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How Two Instructional Designers Used D2L Lumi to Reduce Course Design Time

  • 5 Min Read

Two instructional designers discuss their evolving roles, their experience with D2L’s AI tools in Brightspace and their thoughts on AI’s future in education.

Shannon Brenner and Jordan O’Connell are instructional designers at Northeast Iowa Community College. They’re also in the unique position of being adjunct instructors (Shannon teaches communications classes and a college experience course and Jordan teaches courses about US history and the American government.) Below, Shannon and Jordan share how their roles as instructional designers have changed over the years, what it was like using D2L’s AI tools in D2L Brightspace, and how they feel about the future of AI in education.   

NICC Serves a Range of Students 

Most of our learners are concurrent students. They’re mainly career-focused high schoolers looking for a mix of opportunities. They might start with a non-credit certificate then transfer into a technical one-year diploma or a two-year associate’s degree. They may add in a competency-based program to learn a skill, and then join the workforce. We also serve adult learners who are interested in upskilling in career-focused skills. 

With respect to modalities, we offer face-to-face, hybrid, competency-based, and fully online, asynchronous course options. 

Our Roles as Instructional Designers Have Shifted 

When COVID hit, there was an incredible demand for online courses. During that time, we didn’t have the luxury of being as strategic as we may have liked. We didn’t have the time to design individual courses from the ground up. It was more like “redesign this quickly in three days for an online version of this course.” 

Nowadays, there’s more strategy to how we build and design courses. We’ve written our own quality course design standards, developed our own quality course design rubric and documentation, and changed campus policies. We’re striving to have a high level of course quality embedded in all we do.  

Being Adjuncts Informs Our Instructional Design Work 

The fact that we both teach in tandem with our instructional design careers is a huge benefit. We’re able to have more honest conversations with faculty because we also have the perspective of someone who understands what it’s like to be in the classroom. But we’re also able to bring the faculty view back to our instructional design team.  

It’s also great because we can interact with students regularly. We’re always looking for opportunities to test our new technology or learning experiences with them.  

D2L Lumi Helped Reduce Time Spent Building Courses 

We were fortunate enough to trial D2L Lumi, a generative artificial intelligence (AI) tool in Brightspace. We’ve been using the quiz and practice question generators over the last couple of months. They’ve sped up course builds significantly at our college.  

We discovered that we could take a document that already had questions in it, put it in an HTML page within the LMS, and have the AI question generator essentially build the same questions with the correct formatting for D2L. That saves a ton of time. 

Overall, having Lumi has just been so convenient and has helped make course design so much easier. 

Having AI Embedded Directly in Brightspace is the Icing on the Cake 

D2L is saving us an extra step by embedding the technology within Brightspace. Sure, we could do this with AI tools outside of Brightspace, but we’d still have to format the questions correctly and then import them into the LMS. With Lumi, we save time.  

How AI Helped Create an Improved Certified Nurse Aide Course 

We have a great example of how Lumi really helped us. A few months ago, we were redesigning a Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) course. Due to personal circumstances, the course developer has been on leave. But she had completed enough of the blueprinting process that we could use as a starting point on a course build. 

We then used the AI tools in Brightspace to create hundreds of questions neatly aligned with the state nurse aide curriculum and our own institutional course guide. It was amazing to be able to do that, especially since we, as instructional designers, do not have the requisite subject matter knowledge this task normally requires.  

Not only did the tools enable us to hit a critical deadline at a difficult time, but they also helped us build a better CNA course than we’ve had for years. Thousands of students will have a much better course experience moving forward because of these tools. It just shows that there are so many possibilities with artificial intelligence that weren’t previously available. 

We’re Not Sure We Could Return to Doing Things the Old Way 

We ran out of tokens to use for Lumi at the end of May, and immediately thought “Oh, dear. We were on a roll. What are we going to do?”  

We have a second instance of Brightspace for professional development that doesn’t have Lumi. We were working on building a quiz in a course there and it was extremely frustrating going back to not having it. We don’t want to live in that world. 

The Future of AI Tools In Education 

Honestly, all we can see is how education will improve. Right now, higher education is a billion-dollar industry where many students fail. That’s not good, and AI shows so much promise in terms of how it can help solve some of these longstanding issues. 

We’re pushing for people to realize the potential of it because it’s going to make our lives easier. It’s going to lead to better courses. These tools are already part of students’ lives. 

We’re not fearful of AI; it’s more that it’s overwhelming. Every day, there are tools coming out that we want to test but don’t have enough time. It’s probably scary for the people who are trying to pretend it doesn’t exist and who don’t want to adapt. But AI is always going to need someone driving it.  

We’ll eat our words if the Terminators rise. But we think AI is going to enable us to fix so much of what’s broken with higher education, if we let it. 

This interview has been condensed and edited.  

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Table of Contents

  1. NICC Serves a Range of Students 
  2. Our Roles as Instructional Designers Have Shifted 
  3. Being Adjuncts Informs Our Instructional Design Work 
  4. D2L Lumi Helped Reduce Time Spent Building Courses 
  5. Having AI Embedded Directly in Brightspace is the Icing on the Cake 
  6. How AI Helped Create an Improved Certified Nurse Aide Course 
  7. We’re Not Sure We Could Return to Doing Things the Old Way 
  8. The Future of AI Tools In Education