John Bayerl has worked as the director of teaching excellence at Minnesota State College Southeast (MSCS) for the last two and a half years. MSCS is part of the larger Minnesota State system of college universities. John’s role entails wearing many hats; he’s the site administrator for MSCS and also works as an instructional designer, among other things.
D2L: Thanks for joining us at Fusion, John. Can you tell us your favorite Brightspace tip or trick?
JB: My favorite Brightspace tip is to use Intelligent Agents when communicating with students. I’m going to show you how instructors can use them to automate welcome message to students.
D2L: Why did you choose this tip? What were you trying to solve for?
JB: At the start of any course, an instructor might want to send a welcome email to their students. The start of any semester is often chaotic: Students are adding and dropping courses and it’s hard for an instructor to keep up with who has or hasn’t enrolled and who has or hasn’t gotten their message. My solution is to automate all of that with Intelligent Agents. You set the message up once and make sure it gets to all your students.
D2L: Can you show us what it looks like?
JB: Here are my local Brightspace instants. I already have a welcome message Intelligent Agent set up, and if I edit this, I can show you a little bit about how it works.
In this one, all the top information is for me or for an instructor. It basically checks every day at around 6 pm during the first week of the course to see whether new students have enrolled. Based off of that, we’re going to send them an email in a later part of the Intelligent Agent.
First, we have to set up the criteria to check that they are actually enrolled. We’ve set up the role in the classes to be only going to students that are going to be enrolled in here. Then we must make sure we have a release condition for being enrolled in this particular org unit or course.
If those conditions are met, we’ll check that schedule. If a student has enrolled in the course recently, we have the action here to make sure that everyone gets the welcome message once—we don’t want to set it to a bunch of times, so we’ll have the action there just for once.
We’ll then set up our email to say, “Hey, welcome to the course.” It’s a chance for staff to introduce themselves as the instructor. They can even use the great replacement strings to insert the log in path, personalize the message using their first name or last name and many more things.
Once I save and close it, it’s ready to send to students during the first week.
D2L: Fantastic. What have you found has been the impact in having educators put this into practice?
JB: It helps the start of the semester go off without a hitch. It means instructors can get back to engaging with their students more easily. The welcome message is kind of a formality, but very important to make sure that everyone starts off on the same page with the same information. Instructors want to make sure that students can get into Brightspace and that they have anything else they might need to be successful in the course.
Find out how you can use Intelligent Agents by trying Brightspace today.
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