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Blog 5: Brightspace can support effective management of student tasks and progress!

  • 4 Min Read

Today, we continue our exploration of how Chickering and Gamson’s seven principles of good pedagogical practice can be achieved and supported through use of the Brightspace learning management system. You can access the entire blog series here.

Principle 5: Emphasizes time on task

We will be making continued reference to the Classic Content experience, so please note that your own environment may look and act differently if you’re using the New Content experience (also known as Lessons) instead.

Chickering and Gamson begin tackling this pedagogical practice with a discussion about the importance of effective time management in society today: “Learning to use one’s time well is critical for students and professionals alike. Students need help in learning effective time management.” One of the simplest yet most effective ways to encourage this skill using Brightspace is to add the Calendar widget to your course homepage! Students then will always be able to view upcoming tasks the minute they land on your course.

Additionally, for students who prefer keeping track of everything on their cellphones, encourage use of our mobile app, Brightspace Pulse, which can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play. (Remember that this app is intended for students, not for faculty.) The Pulse app will sync with students’ calendars from their courses within Brightspace and includes views such as week-at-a-glance, upcoming tasks, and more!

Let’s Make a Date

Adding date restrictions to your course materials is quick and easy in Brightspace. Within any module or submodule, select Add Dates and Restrictions (for content topics, you first need to click on Edit Properties In-Place), and you’ll be given three options: Start Date, Due Date, and End Date. Let’s take a moment now to distinguish between these three terms:

  1. Start dates allow you to hide content or assessments until a specific day (of course, quizzes are an important use case here), but students WILL be aware of what’s coming when. For example, many instructors choose to divide their course materials into manageable time blocks to facilitate planning. Knowing that the work for Unit 2 will be made available on October 1 will guide students toward estimating how much time to spend on Unit 1.
  2. Be especially cautious when incorporating end dates, as they mean that students will no longer have access to this content/assessment. Therefore, we encourage full transparency here to reduce learner anxiety. However, the use of end dates may in fact encourage students to streamline their efforts toward the most urgent tasks, knowing they’re time-sensitive, since they’ll “disappear” after the specified end date.
  3. Due dates, technically speaking, have no effect on hiding/displaying material in the actual system, so you can treat them as more of a guideline for students to rely on for their organisational planning. That being said, do note that assignments and content topics both require due dates to show up in the Pulse app (quizzes require end dates), so the more the merrier!

Tracking Student Progress

In addition to tracking student achievement with concrete numeric grades (assessment of learning), Brightspace allows you to monitor students’ progress while they’re still working through your course. That way, you can address potential concerns before it’s too late, and you can cater to overall student success in the long run.

When on the Table of Contents page, under the Related Tools drop-down menu, you’ll discover a little-known link called View Reports, which will take you to a detailed page titled Statistics (you can easily export these figures into a CSV file for reporting purposes). Here, you can browse important details by content or by user, showing exactly which content topics students have accessed and how much time they spent where. In terms of encouraging students to allocate realistic amounts of time to their learning, these content statistics provide a fantastic bird’s-eye view that allows faculty to keep an eye on where students are spending their time; then you may choose to reach out individually or globally if necessary, based on how these numbers compare with your own expectations.

Another useful tool for monitoring student achievement is the Class Progress tool, where you can easily get a sense of how each student is progressing on a variety of indicators (to name a few: content completion, assignment submissions, grades, discussion participation, and course access). Hide or display any of these indicators in the Settings menu to avoid overwhelming students, and don’t forget to click the print button the next time a student wishes to discuss his or her performance during your office hours! Remember that students themselves can access their own progress page at any time by clicking on Progress under their name in the navigation bar, allowing for full transparency during the complete learning journey.

Citation Links

Chickering and Gamson: http://www.lonestar.edu/multimedia/SevenPrinciples.pdf

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