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D2L updates & quick tips

Back Up a D2L Course

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D2L makes it possible to back up and download the contents of a course to the home/personal computer of the instructor. If you are planning on making radical changes to your course, for whatever reason, please consider making a backup using the steps below.

Currently, SRU keeps old D2L courses online for a rolling five year period (all 2012 courses will be removed in 2017, 2013 courses in 2018, etc), so under normal circumstances doing backups yourself shouldn’t be necessary.

Step 1 – Back up Grades

From within your D2L course, click on the Grades menu.

In the Enter Grades screen, click on the Export button in the upper-left.

User List   Moby Dick Seminar   8 AM   Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.png

Choose which elements of student information and which grade items to include in your spreadsheet download. Under User Details, be sure to choose First Name and Last Name. When you are finished, click Export to CSV. NOTE: using Export to CSV will allow you to later re-import the downloaded grades into D2L, if the existing grades were to be deleted.


After clicking Export to CSV, a new window will appear with a link. Click it, then save the file to your computer.


Step 2 – Archive and Download Course Contents

D2L will allow you to create a ZIP file archive of all of your course contents (including Dropbox, Discussion, Quizzes, and other assessments). There is no need to download them one-at-a-time if you follow these steps.

From inside your D2L course, click on the Edit Course button in the upper-right.

In the next screen, choose Import / Export / Copy Components. Select the option for Export Components, and make sure “Include course files in the export package” is chosen. Click Start


In the next screen, click the box Select All Components, then click Continue


At the confirmation screen, click Continue

Screen Shot 2016-10-04 at 11.36.47 AM.png

After a short processing period, click Finish

Screen Shot 2016-10-04 at 11.37.38 AM.png

A link to download your course as a .ZIP file will appear. Click it and save it to your computer.

Export Summary   Moby Dick Seminar   8 AM   Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.png

Notes to Consider

Unfortunately, the steps to create downloadable archives don’t include student work. This includes Dropbox submissions, discussion posts, and quiz attempt details. Although one may easily download an entire class of Dropbox submissions using the bulk download tool located in the Dropbox folder, there is no easy way to archive discussion posts and quiz attempts offline. Please consider this before deleting any course components.


Written by SRU Ed Tech

October 4, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Link Directly to a VoiceThread Presentation

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After you create a presentation in VoiceThread, you may be tempted to click the “Share” button and use the “Get a Link” option to obtain a URL to place directly into the Content of your D2L course. This works well, unless you would like your students to comment on slides. For students to comment, they would be prompted to sign in to VoiceThread, making it necessary for them to go to and create an account. Fortunately, there is an easier way that eliminates this step for your students.

After you have created your VoiceThread presentation, go to the Content area of your course and choose the module where you would like to add the link to your specific presentation. In this instance, we’ll put it in the description for a module.

In the spot where you’d like to place the link, position your cursor, then click the “QuickLink” icon in the textbox toolbar. It looks like a chain link:

vt link 1

In the window that appears, choose External Learning Tools:

vt link 2

In the next screen, click VoiceThread

vt link 3

A link to VoiceThread will be created. After the link, you can add a small description

vt link 4

Next, click UPDATE, and, after it saves, click on the VoiceThread link that was created. You’ll be taken to a black screen in a new window. Click Individual VT

vt link 5

In the next screen, you’ll see a list on the left showing all VT presentations that you’ve created in your account. Click the one you’d like your students to view, then click Share with Class on the right:

vt link 6

After you’ve shared, you can close the new window and return to D2L. Click Update once more on your D2L document.

Using this method, whenever your students click on the link you’ve created, they will be taken directly to the VT that you’ve specified, and will be able to comment without the need to sign in or create an account.

This method works anywhere where you have a text box with the “insert quicklink” option. You can also do this by using the Add Existing Activities button inside of a content module and choosing External Learning Tools:

vt link 7




Written by SRU Ed Tech

July 1, 2016 at 5:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

D2L Bugs – December/January

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Bug #1 – Granting Special Access to Quizzes

In the Restrictions settings for quizzes in D2L, you can scroll down to the bottom of the screen and use the “Grant Special Access to Students” button to set unique time limits or availability dates for certain students.

special access bug 1

In this example, I’m going to edit the special access for the student listed above so that she may take the test from noon to five:

special access bug 2

After I save, this is what I see:

special access bug 3

Currently, if you use Special Access to grant a student a special start and end date, the time that is displayed to you after saving will be five hours ahead of what you originally set.

However…the time actually given to the student is the original, correct time that you saved! It’s only displaying the incorrect time to YOU.

This bug has something to do with how time zones are implemented and processed by the D2L software. It must be fixed by the programmers at D2L, and a fix is estimated for sometime in February 2016. You may continue to use Special Access, just keep in mind that it’s going to show you the time five hours ahead. This bug does not affect start and end dates in other areas of D2L.


Bug #2 – Grading Dropbox Submissions

The ideal way to grade papers submitted to the Dropbox is to click the “Evaluate” button across from the first student in the list of submissions:

dropbox bug 1

On the next screen, you can view the student’s paper, write feedback comments, and enter a points grade. Once you have done this, click Publish in the bottom-right corner of the screen, then Next Student to advance to the next student to grade.

dropbox bug 2

The Bug: It has been found that using the Next Student button no longer advances through the submissions in alphabetical order. Furthermore, it will sometimes hit the end of the list of submissions, without having brought up every student! You may continue grading Dropbox papers in this manner, but be sure to go back and check that each submission has been graded and marked as “Published.” The risk here is that some students may be skipped when grading.


Written by SRU Ed Tech

January 15, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Using Rubrics to Grade Discussions

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While using the D2L electronic rubrics to assess Dropbox submissions is a fairly easy process, due to a design flaw in D2L’s software, adding a rubric to a graded discussion takes some extra steps.

How Not to Do It

When setting up the assessment options for your discussion activity, you may notice the option to add a rubric:

discussion rubrics 1

If you do add a rubric using this option, you’ll even see a link to launch and fill out a rubric for each student, when the time comes to grade their posts:

discussion rubrics 2

However, if you fill out the rubrics on this page, a copies of the completed rubrics will never be sent to the students, even when you check “Publish to Grades”!

This is an error on Desire2Learn’s part, and is widely considered to be a bug in their software.

Discussion Rubrics – The Proper Way

To make discussion rubrics work, we don’t attach the rubric on the Assessment tab. Rather, we go to the Grades tool, find the grade item for the discussion in the list of grades, and attach it there.

1) Click Grades

2) Click Manage Grades

3) Locate the grade item in the list, then click it’s title

4) Mid-way down the page, click Add Rubric, then choose the rubric used to grade discussions

Discussion Rubric 4

Grading the Discussions

To use a rubric while grading discussions, we view and assess the students posts not from the Discussions tool, but rather in the gradebook itself.

1) Click on Grades

2) In the grade sheet, locate the grade item. Click the arrow in the column heading, then click Grade All

discussion rubrics 4

3) The next screen will list for you all of the students in the course:

discussion rubrics 6

For each student…

Click the icon under the Submission column to view their posts, record a score, and type written feedback

Click the icon under the Assessment column to view and fill out the rubric in a new window.

Using this method, each student will have a link to the completed rubric on their Grades screen, under the [Assessment Details] link:

discussion rubrics 7

Written by SRU Ed Tech

February 12, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Making Screen Recordings

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SRU MediaSpace, the dedicated video system available to all faculty and students, also features a screen recording tool. The screen recorder will make a video out of your screen movements, while recording your narrations though your webcam or microphone. This is ideal for showing students how to use software. You can also use it to capture narrated PowerPoint (although using PowerPoint’s built-in narration tool in conjunction with iSpring free works best).

The attached handout will give you step-by-step instructions on how to use the screen recording tool, as well as troubleshooting tips:

Creating Screen Recording with SRU MediaSpace (PDF)

Written by SRU Ed Tech

January 30, 2015 at 9:06 pm

VoiceThread – Getting Started

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This handout will walk you through the steps of creating a VoiceThread presentation. These instructions are applicable for both faculty and students wishing to create, share, and have viewers/classmates comment on their presentations.

What is VoiceThread? VoiceThread allows you to take a plain, text-and-images PowerPoint show, then add narration to each slide using voice and video. VoiceThread presentations can be shared with your students, allowing them to leave voice or video comments on individual slides. It is a more interactive way to present a narrated PowerPoint lesson.

VoiceThread Basics – for Faculty (PDF – Updated 10/6/2015)

Written by SRU Ed Tech

January 8, 2015 at 4:04 pm

Blackboard Collaborate Instructions for Students

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The attached handout gives a brief overview of Blackboard Collaborate and offers instructions and troubleshooting tips for students. Feel free to download it and post it to your D2L course.

Blackboard Collaborate Student Handout (PDF)

Written by SRU Ed Tech

January 8, 2015 at 3:51 pm