Brightspace Essentials: What You Need to Know for Summer 2023

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Published May 17, 2023

As the spring semester comes to a close and the summer months quickly approach, we want to provide you with essential information that will help you with the transition to Brightspace, the university's new Learning Management System (LMS), and highlight some of the exciting features that instructors and students will find helpful.

In this post

Beginning with the Fall 2023 semester, all courses will be delivered through Brightspace.


The Office of Curriculum, Assessment and Teaching Transformation staff have developed extensive training resources and are offering direct support to instructors to ensure you can build your Brightspace courses efficiently.

In addition, your unit's instructional support staff are available for direct support as you prepare your Fall 2023 courses in the new LMS.

Training Sessions and Recordings

Earlier this year, D2L and CATT hosted a series of workshops to help faculty and staff gain a deeper understanding of the key features of Brightspace. You can access recordings of these workshops in the Training Sessions section of the LMS Transition website. 

Additional training sessions have been added for August, and registration can be accessed in the Training Sessions section.

Brightspace Guided Training

Faculty and staff also have access to the Brightspace Guided Training, a self-guided, self-paced course where they can learn the ins and outs of building courses in Brightspace. The course covers communicating with your students, creating content, evaluating assessments and personalizing your course. Brightspace Guided Training also contains links to webinars to help you gain a deeper understanding of the features of Brightspace.

Links to the Brightspace Guided Training are available in the Information for Instructors widget and the Instructor Training drop-down menu on the UB Learns Homepage.

Guides for Instructors and Students

Our office has also developed guides for instructors and students that cover essential topics such as navigating Brightspace, setting up courses, engaging students, assessments and grades.

Incomplete Grades in Blackboard

Because the university's contract with Blackboard expires in December, students with incompletes for Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023 and Summer 2023 Blackboard courses will have until Dec. 1, 2023, to finish past-term work in Blackboard. No Fall 2023 courses will be delivered in Blackboard.

If a student needs additional time, an instructor has several options, including making the content available in Brightspace or accepting paper submissions. Please download any grades and materials related to a student's incomplete before Dec. 1, 2023.

Important Dates

May 22–26

Join the Office of Curriculum, Assessment and Teaching Transformation as we demonstrate how to organize and edit course content migrated to Brightspace. Each virtual session is one hour, conducted over Zoom, and will provide guidance on working with migrated course content in Brightspace. Registration is required.

June 15

Migration of all Spring 2023 credit-bearing courses will take place in June. Instructors should finish any course revisions in Blackboard by June 1. Migrated course content will be available in Brightspace by June 15. 

Beginning Aug. 14

Join D2L and the Office of Curriculum, Assessment and Teaching Transformation as we explore the features and functionality of Brightspace. Each session will be one hour, conducted over Zoom, and will allow participants to build elements of their Brightspace course. Registration is required.

Sept. 15

Migration of all Summer 2023 credit-bearing courses will take place in September. Instructors should finish any course revisions in Blackboard by Sept. 1. Migrated course content will be available in Brightspace by Sept. 15.

Highlighted Features

Streamlined Class Setup Experience

A significant change with the new LMS is that an instructor's courses are added automatically to Brightspace when the course catalog for the semester is published (approximately five months before the beginning of the semester). As a result, instructors no longer need to use the Class Setup Tool to create or manage course sites.

Student Enrollments

Students are enrolled in a course on the day they register through HUB. You decide when students can access a course with a combination of the Course is active checkbox and the Start and End Date fields

Content Creation and Organization

With Brightspace, you can drag and drop content directly into your course. The Brightspace Editor's document templates help you create engaging and polished content for your students. In addition, third-party vendor tools, such as Panopto, Zoom and Respondus LockDown Browser, are integrated into Brightspace. Assignments, quizzes and discussion topics can be quickly located using the course navbar and are easily linked to your grade book.


The process of grading and providing feedback is more linear in Brightspace, and it is easy to add rubrics to assignments, quizzes and discussion topics. In addition, you can give feedback through the inline grading feature and even record audio or video feedback for your students.

Engaging With Your Students

Communicate with your students using the email or instant messaging features in Brightspace. You can also take advantage of Intelligent Agents to automate reminders or provide helpful nudges to your students to keep them on track. 

Instructors no longer have the option to send a copy of an announcement by email. We strongly recommend that students set the following Instant Notifications to receive notifications when new announcements are available or previously posted announcements are updated in a course:

  • Announcements - announcement updated
  • Announcements - new announcement available

The Pulse app lets students receive real-time notifications on their mobile devices.

Plagiarism Detection Software

Turnitin is the new plagiarism detection software in Brightspace. Like SafeAssign in Blackboard, Turnitin helps identify potential cases of plagiarism in assignment submissions by comparing submissions to an online database. The reports show a breakdown of matching sources and provide direct links to the matching content.

Accessibility for Everyone

Support every student by using built-in accessibility checkers, Special Access to adjust deadlines and Release Conditions to provide access to course content based on the needs of individual students.

  • Anthology Ally, also available in Blackboard, automatically checks content for accessibility issues, provides feedback on ways to improve accessibility and generates alternative accessible formats for students.
  • In addition, the Brightspace Editor, a text editor available throughout Brightspace, has an accessibility checker to review text-background contrast ratios, ALT text for images, table captions and more.
  • Brightspace uses responsive design to adapt content to any size screen, making it easier for instructors and students to move between devices.  

Pulse App

The free Brightspace Pulse app helps students and instructors stay connected and on track with coursework in Brightspace. Users can access readings and assignments, grades and announcements (using the Notifications feature) and use the Upcoming feature to see when items are due across all their courses.

Real-time alerts let students know when new announcements are available, previously posted announcements are updated and new grades are available.

Brightspace Pulse is available for download from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store

Additional Resources