Using Gmail in D2L Brightspace | Online Learning at PCC

using gmail in d2l brightspace

posted by andy released

In our previous announcements and webinars on the June 20 d2l brightspace update, we shared some examples of how the new email interface will work. For those who were unable to attend, we also wanted to provide more explanations and demonstrations. we’re excited about the change because students and teachers have struggled with using multiple email systems for years. and we believe the change will be relatively simple for most of our users.

what is changing?

We are standardizing on a single email tool (pcc’s gmail) for mail sent within d2l brightspace. this means that messages sent within d2l will actually be sent to your pcc.edu account. the secondary email tool within d2l will be retired (messages will remain) and there will be less confusion about which email students (and instructors) should use.

how do I send messages?

Fortunately for veteran users, the way you send messages doesn’t change much. You still need to go to the class list and click on the names of those you want to message. will still compose the message within d2l, but the message will be sent to the pcc.edu address. Here’s a quick demo from Michael Moss showing how to send an email message.

how do I read the messages?

you will read the email that is sent from d2l brightspace in your pcc gmail. If you are not already logged in to your Gmail on another tab, you can log in from the Access Google Apps widget in the main My Home area in D2L. The first time you will need to authorize the d2l and google apps, which you can do with the first step of this guide. then you will see a link to your mail (and other applications).

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Access Google Apps widget links to your Gmail account

many of you already have email open in a separate tab, so this won’t be entirely new.

how do I keep track of class email?

The biggest concern about this change has been email management so as not to lose student messages. we have what we think is a great way to do it using tags & filters in gmail messages sent from your class will include an automatic subject (which you can edit) that includes the name of your class. For example, if you are teaching a 112 biology course, the subject line will include the name of the course as it appears in d2l as part of the subject line. for example:

Subject line automatically includes the course title, BI-101-0-13428

You can completely modify the theme if you want, or what we’ll encourage everyone to do is leave the course tag and just update the information after the course name.

to handle messages coming out of d2l. but how do you organize them when the messages arrive in gmail? fear not, michael moss has created a quick video demonstrating the use of & filters

how can I get additional help?

We know that change can be difficult and there is never a good time to make changes. And while this change is relatively simple, our educational technology specialists have a number of training and support opportunities to help you navigate this change. Beginning the week of June 6, we will be offering general training at various locations. sign up for a training now!

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Anything else I should know?

There are a few things worth mentioning about the change that could affect you as an instructor.

  • You will still be able to access old messages relatively easily via the “sent mail” button in the message compose window. if there are important messages that each term uses, it might be worth saving them to a google doc so you don’t have to search for the messages each term.
  • mathematical equations don’t display correctly in pcc gmail. so while you can create nice equations in messages when you send them from d2l, gmail doesn’t render them correctly at this point. We’re looking at ways to get equations to display correctly, but we recommend using the discussion tool to post Q&A messages that require equations. equations will still display correctly everywhere else in d2l.
  • your deans, registrar, and all the other great people who care about ferpa (including us at dl) want to remind you to only use your pcc email to send university-related emails, especially to communicate with students about grades.
  • if you regularly send executable files (such as for cs classes), you may need to compress those files first or see how to use the mappings tool or sws if you have security concerns. most email systems restrict the sending of executable files for security reasons.
  • this is how many other universities handle email with d2l. in fact, there hasn’t been any update to d2l mail for years because it isn’t used as much as other university email systems. so we spent time talking to other schools and we think we’ve captured most of the use cases. however, if you encounter any issues, please let us know.
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