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Use Intelligent Agents to send targeted email

What is an 'Intelligent Agent'?

The Intelligent Agents tool allows Instructors to set up automatic notifications to be sent to themselves, advisors, and students when specified course performance criteria are met. It can be used to both recognize student achievement (e.g., a high score on a quiz) and warn of potential problems (e.g., lack of online activity or poor performance on an exam).

Some additional resources:



Before you begin, you will need to consider what criteria you will need to create your recipient list.

  • Who do you want to email?
  • What is the purpose of the email?

If it is based on their achievement in a grade, make sure you have a grade item that is appropriate for that purpose, and decide what the threshold will be for a student to receive the email (for example, send an email if a student receives 80% or higher on the Midterm Exam).

Since Intelligent Agents can make use of Release Conditions, your list of possible criteria is fairly broad.

How to create an Intelligent Agent
  1. Start by going to the Course Admin section of your course shell in D2L.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and click the Intelligent Agents link, found in the Communication section.
How to create an Intelligent Agent
  1. Click the New button near the top of the page.
How to create an Intelligent Agent
  1. Agent Name - give the Intelligent Agent a short and meaningful name.
  2. Description -  adding a description is optional, but may be useful for you in the long run.
  3. Status - We recommend leaving this UNCHECKED until everything is complete. This will prevent a mistaken run of the agent, which would lead to emails being sent out to students before you are ready.
  4. Agent Criteria - There are three categories of criteria to choose from. Review and select all appropriate criteria needed to select the students that will receive an email.
    • Login Activity - when selected, this option chooses students based on their login history in the D2L system (not your course, specifically).
    • Course Activity - when selected, this option chooses students based on their access of your course.
    • Release Condition - when set, this option selects students based on the combination of Release Conditions set (these represent various areas of the course, so will not be listed in full here).

      For example, you may set a condition for students who received 50% or higher on a particular grade item or test score. Alternatively, you can set a condition based on their having simply completed a test, or read a particular piece of content.
How to create an Intelligent Agent
  1. Action Repetition - review and select the option to either send an email each time a user satisfies the selected criteria OR only the first time.
  2. Schedule
    • If selected, the Intelligent Agent will run on a predetermined schedule.
    • If no schedule is set, the Intelligent Agent will only run when you manually initiate it.
How to create an Intelligent Agent
  1. Email Recipient (To): This is a required field, and is best filled with a special email address. At Ryerson, the only special email address that is used is {InitiatingUser}. This identifies the user (i.e. the student) that meets the criteria.
  2. Email Subject: Enter a subject that is short and meaningful to the end user. Replacement Strings may be used in the email subject.
  3. Email Message: Enter the message that you would like to send to the users who meet the criteria that you have defined. Replacement Strings may be used in the message body.
  4. Click Save and Close to complete the creation of the Intelligent Agent.
  5. Proceed to the instructions on the next tab on this page for How to run an Intelligent Agent.
Replacement strings & special email address
  • {OrgUnitCode} - The code for the course shell (i.e. abc123_f16_01).
  • {OrgUnitName} - The name of the course shell. (i.e. ABC123 - Intro to Bending Objects with your Mind - Fall 2016)
  • {InitiatingUserFirstName} - The first name of the initiating user. (i.e. a student who has met the criteria you outline in the agent)
  • {InitiatingUserLastName} - The last name of the initiating user. (i.e. a student who has met the criteria you outline in the agent)


There is also a 'Special Email Address' that can be used to send the email to the user who meets the criteria:

  • {InitiatingUser}


Enable & run Intelligent Agent
  1. In the Intelligent Agents tool of your course shell, ensure your agent is enabled. If it has a red “not” symbol, you will need to enable it first.
    1. Check the box next to the Intelligent Agent.
    2. Click the Enable button at the top of the list.
  2. If your agent was set up to run on a specific schedule, you don’t need to do anything else. It will run as per the schedule.
Enable & run Intelligent Agent
  1. If you would like to manually run your agent now, click on the triangle icon to the right of the name of the agent, and select Run Now.


Please keep in mind that students may only receive the email the first time they meet the criteria, if that is what you set in the Intelligent Agent settings.