Northwest Florida State College

Tool Basics

                                      Online Faculty


D2L Brightspace is the Learning Management System (LMS) for NWF State College. The assistance on this page is to help NWF State College instructors get started with using some of the popular tools of D2L Brightspace. 


Some best practices:

  • Communicate with all students very early in the course is essential. Two forms of communication critical to early student success are an E-mail to welcome the students to the course and a D2L News item posted to the course home page which provides students with instructions for getting started.
  • Be sure your syllabus is available to students electronically.
  • Plan to update your D2L course materials each term to be sure the students see accurate course dates within material for that term.
  • Within your course policies, be sure to outline expectations for student use of college/online E-mail and web resources including but not limited to quizzes or online discussions.
  • Because online classes are subject to technical difficulty at times, plan to be flexible with some policies and due dates when necessary.


Additionally, a D2L course called Online Instructor Certification (OIC) is available to our NWF State College instructors. The course provides step by step assistance with design, structure, and foundations for presence, communication and assessment in D2L courses. Request access to the OIC. Please provide your NWFSC department, NWFSC email and a phone number in the request. 


The basics of popular D2L Brightspace tools:

Getting Started with using Desire2Learn (D2L) for delivering a NWF State College course.
Classlist and Email (find your student roster)
Content (syllabus, course material)
Discussions (a class communication option)
Dropbox and Turnitin (assignments accepted digitally and checked for plagiarism)
Grades (record of assessments for your students)
Quizzes (online testing)
D2L Brightspace Videos for Assistance
I'm interested in information on another D2L feature.



Getting Started


Navigating is a critical first step in learning to use an LMS. Terminology is also important within the LMS.

To begin: Go to and login with your NWF State College username/password. Find "My Home" on the minibar (top line of links), find your courses either via the minibar (under "Select a course...") or the "My Courses" widget located lower in the page, explore the NWFSC navbar (colorful area at the top of the page) both at the "My Home" and "Course Home" locations. Practice moving around from course to course within D2L. 


Video Assistance for Navigating in D2L (1:42)


D2L Brightspace Documentation for Getting Started with D2L


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Classlist and E-mail


E-mail your students using the D2L Classlist feature. Be sure to define expectations with your students about response times when using college E-mail.


To begin: Plan to send that welcome E-mail to all students in your course! Classlist is located under the Communications dropdown. Select all students to whom you would like to send an E-mail and then click the E-mail link. Compose your E-mail and click Send. Alternatively, click the name of a single student you would like to send an E-mail. Again, fill out the form and click Send. 

Q: May I edit the blank profile for myself viewable within the Classlist area?

A: Yes. Click that blank picture next to your name in the Classlist. Edit and save your personal profile information. All courses and all students will see this info.

Q: How do I view student's profiles?

A: Click the image next to a student's name in the Classlist to see the personal profile information.

Tips: Because distance learning students do not attend regular classroom sessions and therefore lack regular face-to-face contact with their instructor, they need to know that their instructor monitors their progress closely and promotes their success. The success of distance learning students is closely tied to the quality of communication between instructor and students. Statistics clearly indicate a high correlation between the frequency of faculty-initiated contact with the distance learning student and the rate of successful class completion; therefore, instructors are encouraged to contact students regularly. E-mail is one form of communication available through D2L. Discussion boards are mentioned later in this page as another communication tool. 


Video Assistance for Classlist & E-mail (Some functions vary with our NWFSC D2L setup.)


D2L Brightspace Documentation for Classlist


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Types of D2L Content that you might use in a course include, a variety of course documents, PowerPoint or lecture slides, videos, links to websites, Publisher Content, Checklists, News, Calendar items and more.


To begin: The Content link is located under the Course Materials dropdown. After clicking Content, look for the Table of Contents to begin creating Modules and Topics. Find the list under the "New" button for the variety of content to add to a course. One way to move through your Content is by clicking the Previous and Next buttons.  

Q: Have I uploaded the course Syllabus in D2L?

A: The course Syllabus is a key item of Content for you and your students. Likely a News item or one of the first pieces of information in the Table of Content should contain the course Syllabus. Make a digital copy easily accessible to your students.

Q: Have I created a Course News item with pertinent information for my students about my course? Early success in the course will be aided with instructions to students for how to get started.

A: Instructors should take advantage of the D2L News feature and its announcement capabilities. Links in News may take students to course content, a course syllabus, websites appropriate to your discipline, assignments, quizzes, lecture slides, videos, Publisher Content (or 3rd party) and more.


Video Assistance for Content (Playlist)


D2L Brightspace Documentation for Content 

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The D2L Discussions tool is a collaboration area to post, read and reply to threads on different topics, share thoughts about course materials, ask questions, share files, communicate about assignments and discuss homework. Discussions in the class allow for student-student interactions and teacher-student interactions. 


To begin: Click Discussions in your navbar under the Communications dropdown. Click New Forum and then New Topic (within a forum) to create the setups for course communication.

Q: How do I get started with participating in a course discussion?

A: Click the appropriate course discussion. Click the title of the discussion topic and then click Start a New Thread. Fill in the Subject and your post of information and then click Post. At times you may want to attach a file too. When you would like to reply to a post, click within a course discussion until you see Reply to Thread and then begin your reply - remembering to click Post when you are finished.

Q: Is there a way for me to be alerted when someone responds to a course discussion post?

A: There will be a dropdown next to the title of a course discussion to click and then choose Subscribe. Check the D2L minibar area for alerts about posts.


Video Assistance for Discussions (Playlist)


D2L Brightspace Documentation for Discussions 

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Dropbox and Turnitin


(Digital Assignments with Plagiarism Checking)

The D2L Dropbox tool enables students to electronically submit assignments in your course, eliminating the need to clutter your E-mail. Instructors using Dropbox will be able to keep a copy of student's work, papers, reflections, journals, essays and more in a digital format.


To begin: Click Dropbox in your navbar located under the Assessments dropdown. Click New Folder to create a holding spot for storing student's work for an assignment.

Viewing Dropbox assignments: Click the folder name in the Dropbox area to view, grade and give feedback on student's submissions. 


  • Online students will fare better if all assignments are reviewed and graded promptly so that they can better gauge their progress. Students, especially those online, become frustrated and discouraged by delays in feedback. The instructor should post his/her policy on expected turnaround time of assignments and keep to this policy.
  • Some faculty choose to use a plagiarism check on the student's papers that are submitted to the D2L dropbox; this service is called Turnitin. Look for the "Originality Check" option when creating the D2L Dropbox folder. File types currently supported for plagiarism checking are .doc, .docx, .pdf, .txt, .rtf, .ppt, .pptx, .pps, .hwp, and .html. Other file types will not produce a % match score. Know there is a date and time stamp on all digital work.
  • Note: Students should not use $& or any special characters in the filenames submitted to the D2L Dropbox. It will produce an error in D2L Brightspace. Example to avoid in a filename: Professionals&TheWorkEnvironment.docx instead use ProfessionalsAndTheWorkEnvironment.doc
  • Know that iPads and tablets may not have the functions to upload files to the D2L Dropbox. 


Video Assistance for Dropbox (Playlist)


D2L Brightspace Documentation for Dropbox ("Dropbox" is also called "Assignments" by D2L)


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Because the awarding of course grades is the responsibility of the instructor, it is essential that faculty members keep students informed of their progress in each course with timely and frequent feedback. As an instructor, you can determine how to set up your grade book to best reflect your approach to evaluation in a course. You may select how grades display to students, how they update in the grade book, and how you want to deal with ungraded items. You can create grade items for projects, assignments, discussions, quizzes, etc. and even associate them with student work located in other D2L tools (e.g. Dropbox, Quizzes, Discussions).


To begin: Click Grades in the navbar area located under the Assessments dropdown. Use the Manage Grades area to design your gradebook. Use the Enter Grades/Spreadsheet View area of the Gradebook to give scores on student's work (one option).

Tips: The Grades "Settings" area has the option of switching from a Points-Based gradebook to a Weighted Grading option. Look under the Calculation Options tab.


Video Assistance for Grades (Playlist)


D2L Brightspace Documentation for Grades


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Quizzes in D2L Brightspace have many options for instructors. Quizzes may be timed or have several to unlimited attempts. You may require a password for access. Some quizzes may be for practice only and not have an associated grade in the gradebook. Special access may be granted to students who have extenuating circumstances.


To begin: Click the Quizzes link in the navbar located under the Assessments dropdown. Use the Question Library area to create quiz questions for use in several Quizzes. Also, use of the Question library will allow for randomly delivered questions. Use the Manage Quizzes area and click New Quiz. Create a quiz with settings appropriate for your course's testing implementation.

Use the Restrictions Tab: Click the Restrictions tab in the Quiz area to make the quiz active, set availability dates, set time limits and grant special access to certain students.

Use the Assessments Tab: Click the Assessments tab in the Quiz area to associate the quiz with a grade item in your D2L gradebook, setup or use a Rubric and allow multiple attempts.

Use the Submission Views Tab: Click the Submission Views tab in the Quiz area to decide what students should see after taking the quiz. The default typically only shows the score and nothing related to the questions. Explore the options available!

Tips: Online students will fare better if all quizzes and exams are returned to them promptly so they can better gauge their progress. Students, especially those online, become frustrated and discouraged by delays in feedback.

Best practices: Use the Quiz Preview option to test the accuracy of quiz delivery and grading before you release a quiz to your students. 


Video Assistance for Quizzes (Playlist)


D2L Brightspace Documentation for Quizzes

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