Working in Brightspace

Working in Brightspace as an instructor is not new to me. However, designing a course using sound instructional design principles was a new experience. As a designer, I needed to format the content and instructional web pages which often required me to learn some HTML and CSS. This is where I encountered a steep learning curve! While I really enjoyed the experience and the end product of Adobe Spark Page when creating more aesthetically pleasing content, I am sure if I continued learning HTML and CSS I may be able to create compelling content pages within Brightspace. I think these skills would be beneficial but as the literature alludes to (see Bates for example) this task can be time-consuming and may take away time spent on other important instructor tasks. Therefore, having an instructional designer on campus to consult with is extremely beneficial.

I enjoyed using Adobe Spark Page to create more compelling content for my prototype. It was a user-friendly product and integrated easily into Brightspace. However, there were some limitations. I found, with the free version of Adobe Spark, there was a bit of clutter at the end of each page that may be distracting to students. In addition, I am not sure how the content would appear on other devices. Unfortunately, there was no app compatible with the trial version of Brightspace to check if the content pages would fit nicely on other screens.

I designed my prototype in Brightspace trial. I found the trial version was slightly more limited in terms of learner functions, such as using blogs, e-portfolios, and accessibility than the version I have worked with in my institution. This limited my options for assignments for my prototype. I have noted that with the Brightspace blogs students can share their work in the open web, which I would have liked to have been able to do in the prototype. When I put my prototype into action using my institution’s version of Brightspace, I will move the discussion assignment into the blog format for this reason.

I was cognizant of equal student accessibility when I was designing my prototype. However, I was not fully aware of all the considerations that needed to be made until I reviewed the literature at the end. It became apparent that accessibility needs to be a priority throughout and not just an afterthought. Brightspace has the capability of assistive technology as illustrated in the video below, including an accessibility checker for designers and text-to-speech for learners. However, I believe it is an add-on feature. I have not seen this in the version of Brightspace my institution has. It certainly would have been helpful in the trial version for me as a designer. Learners would certainly benefit from accessibility features built right into the learning management system. However, using extensions like Chrome Read&Write and imTranslator are great alternatives.

In the end, I believe my prototype is ready for implementation. I am mindful that patience and flexibility will be key – especially with the first run in the blended learning environment.


Course Profile

Course Profile for Organizational Behaviour in a Blended Learning Environment

Course Overview

Organizational Behaviour is a 64 credit hour course taught within the School of Business at the post-secondary level. The course is designed to provide students insight into human behaviour in organizations and develop the skills needed to collaborate effectively with people at work and in community. The module presented in the prototype centers around team-building skills. The learning objective is:

Demonstrate effective team building skills within your group including group norms, roles, development, and cohesiveness.

Delivery Method and Format

This learning module has been designed for the flipped classroom and will be presented through a learning management system (LMS), Brightspace. In this blended learning environment, students will be required to review and engage with the online instructional materials and each other prior to attending class. During class, students will be required to collaborate in teams to complete a mini-project. As a group, students will then present a summary reflection of their experiences in team building, which will be uploaded to the discussion forum in the LMS. This summary should be centered around the key concepts presented in the learning outcome. Post-class activity includes an online class discussion exploring each team’s learning experiences.

The flipped classroom method was chosen to give students the opportunity to engage, asynchronously, with the content online at their own pace before participating in the synchronous active learning experience in class. The goal is to allow for more time in class to apply the concepts and theories in practice.

This learning outcome has been designed in Brightspace, a learning management system offered by D2L. Brightspace is accessible with an internet connection using computers and is compatible with multiple devices. This LMS is a widely used and supported platform within the institution the course is offered and was chosen to provide a consistent experience for students. In addition, content, interactive activities, discussions forums, blogs, email, student calendars, and assessment options are offered within the LMS in an organized and easy to follow format. To increase the student’s experience in networked learning, blogs can be shared via social media. Learning artifacts created using web-hosted multimedia tools (video, audio, images) and other external resources can be uploaded and shared within the LMS. Together with the capabilities of creating dynamic learning content and experiences within the LMS and externally created and secured resources the student learning experience is designed to be more open than closed in terms of a learning management system.

Course Content

Within the learning outcome stated above students will review five learning steps. In particular, they will be required to define teams, explain roles, role expectations and role conflict, explain how norms are developed and enforced, describe team development and describe team characteristics. The online content focuses on lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy where students begin to understand the foundations of team building. This foundational knowledge will allow students to focus on higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy where they can apply the concepts and theories in practice and be able to critically analyze and test assumptions.

The action verbs, apply and analyze, are mid-level skills and are typical for an introductory business class at the post-secondary level.


Formative assessments are seen throughout the learning outcome, which includes:

Formal Discussion: During the pre-class preparation, students will have the opportunity to build a community of learning and a personal learning network by participating on Twitter using the course hashtag. The questions prompting student responses on Twitter are designed to explore the meaning of key concepts and promote connections between the concepts and theories with their own experiences.

Self-Assessment: Students are provided an opportunity to self-assess their own ability to build and lead teams using a Likert-Scale type questionnaire.

Informal Discussion: Students are provided an opportunity within the LMS discussion forums to socially interact. This is designed to solicit formative feedback from peers and the instructor, to share ideas, to strengthen the community of learning, and develop skills in creating a personal learning network.

Summative assessments conclude the learning outcome, which includes:

Creation of Learning Artifact – Using multimedia tools students are required to synthesize their team’s learning by collaboratively reflecting on their experience. The product should be 2-4 minutes and will be posted in the LMS’s discussion forum.

Discussion – Students are prompted by open-ended, high gain reflective questions to respond to each other’s learning experiences demonstrated in the learning artifact. In addition, this assessment is designed to prompt students to consider ways in which others’ learning experiences can inform their own functioning within a team.

Students are provided marking rubrics to inform the summative assessments.

Target student population and demographics

Organizational Behaviour is a required first-year course in the Business diploma program at a post-secondary institution. At this level, the student population is considered to be traditional ranging in age between 18-22. However, there are students in the group considered to be mature students. Approximately 30% of the student population are international students with English as an alternative language (EAL). Typically, students are enrolled full-time in the Business program with face to face attendance requirements from 8:30am to 3:30pm each day, five days a week.

Student considerations

Students may face barriers to learning in varying degrees while engaging in the blended learning environment. The following identify these barriers and provide possible solutions.

Potential Barriers Possible Solutions
Access to technology and/or internet connection Pre-Class work

  • Students who do not have access to technology or the internet will be encouraged to use the computer labs at the institution (open passed business hours), borrow devices from the institution’s library or local community library.
  • Students can download the content pages from the LMS to their local devices.

Post-Class work

  • Students will be working in teams to complete the group activity. There is a high likelihood that at least one to two students will have access to their own devices.
  • Where teams do not have access, they will be encouraged to work in the institution’s computer labs or borrow a device.
Computer/Digital Literacy This course requires students to navigate a learning management system, Twitter, and create a learning artifact with multimedia tools. As such, students will be provided with instruction and/or tutorial in how to navigate the LMS and Twitter. In addition, suggestions may need to be made with respect to possible multimedia tools. This will be a joint responsibility between the instructor and the students.
Accessibility and Accommodation Students who need accommodation to view and interact with the online content will be provided the following:

  • Closed captioning on videos or a transcript provided
  • Online content can be downloaded and viewed offline
  • Student Support Center can be consulted for possible assignment of tutors or readers.
  • Accommodation for time to complete the online course content and assignments can be assessed by the instructor and/or the counseling office.
EAL Students whose first language is not English will be provided support in the following ways:

  • the instructor will be mindful of potential struggles to understand course vocabulary and will provide support accordingly.
  • Peers will be encouraged to provide support in person and via the informal online discussion forums.
  • Institutional supports will be available through Learning Services and Student Support Center.
Cultural Considerations A significant portion of the student cohort is expected to be international students. Students may encounter language and cultural barriers when interacting with each other. This course is designed to introduce students to the significance of how values, attitudes, and diversity inform organizational behaviour. It is anticipated that through this unit and being face to face for the majority of their time together students will have the opportunity to build a sense of community to strengthen their learning as a cohesive group. In addition, students are provided with and expected to follow a Netiquette policy while engaging with others online.
Time Post-secondary students have many demands on their time, academically and personally. To ensure students are motivated to engage with the coursework the following pedagogical strategies have been considered while designing the online learning experience:

  • Informing students what they can expect in a flipped classroom.
  • Setting clear expectations for student participation
  • Creating value and connection between the pre-class work and the in-class activity.
  • Managing cognitive load by providing only the necessary information in bite-sized chunks using different instructional techniques.
  • Ensuring the assessments are relevant to their current and future experiences.
Attendance and Participation The online portion of this learning outcome will be available from the beginning of the course and is structured for students to work through at their own pace. It is anticipated that students will engage in the course content 4-7 days prior to the in-class activity.

While the team-building exercise is designed to be completed in-class, accommodations can be made at the team’s discretion if a member cannot participate at that time. Students will be given sufficient time to complete the exercise and produce the corresponding learning artifact.

Course Toolset

LMS: Brightspace

The following are course tools are integrated with Brightspace

Tool Rationale
Adobe Spark Used to provide a more dynamic experience in terms of course content delivery.
Twitter Students will have an opportunity to engage with the course content, their peers and practitioners/experts to grow their personal learning networks with this user-friendly platform.
Multimedia presentation tools Students are encouraged to explore multimedia tools that utilize video and audio to create a presentation of their team-building learning experience. This method is designed to enhance students multimedia communication skills.

The use of video, including audio, to present course content is a pedagogical strategy to meet students’ diverse learning styles.

Discussion Forums Discussion forums within Brightspace prompt students to reflect on their own and others’ experiences, provide peer feedback and create a sense of community.
Google Docs Certain information as it pertains to the course is provided as a Google Doc linked within the LMS. This exposure provides students experience with using alternative methods to view documents and discover its potential uses. Eg) collaborating with peers
Google Read&Write and imTranslator Students can access these Chrome extensions to support their need for greater accessibility to the online learning environment. In particular, students can convert text to speech, translate English to their preferred language and talk and type, to name a few features.