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Empowering students to succeed featured image
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Description Wageningen University is always on the lookout for innovative ways to enable students to achieve their full potential. To complement its traditional teaching methods, the university deployed D2L’s Brightspace platform, enabling teachers to build compelling, interactive learning experiences that drive student engagement and success. Categories: Customer Success, Engagement, Learner Outcomes, Learner Satisfaction, Student Engagement, Student Success, Transforming Teaching & Learning Transcript We moved to Brightspace because we saw a few functionalities that we think are great to have, and one tool is the bulk edit so that you can make adjustments on one page for all of your assignment or for all your content for instance, and that helps the teachers because in the previous they had to click more and every time click for one assignment to change the due date or description, so I guess these small functionalities that make their life easier is one thing that helps us sell Brightspace and make them use Brightspace and be positive about the change. We offer a lot of support in the first year we started with a short pilot and we went live with only 50 courses in the first two month period, and from there we moved actually all courses to Brightspace. But Brightspace is very intuitive, especially for the younger people I think. So they easily find their way and it’s also more modern, it looks fresh. The first thing is that we build our context and our relationship with the teachers because we first train them as a basic training on how they actually can build a course themselves, and what functionalities might fit their needs. So we want to improve their way of interacting with the students by using different tools that Brightspace offers. The students they can check if they have done something, so if they’ve read an article or made a quiz or whatever there are checkboxes, and they can check off how far they are in their course and they can see that in their own personal progress ‘did I go through all the material that I need to do before my exam?’ We have students hired that are building actually the courses for the teachers, and these students keep on highlighting how important it is to build it in such a way that they, the students, can check off what they’ve been doing.

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Description Traditional approaches to university teaching can make it difficult for instructors to identify gaps in student understanding, which impacts pass rates and creates barriers to educational attainment. The University of Huddersfield is using the Brightspace platform to shape engaging blended learning experiences that have boosted the pass rate for one professor’s courses to 100% and worked by empowering students. Transcript Basically I inherited this module from somebody else and I taught it the traditional method first. We then launched Brightspace within the University, and as part of that launch, we had a lot of training available to see how Brightspace could be used to enhance the teaching and to facilitate better learning. I took a flipped-classroom approach to this to give them a lot of, give them the information in a whole variety of different forms or formats. So I get the students to read the material first and encourage them in the right direction by giving them a set of guided reading notes. So, say read about these particular subjects and make some notes on them. Once they’ve finished that then they complete an online survey which asks them which three parts of that did you least understand? And then I can look at the three parts that they least understand then if I’ve got a nice even spread of ‘misunderstanding’ for lack of a better word, then I can use peer learning across the group for them to explain to each other about clarifying the bits that some of them don’t understand. If I get one big spike that the one particular subject that nobody understands then I can concentrate on that in the tutorial and really get to the bottom of it and help them to understand it that way. One thing that the students really like is that I ask them if they find anything that they find useful that isn’t in the material that I’ve given to them, they can suggest it to me and I’ll take a look at it, and if I agree I’ll put it up there as well because it’s useful for the other students and they see that almost as a challenge to find new things and to, and that way it keeps everything fresh and up-to-date. Also, the fact that it’s a, it’s essentially a live document, either that’s of generically as it goes along it almost evolves rather than adapts. I’ve gone from around the 75/80% pass rate to a 100% pass rate, and not only pass rate it’s more I can ask the students at the end of the year questions on what we did at the beginning of the year and they’ll still know and they’ll still understand, that wouldn’t happen before.

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To promote active learning, Huddersfield University in the UK wanted to upgrade learning with a new virtual learning environment that could excite and engage faculty to use technology in innovative ways. Hear how this award-winning higher education institution is doing what they do best with our higher education VLE. Video Transcript Speaking: Dr Daniel Belton, University Teaching Fellow - University of Huddersfield, UK The decision to move to Brightspace was a really big decision for us. Change management is always a challenge because our natural inclination is to resist change. So we’ve had an awareness campaign that’s really sort of made staff aware of what’s happening and why we’re doing this, and why it’s really important that we don’t just stay the same. You know if we stand still actually we’re going backwards. We really thought long and hard about what we wanted from VLE software, and we came up with over 2,000 criteria. All too often, the online space can just be a passive content repository and what we really wanted was to get students actively engaged with the content and actively engaged with their learning. We tested three different products and across the board in every category, Brightspace came out on top. That included you know the students testing it, they really loved it. Staff used it and they found it really intuitive to use. It’s going to be a lot of work to move from the old VLE to the new VLE, and we started off calling it a migration but then early on we decided actually that’s not the right terminology. We really wanted to use it as an opportunity to reinvigorate and re-energise how we teach online. Now it’s much more about how we can really get all the affordances of Brightspace, all of the fantastic opportunities that it gives us for promoting active learning. We’re really getting people to think about the pedagogy of how they’re teaching and how they can use the online space to support that. Something that we’re really excited about actually is some advanced development retreats that we’ve organised so this is two days away for staff, academics can sign up they have to fill in an application form and we’re funding fully funded places for staff just to get some time away and really focus on building some advanced features into their modules. We won the Graduate Teaching Excellence Award last year and we also got TEF Gold, which was a fantastic achievement for us, but these things don’t make us want to rest on our laurels, really these things motivate us to keep going to keep striving to be the best. D2L really is our partner in delivering a fantastic education to our students and that’s really clear, that really comes across really clearly.

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Students and Parents at The West Bridgford School in the UK are raving about the benefits of a mobile-friendly VLE. For the school, it’s never been easier to engage with parents and monitor the academic work of their students. See how WBS is creating a strong academic community that is helping students succeed throughout their unique learning journey. Video Transcript Speaking: Mark Deans - Deputy Head Teacher The West Bridgford School "As a school, we are a very, very academic school, and our main key is learning in the whole of our focus is on learning and thinking and we were looking for some technological solutions to help us really leverage that triangle between home, school and what the pupils do between those two places. Brightspace, it’s been a really effective tool to do that." Speaking: Dan Alton - Teacher, The West Bridgford School "We don’t have any scraps of paper lying around anymore, it’s all in one place, we all have access to each other’s stuff so if we need to get, you know, sort of standardisation markings to file out we can all do it on there and there are no issues whatsoever. The students have access to their education from home straight away." Speaking: Matt Tansey - Student, The West Bridgford School "You can see all the grades you’ve got for anything and you can see sort of where you started and where you’re ending up and if you’re getting better or worse or anything that you need to change. So, there’s more of a relationship between student and teacher because you feel you can get their feedback clearer and easier than from writing than just text." Speaking: Lily Proudlove - Student, The West Bridgford School "On your phone or like on a tablet you can get notifications of when there’s a new grade put up or a homework new set so you can always get the deadlines and the times right." Speaking: Caroline Nolan - Parent "The fantastic thing about Brightspace as parents is that we’re able to, to look at a progress report and the grades and then interpret them which makes the parents evenings a lot more productive." Speaking: Dan Alton - Teacher, The West Bridgford School "The quality of homework that I’ve seen, the quality of classwork that I’ve seen from having Brightspace, and then having access to parts of it has gone up tenfold." Speaking: Mark Deans - Deputy Head Teacher The West Bridgford School "If students are consistently logging on in their own time at weekends, trying to find out what we’re up to and what materials I can access, discussions I can take part in, we know we’re doing the right thing." Speaking: Lily Proudlove - Student, The West Bridgford School "You can put overlays on it, so people have dyslexia, a lot of the time with colours it can seem quite confusing, whereas just putting an overlay just sorts it out completely. A lot of other people do struggle with having like dyslexia and like reading difficulties and it just, it’s just so much easier." Speaking: Caroline Nolan - Parent "We don’t need to check on them constantly, but what we really just are able to do is actually enjoy their journey as well in their learning."

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Mark Deans, Deputy Head Teacher at the West Bridgford School in the UK shares his excitement about using the Brightspace platform thanks, amongst others, to its responsive mobile capabilities! Learn about how Brightspace can be used as a VLE for schools. Video Transcript The West Bridgford School is a co-educational secondary school located in Nottinghamshire, England that supports 1,500 students. The West Bridgford was looking for a way to leverage technology for their specific needs when they discovered D2L’s Brightspace. Speaking: Mark Deans - Deputy Head Teacher, West Bridgford School  "We’ve been on a journey now with our engagement with technology and providing online learning for just over seven years and we have a very active student body and parent body who are looking to actually engage with materials online." Unparalleled customisation and flexibility "In the past when we’ve had to buy technology, you have to adapt to the way the package works. Well suddenly with Brightspace it’s so extensible and flexible and interchangeable we’ve been able to actually go in and say look, our school system in this particular area the way we do things works like this. Anticipate and we actually just went to speak to them that there would be no flexibility, that we might have to change, but it’s not been like that. You actually get a consultant who will sit and say ok, we’re gonna go away give us a couple of days we’ll think really carefully about how we can do this and came back with not just what we wanted, but also extensions over and above what we thought we needed to begin with." Support staff that work with schools every step of the way "You are completely project managed from when you first start the implementation to actually that first day when it arrives in the classroom, you have people around you genuinely there looking after you, it’s really really good. And I’m not used to it, it’s really fantastic." Collaborating to create the best solution "Whilst in the past I’ve had to chase our VLE providers to give me the kind of technology that I want to work with, with Brightspace, they are rich with ideas, rich with developments that excite me and I’ve not been excited about the technology that we’re about to use for quite a long time now." An extensive toolset that responds to every situation "There’s a grading tool where the English teachers can take and work online, there they can look at long a-level essays and English literature essays and instead of writing out extensive feedback by hand suddenly they’re going to be able to actually give video-based or sound-based feedback to students directly in an app that will then with no effort on their part appear on the student phone or the student iPad where they can see the work, they can listen to the feedback from that teacher, the teacher instead of having a seven or eight or nine or ten-minute job of providing written feedback can in a minute or two provide richer feedback verbally on a video format, transformative for an a-level literature teachers life in terms of their workload while at the same time the student gets a much richer feedback experience. It’s just, it blew me away straight away. And the fact its actually included as part of the core platform was unexpected, I thought id have to pay more for something like that as an add on." Intuitive design to ensure accessibility "As soon as I saw Brightspace I could see that they’ve put a lot of investment into mobile and, and not only the fact that the mobile looks good, it responds quickly and that mobile experience is right at the core of what Brightpace can do now. The students looked at it, I showed them the app, I showed them the graphical interface on it, I showed them the fact that they would get their grades directly to the phone, even just something as simple as when the grade arrives you have to slide it in with an action, that’s great. Instantly the student would want to touch it, play with it, move things around on it, swipe with it, and yeah it was from the student viewpoint they were excited, from the teacher’s viewpoint they were excited, and for me the manager who has to actually sell all the work that goes into developing one of these packages when you’ve got the people who are going to be doing the work and the people who are going to be engaging with the package excited before they even start, then you’re going to be on to a winner." Find out more about Brigthtspace for schools

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Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands share their experience of why D2L and Brightspace proved to be the best partner to provide them with their new learning environment! Video Transcript TU Delft University in the Netherlands is one of the world’s leading higher education institutions in engineering and technology. They support 22,000 students across 3,000 different courses. Speaking: Erna KotKamp - Project Manager Collaboration and Learning Environment, Delft University of Technology "D2L really showed that they understood what our long-term goals were in terms of our educational practices. In the tender procedure, they really convinced us that they were the best partner for us both as a partner in reaching those goals as well as the platform Brightspace that they offer us." Crafting the perfect partnership "But the implementation, the partnership really took shape. We talked to each other and were really trying to solve issues together and they’ve been extremely helpful in making sure that we actually have the platform that we would like to offer our staff and students." Collaborating to create a customised platform "What’s been really great with working with D2L is they really get what we’re trying to do. They really like to think it through with us, help us, give us suggestions on what other possibilities are out there. The way the platform is being tailored to specific needs for online teaching and learning, that for TU Delft is very important. Learning analytics, predictive analytics, things like that really is what makes Brightspace very suitable for us." Using intuitive mobile design to drive global accessibility "We have a lot of students that go abroad for their internship and they still need their educational material and there’s a very easy button in Brightspace that says, you know, download it for offline use and you know it’s there it’s extremely beneficial for us." Collaborating to create the best solution "We also feedback to D2L from a European perspective might be important to implement in Brightspace."

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Saint Stephen's College in Queensland, Australia uses blended learning (and spaces) to create an environment that ensures that all students can learn and succeed at their own pace.   Video Transcript Steps to Blended Learning Success - Saint Stephen’s College, Queensland We built a rich online learning environment using Brightpsace, and that is a central pillar of our method of change towards blended learning. It’s a flipped model that we’re using, the students are going through the content on Brightspace and then I spend my time in class solving any problems they might have come across in the material, but most importantly contextualising it. Brightspace is fantastic for teachers, It allows us to be personally engaged with the students. We teach Spanish and Japanese at the college, I give them audio feedback sometimes because if they have incorrect pronunciation, then I can use that feature to basically record how a word or phrase is actually said, so the kids then are able to listen to that over and over. It’s a fantastic way for them to improve but also it builds rapport with the students and gives them personalised feedback. Some of my subjects I couldn’t do at school, because of this I thought I’d have to drop them, but I didn’t. I could use Brightspace to do year seven computer studies and year eight computer studies. It helps me do things at my own pace. It’s actually like, super-duper easy! I’ve taken some of my grades and I’ve put them from Bs to As because of Brightspace. The biggest advantage is that it allows for a whole range of different types of learning. Different files, so you can put in Word documents, Powerpoints, a whole range of things. A lot of our students are visual learners, I might put in little clips from YouTube, it might be a cartoon of the plot of Macbeth, for example, that helps them to understand. I like that flexibility, I liked that I can go through and decide what different activities that I’m going to get my students to do and that means addressing the visual students, the students who learn through hearing, the students who learn through doing, so I think that all of those important learning styles are accessible to students through Brightspace. Some early surveys of students indicated that somewhere between 82 and 88% of the students preferred a blended learning approach as compared to a traditional approach of teaching. They’re very happy with the system and we got satisfaction rates of 1.7 on average for use of the system and that was where 1 is ‘exceptionally easy to use’ and 5 is ‘extremely difficult to use’. Now, if you’ve got effective blended learning, you also need workspaces that aren’t your traditional classroom and it’s the combination which allows us to really produce students who have the skills needed for the present and the future.

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To improve engagement and knowledge retention among its members, the ANA turned to D2L's learning experience platform, Brightspace, and the latest theories in brain science to move beyond flat "death by PowerPoint" learning by creating a highly interactive, dynamic learning experience. Video Transcript D2L came in and they had won the integrated solution with the eCommerce, they had a track record with that which was extremely important for us because we wanted quick up and running. The second but most important thing is we looked at the features and functionality of the actual learning management system and where they were headed. Learner engagement was a mandatory, it was not a nice to have for us it was a mandatory specification. We have over 400 courses that we’re delivering through the D2L platform today. Because we have multiple subsidiaries like most companies, every subsidiary had their own learning management system and their own way of purchasing, so we consolidated actually from 8 systems down to 1. So strategically it allowed us to all move in the same direction, train once, use many, and leverage one platform. The Brightspace learning platform does make it easier for us to deliver creative and innovative content to our nurses, more so than we’ve had in our previous systems. We needed a product that was smart and easy to use for our staff, we also needed a platform that could cater to our mobile device users, it has a responsive design, and we also needed a platform that was open source so that it could meet our organisational capabilities to be creative and innovative and that’s what we used it for. With the Brightspace learning platform we’ve had about over 4,000 new users a month and that’s twice as many as we used to get in our previous learning management systems. We are evolving at a very fast pace. We are going global, we are broadening in to nurse consumer relationships, which means our content areas will expand exponentially. The D2L platform has allowed us to be innovative as compared to our competitors because of the flexibility. The platform allows us to not only customise content but to engage our learners, and that’s what we’re about, we’re trying to promote nursing excellence, so we’re trying to bring the best of class, content and courses to our nurses around the globe and by having the capabilities on the D2L platform we have an ability to forge new partnerships in a very different way.

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Collaboration between faculty and students is a priority at Delft University of Technology. Listen firsthand to higher education students using Brightspace about how the system allows them better access to course information, grades, and instructor feedback from desktop and mobile devices. Video Transcript  The consistency of the course layout is very important for both teachers and students, it just makes it a lot more easier to use the learning environment and actually focus on what they really should be focusing on like learning and collaborating.  I can access grades or assignments or quizzes or everything, PDFs I can access just on my laptop at my home and also on my mobile phone, on my tablet and on the train or somewhere else, not only at the university and I think that helps my need to learn even better and learn even faster. The really easy thing about Brightspace is the way that it looks, it’s really easy to recognise visually what course you’re going to enter. It looks very clean, very modern, very fresh. If the course structure is not clear then the students might miss information, might actually miss exams, might miss deadlines, so it’s just a big risk and just proceeding you know with their studies. So we really want to prevent that, we made sure that we checked with students from different faculties in different disciplines and different types of education that what we were doing in Brightspace would actually meet their needs.  You can see right away okay what do I have to do in the next period when are the submissions due, when do I have to hand in something, who can I contact if I don’t know what to do anymore, because of the structure it’s very easy to go to another course and be like ‘oh, this is a different course what should I do here, it’s an assessment, oh I go to assessment’ and it’s very clear what you have to do and it saves you a lot of time. You can do other things with it of course. By accessing content assignments and grades everywhere it just really gives a really fast feedback to me and that’s good for my progress in the study. It’s really easy to just learn everywhere.  You can hand in your assignment and the teacher will get it like right away so when he’s done with it he will get your answers and your grades right away, and it will enter in a grade book so it will keep track of all your grades during the time which is very like consistent and nice to have all together instead of all those different tools.

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  After 17 years, Delft University of Technology needed a VLE that could take their higher education institution into the future. Their approach to Change Management gave instructors and students the opportunity to really have a say in what they wanted from education technology, and it worked. Learn about how Delft University used a higher education learning management system to transform their education. Video Transcripts We had to take a decision on replacing our learning environment which we had for seventeen years last year, and we thought it was a great moment to take the next step in acquiring a learning environment which would help us through the next decade. D2L was very helpful in the way we approached the project and really advised us on how to shape it and how to implement and migrate the courses to make sure that we didn’t make any errors and that our approach made sense. D2L advised us to not go overboard in the first year and really made sure that both instructors and students would get used to Brightspace before moving onto the more advanced features. D2L was very clearly focused on education, so the way we work with them was very helpful in making sure that what we wanted for our educational goals they really understood that and helped us think through our implementation and migration strategy with the primary focus on education and not on the idea aspect of a project like this. So we set up a whole change program where teachers and students were involved in advisory boards, and I think this was really helping us rolling out this new learning environment and getting a lot of people enthusiastic about it, and they are really enthusiastic about it. So for every department, every school, every program, we wanted to have a similar learning experience, and it really helped also to get people on board in accepting the new environment. It also meant that we involved a lot of teachers and a lot of students, but also support staff in implementing Brightspace. A lot of people also took ownership of the project and took ownership of the idea that you know we all have to make it into a success including teachers, that was I think one of the big strengths of the way we approached the way we did it.

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Wendy Drake from Bournemouth University highlights students’ love for Brightspace and how working with D2L proved to be a genuine partnership to ensure personalised learning! Video Transcript Bournemouth University is a global leader in media development and home to the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice. The university supports more than 20,000 students, with alumni who have worked on Oscar-winning films. After a really lengthy and tender process, we did some useability testing and we involved students and staff so that everybody had an opportunity to look at the different solutions that were available and the students absolutely loved the Brightspace offering. Intuitive design drives platform adoption. Students liked the simplicity of the design and they were already starting to think about how they would work within it and the offering that eportfolio gave them in comparison to what we had already got Customisation for every need. The partnership with D2L I think gives us some great opportunities working with the team. I feel like we’ve got an extension to our staff it doesn’t feel like we’re working with an external provider it feels like we’re working with another department within the university. Powerful analytics make assessment easy. The student success system is a fantastic offering that is going to give us something that we haven’t had before with an understanding and a measure of how a student is progressing in terms of their degree in their learning. Leading pedagogical change in academia. At Bournemouth University we’re in the process of doing a bigger project than just the VLE implementation and part of that is a big culture change piece with our academics and so this is really giving us an opportunity to embed some new pedagogical approaches for our academics and with an inspiring environment, it will all bring the whole piece together. It gives us a great opportunity for enhancing the learning situation and performance.

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See how Saint Leo University is creating a unique learning experience for its students. Video Transcript Saint Leo University is just North of Tampa, Florida, for the university campus. But we have centres all over the country. We also have online students all over the world. So with about 16,000 students, we’ve got a healthy mix of modality. Our desire at Saint Leo is to really create immersive, personalised, adaptive learning at scale. Our learning management system was being put to bed - it was going away. Saint Leo wanted to use this moment in time as an opportunity, we were trying to be very, very opportunistic about creating this learning ecosystem, and so we did a full-scale search which included piloting a couple of different systems. We took their technologists, locked them in a room, gave them some sugar and caffeine, and said, “we want one system, one experience. We want our students to not know that they’ve gone from system X to system Y, and the cornerstone of that learning experience really is Brightspace. Because our other system was going away and hadn’t been supported for so long, we were instantly upgrading from a 2002 Cadilac to a 2016 Lexus. Brightspace really worked for Saint Leo because of a couple of things. Content management was one. We’re a school that does really have a lot of accreditation requirements put on us, because of how many adjuncts we have, we have different modalities with centres and online students, so we need to have a very consistent feel to our courses. Most of the other systems that we looked at prohibited us from being able to lock down parts of the course that really have to be there in order for us to stay accredited. In addition, the API story was extremely important to us. We are building a learning system of five different platforms, we felt the API would give us much richer experiences for our students. We think we will be able to create a kind of learning environment that students won’t get in most other places, and we came to the conclusion that Brightspace was the best system for our university and for our students’ needs.

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Alabama ACCESS is the Grade 7-12 distance learning program for the state of Alabama. The program is leveraging the Brightspace program to offer more courses to those in rural areas across the state. Video Transcript Alabama ACCESS is the Grade 7-12 distance learning program for the state of Alabama. The program started with approximately 400 students and has grown to include over 27,000 students across 400+ schools in the state, making it the third-largest online program in the nation. We are pushing toward every student a graduate and every student not just graduate but to be prepared for college and career status when they leave the high schools. Ensuring students are on the path to success We’ve seen a multitude of success stories throughout the years. We’ve had students that, one had to drop out of school because he was the sole provider for his family, and through ACCESS distance learning we were able to work with him and his employer and get him back in school and that dropout became a high school graduate. As far as the students that a lot of times get left out, and that’s those students in that upper tier. We were able to begin challenging them with AP courses, with advanced courses. In that, these students have found that ‘yes, we can be successful’ the same way these students that are in the more affluent/higher-level, I guess you would say that, schools in the state. So the students leave high school now with the positive feelings that ‘we can succeed when we move on to that next level’ whether that be going to college or whether it be going to a career of some type. Helping to increase graduation rates in the State of Alabama To help the graduation rate improve, I think ACCESS has been able to do that, again using the D2L platform. We’ve set a goal for the year 2020 to have a 90% graduation rate. From where we were in the low 70’s when we started this two years ago, we had set up increments of 2% a year, and we’ve already passed that and we hit that 80% rate this year so that we’re two years ahead already in advancing our graduation rate in the State of Alabama.

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The National Ballet School of Canada was looking for a technology solution that could help amplify the work they are doing and bring dance to the world. © 2014 D2L Corporation. Brightspace, D2L, and other marks (“D2L marks”) are trademarks of D2L Corporation, registered in the U.S. and other countries. Please visit for a list of other D2L marks. Video Transcript So for us, we recognised a number of years ago that if we wanted to share our teaching experience and pedagogy and create a system of teaching that really suits people who are non-dancers, that we needed to have at least a web platform from which to engage people. But the issue we had there was all the resources end up being quite static. Part of the brilliance of learning dance from the talented faculty that we have is actually connecting with them and learning in real-time. A technology solution is necessary for us to amplify the work we’re doing and expand our impact. With the Capture Technology, we would be in a position where it wasn’t just creating video content, which you can do any number of ways, it was creating an interactive, real-time connection with the person who was learning from you, and that to us is the most exciting part. When you’re in a position to evolve practices and enhance quality of art and quality of life - especially quality of life I think - then it’s essential, that’s your quest. That’s the fantastic thing about working with younger people is, of course, they’re the natives of the land of technology. We’re always going to be immigrants and we’re never going to speak the language with the same alacrity as they do. So in fact, I’m actually counting on the younger generations to guide me. With D2L afterwards it kind of felt like now we’re really pushing the boundaries, we’re really seeing how far we can go. How many more people we can get to see ballet. Yeah, it definitely makes me feel like an ambassador because we’re going to be at the forefront of dance training and there’s so many small studios throughout the entire world that will have access to this. It’s definitely a motivational tool.