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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Communication

Page address: http://www.mnsu.edu/stc/brightspace/communication.html

Blog

The Blog feature in D2L | Brightspace is a place that you can make posts about anything. They simply show up as a block of text within a feed that you can continuously update. Instructors may have you use this to make reactions to your class, and keep you more engaged.

If you use this feature, and want to take it to your favorite social media, there are links at the top of your blog and when viewing each blog post to share to Facebbook, Twitter, and Google+. You can even view other's blogs and share their posts as well.

At the top of the initial page you will see tabs for My Blog, Blog Watch, and Blog List. My Blog is where you can create your own blog posts and manage if they are private or public. Blog Watch shows all of the blogs that you are currently subscribing to. To get other blogs to look at in the Blog Watch, you will have to go to the Blog List. There you can see a list of all the blogs on D2L | Brightspace within MSU that are considered public. You can click on them to view their posts, and add them to your Blog Watch if you want to keep up to date with them.

Chat

Chat is a simple instant message feature on D2L | Brightspace. You can use this to instantly contact your fellow students as well as your professor. However, if you wish to contact either of those, we suggest that using your Email is a faster and more effective alternative, as others are more common to check their email regularly throughout the day rather than D2L | Brightspace.

At the top right portion of the page you will find a Settings link. Here you can edit the look, feel, and effect of the Chat. You can edit how your name is displayed to yourself and others, edit the order in which old/new messages are displayed, and even have sound on your computer play when you recieve messages, and when others enter or leave your chat.

When creating a new chat you can have the option for the chat to be General or a Personal. A General Chat is one in which others can freely enter and leave your chat, which is public to anyone else within your particular course. A Personal Chat is one in which you control who is within your chat. You can add and remove other users freely at your discression. If you want to use the chat feature for group work within your course, we would suggest using Personal Chats as then others within your course can't disrupt your group conversations.

If you are creating a personal chat, it is not exactly straightforward on how to add people to and from your chat. Once you have created a chat you will see it appear on the Chat page with a list of all the other chats you can currently join within your course.

Next to the name of each chat there is a dropdown arrow. To add others to this chat you need to click the arrow and select View Members. You will then be directed to a new page which should show you all whom is able to view this chat.

You will notice a button at the top of the page that states Add Members. If you click this a small window will pop-up in which you will see a list of all the members that are a part of the particular course you are in. Your classmates will appear in alphabetical order decending from the top of the list. You can select at the top of the list to have them be listed by first name instead if you are ensure of their last name, or there is also a search bar above the list so that you can easily search for whom you are looking. You can then select whom you want, and click Add down at the bottom. They then should show up in the list of members on the Chat Members page, and those individuals will see the chat on their Chat page.

Classlist

The Classlist is a great way to take a look at who all is in your course. This can be especially useful if you are in a course that is entirely online. Here you will find a large list of names and pictures of others in your course all alphabtized by last name, but you can click the top of the table to sort by first name as well. You can click on anyone's name and send them an email in a new window that appears. There is also a small arrow beside each name that will allow you to Send Email, View shared Locker files, and View blog. We will go over the Locker on the Student Resources page. Sometimes you may find that there are little green dots also next to each person's name. This indicates that those individuals are also currently online on D2L | Brightspace and are viewing this course.

Discussions

Discussions is a very commonly used feature on D2L | Brightspace for online class discussions. Throughout your time here at MSU, you will likely have at least one class that will use this feature. On the Discussions page you may see one or more discussions that are grouped and may have one or many "Topics" under them. The "Topics" are the actual discussions that you post in. On the main page you can see "Topics" that you have unread posts in as well. "Topics" with unread posts will have a small blue bar appear on the left of the "Topic, as well as under the Posts heading you will see 2 numbers. A gray number indicating the number of different posts within the "Topic," and a blue number within parentheses indicating the number of unread posts within the "Topic."

To view the "Topic" you just need to click on the title of it. Within the "Topic," at the top you will see a description for what you are supposed to post. As you scroll down you will find the posts made by your classmates, and yourself if you have made a post. Like the Discussions homepage unread posts will be shown to have a blue bar on the side of it, and will show a number of unread posts within it. Each post that you or your classmates can be replied to. These unread numbers takes the main post plus each reply into account. You can then click on the title of any post to view it and be able to add replies to it.

To make your post you will have to select the Start New Thread button at the top below the description. A text block will appear with a title bar with text reading "Enter a subject." Here you will enter a title for your post, and below in the text block you can add the bulk of your post. Below the text block, before the Post button, there is a check box for "Subscribe to this thread." We highly recommend that you check the box before you post. This ensures that when others will reply to your post, you will get a notification for it. Many times instructors will join in on their course discussions, and you wouldn't want to leave them hanging! Below that there is also a link to Add Attachments, where you can add documents and images with your postings.

To reply to a post, you need to be looking at the post itself. While within the "Topic," click on another's post. Here you can see the entire post as well as any replys that have already been made. Towards the top, in a similar place to the Start New Thread button on the previous page, there is a Reply to Thread button. You will see the same options as when making a new post on the "Topic" page. The difference here is that this post will only be visible under your classmate's post. Others can reply with you, and reply to your reply as well.

Email

The Email feature on D2L | Brightspace is only useful for sending emails and that is all. If you simply need to send a quick email to your instructor or a classmate, that is about all the use you are going to be able to get out of this feature. You cannot view any responses to emails here. You cannot view your email inbox here. You cannot reply to emails here. You can only send other people new emails straight from D2L | Brightspace. If you want more email capability, login to Office 365 and use the Outlook email there.

If you are interested in sending emails from D2L | Brightspace, the first thing you will see at the top of the page is the Send, Address Book, and Sent Mail buttons as well as a link for the Settings. Before you start using the email feature you should definitely take a look at the Settings. There is an option to save a copy oof the messages you send here to your Sent Mail folder, send your own email a copy of the email you are sending, adding a signature, and if you are sending emails to people outside the MSU system then those emails will go directly into your Address Book. Make sure your settings are the way you want them before sending messages here.

The Sent Mail folder is basically a track of all the messages that you have sent from D2L | Brightspace. By default, messages will have a copy here, and it is recommended that you keep it that way. We also recommend that you also have a copy of the message be sent to your personal email as well so you can better manage the string of messages if your email recieves responses.

Once you have your settings the way you like, you are ready to send an email out from D2L | Brightspace. Begin by adding a reciepient of the email to the To box at the top. You can just start typing a person's name into the box, and the system will auto-populate the email if they are in your course or are the instructor. Otherwise, if the email is addressed to someone outside of your class you will have to manually enter their email address.

After your reciepient is set, you should change the subject line. By default the Subject box should say "Minnesota State University, Mankato -". You can delete this and add whatever subject you like. It should reflect the subject matter of the message that you are sending the reciepient. Then below, you can add the content of the message as well as add any attachments that you like. When you are all ready, go back to the top of the page and click the Send button.

Groups

Groups is a page that lists all the groups that you are currently assigned to, and can join within D2L | Brightspace. Within your courses here at MSU, you may find that at least once you will be part of a group project or activity. Many instructors will set these groups up here in D2L | Brightspace. With groups, you can share assignment submission spaces, group discussions and so much more. The Groups page itself is a great way to get to those collaborative spaces quickly and easily.

When on the groups page, you can see that information is laid out in a table. Under each heading (Members, Assignment, Submission Folder, Discussions, Locker, Email, and Actions you may or may not see a blue number. This number will represent how many of the above heading are assigned to your group. For example, if you see under Members the number 27, that means that there are 27 people within that group. You can then click on this number to view all the parties that are within the group. You will notice that under the Email header there is actually an envelope icon instead of a number. This is a quick way to be able to email your entire group. Clicking this link will bring up a pop-up window to be able to email your group through the Email feature in D2L | Brightspace.

Announcements

On the Announcements page you can view all the announcements from the homepage. Here you can also manage your notification settings, and subscribe to this feed through RSS, buttons for which are at the top of the page. If there is a particular announcement that you are looking for and for some reason can't find it, the search bar can also be helpful. Type in any keyword and the search feature here will look at all the announcements and look for that keyword for you! Any other information on the Announcements can be found on the Introduction page.