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Brightspace Tips and Tricks: Using the Brightspace API to Support Teachers

  • 2 Min Read

Peter Phinney discusses how he used the Brightspace API to create a tool that helps teachers easily find the course content they're searching for.

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Peter Phinney is a technology-enabled learning and teaching teacher for the Greater Essex County District School Board in Windsor, Ontario, where he’s worked for 18 years. His current area of focus is supporting the virtual high school, consisting of 2,000 students. They use Brightspace for their virtual learning environment.

D2L: Thanks for joining us at Fusion! Can you tell us your favorite Brightspace tip or trick?

Peter Phinney: For me, it’s the Brightspace API, which gives us the ability to create custom tools and processes.

D2L: Can you tell us what problem or problems you were trying to solve with it?

PP: There were multiple. The original problem we tried to solve was that course content wasn’t searchable. We had an asynchronous professional development course we created for teachers, and we wanted them to be able to find the resource or the tip or video they were looking for quickly without having to click through all the content. Using the Brightspace API, I was able to create a tool that allows them to search the course content so teachers can easily find what they’re looking for.

D2L: Can you walk us through how it works?

PP: Yeah, definitely. (Refer to video above) This is our “Brightspace for Teacher’s” course. The content section is where we have all our videos and tutorials, but here on the course homepage, there’s a widget called “search course content.”

If a teacher wanted to create a quiz, they could type that in the search box and it would pull up topics from the course with “creating a quiz” being the top returned topic. Then, all they have to do is click on that link and it takes them into our course, right to the page that they were looking for on how to create a quiz. It’s very quick and easy for teachers to find the resource they’re looking for and to get the support they need at any point.

D2L: Do you have any advice for educators looking to implement this in their own teaching practice?

PP: This isn’t something that I think every user is going to be able to leverage. But if you do have an interest in programming and development, it’s definitely something that is worth looking into. There’s a bit of a learning curve in getting started with it, but there are a lot of great resources out there. Definitely if you are looking to create some sort of specific functionality or tool that can help the teachers in your organization, it’s something that’s worth putting time into.

D2L: That’s great to hear. How do you think it’s helped the teams you work with?

PP: It’s helped in multiple ways: reducing clicks for certain processes, making data gathering easier, getting data snapshots that weren’t quite available. If we can save teachers time searching, that’s time they can use to support their students.


Find out how you can use the Brightspace API by trying Brightspace today.