BEST PRACTICES IN D2L
                             Realizing Student Potential Conference
                                        February 28, 2009


            Brad Busse, St. Cloud State University
            Karen Wenz, Office of the Chancellor

These are notes from the February 28, 2009 RSP conference session, D2L Best Practices.


Consistency is your friend. Develop an organization style/scheme and stick to it.
Students need to know where to find things, and there should be a logical organization to the
course materials and assignments, based on the type of course and its content and focus.

Use the News item to provide weekly assignments complete with links to Content, quizzes,
discussions, drop boxes, etc. in the news item.
Use consistency in formatting so due dates, and requirements are clear and stand out to the


Make sure to have at least one news item on the course home page. This is the first thing
students see, so it’s important to welcome them and give them some direction.

Throughout the semester, change the news items and move the most recent or re levant
items to the top of the news list.

It is possible to set the news items to be visible on a certain date and then to be automatically
removed from student view on a certain date. Instructor will still see all items, but students will
only see most current items. If in doubt about what can be seen, do a role switch at Course
home page to see Student view.

Realizing Student Potential conference 2009                          D2L Best Practices Page 1 of 5

Remember that Content is really an outline of the course—Content headings can link to the
course materials, such as documents, videos, URLs, and assignments such as discussions,
dropboxes, etc.

Organize in a way that suits the logical flow of course activities and materials.
   Can organize by topic area, unit, etc.
   Can organize chronologically.
When copying course components from one course to another, make sure to copy both
Content and Files, and anything else that your content links to, such as Dropboxes,
Discussions, etc.



Everyone participates
Students feel less intimidated about sharing ideas
Students are more candid
Students have time to develop their ideas and even do some research
Students can develop community in online discussions
Discussions are available 24/7 whenever students have an idea, they can post
Allows time for reflection, refining their thoughts and ideas
Online discussion has a history, where students can go back and read posts, unlike face-to-
face discussions that do not have a history and are not as easily remembered
Students can share URLs, images, files, in online discussions


Forum can be used as a “heading” with several Topics under the Forum.

Topic is the discussion itself

Forum needs to have at least one topic to be visible to students. [A forum without a topic is
not visible to students.]

Post is the message that students compose and submit to the discussion

Realizing Student Potential conference 2009                       D2L Best Practices Page 2 of 5

Have an Introduction discussion where students introduce themselves, providing information
you request, such as major, interests, etc.—ask for some information but also leave it open
for them to include whatever they want to share

Respond to the initial introduction by each student within one or two days to establish a
connection Have a deadline for the first original post from each student.

Set a second deadline for students to respond to classmates.

Provide students with clear information about what is expected in the discussions, how they
will be evaluated if the discussions are graded, and protocol for posting (etiquette, courtesy,

Instructors can “pin” a discussion post so it stays on the top of the list [permission required]

Instructors can “flag” a discussion post that they want to refer back to later [permission

Discussion posts can be sorted by Date, First Name, Last Name

Discussion posts can be viewed as threaded, so discussion responses follow one another, or
by All, filtered by Unread or Flagged.

Discussion posts can be set up to be assessed and graded from within the Discussion tool.

For large classes, discussion topics can be limited to a specific group for more personal

Discussions can be used to facilitate peer review of student writing assignments

Instructor can include an informal, ungraded discussion for students to communicate with one

Instructor can view discussion statistics (link by discussion tool on left sidebar) to see
whether students are reading the discussion posts

Discussions can be set to be visible and to be removed from student view with begin and end

Discussions can be “locked” so students can still read posts, but cannot compose new posts

Realizing Student Potential conference 2009                          D2L Best Practices Page 3 of 5

Can create questions in D2L and place them in the Question Library so questions can be
used in quizzes, midterms, etc.
Can create quizzes in Respondus and import them into D2L
Can import questions from publisher test banks from course packs

Use the tabs in the Quiz Edit screen to establish quiz settings.

Name the quiz and put it in a category
Associate the quiz with a grade item
Allow automatic export of the quiz results to the gradebook
Allow attempt to be graded immediately
Disable right-click during quiz-taking [best practice]
Only use the “disable pager access” for real quizzes that will be graded
Do not use the “disable pager access” for practice quizzes or quizzes that will not be graded

Set begin and end dates and times for when the quiz will be available to students
Set a time limit for how long the student has to complete quiz once they enter the quiz—
check “enforced” and “show clock” so student is aware as time runs out
Choose a submission option
Note that special access can be provided to students who miss a deadline

Can allow 1 to unlimited attempts
Select which attempt will be graded

Allow students to see score or questions wrong, or right, after completing quiz

Set quiz to display only 3 to 5 questions per page. Then as students move from one page to
the next, the previous page’s answers are automatically saved.
Students can skip questions and go back as long as the “prevent moving backwards” is not
turned on.

Realizing Student Potential conference 2009                        D2L Best Practices Page 4 of 5

Use the Setup Wizard to create the grade book
Decide on Weighted or Points system (and stick to it—can cause problems if you change
the system after you’ve entered grades for students)
Final Grade Released
Calculated Final Grade is the grade that is based on strictly on student scores
Adjusted Final Grade allows instructors to tweak final grade for borderline grades
Choose whether to drop ungraded items from final grade calculation (recommended)
OR Treat ungraded items as zero (means students will appear to have a final grade of “F”
until they complete at least half of the graded assignments.
Choose whether or not to keep final grade automatically updated (not recommended because
it requires resources to re-calculate entire grade book every time grade book is opened).
Choose Grade Scheme—every school has one default, can add more grade schemes
Choose display options
Add Grade Items and Grade Categories (categories are recommended in most cases)
Grade Categories allow instructor to collapse and expand by category

The Grades tool has many features and options that can be explored.
An entire day could be spent on the grades tool alone.


Use MnSCU D2L Helpdesk at

Visit the MnSCU Center for Teaching and Learning

Visit the CTL Faculty Lodge at

Use the D2L Community site at
Enroll in the D2L Community at

Attend the Desire2Learn Users Conference that will be held in St. Paul, Minnesota
Main Conference: Monday-Wednesday, July 13-15.
Post Conference sessions with hands-on instruction from Desire2Learn staff, July 15-17.
For conference details:
This is an international conference with users from as far away as Australia and the England.

Realizing Student Potential conference 2009                      D2L Best Practices Page 5 of 5

To top