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Assignments

Deliver online assignments

Overview

The Assignments tool in D2L Brightspace allows you to set up a place for students to submit their assignments digitally, with the ability to:

  • Control the window for submission.
  • Facilitate individual submissions or group submissions (provided the groups have been set up using the Groups tool first).
  • Collect and assess submissions (with a connection to the Grades tool, if needed).
  • Assess offline assignments, such as hard copies of essays, or in-class presentations.
  • Enable plagiarism detection through Turnitin®.

Two main types of assignments:

  1. Individual assignment folders allow each student to submit to the assignment, and receive their own assessment and grade.
  2. Group submission folders allow each group to have one member submit the assignment, and all group members would receive the same assessment and grade (both in the assignment and any connected grade items)

Note that you must select the type of assignment when you first create it, and you will not be able to change it after the fact.

Assignments can be found in the top navigation, under Assessment. If it isn't there, review how to enable course tools.

Turnitin Feedback Studio

Some assignments require plagiarism detection using Turnitin Feedback Studio. This feature can be added to any D2L Brightspace assignment through the options in the Turnitin® tab. Since this process requires some special consideration, please review our instructions on how to Enable Turnitin Feedback Studio for assignments.

The basics

Create an assignment
  1. On the Assignment Submission Folders page, click New Submission Folder.
Create an assignment

D2L Brightspace can accept a wide variety of file types. Many common file types will be displayed in the inline document viewer. However, we have noticed that files that have very precise layouts which are created in different versions of Word may display slightly differently, as they may not convert perfectly. If the document design is complex or contains different types of content, you may wish to recommend that your students submit PDF files, to ensure that page design, charts, etc appear consistently. If the assignment is a typical essay, composed of simple paragraphs, this is not a concern.

If students do not have Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat installed on your device, you can recommend that they create documents in Google Docs, then save to their desktop as PDF, before uploading the file to your assignment.

These settings can be found in the "Properties" tab of the assignment editor.

  1. Enter a Name.

  2. Add instructions for users.
    This can include the assignment description from your course outline, desired file format, expected length, etc.
the Restrictions tab in an assignment
the Restrictions tab in an assignment

Attachments (optional)

Files, links and existing activities from your Brightspace course can be added to assignment submission folders as attachments.

These may be materials that will assist students with their assignment, such as guidelines, examples, or related quizzes they have completed.

To attach an item to your assignment submission folder, click on Add Attachment.

Add a file

To add a file, such as a Word or PDF document, click on File, and then My Computer and follow the instructions to either drag and drop or navigate to add your file(s).

Tips for the other types of attachments can be found further down this page.

Create an assignment

4. Select an Assignment Type:

Individual submission folder Select this option if the assignment is an individual assignment.

Please keep in mind that once you set the folder type, you cannot change it, so be certain of your decision before proceeding.

Are you looking to create a group assignment?

Group assignments are submitted by one group member, and all group members get the same score and evaluation.

Please see the section below on Group assignments for more details.

Create an assignment
Other submission types 

While file submission is the main type of assignment used in Brightspace, there are a few other options to choose from.

  • Text submission - students enter their submission directly in the text editor in Brightspace. This is not recommended for Turnitin-enabled assignments.
  • On-paper submission - students submit paper-based assignments to the instructor, and not online.
  • Observed-in-person - students submit their work in a way that is observed but not collected (i.e. presentation or performance).

Settings specific to each of these options is available further down this page.

5. Select a Submission Type: File submission

Select this option if you want students to upload a file for their submission.


Note that you cannot change the submission type after the assignment has been created.

 

Controlling the number of "submissions"

Files Allowed Per Submission

You can decide whether students can only upload one file, or unlimited files. We recommend unlimited, in case an assignment requires multiple files/formats, and also if students notice a problem with their submission before the due date, they can upload again without the need to email you.

Submissions

You can decide if all submissions are kept (recommended), only the most recent submission is kept, or only one submission is allowed. We usually recommend keeping all submissions. If there's a problem with the last submission, you can refer to previous submissions.

Notification Email

If you wish to receive an email notification each time a student uploads an assignment, type your email address into the Notification Email field. 

Multiple email addresses can be comma-separated, if desired.

*Most instructors do not want this, as it could result in a lot of emails in your inbox.

Category

If you have a series of similar assignments, you may wish to organize them within a category, but most of the time, you do not need to use this.

Save Now!

Click "Save and Close" if you are done setting up your assignment.

Click "Save" if you want to save your settings so far, and then proceed to set up restrictions (ie. date, visibility, special access) or enable your assignment for Turnitin, and then proceed to the appropriate tab at the top of the page.

Learn how to:

  • Connect a grade item to the assignment, so the assignment grades get pushed into the gradebook upon publishing.
  • Connect a rubric, to aid in standarized evaluation and feedback.
  • Set anonymous grading
  • Set the ability to anotate the student's submissions

These settings can be found in the "Properties" tab of the assignment editor.

Create an assignment

Evaluation and Feedback settings

6. Score value

Enter a the maximum point value for the assignment in the "Score out of" field.

Tip:
 If you associate the assignment with a grade item, maintain consistency for your students by matching the value of the Out Of field to the grade item's Max. Points value.

Typically, instructors will either grade items out of 100, or out of the same score as the weight that this item contributes toward the final grade.

7. Grade item

Associate the assignment with an item (column) in the gradebook if you want the assignment grades sent to the gradebook.

If you have not already created a grade item for this assignment, click the New Grade Item link to create a new grade item for the assignment.

8. Rubrics:

Click Add Rubric to associate the assignment with a rubric that you have already created. Click the Create Rubric in New Window link if you want to create a new rubric. You can also select an existing rubric and set it as the Default Scoring Rubric.

10. Anonymous grading:

10. This is a way to avoid bias while grading, as the student's identity is disguised. If you wish to use anonymous grading, please visit our tutorial for more information.

11. Enable Annotations:

If you wish to use D2L's annotation tool to markup the student's document with your feedback, select this item. (If you have used Turnitin markup in the past, you may wish to continue using Turnitin Feedback Studio, as it is more fully-featured.)

12. Save Now!

Click "Save and Close" if you are done setting up your assignment.

Click "Save" if you want to save your settings so far, and then proceed to set up restrictions (ie. date, visibility, special access) or enable your assignment for Turnitin, and then proceed to the appropriate tab at the top of the page.

These settings can be found in the "Restrictions" tab of the assignment editor.

the Restrictions tab in an assignment

Hide from users

This option completely hides the assignment and any results (grades, feedback) entered into the assignment from the students.

If this is checked, the students will never see the assignment, regardless of the other availability settings.

This feature can be handy if you want to hide the assignment results after it has been completed. Check this box after all submissions are in to ensure the grades and feedback are not visible to the students after publishing.

Availability

The availability section allows you to control the start, due and end date of your assignment folder. The start date marks the date and time students can begin submitting files to the folder. The due date marks the exact time the assignment is due. If an end date is set, students will no longer be allowed to submit a file to the folder. If there is no end date, or the end date is later than the due date, students can still submit an assignment past the due date but it is marked as late. All assignments are time-stamped.

Release Conditions

Create new, or attach existing, release conditions if you want the assignment submission folder to be available to users only after they fulfill other specified tasks. You can edit and change release conditions by clicking the Remove icon or Remove All Conditions.

Special Access

If students have accessibility requirements that allow them extended time to work on an assignment, you can grant students special access by clicking Add Users to Special Access. You can customize unique start, due and end dates for these students only.

 

Modifying Date/Time for Select Students

You can change the start, due, and end date of a particular assignment for students with special access, allowing them extra time without a late designation to the assignment.

Release Conditions take precedence over Special Access.

Please keep this in mind when determining how to give someone access to an assignment.

Create an assignment

These settings can be found in the "Restrictions" tab of the assignment editor.

  1. When editing the submission folder, click the Restrictions tab.
  2. Select if you want to allow students with special access to submit outside the normal time/date constraints (default) or if you only want students with special access to see this submission folder (only recommended if this is a separate folder created for particular students).
  3. Click Add User to Special Access.
Create an assignment
  1. Change the start, due and end dates for the student(s).
  2. Check off the students with special access. You can filter by section or group here.
  3. Click Save.

More assignment setting options

If you want to set up group assignment submission folders, it's important that you first set up groups. You can choose to create the group assignment during the group creation process, or after the groups have already been created.

A group assignment:

  • Allows any member of the group to submit on behalf of the group.
  • Ensures the instructor only needs to grade one submission per group.
  • Provides all group members the same grade and feedback (in both the assignment and any associated grade item).

Please see the page on creating groups for instructions.

Changing assignment or submission type: If your assignment doesn't have any submissions yet, you can change the assignment type (individual vs group) and/or submission type (File submission, Text submission, On paper submission or Observed in person).

If you discover that you need to change one of these details after you have received student submissions, you will need to create a new assignment, and ask any students to resubmit to that assignment.

Some assignments require plagiarism detection using Turnitin Feedback Studio. This feature can be added to any D2L Brightspace assignment through the options in the Turnitin® tab.

Since this process requires some special consideration, please review our instructions document.

Text submission assignments tips: At this time, we do not recommend using Turnitin for a text submission assignment. The assignment will not display as expected in Turnitin Feedback Studio. If you wish to use Turnitin, please use a file-based submission instead.

Please also note that if you create an assignment submission folder of a particular type (file, text, on paper or observed in person), and then change your mind, you cannot change it to a different type of submission. You will need to create a brand new assignment.

The release will happen for all students at the same time, so if you have an assessment set to open at 3PM EST and close at 6PM EST, each student will need to adjust the time for their own time zone.

Have the students confirm the assessment times for their time zone in advance

There are two areas that will display the availability times in advance, provided they are not set to be "hidden from students":

  1. Assignments (under Assessments > Assignments)
  2. Content (under Content > locate the content)

In each of these areas, you will see the release date and time and the due date (if applicable), if they are not hidden from students. Each user will see it reflected in their own time zone.

Quizzes (under Assessments > Quizzes), unfortunately, do not display the availability and end dates in advance. As such, it may be best to add the link to the quiz in the Content tool, where the dates will be displayed in advance (as described above). Quiz links can be added to Content using the Existing Activities feature.

Include the time zone if you reference assessment times in your communications

When posting information to your students using tools like Announcements, be sure to always include your local time zone when referencing the availability and due dates and times for your assessments.

For example, specify that a quiz will be available to start between 3:00 PM EST and 4:00 PM EST.

Other submission types 

While file submission is the main type of assignment used in Brightspace, there are a few other options to choose from.

  • Text submission - students enter their submission directly in the text editor in Brightspace. This is not recommended for Turnitin-enabled assignments.
  • On-paper submission - students submit paper-based assignments to the instructor, and not online.
  • Observed-in-person - students submit their work in a way that is observed but not collected (i.e. presentation or performance).

Settings specific to each of these options is available further down this page.

Text-based submissions

Submissions

You can decide if all submissions are kept (recommended), only the most recent submission is kept, or only one submission is allowed. We usually recommend keeping all submissions. If there's a problem with the last submission, you can refer to previous submissions.

On paper / Observed in person submissions

These submission options have the same settings.

Marked as completed

You can decide what criteria determines if the assignment is marked as completed:

  • Manually by learners

  • Automatically on evaluation
    When you publish a mark and/or feedback for a student in this assignment, it will be marked as completed.

  • Automatically on due date
    When the due date/time passes, this assignment will be marked as completed for all students.

Most of the time, instructors opt to attach a file to the assignment if they want to include content outside of the assignement instructions. There are a few other options, however:

  • Add a link (web address)
  • Link to existing activities in your course
  • Record audio
the Restrictions tab in an assignment
the Restrictions tab in an assignment

Add a link

To add a link, click on Link, and fill in the link URL and Title before clicking on Insert. Make sure to include the http://... portion of the URL.

the Restrictions tab in an assignment
the Restrictions tab in an assignment
the Restrictions tab in an assignment

Link to existing activities in your course

To link to existing activities in your course, choose Existing Activity, and then navigate, first by type of course material, such as content or quizzes, then folders or modules/sub-modules if necessary, then select the particular item, and it will be loaded. When linking to an existing activity, the appropriate tool icon will be displayed next to the link.

the Restrictions tab in an assignment

Record Audio:
You also have the ability to record an audio file by clicking on the "Record audio file" button. You need to have a microphone on your device. Click on the Record button to begin recording. Click again to pause recording.

You might need to adjust the Flash settings in your web browser to enable recording, which may require restarting your browser or computer. Consider attaching a text transcript of your recording as a separate file to make your material more accessible.

Additional Recording Options:
Use the play icon to play back your recording. Click the play icon again to pause playback.

If you click record after pausing playback, you can record over audio previously recorded after that point in playback.

Related video tutorials and webinars 

Find all of our D2L Brightspace video tutorials and webinars on our Brightspace Ryecast page, opens in new window.