Finding A Powerful User-Friendly Platform
After extensive market research, the NTA decided that D2L’s modern learning platform, Brightspace, provided the combination of usability and reliability its instructors and learners required.
“We were very impressed by the flexibility of D2L’s Brightspace,” says Smith. “The interoperability of the software was a great asset because it meant we were much freer to integrate other external learning tools. Video lessons, interactive quizzes, course PDFs—all of them integrated perfectly with the Brightspace environment, so migrating our existing course materials was easy, and we were much freer to create new content.”
One of the most useful features of the D2L platform is its support for release conditions—a set of customizable rules that can be used to show or hide specific items depending on specific conditions. For example, the NTA can now configure its courses to release new content on a timed basis over the duration of the course, make different assets visible to instructors and learners, or even unlock new content based on whether learners have completed their previous assignments.
“Release conditions are such a powerful feature, and they’re easy to use,” says Smith. “There’s a great video about release conditions that I sent out to the instructors, and they quickly figured out how to do it for themselves.”
He adds that the NTA has also found D2L’s Brightspace to be far more reliable than its legacy LMS.
“D2L provides a real sense of system unity. Where our old system was convoluted and difficult to manage, Brightspace handles everything within one user interface. Our instructors are no longer manually grading quizzes in Excel. Now, everything happens in one place.”
“That stability and user-friendliness has also facilitated a more in-depth dialogue between learners and instructors. They’re happy to use D2L to communicate because they know it’s easy and reliable.”
Empowering and Engaging Learners
Since partnering with D2L, the NTA has gained access to a whole new collection of online tools for self-directed adult education.
“We particularly like the discussion boards that are built into D2L,” says Smith. “We’ve been integrating them into more and more assignments. A lot of adult education is very didactic—it’s one-way traffic from the instructor to the learner. With D2L’s asynchronous discussion boards, there’s a lot more room for debate, and that helps create robust conversation. To us, that’s the ideal model for adult education, and it’s helped drive much higher engagement with our courses.” The NTA has also taken advantage of D2L’s video capabilities, creating quality-of-life improvements for instructors and learners alike.
“Before we adopted D2L, our instructors would send out text-based weekly announcements,” says Smith. “Now, almost all of them are creating a weekly video message instead. Feedback on this new feature has been extremely positive, so it’s been a great way for us to quickly boost learner engagement.”