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Learning Technologies

Learning Technologies


Initiating the new Respondus Lockdown Browser Dashboard

September 18, 2017

The Respondus Lockdown Browser (LDB) has introduced a new integration with LEARN that has added extra features. To get started using Lockdown Browser in your course, you must follow these steps for each course using the Lockdown Browser.

  1. Click on the Lockdown Browser Tab located under Quizzes


  2. Ensure there are no issues by confirming there isn’t anything to “fix”.
    You would see a fix button beside the quiz if a fix is needed.

By doing this it allows you to see if the quiz title is correct. If not, you can click the “Fix it” button. LDB quizzes all need to have the title decoration present, which is “-Requires Respondus LockDown Browser”. The loading of the Dashboard makes the quiz known to the Respondus LDB servers which reduces errors.

This loading of the Dashboard is necessary every time a course is copied. It’s also necessary if you copy in a single quiz from an older course.

For more information on the Lockdown Browser Dashboard please view this Video:

Course Image Selection

August 18, 2017

With the implementation of Daylights, you are now able to select an appropriate and tasteful course tile for your courses in LEARN. These tiles can also be used as course banners and are viewable on the landing page in your My Course widget. You should consider a few things before uploading your own image, however.

Does your image have copyright restrictions? Make sure to use images that are free to use. If you are not sure, you can always use Google or Flickr to search for images labeled for reuse. You can also try using the Creative Commons website ( You should also look at the College’s policy on Fair Dealing (

We have configured the system to allow every instructor the ability to choose their own course tile from the Brigthspace image library as well upload their own. These settings are enabled in good faith that copyright regulations will be respected.

Here is a document with step-by-step instructions on how to change and upload course tiles, as well as design recommendations and specifications: TLTC-Uploading-a-banner-graphic.


Brightspace Manitoba Connection (D2L) Conference

March 16, 2017

Brightspace Manitoba Connection (D2L) Conference
May 26, 2017   9:00am to 2:20pm
Red River College’s Roblin Centre – 160 Princess St, Winnipeg, MB
Cost – Free

Red River College is hosting a conference about LEARN in collaboration with D2L – Brightspace Manitoba Connection. LEARN (otherwise known as Brightspace) is D2L’s flagship product.  Brightspace Manitoba Connection is your opportunity to connect with peers and D2L staff, exchange product feedback, share effective practices, and network with other users. Brightspace Connection will showcase teaching and learning within Brightspace, and sessions will feature topics such as effective practices in instructional design, technology integration, and administrative management. The event is sponsored by D2L and is free to attend.

The event’s goals are:
1. Provide free professional development sessions for online and blended learning
2. Build a strong community between Brightspace users and employees
3. Enhance the networking opportunities among the various members of the user community
4. Inform the user community about new features of the Brightspace platform

If you’re interested in presenting at the event, please indicate that on the registration page. We’re looking for sessions about:
pedagogical practices using Brightspace
highlighting noteworthy projects with your peers / institutions involving Brightspace
innovative use of Brightspace tools

Conference Agenda
9:00 am –    Registration desk open
9:30 am –   10:10 am   Opening Session
10:15 am – 11:05 am   Breakout Sessions (details coming soon)
11:15 am – 12:05 pm   Breakout Sessions (details coming soon)
12:15 am – 12:55 pm   Catered Lunch
1:00 pm –    1:50 pm    Breakout Sessions / Ateliers
2:00 pm –    2:20 pm    Closing Session

Registration: Please go to to register.

LEARN Login Changes – ADFS Logins

December 1, 2016

With LEARN moving to cloud hosting on December 19th, 2016 the College needs to implement a new login system to allow secure logins over the internet.

LEARN will now be authenticating users through Active Directory Federated Services. This authentication method requires a change to the username you enter. For those logging in directly through instead of putting in just your College username, you will now be required to enter your Red River College provided email address. Your password will remain the same. Staff will login with, and students will login with

There will be no change to logins through HUB.

The new login system will be deployed on Monday, December 19th, 2016.

If you have any questions please contact LEARN Support at


New Login Instructions For


  • You will be forwarded to the ADFS login page. On this page enter your RRC email address as your username and the same password that you use for other College services.


LEARN Upgrade Completed – August 10, 2016

August 10, 2016

LEARN has been upgraded to a new version 10.6.3.

All problems in the upgrade have been fixed.

  • All browsers should now be able to login to LEARN.
  • The login through HUB and the Employee Development pages has been fixed by ITS.

This new version includes many new requested features, enhancements and bugfixes. In general, LEARN still looks and feels the same, but many features have smoother and more intuitive workflows. The TLTC and LEARN Support have developed a guide to the changes:

If you have any questions or concerns about this upgrade please contact us at LEARN Support at

The Bewildering Language of Online Learning!

April 6, 2016

The Bewildering Language of Online Learning!

Source: March 10, 2016

“What on Earth Are You Talking About?”

For many faculty members, instructors, practitioners, administrators and policy makers, the language used to describe and discuss online and flexible learning is confusing. What on earth is a “flipped classroom”? What is the difference between “blended learning” and “fully online” learning? Why do some programs not have “instructors” but do have “mentors, coaches and guides”? It can be confusing.

Let’s look at the language of online and flexible learning and help understand what is being said when key terms are being used.

A Starting Point

Before we look at a variety of terms, there are some standard definitions of what constitutes an online or blended course. The following table was widely adopted as establishing the definitions for these terms.

Proportion of Content

 Delivered Online

Type of Course

Typical Description



Classroom-based teaching with assignments and activities which students pursue independently of each other.

1 to 29%

Web Facilitated

Web resources and technologies are used to facilitate what is essentially a face-to-face course. May use webpages and course management systems (CMS) to post syllabuses, readings and assignments.


Blended / Hybrid

Course blends online and face-to-face delivery. Substantial parts of the content are delivered online and discussions, team projects and activities and web safaris are used for learning. The number of face-to-face sessions is decreased as the volume of online activity increases.



A course where all, or almost all, of the content is delivered online with no or a very small number of face-to-face meetings.

Table 1: Common Definitions of Terms for Online Learning

The other two key terms used extensively when talking about online learning are synchronous and asynchronous. Here is what these mean:

  • Synchronous learning – this refers to a learning event or activity in which a group of students are engaging in learning at the same time. For example, students at various different sites are linked together by audioconferencing, videoconferencing or web conferencing for a class at a particular time.
  • Asynchronous learning – given the above definition of synchronous learning, it comes as no surprise this term refers to courses or learning activities in which students can connect at any time – they don’t have to be online or in class at a specific time. They may still have extensive interactions with other students and their instructor, but when they do so is less important than the fact they do so.

But since this table was developed and the language of synchronous and asynchronous learning began to be in widespread use some fifteen years ago, new terms have emerged. Three in particular are important: (a) open and flexible; (b) flipped classroom; and (c) competency-based learning. Let us explore these terms.

Open and Flexible

Two terms which have a wide currency in the field of new approaches to teaching and learning are “open” (as in openeducational resources or open university) and “flexible learning”. Let us look at these two terms:


  • An open university, college or school is a place in which prior learning plays no part in the admission process. Rather than looking at entry qualifications (high school diplomas, GPAs, scores on standardized tests), an open institution accepts all who wish to study. It focuses on rigorous assessment of their learning, rather than what they bring to their learning.
  • So as to prevent the idea of an open door to learning becoming a revolving door – one in which more students fail than succeed – investments need to be made in self-assessment tools (“are you ready for…”), advising and student support services.
  • When used in the context of learning resources – as in “open educational resources” – the term refers to the fact anyone can access and use the learning resources and, in many cases (depending on the nature of the Commons License(link is external)), reuse and repurpose them while fully acknowledging their origins. Substantial open resources are available from iTunes University, OER Commons and OERu.


Imagine a student anywhere in the world who can for some (but not all) programs:

  • Attend a class at a campus and earn credit – 15 weeks (45 hours).
  • Study the same course online over 15 weeks.
  • Study for a program / course in modules based on competencies, each lasting 2-3 weeks and earn credit (and/or an Open Badge[1]) and accumulate such credits into transferable courses required for program completion.
  • Attend a boot camp or intense “hands on” learning period (the duration determined by the time required to master a competence) for practical work. For example, almost all of the Funeral Service program can be seen delivered online, but embalming requires “hands-on” / lab work. This “hands-on” component could be delivered in a five-day boot camp or through proctored work through arrangements with funeral homes throughout the province. Ongoing supervision of this skill could be monitored by video submitted by the student.
  • Secure credit for training and development courses taken in the workplace for all but one course in a college or university program.
  • Secure credit through PLAR, transfer credit and work-based learning agreements and proctored online challenge exams for all but one course in a program.

All of this requires the college or university to see flexibility as not just about increasing its online learning activities, but also to re-think the experience of learning, credit recognition and the student’s connection to the institution. This is why this strategy for flexibility needs to be driven by pedagogy, not technology, finance or administrative needs and why the drivers of this work need to be faculty and instructors supported by expert students, administration and the technology team.

The key principle should be student choice. A focus on flexibility is aimed at expanding the repertoire of services available so that the college or university can make such responses.

Flipped Classroom

There are a variety of roots for this idea, which is growing in use, but the approach to teaching and learning it represents is straightforward.

  1. The flipped classroom is a specific form of blended learning.
  2. Instructional content – the knowledge and understanding needed for mastery of the learning for a course – is delivered online not in the classroom. No more “sage on the stage”.
  3. Class time is not used for content, but for exploring the implications of the content or the student’s learning. Discussion, MOOTs (used in legal studies), lab work based on the content, project-based learning, small group work, using the content to demonstrate a skill or the application of the learning are used in class time to make the learning “real” and meaningful for the students.
  4. Assessments are done and submitted online and feedback is delivered online.
  5. Students are also encouraged to engage in reflective learning through blogs and social media.

You can see examples of this approach in use here(link is external).

Competency-Based Learning

This is a different approach to how students secure recognition for their learning. Let us use an example as a prelude to explaining this idea.

The University of Wisconsin has started to offer a competency route to a degree based entirely on competency-based assessments. Known as the “flex option”, courses are not required, but rubrics for competency are very clear and explicit, making learning focused and direct. The University suggests appropriate learning resources for leaners to use to support program completion – all of which are either third party or open educational resources.

Students can use the mentoring and coaching services of the University when they feel the need of assistance. When ready, the student calls for a mastery assessment. Such a program is similar to the Western Governors University offering. They are not alone in doing so. In the US, Southern New Hampshire University, Capella University, Kaplan University and Walden are all offering this same route to a degree. In his call for free college education in the United States, President Barack Obama recognized these developments as “game changers” for skills[2].

To make this kind of learning work, there is a lot for faculty members and instructors to do where the knowledge, skills, understanding and social networks which faculty members and instructors have can be fully leveraged in the interest of students and the program they are attached to. This work includes, but is not limited to:

  • In partnership with employers and other faculty members and instructors, determine what the needed knowledge, skills and competencies are for a particular set of learning outcomes.
  • Design and develop a range of rigorous, multi-faceted assessments for the knowledge, skills and competencies making best use of all available technologies for assessment.
  • Design, in partnership with other faculty members and instructors, instructional designers and librarians, the learning pathway and resource recommendations for students making best use of open educational resources, third party multimedia and more traditional resources, video resources and community resources.
  • Design, in partnership with instructional designers and others, alternative routes for students who are most able and those who are least able, given the learning outcomes and competencies they are expected to master.
  • Be available to mentor, coach and guide students on an as needs basis following the college or universities design for this support.
  • Assess students against the competencies and skills required for mastery.
  • Certify students as having mastered the skills required for the learning outcomes.
  • Actively engage in research on the knowledge domain and skills so that the work is continuously updated and improved.
  • Participate in professional development activities aimed at improving assessment, outcome-based learning, the development of OER material and learning pathways.
  • Design, develop and share open educational resources relevant to the field of study and the learning outcomes.

This work fully leverages both the content and professional instructional expertise of faculty, but places them in a different relationship to students than is currently the case.

Competency-based education is growing quickly in Canada for K-12 students(link is external), for trades(link is external) and some professions(link is external)including medicine(link is external).

Some Important Technology Terms

You are also likely to encounter a growing number of technology terms as you explore open, online and flexible learning. Here we look at five which are in common use.

  • GamificationThe use of serious games as a way of developing understanding and mastery of knowledge, skills or competencies. See here(link is external) for an excellent exploration of what this is and why it could be helpful for teaching and learning.
  • Immersive Learning EnvironmentsAs its name suggests, an immersive environment allows students to be totally “immersed” in a self-contained artificial or simulated environment while experiencing it as real. Immersive environments can offer students rich and complex content-based learning while also helping students hone their technical, creative, and problem-solving skills. Because immersive environments are so rich and visual, users tend to be highly engaged. We can expect to see significant developments here as 3D virtual reality headsets(link is external) become low cost and enable a great many experiences to be highly personal and interactive.
  • Adaptive Learning and Assessment SystemsThese systems enable students to assess their progress with online assessment for learning (these can be complex, challenging or simple assessments). As the students complete their assessments, the system helps them identify where they are strong, what their weaknesses are, and brings to their attention new learning resources that enable the student to strengthen their learning, especially in their areas of weakness.These systems use machine and artificial intelligence to reorder and find appropriate learning resources, given the performance of each individual student. Such systems are built in to most learning management systems (e.g. Desire2Learn, Blackboard), but are also available as standalone products like Knewton, ALEKS, Grockit and KnowRe. This is also an area of rapid growth and development, as you will see here(link is external).
  • SimulationWhether in a virtual space or in a game, this refers to the use of technology to simulate situations in which the student may find themselves or wishes to explore. For example, there is Second Life(link is external) simulations built for those training to be electricians or explorations of decision-making in historical conflicts for students of history. While some of these simulations use technology, others do not.Simulations provide multiple chances to practice, including making attempts with higher risks and spectacular failures, and to learn, retry, and master new skills faster and with less effort than through experiences not mediated by computers.
  • Immersive Tutoring An intelligent tutoring system is computer software designed to simulate a human tutor’s behaviour and guidance. Because these systems are able to interpret complex student responses and can learn as they operate, they are able to discern where and why a student’s understanding has gone astray and to offer hints to help the student understand the material at hand.Intelligent tutors provide many of the benefits of a human tutor to very large numbers of students and can also provide real-time data to faculty, instructors and developers looking to refine teaching methods. You can read more about this development here(link is external).

If you come across technical ideas or terms and need help, then Educause offers a place to learn and deepen your understanding. Look in particular for the series 7 Things You Need to Know.(link is external)

There are many more

This is a basic introduction to some key terms for online, open and flexible education. There are many other terms – see here(link is external), here(link is external) and here(link is external) for well used glossaries – but we have offered the ones listed here from a faculty and instructor perspective so as to connect these terms to the practice of teaching and learning.

[1] Open badges which recognize competency based learning are a fast growing feature of the education and training landscape. See is external) for a description of these developments and is external)for the protocols for issuing badges.

[2] Speech in Buffalo, New York, August 22, 2013.


Analytics on your LEARN Quiz

December 15, 2015

The LEARN Quiz tool offers a platform for delivering secure tests, quizzes, exams, and self assessments.  The Quiz tool has features such as randomization, auto grading, support of multi-media, and a suite of analytics.

To access analytics on the quiz:

  1. Click “Assessments” and then “Quizzes”
  2. Select the quiz you wish to view and click it’s action button (▼)
  3. Click “Statistics”

You can now view statistics such as:

  • Class Average and Grade Distribution
  • Individual students success
  • Question Stats
    • First, click the “Question Stats” tab
    • Now you can view statistics about each question
  • Question Details
    • First, click the “Question Details” tab
    • Now you can view the detailed statistics on each question

What if there is an issue with a question and I need to update students scores?

LEARN allows you to update individual students scores, or bulk modify all students results.

The steps below will show how to bulk modify the grade for a specific question on a quiz.

  1. Click “Assessments” and then “Quizzes”
  2. Select the quiz you wish to view and click it’s action button (▼)
  3. Click “Grade”

    1. You can now grade individual attempts by clicking the attempt beside the student you wish to grade.
  4. Click the “Questions” tab
  5. Choose how you would like to grade the question
    1. “Update all” allows you to change which response receives points, or give all users points for the question
  6. Click the question you wish to grade
    1. You will see statistics and information related to that question
  7. If you selected “Update all” you have the option to give all attempts a specific mark, or specify which response will receive the grade
  8. Once done, click “Save”


Displaying Users in the LEARN Email Address Book

December 4, 2015

When composing an email in LEARN you should have access to the “Address Book” that will allow you to look up other users email address.

If you do not see any address in the address book, follow these steps to rectify the issue:

    1. Click your name in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
    2. Click “Account Settings”
    3. Click the “Email” tab
    4. Under “Display Options” check “Show external email addresses in the Address Book” and click “Save

Building community in your online or blended class

December 1, 2015

One of the important activities instructors perform is to build a learning community in their classrooms. A learning community defined as a group of individuals who are interested in a common topic or area and who engage in knowledge-related transactions as well as transformations within it. (1)

Some of the benefits accruing to all participants include keeping students engaged and focused, promoting collaborative learning and academic motivation. In a face-to-face class environment this comes naturally through class discussions, group work, group assignments, and even grabbing a coffee after class with your fellow students.

The question is – How do you build community in an online or blended class?

You will need to foster these elements of community:

1) A sense of shared purpose
2) Establishment of boundaries defining who is a member and who is not
3) Establishment and enforcement of rules/policies regarding community behavior
4) Interaction among members, and
5) A level of trust, respect and support among community members(2)

Here are few examples of how you can begin to build community in online and blended classes. The examples that follow will give you some idea of the tools you can use to achieve your desired result. Keep in mind that whatever tools you use as an instructor to build community in your class you will need to be purposeful in your planning.

  • Where possible, build in assignments that involve a community engagement. For example, for an app development course, students can work with a non-profit organization (this would be identified by the instructor and the details of the collaboration would be identified upfront) to develop an app.
  • Build in collaborative learning activities and assignments. For instance, rather than having students write an essay or reflective paper on a particular topic, have them create a blog that will be shared with other students in the class. This provides an opportunity for students to engage with each other by sharing their perspectives and discussing/debating divergent viewpoints on the issue at hand. The same technique could be used with videos or photos, not just text-based media.
  • Build in opportunities for risk taking. A common goal/enemy/challenge that includes some stress but also shared support can help build community as well. The risk is the potential to ‘fail’ or miss the point or succeed beyond one’s expectations. It’s not a group assignment per se but a shorter activity.
  • Make yourself available. Communicate clearly to the learners how and when you are available. Hold virtual office hours. Reply promptly to student messages. Moderate and participate in the discussion forum. Check on each of your student’s progress routinely. Be actively involved. Share about you in a down-to-earth professional biography and share your goals for the students in the course.
  • Use learning contracts. Essentially, students complete these after reviewing the course outline. This is a way for the teacher and students to identify goals and expectations for the course. The teacher can clarify any questions upfront and understand what the student hopes to accomplish. This can be revisited halfway through the course and at the end of the course. Contact the TLTC for a ready-made fillable PDF example currently being used in an online course.
  • At the start of a new course, have students pair up, interview each other, summarize their findings, and introduce their partner to the class. This same icebreaker can be facilitated online using the tools available in the learning management system (at RRC, this is called LEARN). This can be done by pairing students in an online discussion forum and using it to conduct the interview. Alternatively, students can pair up and use texting to conduct the interview. They can then post the summary to the discussion forum. Other students can in turn reply to these posts.
  • At the beginning of the course, have students share about themselves on the discussion forum. Have them share about why they are taking the course, their goals for the course, and about any questions they have about the course.
  • Create opportunities for group work. Provide the opportunities for the students to use tools such as LiVE (RRC’s virtual classroom environment) to collaborate on group projects. Encourage peer-review either as part of formative assessment or as part of formal evaluation. Pair students up with ‘study buddies’ in the course and ask the students to identify technology buddies who might be tech-savvy family or friends.
  • Use Think-Pair-Share in which students first work individually to solve a question then in pairs then with the class. This works beautifully in any classroom – virtual or real.
  • One final strategy commonly employed in the online environment is to use tools such as a discussion forum to allow students to post questions about the course that may be answered by the instructor or other students. Chances are that more than one student has the same question. This allows you to save valuable time while enabling students to see that they are not alone.

Remember in whatever community-building activity you plan in your course you as the instructor must model the community behavior that you expect from your students.

(1)University of Texas

(2)Vesely, P., Bloom, L. & Sherlock,J. (2007). Key Elements of Building Online Community: Comparing Faculty and Student Perceptions. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 3, (3). Retrieved from

The TLTC’s Digital Learning Tip of the Week: Online Gradebooks

November 17, 2015

Online gradebooks are an essential tool for modern classes. LEARN has a fully featured gradebook tool to help you calculate and post your grades to students.

Save time: You don’t have to keep grades in multiple places and separately report them to students. Using the gradebook keeps the grades tracked in a safe place and also communicates them to students as quickly as possible. But don’t worry, if you don’t want them to see certain marks you have final control over exactly what they see.

Student data: It gives you access to data on how the student is doing in the User Progress tool in LEARN, and gives students more information about how they are doing in your course. If you also assess in LEARN, you can drill down into each student’s specific answers, or access statistics about how questions were answered by the whole class. Over multiple terms it can give you data about the effectiveness of your assessment practice.

Easy access: Students can come to an easy to access location to find their grades. As soon as you record them they can be in your students’ hands. You can deliver feedback instantly too, through text, audio, or video.

Analytics: Using the gradebook helps the College conduct analytics to identify problems or successes in programs. The data can be used to analyze the effectiveness of assessments as well as to determine if program changes need to take place to ensure student success. It’s a powerful strategy tool for modern educational institutions.

Click here for an in-depth guide on how to get started with gradebook. Contact LEARN Support at to arrange group or departmental training sessions to help you get started.

This tip has been brought to you by the Teaching Learning Technology Centre, part of Red River College’s Centre for Teaching Excellence, Innovation, and Research.  Check out the TLTC’s blog for detailed information on how to use LEARN and many more tips, tricks and info on learning technologies.