A bright, flexible learning management system
August 03, 2019
A bright, flexible learning management system
Score 8 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Brightspace
Brightspace is used throughout the organization with the exception of a few smaller departments. The LMS allows our instructors, employees, and students to access courses from their personal and work machines. The platform supports our traditional, hybrid, and online courses. With Brightspace, we are able to not only provide traditional slideshows and documents online for students to access, but we can also embed other technologies such as the Google Suite and the Adobe Cloud for further enhanced learning. The platform works on mobile and traditional machines as it allows developers to provide scalable resources and resources specific to each platform. I have used the service to provide three traditional in-person courses to students over the past year as well as one intensive online course. Materials are easily accessible and managing the platform becomes straightforward after a brief learning curve.
- Allowing users to embed content links from YouTube or Google Drive enables learners to experience a richer lesson.
- Providing a powerful editor that allows developers to also include content from Adobe Stock as well as textbook publishers and cloud storage companies gives more power and creative ability to instructors.
- Providing scaling for mobile and traditional computer systems ensures students will not have issues on the go.
- The customization of home pages and groups enable courses to be used for small training sessions with breakout groups, large courses with separate sections, and even just more engaging courses that present themed icons and logos.
- The user interface for students is clunky, and it can be difficult to access courses once several have been registered, let alone once a student is inside of a course and has to navigate the content pages.
- The instructor's interface is also difficult as courses are presented in the same fashion as they are for learners which means instructors who have taught many courses will need to dig through lists in order to find their current courses. The tools to add content to a course or design a course's appearance, while powerful, are confusing and should at least be supplemented with a detailed help guide and video series.
- Gradebooks work for traditional courses; however, in gradeless or workshop settings, they are difficult to use. I have used text-based grades in lieu of numerical options, but I would still like to be able to revise or implement numerical grades in the final grade column as well. This is important for systems that do not use grades but are contract-based as the text fields may say "A" or "C", but the final numerical value may still be 0.
- Certain content elements are missing from the platform, such as the ability to easily delete several items in a batch, or the ability to show and hide large and small elements at the click of a button without diving into menus. When one reuses a course, there is a high level of time involved in showing only the key elements and deleting unnecessary content which could be simplified.
- Brightspace has allowed our department to provide more courses online as well as in person since more can be managed by an instructor or team.
- Brightspace has led to some negative comments during our annual meetings as some staff prefer free options or paid options with different interfaces.
- Brightspace has allowed our instructors to understand how much work individual learners have interacted with, where they may have quit or encountered difficulties, and has even allowed us to understand why some have received non-complete grades.
- Brightspace's assignment drop boxes have enabled our department to easily run originality checks and have timestamps to understand when assignments were completed.
- Canvas and Blackboard Learn
Compared to Blackboard, Brightspace is a much more powerful application that allows instructors to share more content, customize their courses, and design courses in a more intuitive wizard style if desired. Brightspace is also designed to work well on mobile devices and scales content well when compared to the older feeling Blackboard. However, when compared to Canvas, Brightspace feels a little more antiquated given Canvas' modern feel and much more intuitive design. With Canvas, learners can easily find their courses, and instructors can design courses with certain elements only being shown when necessary. The tool also includes features such as bulk deletion, more powerful plug-and-play course designs, and a simpler UI. The only downside to Canvas was that when I used it, the LMS did not scale well on mobile devices, and our department had to instruct users to only access the website through desktops and laptops.
Brightspace can be a great platform for institutions looking for a multi-platform solution that works with standard cloud technologies and can provide a beautiful experience. The LMS can work well for online-only courses as sections can be segmented from each other inside of the same course, and grading can be automated depending on the scheme being implemented. Experienced instructors can still create useful workshops and courses with this tool, but it can be frustrating for newcomers or those used to other "plug-and-play" or "drag-and-drop" options. I would recommend trying the tool out and making some demonstration courses in which you are a student and learner in order to feel how it works and compares to other options on the market. Brightspace is definitely powerful and can provide a good experience once all stakeholders adjust to its handling.
Brightspace Feature Ratings
50000 - Users of Brightspace range from staff and administration supporting course developers and instructors to teaching assistants and instructors as well as higher-education students attending classes locally and online plus attendees of workshops and professional development sessions. The business functions are primarily for learning and teaching content; however, additional functions include research, administrative support, technical support, and policy creation.
10 - There are a few dedicated people inside of our educational technology support department which works closely with the information technology division. These individuals provide individual and group training for Brightspace as well as tutorial videos and articles within an internal site. Theses individuals are always researching new methods for teaching with technology as well as keeping up with the latest developments from Brightspace in order to explain how to use features and tools.
- Delivering classes online and to users on various platforms.
- Providing an easy to use platform for students and instructors.
- Providing sufficient power to designers in order to create courses that are interactive, engaging, and tap into the research within the field of the instructor.
- We have delivered synchronous workshops inside of an intensive online training session for our department.
- We have included elements from Adobe Stock and Adobe CS in order to provide a more kinesthetic approach to learning rather mundane topics.
- We have been able to tweak master courses for easier online course teaching which also enables newer teachers to understand the platform better.
- We may be able to use it for meetings with the inclusion of Adobe Connect.
- We may be able to present much more interesting assignments to students as we can include larger files and videos hosted on Google Drive for projects that would not normally be uploaded to an LMS.
- We may be able to implement more gradeless courses and create a greater sense of inclusion.
While some of the members of our department view Brightspace as not being as intuitive or powerful as alternatives, I am sure our institution will renew our contract for the foreseeable future. There are several departments utilizing the tool, and due to its ease of use on mobile platforms, it will remain a strong contender. If the UI can be tweaked to be even easier to use, and some quality of life features such as batch deletion and click to hide are implemented, I cannot see a better product.