1. Dashboard (Your Brightspace Homepage)
    1. Dashboard Navbar
    2. Minibar
  2. Course Navigation
    1. Accessing a course
    2. Course homepage
    3. Course Navbar
    4. Course Content

The D2L Brightspace learning environment allows students to access course materials. There are also additional links to support services or other educational tools that can be found in Brightspace. Knowing how to navigate Brightspace, where to find important information and how to use the system will help you stay organized and get the most benefit from your classes.

Dashboard (Your Brightspace Homepage)

The dashboard is your personal homepage for all of Brightspace. A list of courses, access to Brightspace support, and a calendar widget can all be found here.

My Courses Widget

A list of all courses a student is enrolled in. Hover over a course, click the (elipses) and click Pin to pin the course to the top of this list.

Support Portal

Access 24/7/365 support for any challenges or concerns in using Brightspace.

Calendar Widget

A quick look at upcoming dates and events from all courses. Click Brightspace Calendar or Show More… to open the Calendar tool.

Related Support Page: Using the Calendar

Dashboard Navbar

Brightspace has two slightly different navbars that live at the top of the page. Depending on whether you are on the homepage dashboard or in a course, you will see different link options within the navbar. The dashboard has a smaller navbar with two links to important services:

Jump To

Various links to Carleton services, including Carleton’s website, Carleton Central, cuPortfolio, Carleton Email, Mediaspace, the library website and Student support services.


Links to Brightspace support, including video tutorials (Brightspace tutorials Youtube page), Documentation from Brightspace, the Brightspace Community and a system check to ensure browser compatibility.


The minibar is always visible at the top of the page no matter where you are in Brightspace. It has important links to various pages and settings in Brightspace.

Carleton logo

This logo is a link to the dashboard. Click on the logo from anywhere in Brightspace to return to the dashboard (homepage).

Course selector grid

Click to view a list of all the courses you are enrolled in. To keep a course at the top of this list, click the pin icon

Message alerts

Click to view notifications of unread emails from instructors and other students.

Subscription alerts

Click to view notifications of updates in subscribed discussion forums, topics and threads.

Update alerts

Click to view notifications of new or updated course announcements, due dates, end dates and grades.

User profile

Click to make changes to your user profile, notifications, account settings, view your course progress summaries and log out.

Further links: Customizing notification settings

Course Navigation

Navigating a course is a bit different from navigating the dashboard. Each course has its own homepage that acts as a landing page and a separate content page that houses all course content. Take some time before the beginning of a course to learn how your instructor has organized the content and homepage.

Accessing a course

  1. Log in to Brightspace with your MyCarletonOne username and password.
  2. Click on your course under My Courses or the course selector grid 

This will automatically bring you to the course homepage.

Course homepage

Each course homepage might be slightly different, depending on how an instructor has set it up. Typically, there will be a Visual Table of Contents, Announcements and details about the teaching team.

Visual Table of Contents

This is a visual overview of the various modules in a course. Click a module name too access the course content within the module.

  • Click the i icon   to view the module description.
  • Click the double arrow icon to open the next topic you have to complete in a module.
  • The progress bar below each module indicates the percentage of module topics that have been completed and the number of topics outstanding.

Course Navbar

The course navbar has a few extra links compared to the dashboard navbar. These additional links allow you to navigate your course.

Course home

Click Course Home to return to the course homepage.


Click Content to navigate to the content page. The content page is the most important page in any course. It has access to all of the modules and a table of contents that lists all the course content items.


Click Progress to access information about course grades, class progress, and view any earned awards.

Related support page: Viewing Grades


The Tools link has quick access to all Brightspace course tools. Each tool, such as announcements, assignments, discussions, quizzes, etc. has a summary page that lists all of the available content from that tool. Use these tool pages to get an overview of a certain type of content that is currently available, or to quickly find a specific link. For example, click Discussions to view all of the available discussion forums and topics for the course.

Jump To 

These links are the same as on the dashboard navbar. Access links to various Carleton services, including Carleton’s website, Carleton Central, cuPortfolio, Carleton Email, Mediaspace, the library website and Student support services.


Links to Brightspace support, including video tutorials (Brightspace tutorials Youtube page), Documentation from Brightspace, the Brightspace Community and a system check to ensure browser compatibility.

Course Content

The content area is the most important section of a Brightspace course. It lists all of a course’s content, organized into modules and sub-modules. Instructors will organize their course content in different ways, so it is important to always take time at the beginning of the course to learn how a course is setup. Common ways to organize a course include making a module for each week or making a module for each theme or unit in a course.

To access the content page, click Content in the course navbar. This will expand the content area in the left sidebar. You will see the most recently accessed module, or the Table of Contents if no modules have been accessed.

Table of Contents

This menu runs on the left side of the Content page. This holds all course modules as well as any bookmarks and a course schedule.

  • Search Topics: Search all of the content in a course to find a specific item. To search, type a key word(s) into the search bar and press Enter on the keyboard.                                                                   
  • Bookmarks: Bookmarks are personal to an individual account. Any content items bookmarked will appear on this page for easy access. To create a bookmark, open a content item located in a module and click the bookmark icon
  • Course Schedule: A list of course due dates, start dates, end dates, overdue activities and events for the next 7 days. These come from the calendar tool. Anything overdue will appear in red.             
  • Modules: Modules are the sections of a course. Click on a module to open it. Module titles in the table of contents may have a number beside them that indicate the number of incomplete content items.
  • Note. Some modules may have additional modules within them, called submodules. These submodules cannot be seen in the table of contents menu until the parent module is open.
View Course Content

Click on a module in the Table of Contents to view its content (“Unit 1: Poetry” is an example of a module in the image below).

  • Module description: Any module descriptions will be at the top of the module. These often include important information about required activities or readings.
  • Module dates: Module dates indicate when the content of that module will be available to students. Outside of these dates, the content item titles can be seen, but it cannot be opened or viewed.
  • Progress bar: The progress bar indicates how many content topics a student has completed in the given module. It indicates both a percentage and number of topics completed.
    • Tip. Be sure to consult with the course syllabus or other course notes to ensure there aren’t any content or activities to complete that are not listed in the module.
  • Content items (topics): Multiple content types are available in Brightspace, including assignments, quizzes, files, surveys, discussions and more. Any course content topic that is available will have a blue title. Click on the title to access the content. The type of content (quiz, file, link, etc.) and any applicable dates or descriptions are displayed under the title.                           
    • Tip. Content item descriptions are not visible unless the module is open. Be sure to access content by opening a module, rather than clicking on the link in the table of contents overview to avoid missing important description details.

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