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Talking to your students about Brightspace – Fall 2017

Posted by on Thursday, August 17, 2017 in Resource.

Many instructors have asked us where students will go to learn about Brightspace, Vanderbilt’s new course management system. While students are always welcome to reach out for support, we put together a list of four important resources that students will find helpful as they navigate this new course management system. Instructors can feel free to share this post with students, link to it within their courses, or use the text and links in their syllabuses.

A Quick Guide to Brightspace for Students:

–> One new feature students will encounter in Brightspace is the Class Progress tool that allows students to see all of their course interactions in one place. Students should use this tool to see grades and feedback posted by instructors, and to get a detailed view of how they have participated in the course.  If instructors click on Class Progress, they will see a list of all the students in the course. By clicking on a particular student, the instructor can see the exact same screen as the student. Being able to go to a particular student’s Class Progress screen and see feedback from their perspectives could be a useful tool for faculty.

Encourage students to explore the Class Progress tool to stay informed of how they are doing in the course.

–> Another key feature for students is the ability to set course notifications that come to students’ phone or email . Students can choose to get a text message notification every time a new announcement is posted, when an assignment due date is 48 hours away, or for a variety of other course activities including new grades and new content.

Make sure students know how to get course notifications sent to their phone or email.

–> In addition, students may want to use the Brightspace mobile app called PulseThis overview has more information. The Pulse app can be downloaded from app stores and helps students stay plugged into their courses. They can even upload files and images directly from their phones!

Let students know the Pulse app is available through app stores.

–> And finally, have your students check out our ever-growing list of on-demand resources specifically for student users of Brightspace:

At any point during the term, if you or your students need help making Brightspace work for you, please feel free to reach out to Brightspace support at the CFT We’re happy to help!

Brightspace support at the CFT is here to help!


A Template for your Email or Syllabus Section on how to Use Brightspace

If you plan to send out a beginning-of-semester email about how to log into Brightspace, feel free to use, edit, or just take inspiration from this template we put together (below). If you plan to include a section in your syllabus on important Brightspace features, this might serve as a starting place. Please let us know if you have any feedback to improve our template!

Dear Students,

This year, Vanderbilt is transitioning to a new course management system called Brightspace. You can learn more about the transition here and here.  Brightspace is a more modern, flexible tool, but any transition takes time and effort. So, I wanted to let you know about a few of Brightspace’s features that will be useful to you.

1) When you go to Brightspace at, you should log on with your VUNetID and password through single sign-on. The first page you see is your landing page. Every course that instructors have made available to you should be on that landing page.

2) If you click on your name in the top-right corner of the screen, you will see links to your Profile, to Notifications, and to Account Settings. There are a lot of options there for you to play with. Two of the most interesting are a) you can add a photo in your profile, and b) you can sign up to get course notifications sent to your phone as text messages. Wouldn’t it be great to get a text 48 hours before your assignments are due to remind you? Well, you can! Click on your name, then register your cell phone and sign up for notifications. (Please note that when you register your cell phone number in Brightspace, no one will ever see that number but you and the computer. It does not give me or your classmates access to you cell number.)

3) When you click on our course, you will see a navigation bar across the top with links to different parts of the course. All of the materials I have posted for you to read, view, or listen to are posted in the tab called “Content“. The “Class Progress” tab is where you will go to see grades, feedback from me, and a detailed account of everything you have done in the Brightspace course. Please feel free to click on the different tabs and see where they lead.

4) Finally, if you need help, the Center for Teaching has a support site where they post resources for students that may be of use to you. You can also email them at during their extended support hours.

We are all learning Brightspace together this semester, and I think we will do well. I look forward to working with you all.


Your professor


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