1. Summary of the July 2021 Update
    1. Brightspace Editor (Not part of D2L Release notes for this month, but a recent change for Carleton!)
    2. Quizzes
    3. Assignments
    4. Grades
    5. Did you know?
  2. Summary of the June 2021 Update
    1. Discussions 
    2. Text Editor 
    3. Attendance 
    4. Rubrics 
    5. Did you know?
  3. Summary of the May 2021 Update
    1. Assignments
    2. Rubrics
    3. Attendance
    4. HTML/Text Editor
  4. D2L Release Notes

Brightspace is a cloud-based, learning management system. One of the many excellent features of Brightspace is that it updates near the start of each month with new features and improvements. Updates occur automatically with no system downtime.

This software update process is called the Continuous Delivery.  Regular software updates allow for new features, settings, and configurations to be applied to Brightspace without any system outage.

Updates help ensure that any needed security patches are applied and new features are available to the campus. Carleton is on the Wave 3 update schedule. Visit the D2L 2021 Wave schedule to see the scheduled dates each month.

Summary of the July 2021 Update

Brightspace Editor (Not part of D2L Release notes for this month, but a recent change for Carleton!)

  • The HTML editor has changed to the Brightspace editor: A new text editor is available in Brightspace when you add content to areas in the course, such as module/submodule descriptions, content pages, and quiz/discussion/assignment descriptions. The new editor features all the same functionality you are used to, with some additional features such as a more options for font formatting, font colours, source code editing, an improved table creation experience, and a more robust accessibility checker.  Word count is also available for users.

NOTE: Spell check has been removed as a feature of the Brightspace Editor as most modern web browsers already include spellcheck functionality already.


  • Improvements to Manual Grading Workflow: Quizzes that have manually graded questions (i.e. Written Response), and that are not set to be published immediately, will now display the Status “Pending Evaluation” on the Grade Quiz. This feature helps to identify quiz attempts that are awaiting manual grading.

NOTE: To prevent automatic publication/posting of quiz marks, make sure that the option “Allow attempt to be set as graded immediately upon completion” is inactive under the Assessment tab in the quiz’ Settings.

This Status feature is complemented by new Search filters on the “Grade Quiz” page to pinpoint quiz attempts that are Pending Evaluation.

  • Access to Quiz Reports Moved: “Reports Setup” is no longer located inside the quiz settings. Instead, “Setup Reports” and “View Reports” options have been added to the dropdown menu for a quiz. Click the chevron next to the quiz’ name on the Tools > Quizzes page to find the Report tool links.
  • “Introduction” Field Removed: Previously, the quiz creation settings featured two main text fields: Description and Introduction. Brightspace has reduced this to just the Description field. Any Introduction text in pre-existing or imported quizzes is automatically appended to the Description field when you re-enter and save the Edit Settings for the quiz.
  • Assign Zero (0) Minutes for Grace Period: It is now possible to assign a Grace Period of zero (0) minutes for quizzes with Enforced Time Limits. This setting is found under the Restrictions tab in the quiz creation/edit settings.

For more information on quiz settings, see our support page: https://carleton.ca/brightspace/instructors/editing-quizzes/.


  • Option to Add to an Assignment Category (or Create a New One): It is now possible to designate Assignments to Assignment Categories via the create/edit settings, under the “Submission & Completion” menu. If no Assignment Categories exist, there is the option in the menu to create a New Category and use it immediately.

NOTE: Categories are tool specific. As such, Assignment Categories will not be impacted by or synchronize with, for example, Gradebook Categories.


  • Assign Formula, Calculated, and Text Items to Gradebook Categories: If you use Formula, Calculated, and Text items in your weighted or points-based Gradebook, you can now assign them to Categories to create a more intuitive structure.

NOTE: Formula, Calculated, and Text grade items do not contribute to either the category’s subtotal calculation or the final grade calculation.

Did you know?

You can contribute to the user experience of Brightspace. Create an account at https://community.brightspace.com/ to access the Product Ideas Exchange (or, PIE). Enter a feature suggestion or improvement (i.e. a PIE item), and review/upvote other development ideas.

Summary of the June 2021 Update


  • Users can now “tag” other users in Discussion threads by typing the @ symbol followed by the user’s name. When  posting to a Discussion thread, users now have the ability to use @name to tag another user in the thread. Autocomplete will provide options as you type the @name tag! Users who are “tagged” will receive a notification within Brightspace to let them know that they’ve been mentioned in a discussion. It is not necessary to subscribe to the Forum or Topic to receive a notification. This feature only works for Discussion threads, and only users enrolled in the course can be tagged. But if an unfamiliar name pops up as a tagging option, please don’t worry; it’s just a member of our helpful TLS or ITS staff on account of their special system access. 

Text Editor 

  • The “Format Painter” feature allows you to copy the formatting of one text element and apply it to another. Within the text editors found throughout Brightspace, the tool ribbon contains a button for a Format Painter. The Format Painter allows the user to select specific text and then copy the formatting using the Format Painter button.  (If this sounds a lot like a feature in Microsoft Word, you’re right!).  Simply place your text cursor over the text that has the formatting you want to duplicate. Then click on the “paint roller” icon in the Text Editor’s toolbar. TIP: You may need to click first on the “…” to expand the toolbar options.) Your cursor will turn into a paint roller. Then click on the text that you want to apply the formatting to. 


  • Delete attendance registers in bulk. Last month, D2L added a “More Actions” menu to the Attendance page for applying settings to Attendance Registers in bulk. This month D2L has added a “Delete” option. Select multiple registers by checking the box next to each, and then choose the “Delete” option from “More Actions” menu.
  •  Restore a deleted attendance register.  If you need to recover a deleted attendance register, select the “View Deleted Registers” option from the “More Actions” menu within the Attendance tool. You will be taken to a new page with a list of all deleted Attendance Registers. Click the “Restore” button beside the deleted register you’d like to recover and it will be restored.


  • Reorder criteria groups when creating/editing a rubric: Now when you are editing a rubric that has multiple Criteria Groups, Up/Down move arrows will appear to the left of the header. Clicking on the arrows will move the entire group Up or Down respectively, so that you can reorder your groups easily.

Did you know?

The Brightspace Text Editor will preserve the formatting of text you copy and paste from an external word processor, such as MS Word. This includes: font size and type (including special fonts); effects, such as bold, underline, and superscript; bullets; heading levels; tables; colouring and shading; and more! 


Summary of the May 2021 Update


  • Assignment annotations available for TXT file types: TXT file format has been added to the list of file types that can be annotated using the Assignment grading tools. See the full list of file formats that can be annotated. Annotation refers to the ability to mark-up documents directly within Brightspace when grading.
  • The Assignment download button in the grading screen has a menu with download options: The Download button in the header of the document viewer is now a menu when grading an assignment within Brightspace.

The menu contains two options:

    • “Download Original” will download the student’s assignment in its original submission format.
    • “Download” will export the assignment as a PDF that incorporates your annotations. This is currently the only way to export an annotated assignment.
  •  Drag and Drop is available for images within Assignment Feedback: “Drag & drop” image files from your computer to quickly insert images into the text field of an assignment’s Overall Feedback.

To learn more about the Assignment tool, please join us for our workshop, Brightspace Assignments and Rubrics, or visit the Assignments support page.


  • Drop-down menu added to criterion column of rubric: Clicking on the “…” button at the head of each criterion row will display a menu with options to duplicate the criterion row (“Copy row”) or remove it from the Criteria Group (“Delete row”).
  • Options to print rubrics and export to PDF:  When viewing a rubric in a pop-up window or embedded in a page, a “Print Rubric” link appears in the top right-hand corner. Click the link to open a print settings window. In addition to selecting a printing device, one of the options is to save/export the rubric as a PDF. This “print” function works for both blank and evaluated rubrics. However, it is not possible to print/export a evaluated rubric for an assignment that is in the process of being graded.

See the Brightspace Support Site page, Creating Rubrics,  for more information.


  • Set attendance registers in bulk to hide or make visible: A “More Actions…” menu has been added to the Attendance Registers page for applying settings to registers in bulk. The options are to “Hide” and “Make Visible” multiple registers simultaneously. However, D2L will be adding additional functions in coming updates.
  • Attendance scheme disabled once data is entered: The option to change the Attendance Scheme of a register is now automatically disabled once attendance data has been entered. This is to prevent the accidental deletion of attendance data when the scheme is changed.

HTML/Text Editor

  •  Copy & Paste images added to HTML/Text editor: “Copy & paste” images into any HTML/Text Editor field within Brightspace. This works with images that you find online and image files on your computer that are open in a photo viewer.

See the Brightspace Support Site page, Using the HTML Editor, for more information.

If you have any questions about any of these Continuous Delivery changes, or would like help using these new settings, reach out to us at edtech@carleton.ca.

D2L Release Notes