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New Content Experience FAQ

What is the New Content Experience, and why would I want to use it?

The New Content Experience, also known as Lessons, offers a clean, minimalist design for educators setting up a course and for learners navigating the materials. Some MSU courses have been using the new experience since 2019, when MSU first started beta testing. The instructors using it say it is more intuitive and easier to view the course setup with color-coded levels of folders. Students using it in these courses have not had any questions about navigating the course.


When is the New Content Experience available?

The New Content Experience became available for all MSU faculty and staff on August 21, 2021, to opt-in or opt-out according to their preference. See some of the limitations below before deciding to turn it on for live semester courses. There are no future dates planned for when D2L will switch all courses to the new experience and there should be ample warning when we do have a date.


How do I turn on/off the New Content Experience?

To turn it on, go to the Content tab for a course you can edit. For a new course, you will see a notification asking if you want to turn on the new experience. After choosing to turn it on or leave it off, look for a small arrow in the upper right corner to re-open the options. You can switch back and forth without loss of content.

The default value is set to off, so no action is needed by the instructor to continue teaching with the normal content view. Select "Leave it off" or collapse the notification. If the instructor chooses to "Turn it on" it will affect the student's view of Content, which is fine, however, you may want to explain to students why it looks different, and it is best not to switch views during an active semester course. Copy your course to a development site to switch between on and off to practice, or if you need to compare the views.

NOTE: The instructor view and the student view do not look the same. It is recommended to use the "View as a Student" tool when demonstrating content to students.


Can students turn the new content experience on or off?

No. Students cannot switch their view of content. It is determined by the instructor's choice of whether or not to turn on the New Content Experience. The student's viewing experience is called the new Learner Experience (LE).

How are modules and sub-modules different in the new experience, and what are the limits on sub-module levels?

The new experience supports three levels of modules and sub-modules. Top-level modules are called Units (though you can label them any way you wish). The second level sub-modules are called Lessons. Sub-modules within Lessons are called Folders. No more sub-modules can be created deeper than the level of a folder (Unit>Lesson>Folder - content can be added to any of these three levels). This is consistent with UDL best practices.

Existing fourth-level sub-modules will not display, and a warning message will appear. The sub-module and its content still exist and can be located in the Course Builder tool if you need to move them up a level or recreate them. You can also opt-out of the New Content Experience to move the sub-module up a level.


Can dates be added to Content items?

Date management was added in August 2021 for most topic types. This includes Units, Lessons, Folders, webpages (new file), uploaded files (e.g., Word doc, ppt, pdf), and links. Activity properties must be set in the tool settings for Assignments, Discussions, Quizzes, etc. See the following for more details, Content - Date Management And Display In Lessons. Go to the Classlist and impersonate the Demo Student to get a true view of what students will see with restricted dates (start/end) and due dates. Dates can be managed in the edit menu for a content topic, or by going to Course Admin > Manage Dates.

Note: Learners cannot see topics, including Assignments and Quizzes, that have a future start date or past end date. Create an HTML document as a placeholder explaining when the items will appear.


What else is missing in the New Content Experience?

The NCE is a simpler experience and does not include many of the advanced features in the current experience. Some of the gaps are expected to be added in future updates. See the question on giving feedback to indicate which missing items are most important to you.

  • Search Topics, Overview, Bookmarks, Course Schedule, and Bulk Edit Content do not exist in the NCE. Copy any materials from the previous course Overview area to a new unit titled Course Overview. Students can view course schedules in the Calendar tool or Brightspace Pulse app.
  • Table of Contents > View Reports will become available at the end of January 2022.
  • Content Settings are not available in the NCE. The box to enable HTML Content Templates has been set globally, however there is currently no way to go to content settings to set a template path. When adding a document template, instructors can browse their course offering files for template pages. They just can't set a default path directly to them.
  • Completion Mark options (automatic, manual, none) are not listed as a choice for instructors to determine.
  • Content Item descriptions do not display. Folder descriptions display in full view, but items (such as files, html pages, links, etc.) do not have an area to add or edit descriptions. Descriptions that were there from the previous experience do not appear. Keep in mind that folder descriptions are not course files and will not be counted as items within the folder. You need to copy the material from the folder description into an HTML page in order to include them in the "count" and display content completion marks.
  • The "Notify learners of updated content" checkbox is not available. Use announcements or activity feed to notify students of changes to content.
  • Exempting content is not currently a feature.
  • Create a Video/Audio item is not listed as an option. Create an HTML page and use Insert Stuff, with My Media or Enter Embed Code, to bring in a video. Use My Media if you want to track video usage statistics.
  • Associate a Grade item with an External Learning Tool setting is not always available in the Content area. Usually the associated grade item is created automatically when adding external tools, and will be deleted when removing it from content. D2L has gradually been adding this option for certain tools.
  • The new editor in NCE may automatically set the font different from the current experience. Lato and 19px is the automatic default for description areas.
  • Change File currently does not exist in the NCE. To replace an item, add the new file and delete the old.
  • Large files may be difficult to load as the NCE does not wait long enough for the upload to finish.
  • Learners cannot access alternative formats through Spartan Ally (Bb Ally). This is on the roadmap for spring semester 2022.
  • File types that are not supported by the learner view will result in the file downloading automatically.
  • Microsoft OneDrive files do not display inline – users are prompted to open the topic in a new window.
  • Learners cannot bulk download files from the Table of Contents or individual modules.

Why do the folder titles sometimes not show a count of the items contained in the folder?

You might be putting content in the folder descriptions rather than adding files to the folders. Place teaching materials within the folders as HTML pages (New File), links, or uploaded files. Teaching from the folder description area removes much of the functionality that students rely on for the best navigation, viewing, and printing experience. Keep unit/lesson/folder descriptions short. Consider adding a decorative photo for visual engagement. Find free photos at pexels.com, for example.

Note: Printing of PDFs is supported via the Brightspace PDF viewer (or browser viewer); printing of other types of topics is not supported.


Is there a way to change the module colors in the New Content Experience?

You can set a primary color for the instructor view by using a custom theme (Course Admin > Navigation and Themes). Contact the MSU Service Desk if you would like support with Navigation and Themes. Currently, the student view (new learner experience) only has one color and cannot be changed.


Why don't I see the Standards tool or Mastery View Gradebook?

The Standards tool works in conjunction with the new content experience and will be turned on at MSU after more testing. Currently, only one default Achievement Scale is possible and can only be configured by a D2L admin. You can learn more about the new Standards and Learning Outcomes tool that will eventually replace the Competency tool by searching articles in the Brightspace Community.


What if I want to give feedback on the new content experience?

When you opt-out, you will be asked why you are switching back. Included is an option for providing feedback that the D2L product managers will receive. You can also send an enhancement request to the MSU IT Service Desk, ithelp@msu.edu.


Where can I go for training and support?

The Instructional Technology and Development team from MSU IT held a workshop on the New Content Experience on September 16, 2021. The recording is available in the MSU Tools and Tech (self-enroll D2L site).

To get started now, view the D2L Brightspace Help documentation, Create course content in the new Content experience (Lessons), or watch the D2L Brightspace video tutorials, Lessons for Instructors.

New announcements and materials will be added/updated in the "New Content Experience" module within the Instructor D2L Self-directed training site (see D2L Help & Academic Technology Training for access).

For other questions and concerns, contact the MSU IT Service Desk.

MSU Documentation