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The Case Files: Why all the Extra Assignments?

Why listen to me?

I’m Charlie and in my role supporting faculty at Meredith College, I have the opportunity to see a lot of people’s problems with Brightspace, our Learning Management System(LMS).

This recurring column will feature some of the questions I see on a daily basis while troubleshooting Brightspace courses.  I plan to use this forum to highlight any number of findings from my experiences working with students and faculty.

Case 1: Where Did all these Assignments Come From?

One of the more frequent problems I see is a misunderstanding regarding content creation in Brightspace and how it’s a bit different from how things were created in our previous LMS Blackboard.

In Brightspace, I believe it helps to think of everything as being modular or it’s own separate block.  You may then combine these blocks into different combinations to create a more complex experience.

Here’s a common example

An instructor wants to create a place for students to submit their Final Papers.  They can accomplish this in a number of ways, but the most frequent based on observing faculty in the wild is to use the “Activities” menu and choose “Assignment.”  At this point, they go through the process of setting up an assignment using “New Assignment.”


There’s nothing wrong with that process and the faculty member could stop at that point.  Students would be able to click on “Activities > Assignments” to submit their paper, but many faculty wish to place their assignments in the “Content” menu.  This is where things can take a wrong turn.

How it can all go right

The right path is to create or choose the content module you wish the assignment to reside in.  Then add a link to the assignment by using the “Existing Activities” menu to add the assignment to that area.  This makes sense, because you’ve already created the assignment.

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Where I’ve seen things go wrong is to use the “Upload/Create” menu to create a “New Assignment” when the assignment already exists.  Remember, there are multiple ways to create an assignment in Brightspace. 

If you used one of the other methods, this will no longer be a “new” assignment it already exists and choosing new will create an entirely separate place in the Gradebook and even an additional place for students to access for submissions with the end result being lots of extra housekeeping when it comes to grading.

I’ve seen at least one user go down this path and we had to spend a good half hour cleaning up duplicate items from her course and Gradebook.  The problem was further compounded because some students had submitted items into each of the “duplicate” assignments creating a real nightmare scenario for resolving the problem.

Wrapping Up

Remember when creating content just be sure your content doesn’t already exist.  If you’ve created an assignment or a quiz, use the “Existing Activities” menu to link your materials to a Content Area.

If your content doesn’t exist anywhere yet, feel free to use the “Upload/Create” menu from a Content Area, this will save you the trouble of going back and linking the content later.  Any content created this way will automatically end up under “Activities” as well.

1 thought on “The Case Files: Why all the Extra Assignments?”

  1. Pingback: New Year, New Course: a Series on Course Redesign | Instructional Design That Works

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