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Cleaning Up Content & Gradebook in Brightspace – New Semester, New Course #2

When beginning to redesign a course within Brightspace, one of the most important to-dos is delete unneeded modules and items and clear up your gradebook. Reducing clutter creates an easier-to-navigate course for yourself and students.

If you have been using calendar dates (which we really encourage you to do), check out our post about the Brightspace calendar to easily move all of your course dates.

Delete from Content section

You can delete whole modules or individual topics in the Content area of Brightspace from the dropdown context menu. That is the little divet icon next to the title of the item you wan to delete.

brightspace delete module from context menu
brightspace delete topic in context menu

Don’t worry about your material being lost forever—Brightspace allows you to remove the material from your content but retain it in your files to be accessed later. Just choose the top option in the window that appears after you click Delete to retain your files in Brightspace.

Or if you are sure you do not need it, you can choose to permanently delete from here.


Deleting items NOT in Content section

Depending on how you have your course set up, all of your items may not be linked in the content section. Or you have items you have items you need to clean up like Announcements that are never linked to the content section. You will need to go into each section to delete pieces there.

You may have items to delete in these locations:

  • Assignments
  • Announcements
  • Quizzes
  • Discussions
  • Checklists
  • Surveys
  • Self-assessments
  • Awards
  • Calendar events (dates associated w/items like Assignments will be deleted along with them)
  • Files
  • Grades (we’ll talk about this in the next section)

Click on context menu next to the item name to delete it but watch out so you do not delete something that has students submissions like in this screenshot. A brand new course copy will have not submissions but if you are cleaning things up mid semester you may have submissions.

Brightspace delete assignment but watch for submissions

Cleaning up Gradebook Items

Lastly, let’s look at cleaning up the Gradebook. It is easy to automatically create or duplicate Gradebook Items so this can look intimidating. Don’t panic! We’ll take it a little at a time.

You CANNOT delete a Grade Item if it is still linked (associated) with an activity. So check out these first 2 sections to understand more about Grade Item associations.

Assess if the items is linked to an activity

First, let’s see if there are any grade items that are not linked (or associated) with an activity. You can see this in the Association column. If there is nothing in the association column, that means that this is not linked to anything and there is not a grade coming into the gradebook for this item.

brightspace unassociated grade item

Then you have to decide – Do I need this item?

  • If you do not need it, you can delete it.
  • If it is supposed to linked to something, go to that activity and choose this existing gradebook item to link to.
brightspace link to existing grade item

How to see what a grade item is linked with

What about grades that are linked to (associated with) an activity but you don’t know which activity! Let’s find out.

First, we are going to look at the Association column again. The one in this example is associated with an External Learning Tool. That means something not build directly into Brightspace like a VoiceThread, video, or SCORM object.

brightspace grade item linked to external learning tool

If this is not enough for you to remember what the grade item is linked to, we will dig a little deeper. Click the divet next to the grade item name to bring up the context menu then choose Edit.

brightspace grade item edit context menu

brightspace grade item edit page association

Now we can see in the Properties tab under Association it says “The grade item is associated with an external learning tool Plagiarism Tutorial”. “Plagiarism Tutorial” is the exact title of this activity. I can now go into my Content section and look for the Plagiarism Tutorial.

This activity and grade item have similar names but sometimes they are not. In this screenshot example, my grade item is Syllabus Review but it is associated with a discussion topic named “Introductions and commitment”. Is this confusing? Maybe we need to do a little renaming.

brightspace grade item not named the same as the associated activity

Use unique, descriptive names

One way to avoid this confusion about what a grade item is associated with is to use unique, descriptive names for grade items (and for your activities for that matter).

Names like “Assignment 1” may not be very helpful. Instead I could give it the same name as the assignment title like “Chapter 2 Scarcity Assignment”.

brightspace grade item generic assignment name

You can also take advantage of the options in the Grade Item edit screen. You can add a long, descriptive name so you know exactly what that grade item is. Then you can add a short name to display on the Enter Grades page of the Gradebook to save space.

Student will see the regular name not the short name.

brightspace grade item short and long name options
brightspace grade item short name info box

If you really want to get into the nitty gritty, you can add a description to each Grade Item. Edit the Grade Item then scroll down to Show Description which is under the Category option. Click it to open the description text box. By default, students cannot see this description.

Use categories

Another way to avoid Grade Item confusion is to keep them organized with Categories. If I have an Assignments category, it is easy to remember that all the Grade Items in it are assignments.

In my screenshot, I have a Grade Item named “Zoom Classroom”. Now this name might not tell me much but since it is under my Video Quiz category I know it is my video quiz about Zoom Classroom.

brightspace grade categories

In your Gradebook, the categories rows have a slightly greyed background color. If that is hard to see, the Grade Items in each category are indented.

From the Grade Item edit screen, you can add a Grade Category or choose an existing category from the drop down list.

brightspace grade item edit add category

Is your course looking to much better? If you need help with any course reorganization, you can always reach out to the IDAT team for help at IDAT@meredith.edu.

You can also check out these other posts that will help.

This post was originally written by Casey Paul in November 2018. It has been significantly edited, expanded, and republished.

1 thought on “Cleaning Up Content & Gradebook in Brightspace – New Semester, New Course #2”

  1. Pingback: New Semester, New Course: A Series on Course Redesign - Instructional Design That Works

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