Megan Stemm-Wade

Desire2Learn Primer

There is always a learning curve when it comes to making a major change. DePaul’s switch from Blackboard to its new learning-management system, Desire2Learn, is no exception, but don’t be afraid! With some knowledge, training from Faculty Instructional Technology Services, and a little practice, Desire2Learn skills are easily within your reach.

First, Consider the Metaphor

In Blackboard, course materials, whether for a fully online class or a hybrid course, were posted in a folder structure, with folders generally as buckets for weeks or modules. A syllabus, for instance, would be uploaded as a new “item” into a specific location, which was a folder.

Desire2Learn has a tree-structure, rather than folders. Navigation is across the top of the course, rather than on the left, as my colleague Eric talks about here. In Desire2Learn, a course generates with a more fluid structure in place, as opposed to Blackboard, which had a handful of set menu items. In Desire2Learn, you get to decide how you want your course to look and where your items should be.

Next, Decide How It Should Look

Think about how you want your course structured: Do you just need a place for students to access your syllabus and weekly readings? Are you teaching fully online in a weekly schedule? Do you use modules? Is your course ten weeks? Five weeks? FITS has a variety of templates for download, that, when imported into your course, will create a basic structure in which you can organize your course. The templates will build the empty “buckets” in which you can upload or create the course materials you need.

Then, Begin to Build

Once you’ve determined how your course should be arranged, you can upload files through the “Manage Course Files” section of your course (accessed when you click “Content” in the Navbar). Once you’ve uploaded the files you need in your course, it is easy to drag and drop them into the module or structure where you want it to live using the “Course Builder” tool. The Course Builder also allows you to create new pages, like a new “item” in Blackboard. You can copy text from Word documents (from, example, a syllabus) and paste it into a page.

And of Course, Ask for Help

Getting from your empty course shell to a fully built, fully featured course offering might not happen the first time you sit down in front of Desire2Learn. When you get caught up in a question you can’t answer, FITS is here to help. DePaul Faculty have access to on-campus training at Lincoln Park and in the Loop designed to teach the basics of course building, as well as proficiency with specific tools. FITS also offers an online, self-paced training course, which offers documentation, tutorials, and point-of-contact support.

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