploading a file with the same file name as an existing file will prompt the replacement of that file.

Get rid of outdated content

Replace or remove any outdated documents (including any that refer to due dates, materials that are no longer a part of the course, etc.).

Do not store old documents in the course shell - the shell is meant to represent the course materials for that term. (Please use Google Drive if a storage solution is required.) It may be tempting to hold onto files from old terms, but we ask that you don't. You have access to your old courses for two years, which should allow plenty of time, in case you wish to retrieve some content.

We recommend *never* including student names in areas of the course that get copied from term to term, but it happens sometimes. Be sure to review your entire course for any reference to students and/or their work — including in your Manage Files area.

*These steps are especially important to keep in mind if you permit other instructors to copy your course materials. It is a breach of student privacy to have their information included in a copy of your course!

You do not need to worry about student names in Discussions or Announcements, as these are not copied from one course shell to another.

If you requested your course shell before your RAMSS section(s) were appearing, you may find that when you go to Classlist in your course shell, you cannot see any students. If this is the case, you can use the "Manage Student Sections" self-serve tool to add sections to your Brightspace course shell.

By default, your course shell is 'inactive' when it is first created. This prevents the students from accessing your shell before it has been prepared - but it doesn't prevent the other administrative users (like Instructors, TAs, Course Builders, etc.) from going in and making changes.

Once you are ready for students to access your shell, you must make it "active".