Best Practices for Instructors

From the Teaching & Learning Community

We're expanding our best practices section to include suggestions from our teaching and learning community.  Instructors, if you have a time saving or unique use for one of the Learn@UWSuperior tools that you'd like to share with us, send your tip or suggestion to


Kate Nolin-Smith, who teaches ESL, IDS and Writing courses, shared a great suggestion on how to keep track of attendance and participation in the Grades area without having to create a grade item for every class meeting.  For the Spring semester, she makes a category for Attendance & Participation, then she makes four grade items:

  • January & February worth 10 points
  • March worth 8 points
  • April worth 7 points
  • May worth 3 points

Kate teaches on the Tuesday and Thursday class schedule, so for each day her class meets during the month, she adds a point to the total the grade item is worth.  Using this method, she just needs to update or create four grade items to be ready for the next semester.  Using Kate's method, we've created an example of what this would look like.  Thanks for sharing this with us, Kate!


  • We recommend using the HTML Editor whenever possible, rather than uploading files like Microsoft Word or PDF documents. There are two benefits to using the HTML Editor, if you need to make a change from home or when you are traveling, you can just open that HTML Editor created file within Learn@UWSuperior and make the change rather than making the change to the document and uploading the file again. The second benefit is that your students don't need to have extra programs like Microsoft Word or Adobe Reader on their computer to see the file.
    Note: If you have HTML files created with programs like DreamWeaver or Microsoft FrontPage, you can import them into the Content area and be able to edit them using the HTML Editor.
  • We recommend removing any spaces in the file name before you upload it into Learn@UWSuperior because it could add extra characters to the file name, which could cause the file not to print on Mac computers. For example: "Reading Assignment One.docx" should be "ReadingAssignmentOne.docx"
  • We recommend that instead of uploading your full PowerPoint presentation into Learn@UWSuperior, you upload the handout files instead. There are several benefits to doing this, your students will not have to download and open what could be a large file for a program they might not have on their computer, it will also be easier for them to print. It will also allow you to restrict your PowerPoint presentation so the information cannot be changed. See an example of a handout file.

    Here's how to create a handout from a PowerPoint presentation:

    • In PowerPoint 2013 (PC), from the File tab, select Print. In PowerPoint 2008 (Mac), select File -> Print.
    • PC - from the Printer drop-down menu, select Adobe PDF. Mac - from the PDF button select Save as PDF.
    • PC - from the Settings area, select the Layout drop-down menu, select Handouts option you would like to use. Mac - from the Print What drop-down menu, select Handouts
    • PC - click Print. The Save PDF File As dialog box will appear.
    • PC & Mac - name the PDF file and click Save.


  • We recommend that you include a sample message to your students in the topics you create in the Discussion area.  This has two benefits, the students will know what information you expect them to post in that topic and there was incident where a student who could not see any forums and/or topics unless there was a message was already posted.
  • We recommend that you use the Locking option when creating discussion topics so that the students will be able to still read the messages but won't be able to post new ones when the date range is over.


Plagiarism detection enabled Dropbox folders with long names or special characters (!@#$%^&*) do not function properly during the integration between the D2L Brightspace and Turnitin products.  It is recommended that you use a short name for Dropbox folders, then use the custom instructions area to give your students more information on that Dropbox folder.  For example, a Dropbox folder with "Lesson 1:  Uploading & Downloading in Learn@UWSuperior using Content & Dropbox" would need to be changed to "Lesson 1" as the name and "Uploading and Downloading using Content and Dropbox" in the custom instructions area. 

Emailing in Learn@UWSuperior

We have learned that some emails are not reaching their recipients when the "Email everyone on this tab" in the Classlist is used.  If you do experience this problem with emailing through Learn@UWSuperior, please keep track of the date/time and which class it occurred in.  This does not happen every time an email is sent from Learn@UWSuperior, but it has happened enough that we would like to offer you a few best practices.  This does not mean stop using the email feature, but to take a moment when you are sending out your class emails to follow some of these suggestions.

  • On the Email tab in Preferences, make sure that the "Copy external mail on all sent messages" has been checked.  This will send your campus email address a copy of every email you send out of Learn@UWSuperior.  Email settings can be found in Account Settings located on the Name dropdown menu in the Minibar.
  • On the Email tab in Account Settings, make sure that your campus email address is listed as the " 'Reply to' Email Address:".  When someone replies to your email, this will send it to your campus email address.
  • When using the Email tool in Learn@UWSuperior, make sure that the email addresses are separated by a semi-colon and not a comma.  If this occurs, close and reopen the message window.  The email message will not reach the recipients if there is a comma between the addresses.
  • Make sure that the subject of the email message does not contain any words that could be considered spam. 
  • Compose the message in the HTML Editor, but copy the text before sending the message.  Or compose the message in a writing program like Word, then copy and paste it into the HTML Editor so you have a copy in case the message does not go through.   You will also have a copy of the text in case you want to send the message to multiple sections.
  • If you have more than 20 students in the class, make sure you adjust the number of people per page so that everyone appears before using the "Email Classlist" button.
  • If you have a really large class because of course combines, send the emails out in small groups, like 10 - 15.  To do this, check the box next to the students' names and clicking on the Email (envelop) icon at the top of the Classlist.


We recommend not releasing the Final Grades until closer to the end of the semester.  If you release the grade earlier, because not all the grade items that have been completed and calculated in the final grade it will show a lower grade than the students actually have at that point in the semester.


If you are giving special access to a Quiz for a student, you need to:

  • Make sure that when you click on the "Add users to Special Access" button you include the new Date availability information, Assign special time limit, Assign special grace period, and Assign special late submissions just like you did for the original quiz.
  • Make sure that you have removed their previous attempt if this is a retake or the special access won't work.