Brightspace is a vital part of participating in courses at Carleton. Here are some tips on how you can get the most out of Brightspace and help support your learning. 

1. Get Brightspace support

D2L provides on-demand technical support for Brightspace 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. You’ll be able to get answers to your questions anytime via email, chat and phone. Check out the Brightspace Student Support website, where you can find documentation on how to navigate and use the system. For a Brightspace tour from the student’s perspective and other video tutorials, visit Teaching and Learning Services’ Brightspace channel.

2. Regularly engage with course material on Brightspace

Frequenting Brightspace can sometimes be the online equivalent of regularly attending lectures, but the path to academic excellence goes beyond logging in. Your ability to learn independently, to engage in course material, and to stay motivated in your studies are big factors in your success. Many instructors update their Brightspace courses throughout the week. Develop a habit of reviewing your courses’ sites and participating. Read, review recordings, complete problems, assignments, and quizzes (as applicable), respond to discussion topics – but most of all, be active in your learning.  

3. Touch base with other students

On Brightspace, instructors frequently create discussion forums within a course. Sometimes these discussions forums are an important part of how you participate in the course. Other times they help you connect to classmates and help build learning communities, where you can share ideas and review course content. Carleton Online also operates the Online Learners’ Network (OLN) in Brightspace. The OLN can be a useful way for you to get support online in your online learning, and to interact with other students outside of a course.

4. Read others’ discussion board posts

While it might feel like your job is done once you respond to a discussion forum topic or thread – read, reflect and understand what your classmates have written.

5. Be willing to explore unfamiliar educational technology

Instructors use tools other than Brightspace. These are frequently integrated into your course site. Some instructors use BigBlueButton or Zoom to conduct virtual office hours. While you might not be familiar with this or some of the other tools your instructors use, the road to success lies in a willingness to engage with and explore all of the learning tools available. 

6. Customize your notifications to suit your learning needs

Notifications can help you stay on top of course assignments and updates. Get notified about announcements, assignment updates, content added or changed in a course, updates in a discussion, new grades or upcoming quizzes. Customize these notifications to best suit your needs, choosing to receive a summary of activity or instant notifications through email or SMS. Prioritize the content you feel is most important. 

7. Pay attention to course deadlines and updates

Access the calendar from your Brightspace dashboard (homepage), or via the calendar tool in the Navbar (Tools > Calendar). Use course calendars on Brightspace to stay up-to-date with deadlines. The announcements widget on your homepage is another area to look for updates from your instructors. 

8. Use features of the Brightspace calendar to stay organized

Managing several calendars in several places can be tricky. If you use an external calendar application, like Google Calendar, iCal or Microsoft Outlook, sync your Brightspace calendar with it to stay organized. This is useful when viewing your calendar on a smartphone, or to keep all of your events in one place. Within the Brightspace calendar, you can also create a personal task list. Unlike course calendar events, tasks are private, so only you can see them.  

9. Take advantage of the ARES Course Reserves feature

Some courses include an ARES Reserves tool, which allows you to access journal articles and other materials available through the MacOdrum Library. This is a great way to quickly access and read course readings. Remember: you’ll get the most out of your readings when you make reading an active learning opportunity, so take notes!

10. Monitor your progress

It is important for you to engage with all of your course’s materials – not just the areas and content you will be graded on. If your course instructor enables completion tracking, you will be able to see the number of incomplete items within a course module. A progress bar will be visible at the top of the corresponding module and on the class progress page. The class progress tool allows you to track your progress in each of your courses. Use it to help keep track of your assignments, quizzes, discussions and more!