Faculty Copyright Guide from the Camosun Library

If you have never explored the faculty guides on the Camosun Library site, I encourage you to do so. You will find a treasure trove of information on open resources, library research classes, Lynda.com, etc. there. To find the Faculty Guides:

  • Go to http://camosun.ca/
  • Click Library at the top, right
  • Click Research Guides (next to the Home link under the main page image)
  • Click Faculty (at the top, right)

In this post, I am going to briefly introduce you to the Copyright Guide for Camosun College (http://camosun.ca.libguides.com/copyright), and focus more specifically on the section of the guide that references copyright and D2L.

Once you go to the Copyright Guide, you will see a number of tabs to choose from. To find out more about what copyright is and how it might affect you and your courses, click the Copyright Basics tab. I think one of the more important sections of this page is point 6 in the middle column, which gives you some ideas for informing your students about copyright. We have to remember that students don’t always know about copyright law, and need to realize that they can’t just pull things off the Internet to include in their papers or presentations without proper attribution. Of course, if you follow this same advice, you will be a good model for your students to emulate!

The Copyright Guide provides additional information on Fair Dealing, Open Resources, and how to handle Licensed Resources (the electronic resources provided by the library). Make sure to go through these sections to ensure you and your students know how you can use them, and how to cite them! The Coursepacks tab deals with how to put together hard-copy resources for your students (to sell in the Bookstore), and the Multimedia tab is more about showing video or playing audio in the classroom. As alternatives to paper coursepacks, and spending class time viewing videos, we often recommend using D2L as a place to provide such resources to your students – in D2L, they are always available for students to review (and prevents the possibility of students losing paper!) Which will bring us to the D2L tab.

The copyright questions faculty ask us in eLearning are most often, not surprisingly, related to what can be put up into D2L. An instructional designer can give you some advice around this (for example, we recommend never uploading a video to D2L – aside from copyright concerns, D2L is NOT a streaming media platform and the videos will not play well at all). But for more specific information about how you can use various resources in D2L, the D2L tab is the place to visit (http://camosun.ca.libguides.com/c.php?g=92245&p=597617). The information in the table is fairly straightforward (to find out more about Creative Commons (CC) licencing, go to https://creativecommons.org/), and as noted, if you have questions about specific types of hard-copy resources, you will need to talk to the Copyright Advisor (listed on the Home tab) to find out what options you have for including these in a D2L course site.

If you have questions or concerns or are just not sure where to begin (you don’t know what you don’t know), an instructional designer in eLearning can give you some advice regarding copyright issues and D2L, or point you in the right direction. As well, the main Camosun copyright contacts are listed on both the Home tab, and the Forms/Contact tab in the Copyright Guide – they will be happy to help you out.

D2L Quizzes: How, Why, and the Daylight Experience

Last spring, I ran a hands-on workshop which covered creating, managing, and grading quizzes, as well as creating questions in the question library in D2L. The new version, Daylight, had just been launched, and there were some significant changes to the question creation interface for some question types which I also wanted to introduce.

The objectives for this workshop included:

  • Creating questions in the Question Library
  • Setting up a Quiz and adding Questions to it
  • Grading and re-grading quizzes, releasing quiz grades, linking a quiz to a grade item in the Gradebook, and sending quiz grades to the gradebook after it has been completed
  • Setting up Submission views (what students see after completing a quiz)
  • Previewing a quiz (so you can test it out first)
  • Determining how they will use the Quizzes tool to support their teaching

But before launching into the hands-on part of the workshop, we discussed some of the questions you should ask yourself before putting in the time and effort creating question databanks and quizzes:

  • What is the purpose of your quizzes?
  • Have you considered accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles in your quizzes, questions, and assessments in general?
  • What kind of questions will you use?
  • Can your quizzes also be used for self-assessment purposes (note that quizzes can be set to unlimited tries with the first attempt being the graded one)
  • Will I need to grade or re-grade any of my quiz questions, and what will I do if a question is a problem for students?
  • How do you re-set quiz submissions, for example, if a student accidently submits a quiz before they have completed it, or if they need one more try to pass so they can see the next module of content.

After showing examples of all the question options available in D2L, we discussed some of the advantages to setting up questions in the Question Library (your question databank) which allows you to:

  • Organize your questions
  • Use questions in multiple quizzes
  • Randomize questions in a quiz using the Question Pool

If you don’t know how to create questions in the Question Library, browse the tutorials on the various question types in the On-Demand Training site, or book an appointment with an instructional designer.

After creating some basic questions in the Question Library, we went back to the Manage Quizzes area, to build a quiz. Some things to keep in mind as you build your own quizzes:

  • Make sure to check the auto grade options if you want students to see quiz results (or you will have to publish them yourself later.)
  • You can control WHAT students see after they complete a quiz, and WHEN they see it, using Submission Views.
  • Use Question Pool to pull 10 questions out of a possible 50 (for example), and use Shuffle Questions to shuffle the order of a set of questions.
  • You can Copy & Edit an existing Quiz when you want to have all the settings the same for all your quizzes, for example.
  • You can Preview a quiz to make sure it is set up the way you want it – this includes previewing any and all submissions views you have set up for your quiz.

There are several tutorials related to grading quizzes and resetting attempts – check them out on the On-Demand Training site.

Finally, we discussed the pros and cons of using test banks from external sources, such as publishers. Some things to think about:

  • Can you import the test bank into D2L without students needing to sign into publisher site? Publishers will generally provide a format for importing into D2L if this is possible. Sending students to a publisher site can be a violation of the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and if grades rest on US servers, could also be in violation of Camosun policy.
  • “Importing” usually means importing questions right into the Question Library, NOT quizzes. Check to see if quizzes are also available for import.
  • Beware: You will need to review all imported questions to check for typos, to ensure that their content is relevant, etc.

By the end of the workshop, participants were feeling confident enough to begin using the Quizzes tool for self-paced practice quizzes, pre- and post-tests, in-class essay quizzes, and even for full assessments (including midterms and finals).

Some final things to consider when using the Quizzes tool in D2L

  • Creating questions and quizzes is very time consuming; even if you are importing questions from a publisher’s question bank, you still need to check the questions to make sure there are no typos, and that the questions are appropriate for the way you are teaching the course. Once you create your question databank, however, the time you save in grading, and the time students can invest in studying for larger assessments, is invaluable
  • Many faculty worry about students cheating in online exams. There are ways to set up your quizzes to mitigate this risk to a point, but this topic is one that warrants a much larger, college-wide discussion around assessments and academic integrity. I hope that the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning can support in the future by running workshops and dialogue sessions on this complex issue.
  • When considering accessibility and UDL Principles.  For example, use the Special Access tool to give specific students more time to complete a quiz, remember that “no enumeration” is the default setting for Multiple Choice questions which will cause problems for students using screen readers, and consider whether how you will present images in your quiz for students who may have visual disabilities.  Finally, think about the purpose of your quiz – does it really need to have a time limit at all?

eLearning Spring Workshops Open for Registration!

Registration now open for eLearning Spring Workshops!  Check out our workshops below, and register at https://www.surveymonkey.ca/r/B7KYD8P

If you have any questions, or don’t see what you are looking for, email Emily Schudel at schudele@camosun.ca.

Lansdowne Workshops

What’s new in D2L: Monday, May 6, 10:00-11:30am, Room TBD

  • Designed for instructors who have previously taught with D2L, this workshop will focus on the new features available in the recent upgrade. This session will focus on new functionality and some of the benefits for faculty and learners.

Introducing D2L to your Students: Tuesday, May 7, 10:00-11:30am, Room TBD

  • Using D2L, but not sure how comfortable your students are with it? Come and find out what other faculty at Camosun are doing to introduce D2L to their students.

D2L Quizzes – How, Why, and the Daylight Experience: Monday, May 13, 2:00-4:00pm, Room TBD

  • This hands-on workshop will cover creating, managing, and grading quizzes and the question library in the new version of D2L, Daylight Experience. Basic familiarity with D2L is recommended for participants interested in this workshop.

Facilitating Discussions and Collaborative Work in D2L: Tuesday, May 14, 10:00-11:30am, Room TBD

  • In this workshop we will examine a variety of online communication tools within D2L, and discuss various facilitation techniques that you can use to engage learners and promote collaboration online.

Fun with Rubrics: Friday, May 17, 9:00am-12:00pm, Room TBD

  • This hands-on workshop will discuss best practices around designing a variety of rubrics and integrating them into your assessment, participation, and feedback strategies.  Note that we will set up a simple rubric during the session to practice using the tool, but participants are encouraged to bring their own rubrics for discussion with the group. Basic familiarity with D2L is recommended for participants interested in this workshop.

D2L Design Considerations for Mobile Devices: Tuesday, May 21, 2:00-3:30pm, Room TBD

  • More and more students are using mobile devices (phones and tablets) to work in their D2L course sites. But how does it actually look to students? Bring your tablet and phones to this workshop, and try out some design techniques to make sure your students can get the most out of your D2L site on their own devices.

Ethical Dimensions of Educational Technology: Online May 15-22 + Face-to-Face, Wednesday, May 22, 1:00-4:00pm, LLC151

  • Many of us are integrating educational technology into our teaching, but how many of us are discussing the ethical issues that come along with those technologies? This blended workshop will support conversations around institutional policy, privacy, social justice, accessibility, and personal risk, when it comes to educational technology, and help you develop strategies for being creative and innovative while keeping these issues in mind.  NOTE: the online component will run first, taking 1-2 hours to complete over a week, and will be followed by a 3 hour face to face session.

Creating Community in the Online Classroom: Online May 20-27 + Face-t0-Face Monday, May 27, 2:00-3:30pm, LLC151

  • What does it mean to create an online community for your students? What considerations do you need to keep in mind when developing online activities to support that online community? This blended workshop will give you the opportunity to engage in online community building, and to work with your peers face-to-face to develop strategies for integrating online community-building activities into your course. NOTE: the online component will run first, taking 1-2 hours to complete over a week, and will be followed by a 1½ hour face to face session.

WordPress for Students: Tuesday, May 28, 2:00-4:00pm, Room TBD

  • WordPress is a blogging and website creation tool which is now available in the Canadian cloud, meaning that if you would like your students to build blogs and websites as part of their learning, we can now offer a solution which will be in compliance with the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Come find out more about how to set up a site for yourself, and what you need to know to get your students started.

Social Media use in Education: Wednesday, May 29, 10:00am-12:00pm, LLC151

  • Interested in integrating social media into your classroom?  This workshop will examine various social media tools used in the teaching and learning and discuss best practices.  In addition, participants will have the opportunity to share strategies on how social media can be incorporated into their own courses.

Getting Started with Readspeaker/TextAid in D2L: Thursday, May 30, 2:00-4:00pm, Room TBD

  • ReadSpeaker offers text-to-speech solutions for websites, online course materials, e-books and digital documents. In this session, we will introduce you to the collection of ReadSpeaker tools we now have available within D2L courses and show you how you and your students can use and access these tools.

Getting Started with ePortfolio in D2L: Friday, May 31, 10:00am-12:00pm, Room TBD

  • Looking for options for your students to collect and share documents, assessments, presentations, etc. with other students and faculty across their Program? Come find out how ePortfolio in D2L might support you!

Kaltura 1: Getting Started with Kaltura: Streaming Media at Camosun!  Monday, June 3, 2:00-4:00pm, Room TBD

  • Kaltura is Camosun’s a streaming media tool (we sometimes call it Camosun’s YouTube). This means faculty and students now have a place to create, edit, and house their course-related videos. Kaltura also integrates with D2L. Come to this hand-on session to find out more about what Kaltura is, what it can do, and learn how you can use it for your courses.

Kaltura 2: Kaltura Media Capture: Creating Multimedia Magic!  Tuesday, June 4, 10:00am-12:00pm, Room TBD

  • Are you interested in creating engaging media pieces for your courses?  Not sure where to begin?  Join Bob Preston for this hands-on workshop Kaltura Capture Space.

BlackBoard Collaborate Ultra: Information session: Wednesday, June 5, 10:00-11:00am, LLC151

  • Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a synchronous classroom tool that is coming to Camosun. This means that faculty now have an online tool with audio, video, chat, and whiteboard/desktop sharing capabilities to support their teaching in real-time. Come find out more about Blackboard Collaborate and how it can be used, as well as when it will be available, at this information session.

Kaltura 3: Best practices around integrating media into D2L: Wednesday, June 5, 2:00-4:00pm, Room TBD

  • This hands-on workshop covers the technical consideration of integrating multimedia into a D2L course, answering the questions: What do you need to keep in mind when integrating a multimedia piece into a D2L course? What are the benefits of linking versus embedding? Where can I store my video files?  Why can’t I just import media files into D2L?  How do I effectively insert audio files? When is copyright a consideration? Time will be set aside for you to integrate and test your multimedia components in D2L. Basic familiarity with D2L is recommended for participants interested in this workshop.

Interurban D2L Workshops

Getting Started with D2L (New Instructors): Friday, May 3, 10:00-11:30am, LACC235

  • This workshop will provide you with an overview of the essential teaching tools available in our learning management system, D2L. Participants will be able to take away a practical, course development checklist to assist with learning D2L. Whether you are looking to supplement your face-to-face classes, transition from using a basic course website or simply want to learn more about how to enhance your current teaching methodologies with using D2L, this workshop has a little something for everyone. Come explore the possibilities!

What’s New in D2L (for instructors with D2L experience): Friday, May 3, 1:30-3:00pm, LACC235

  • Designed for instructors who have previously taught with D2L, this workshop will focus on the new features available in D2L. This session will focus on new functionality and some of the benefits for faculty and learners.

Introduction to Kaltura (Streaming Media at Camosun): Information Session: Monday, May 6, 10:30-11:30am, LACC235

  • Kaltura is a streaming media tool that is coming to Camosun. This means faculty and students will now have a place to create, edit, and house their course-related videos. Kaltura also integrates with D2L.  Come find out more about what Kaltura is, what it can do, how you can use it for your courses and when it will be available.

Open Education Resources: What, Why and How: Wednesday, May 8. 1:00-2:30pm, Room TBD

  • At the heart of the Open Education movement lies the idea that publicly-funded knowledge and knowledge products (textbooks, curricula, lecture notes, tests, assignments, video, images) should be made freely available to the public (including students). As educators dedicated to the creation and transfer of knowledge this idea is appealing. But how does it work? What constitutes Open Education Resources (OER)? How are they licensed? Where can you find them? What are the best ways to use them? In this workshop we will explore how to use Open Education Resources to remove barriers to education.

Course Spring Cleaning: Thursday, May 9, 10:00-11:30am, LACC235

  • This workshop will focus on setting up (or refining) your course homepage, widgets, navigation and themes. We’ll also show you some best practices surrounding course maintenance (cleaning up manage files & question libraries) and how to manage release dates associated with your course from one central location in D2L (saving you time!).

Working with Master Courses and Development Sites: Friday, May 10, 10:00-11:30am, LACC235

  • This workshop will highlight various models and collaboration strategies used by faculty to support the development, use and maintenance of master courses and development sites in D2L. Come learn how master courses are being used to share content, resources, teaching strategies, activities and assessments.

Designing for Engagement: Moving beyond Text and Images: Thursday, May 16, 10:00-11:30am, LACC135

  • Come learn how to transform your content to accommodate a variety of learning styles and abilities. We’ll begin with an overview of the content tool and its functionality to get you started with building content. We’ll then explore how you can transform various types of content including (but not limited to): PDFs, PPT and Word documents to a web-accessible format that improves the teaching and learning experience.

Introduction to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra: Information Session: Friday, May 17, 10:30-11:30am, LACC235

  • Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a synchronous classroom tool that is coming to Camosun. This means that faculty now have an online tool with audio, video, chat, and whiteboard/desktop sharing capabilities to support their teaching in real-time. Come find out more about Blackboard Collaborate and how it can be used, as well as when it will be available.

Setting up Your Gradebook: Thursday, May 23, 1:00-2:30pm, LACC235

  • This hands-on workshop will focus on setting up your D2L Gradebook from start to finish. Please bring your course outline (or a breakdown of your assessment items) to the workshop if you wish to build your own Gradebook.

Quizzes & Leveraging Course Analytics in D2L: Friday, May 24, 10:00-11:30am., LACC235

  • This workshop will begin with an overview of how to create, customize and grade quizzes. Participants will also learn how to take advantage of the D2L’s robust analytics to enhance the learner experience and identify redesign opportunities.

 Exploring Different Ways to Use Rubrics: Thursday, May 30, 10:00-11:30am, LACC235

  • Come learn how you can streamline your assessment strategy, communicate expectations and feedback for your learners while also building in quality assurance measures and cutting down on manual marking. Various examples, lessons learned and planning tips will be shared. Participants will have the opportunity to build or refine a rubric.

Taking a Closer Look at Communication & Collaboration in D2L: Thursday, June 6, 10:00-11:30am, LACC235

  • Take a closer look at how instructors can use communication tools to connect with students and support collaborative learning experiences. 

Using WordPress for Student Blogs: Information Session: Friday, June 7, 10:30-11:30am, LACC236

  • WordPress is a blogging and website creation tool which is now available in the Canadian cloud, meaning that if you would like your students to build blogs and websites as part of their learning, we can now offer a solution which will be in compliance with the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Come find out more about how to set up a site for yourself, and what you need to know to get your students started.

Conditional Release + Intelligent Agents: Thursday, June 13, 10:00-11:30am, LACC235

  • This workshop will provide participants with an overview of how conditional release and intelligent agents can support the development of personalized learning paths for students within your course.

Creative Applications in eLearning: Friday, June 14, 10:00-11:30am, LACC235

  • This workshop will showcase some creative ways to deliver content, engage learners and put a twist on some of the common teaching tools in D2L.

February eLearning Workshops Reminder

Happy Monday!  I just wanted to take a moment to remind you of what is upcoming for eLearning workshops in February – register now to save your spot!

ReadSpeaker in D2L (hands-on)

Friday, February 8th, 2:00-4:00 pm, Ewing 112

ReadSpeaker offers text-to-speech solutions for websites, online course materials, e-books and digital documents. In this session, we will introduce you to the collection of ReadSpeaker tools we now have available within D2L courses and show you how you and your students can use and access these tools.

Register at https://www.surveymonkey.ca/r/GDWH7WY

Top 10 Digital Learning Skills Strategies for Your Students

Tuesday, February 19th, 2:00-4:00 pm, LLC151

Are you looking for strategies to support your students who are learning using digital resources?  Whether you are using D2L to support your face-to-face teaching, teaching blended, or completely online, we have some tips and resources for you!

Register at https://www.surveymonkey.ca/r/GDWH7WY

Liberating Structures

Wednesday, February 20th, 1:00-4:00 pm, LLC151

Liberating Structures are “serious fun” activities and facilitation strategies to support engagement, collaboration, creative thinking, and learning. Liberating Structures introduce small design shifts that move us gently away from more constraining  “conventional structures” (e.g., lectures, open discussions, round robin updates, brainstorms) and toward sessions that quickly foster lively participation in groups of any size, making it possible to unleash and include everyone.

In this three hour workshop, you will experience the most-popular and easy-to-adopt structures used in teaching and learning contexts, and consider how you might use them in your own teaching practice.  If you have been looking for new ideas and approaches to add to your teaching toolkit, this will deliver!

Register at https://www.surveymonkey.ca/r/LiberatingStructures


Pedagogy + Empathy = Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Contributed by Sue Doner, Instructional Designer, eLearning (Originally published in The Confluence, November 2018)

As you begin to prepare course materials for next term, may I draw your attention to some great advice laid out in the UDL Guidelines about providing learners with Options for Perception?

But first, a couple of common-experience questions for empathetic context

  • Have you ever cursed the tiny 8-pt font on a Children’s Tylenol bottle in the middle of the night when you and your aging eyes were just trying to find the right dosage information?
  • Have you ever been listening to a radio program, missed hearing what that author’s name was (or when that event is happening, or what the URL was for that guest’s website), and wished you had the information written down?

My contextual reason for asking these questions is this. In our daily quests for information, we all have occasions to require information be presented to us in multiple or different ways. We’ve all appreciated being able to access information we needed, how and when we needed it. But we’ve probably also all experienced the frustration of a barrier when the information we need is presented in a singular format that is inaccessible to us.

Information formats and barriers to learning

What if that Children’s Tylenol bottle and that radio program are sources of information you need to successfully satisfy a course learning outcome? If 8-pt font is imperceptible to you, or if you don’t hear or remember all of the relevant details for information you only receive aurally, then you are missing information that is considered essential for your success in the course. In short, these singular representations of information are going to create significant barriers to your learning.

Implementing UDL Principles & Guidelines to avoid

Excerpt from the UDL Guidelines: Provide Options for Perception
Excerpt from the UDL Guidelines: Provide Options for Perception

barriers to information

Consider the difference it would make to your success in the course if your instructor recognized that “there is not one means of representation that will be optimal for all learners”.

Consider the difference it would make to your success in the course if that paper-based information in tiny-font was also readily available in a digital format that allowed you to:

  • Customize how the information was displayed (e.g. you could enlarge font-sizes, or adjust brightness & contrast between background and text),
  • Use text-to-speech technology to hear the text read aloud.

And consider the difference it would make to your success in the course if the oral information was also readily available in a format that allowed you to:

  • Access visual alternatives (e.g. text, graphics) to the oral information/instructions.

In your role as an instructor, you play a critical part in the selection of course materials. If you provide learners in your course with Options for Perception  and present information in multiple formats, fewer of your students will encounter learning barriers that result when the singular format provided is inaccessible to them.

Questions about providing more Options for Perception in your courses?

(Camosun College instructors) connect with a working group that is currently focused on this very topic. Contact group via:

Setting a Default Path for a Module (D2L Content)

This tutorial is designed for faculty who have previous experience using the Content and Manage Files tools in D2L. For further information, please contact desupport@camosun.ca for assistance.


This tutorial will cover the steps involved when you wish to set a Default Path to a specific Manage Files folder for a Module in the Content tool.


  1. Go to the Content tool in your course.
  2. In the Table of Contents box, click on the title of the Module you want to work with.Click the title of the Module you want to work with
  3. Click on the down arrow next to the title of the Module and select Set Default Path.Click the arrow next to the Module title and select Set Default Path


  4. In the pop-up box, click Change Path. You will then see a list of the folders you have available in the Manage Files area.In the pop-up box, click Change Path.
  5. Select the title of the folder you want to connect to your Module. If you don’t see the folder you want, either use the + signs to open the folders to check for sub-folders, or click on New Folder at the tops to create a new folder. Once you have selected your folder name, click Select a Path.Select the folder you want to set as the default path for your module, and click Select Path
  6. You will now see the folder you selected at the end of the path name next to Change Path. Click Save. All files you upload to the Module will now be automatically saved in the folder you selected.Click Save.

Things to Remember

Remember to set up your Default Paths at the same time as you create your Modules. This will save you from having to reorganize your files in Manage Files later.

Facilitating Discussions and Collaborative Work in D2L

Last May, I ran a workshop which examined a variety of online collaboration tools within D2L, and discussed with participants various facilitation techniques they can use to engage learners and promote collaboration online.  In addition, we worked within D2L itself to create Discussion forums and topics, and explored other collaborative tools in D2L.

Before we learned how to set up discussions in D2L, we first needed to discuss why online discussions might be important to add to your class, and how facilitation happens in an online, asynchronous environment. Here’s a synopsis of this discussion.

First and foremost, discussion activities should tie to learning outcomes so that students understand clearly why they need to complete them. And if your discussions are part of a face-to-face enhanced class (meaning you teach in the classroom, but use D2L to support it), they should be clearly relevant to what is happening in class or be clearly linked to assessments (i.e., not a separate participation mark, but a component of a larger assessment). Being clear about the relevance of your discussion, and quite frankly having grades attached to them, will enhance participation in the discussions.

Second, your expectations need to be clear – both what you expect of the students when posting to discussions, and what they can expect from you within the discussions. For example, define the parameters of the discussions by stating how many posts you expect students to complete, how you are judging the quality of their posts, etc. One tip: add a rubric!! You could also have discussion groups define parameters of how they will work together themselves, for example in terms of conflict resolution, expectations for postings, etc.

Third, consider how you will set up and facilitate the discussions. Use open-ended questions as prompts and also as follow-ups (to ensure your questions can’t simply be answered with a “yes” or “no”.) Design your questions to encourage critical thinking, and make sure to build time in for reflection. You may also want to draw on the expertise and experience of course participants by selecting questions so students can contribute their own unique perspectives, or asking them to pose questions themselves. It is also important to limit the number of questions to keep the discussion focused, and reduce confusion amongst your students. Make sure to set a reasonable time frame for the discussion, clearing posting start and end dates for the discussion as a whole, as well as dates for when students should post and reply by to ensure they generate an actual discussion!

Finally, your presence, which includes monitoring and feedback, is crucial. If you want students to participate, YOU need to as well!! Keep track of the discussion, but don’t feel like you have to post responses all the time (start more active then slowly back off so students lead). Make comments or give feedback as needed. And watch for disrespectful postings, dominating posters, inactive posters, etc. Interject to push the discussion forward, or in different directions, and be encouraging. Contact inactive posters individually if necessary (avoid shaming them in the more public forum).


After discussing the whys and the hows, we then worked on the technical side of setting up the Discussion tool in D2L. In general, the Discussion tool allows multiple participants to engage in asynchronous discussions. We recommend asking that students use the Discussion tool rather than setting up a Facebook page for the class first, because not everyone has a Facebook account or wants to use an open-to-the-world forum for discussion course-related topics, and second, because having the Discussions in D2L allows for better privacy and monitoring of the discussions to ensure they stay on track. You can also connect D2L discussions to the Grades tool for assessment.

Instructors set up discussions, while students can read messages, post their own messages, and reply to others’ messages. These messages are threaded, which means that participants respond directly to comments from other students, and also which allows participants to easily view the original post along with all its replies.

Some examples of when you might want to use the Discussion tool in D2L for a face-to-face class include:

  • Creating an open forum for ongoing questions, and where students can answer each other meaning that the instructor isn’t the one that has to answer all the time, but could jump in to provide support/clarification as needed.
  • Creating group forums to give student groups a place to discuss and work on group projects, as well as share project/presentation materials.
  • Creating spaces to discuss class readings (preferably with guiding questions), for example, that could continue in the face to face class.

I won’t go into the technical side of options for viewing and participating in Discussions. You can find out more by looking at the tutorials in the On-Demand Training site (in D2L), or by booking a consult with an instructional designer. One note I will make is that I would recommend building rubrics in D2L to communicate expectations to students for discussion participation– Students can see the rubric up front as a guide for their posts, and then the graded one once you have published feedback for them. In addition, if the discussion is connected to the Grades tool, the graded rubric will also appear there!

Some of the other tools in D2L which foster collaborative work in D2L are:

The Groups tool through which you can link up groups of students in D2L who could then immediately connect using Discussions, Dropbox, or Locker. You can also then use Release Conditions to connect any tool activity to a group

The Chat tool which allows multiple users to converse in synchronous (i.e., live, real-time), text-based discussions. You can create open chatrooms or closed (group) chatrooms, and participants can enter new Chats or view previous sessions of a Chat. you might use? Typically the Chat is used for office hours (for example, for a completely online course), or to give students another option for group work discussions.

The Locker allows for group file sharing, if it has been set up for the Groups.

The Classlist is the list of participants in the class. It allows instructors and students to easily email other participants in the class (note that Email should be used for private discussions – we recommend that topics not requiring privacy should be posted in Discussions).

As we concluded the session, participants talked about what they had learned from the session, and what they were going to try moving forward. From integrating general questions around course topics in the Discussion tool, to rethinking the purpose of discussions in courses (so that they aren’t just about general participation), to ensuring guidelines are clear, and discussions are assessed, to including group discussion forums to support students’ study groups.

If any of the ideas in this post resonate with you, let me know in the Comments. And if you want to explore how to integrate collaborative work in D2L, contact desupport@camosun.ca and ask for an appointment with one of our instructional designers.