A few decades ago Arthur Chickering and Zelda Gamson condensed a large corpus of research on teaching and learning best practices into the “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.” These principles have largely stood the test of time and, with the rise of the digital technologies, many efforts have been made to match the Seven Principles with affordances of these technologies (e.g., Chickering & Ehrmann 1996, TLT Group). Thus, the purpose of the following web page is to match the Seven Principles with D2L and other online instructional technologies commonly used at CU Boulder.


1. Initiates instructor - student contact

D2L: The Email Tool
Stay connected with your students by using the D2L email tool. You can send emails to your students, either individually, a selected group, or all enrolled students in your course.

D2L: News Widget
This pane is one of the first things your students see when they enter your course. Therefore, it can be a great place to communicate information, reminders, and other course related updates to your students.

AdobeConnect is a collaboration tool with a number of features to create interactive online classes and meetings. It includes video conferencing, chat, whiteboards, application sharing, live polling and presentations. You can share your desktop with your students to host synchronous interactions. Consider this tool when you need to host a virtual classroom or an office hour.

Camtasia Relay and/or D2L: Video Introductions
Using Camtasia Relay or D2L’s video recording capabilities you can create a brief video to let students get to know you by telling them about your research, professional interests and experience. Brief video recordings can also be used to provide supplemental instructional material, explain complicated charts and graphs, or to provide individualized feedback for assignments.

Use this free platform to manage your students’ questions related to course content. Piazza allows your students to post questions, and collaborate to edit responses to these questions. As an instructor, you can post or answer questions, endorse student responses, and edit the content.

2. Provides collaborative learning opportunities

D2L: Discussion Forums
This D2L tool can provides a great opportunity for you to facilitate either whole class or group discussions. Using this feature you can also ask students to post and respond to questions about the content of your course.

D2L: Groups
Group work can be facilitated with the groups feature in D2L. This feature allows instructors to randomly or manually divide students in groups and create a discussion forum and dropbox for each individual group. Other sites that facilitate group work are Google Groups, Piazza, and CATME.

VoiceThread is an application that makes it easy to add voice annotations to different types of media, such as presentations, text documents, video and/or audio, . As an instructor, you can place an article to VoiceThread, and students can add remarks by means of phone, webcam or microphone.

Google Docs/Drive
Google docs makes “creating stuff easy and collaborative, no matter where you are or what device you’re working from. See others make changes in real-time. Sit back while your edits get automatically saved in Google Drive. Receive and reply to comments right from your inbox. And forget about hunting for the latest version of a file, because there is only one.”

Take advantage of some of the innovative features of Google+. Create a Circle for your class to share course announcements, and important links. You can also divide your students into groups, and create circles for each group. A group member can see when others are online and initiate chats and meetings. Students can also video chat with each other using Hang Outs.

3. Integrates active learning

Clickers allows students to participate in classes and answer questions provided by the instructor.  OIT’s iclicker service is available in most classrooms and lecture hall media cabinets. See this tutorial on clickers to get started.

ePortfolios are an excellent form of authentic assessment. In developing ePortfolios, students are given opportunities to demonstrate competencies that show growth over time in a student’s developmental process. D2L, Google Sites (see this tutorial), and even blogging platforms such as WordPress provide a platform for students to create and share ePortfolios for both selected and public audiences.

Multimedia Projects
Many free web tools such as Prezi, Storify, and Zapd give students the ability to curate multimedia and other resources from the internet to compose dynamic, original stories and presentations.

See also VoiceThread

4. Gives and receives regular, timely feedback

D2L: Surveys
The survey tool provides an easy interface for collecting formative feedback from students. Running reports on survey results allow for quick analysis. Additionally, surveys are anonymous but can be set to track completion. Other tools such as Qualtrics and Google Forms can also be used for these purposes.

D2L: Intelligent Agent
Intelligent Agents allow for automatic notifications to be sent to students, advisors, and other key constituents. Criteria for notifications include activity on the course site and grades. They can be used to recognize achievements or warn of potential problems.

Originality Checks with TurnItIn
Originality checks with TurnItIn are seamlessly integrated into D2L’s dropbox assignment tool. Allowing students to submit drafts of papers for originality checks and to view originality reports provides timely and useful feedback for students still developing their writing skills.

5. Emphasizes time on task (e.g., practice makes perfect)

D2L: Quizzes
Quizzes can obviously be used for traditional assessments but can also be used creatively for low-stakes practice opportunities. Set quizzes to allow for multiple attempts and create hints with instructional merit for incorrect responses.

D2L: Calendar
The Calendar tool makes it possible to arrange and visualize events within a course. As an instructor, you can add exam due dates, office hours, assignment information and other important events into the Calendar.

D2L: Release Conditions
Release conditions allow you to associate an item with other items in D2L. When you create a release condition to an item, users cannot see that item until they meet the associated condition. You can use this tool to create a specific learning path in your course. For example, you could attach a release condition to your quiz that would require students to go through the content before taking the quiz.

D2L: Checklist & Completion
The checklist tool can be used to create and manage tasks for students to accomplish. This tool can be a good roadmap to assignments and readings for your students. They can check off each assignment on the list as they complete it.

6. Communicates high expectations

D2L: Rubrics
In general, providing guidelines and setting expectations for students is the foundation for helping students reach their potential. Utilizing rubrics not only provides guidelines and sets high expectations to students, they also keep grading consistent. D2L has incorporated a rubrics tool to conveniently communicate and share your rubrics with students.

D2L: Course builder
Course Builder is an excellent way to create and organize your materials in D2L. Using this tool, you can outline and visualize every part of your course at once. Course Builder consists of three sections such as Canvas, Toolbox and Selected Node Panel. You can use these tools to outline your course and make notes about your modules and assignments. When ready, you can populate your outline by adding course materials.

TurnItIn is a system that matches students’ papers against the text on the Internet, in published works, and the assignments previously submitted into TurnItIn by students all over the world. Turnitin is available via the Dropbox tool in D2L.

D2L: Competencies & Learning Objectives
D2L has a built-in competency structure for specifying learning objectives and activities. Competencies are used to track information about the knowledge, skills and abilities your students acquire as they participate in courses or other learning experiences. Learners do not complete competencies directly; a learner achieves a competency when they complete all the associated learning objectives.

7. Respects diversity & develops inclusive learning environments

D2L: Special Access
Special access permissions allow you to set different availability dates and times for specific users. For example, you could extend the deadline for users needing accommodations, with extenuating circumstances or those who are submitting work beyond the original scope of the assignment.

Universal Design for Learning
University Design for Learning is “a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn.” This may include representing material in multiple ways and forms, allowing students choices with regard to what they produce, and allowing students to engage in the course in multiple ways. For additional information see UDL resources and CU Disability Services.



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Want to know more or perhaps just to talk with a human? ASSETT’s Teaching and Learning Consultants would be thrilled to meet with you at your convenience to talk further about how these resources can be used to fit your personal teaching and learning goals. Just drop us a line and perhaps we can meet over a good cup of java or tea.