D2L - Basic Information for Students (UW-Madison)

UW-Madison has adopted Canvas as the single, centrally supported learning management system. Access to D2L and Moodle permanently ended on June 1, 2018.

This is a legacy document which will be permanently removed from the UW-Madison KB space as of June 29, 2018.

Desire2Learn is a system that allows you to keep up to date on course news, access course materials, participate in discussions, take quizzes, submit assignments through the dropbox, view grades online, and more. This document is intended to help students who are new to D2L. It provides information on logging in, how to navigate the interface, and some basic information on the most commonly used tools (such as Content and Quizzing) within courses.

Logging In

Learn@UW Course Dashboard

The Learn@UW Course Dashboard is a consolidated list of all your UW-Madison credit, non-credit, continuing education, and employee training courses that use either the Desire2Learn (D2L) or Moodle online platforms. (It’s important to remember that not all instructors use D2L or Moodle for their courses.)

Now when you log into Learn@UW, instead of seeing the D2L "My Home" page, you will see the new Learn@UW Course Dashboard. (Note: You can still access the D2L "My Home" page by clicking on the Desire2Learn link near the top of the Dashboard.)

For more information, check out this knowledge base article.

Logging In

To begin using Desire2Learn, go to the login page. There you'll need to choose your login method (UW NetID, or Visitor). Most users will use the UW NetID login method. For more information, please see "D2L - Which login method to use? (UW-Madison)". 

  • NOTE: NetID account holders must have activated their NetID to log on. Please be aware that because Desire2Learn user and class roster updates occur once daily in the early morning hours Monday-Friday, an overnight wait will be required after NetID activation before you can log in or before you will see your enrollment in new courses. In instances where enrollment or NetID activation occurs on a Friday, it could require waiting until the following Monday.

Navigating the Interface

Here's the Desire2Learn My Home page and a description of the different navigation elements.
D2L My Home

Understanding the Difference Between My Home and Course Home

  • My Home (shown above) is your starting point inside Desire2Learn. It's where you can access your list of Desire2Learn course sites. 
  • Course Home is the first page you see when you navigate to a course site. It features all of the course-specific information that your instructor has chosen to provide. 

The minibar is your main navigation tool to courses and personal settings in Desire2Learn. It contains a link to your My Home page, the course selector, alerts, and your personal menu (where you can manage all of your Desire2Learn settings and log out of the system).

Here's more detail about each element of the minibar:
  • Course selector. Your courses are listed in the course selector and you can sort them by name or by date last accessed. You can also "pin" courses in the course selector to the top of the list, making them easy to find later on. If you have a lot of courses, you can click Load More Courses to expand the course list or use the Search field to find a course. 
  • Alerts. The three alerts icons show you when something needs your attention. If you have unread alerts, a red circule appears next to the appropriate icon. 
    • The envelope icon shows when you have new IM alerts and ePortfolio invitations. 
    • The notepad icon shows when you have new and updated news posts in your courses, upcoming end/due dates, new/updated grades, and ePortfolio item assessments. 
    • The text bubbles icon shows when there are new posts in discussions to which you've subscribed and new comments about your ePortfolio items.
  • Personal Menu. The personal menu contains links to your Desire2Learn account settings, profile, notification options, account settings, and log out. 

Similar to how the minibar is your main navigation tool within Desire2Learn, the navbar is your main navigation tool within the My Home page and within each course site. Within your courses the navbar displays the course name and tool links. Keep in mind that each of your courses might have its own unique navbar, depending on how your instructors have set them up.

Unable to See a Course in Desire2Learn?

What if you've logged in but aren't able to find a course? There are a few reasons why you might not be able to see a course in Desire2Learn. For more please see "Document 22356 is unavailable at this time.".

Tips for success

  • Draft your discussion messages in Word and copy/paste to D2L when you want to post. This strategy will save you from losing a message you draft in D2L in the event that D2L times out when you are submitting.
  • Print Content items for the current week so you can still reference course materials if/when D2L is down.
  • Save each answer when taking a quiz. This strategy will prevent you from losing your quiz answers, in the event that D2L times out at the moment you submit your quiz.
  • Don't wait until the last minute! Plan ahead and give yourself extra time to meet deadlines. Do not submit a quiz or upload a file to the Dropbox right before a deadline in the event that the system times out or takes longer than anticipated to process your request.
  • View the Dropbox submission history to verify that your Dropbox submission was successful. In the Dropbox area, click the "View History" button.
  • Check your campus email. Your campus email is where we are sending information about the D2L upgrade and performance issues.
  • Be mindful of the quality of your internet connection. A busy coffeeshop or library might not provide the necessary bandwidth for a reliable experience.
  • When use is at its peak, try to work during low usage periods -- including early morning (i.e., before 9 a.m.) and in the late evening or at night (i.e., after 8 p.m.). Avoid the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. time period whenever possible as this seems to be the highest peak of usage time.
  • Basic Info About Course Tools

    The following list describes some of the most commonly used Desire2Learn course tools. In most cases links to these tools can be found on the course navbar, sometimes within drop-down menus. Please remember that your instructor controls which tools are available in their course and where the tool links appear. Your courses may not use some of these tools (or may use tools other than those listed here).

    Tool Name What it Does Did You Know? We would suggest
    Classlist Lists everyone enrolled in the course, including your instructor(s)/TA(s).  You can send emails to classmates and instructors/TAs from the Classlist. Upload a photo to your Desire2Learn profile to get to know your classmates.
    Content Provides access to course materials such as syllabus and reading assignments. On most course pages, you'll see a "Content Browser" widget which allows quick and easy access to this same course content. Download content to your own computer, for more convenient access.
    Grades Shows your grades on assignments and tests. When your grades are published, they appear on your personal Grades page in the course. Depending on how your instructor sets up grades permissions, you might also be able to view grading comments and overall class statistics. Final grades in Desire2Learn are NOT official. You should always go to My UW-Madison for your official final grades.  Use the gradebook to track your progress in a course, but note that not all instructors use the gradebook in the same way.
    Dropbox Enables you to submit (upload) assignments to dropbox folders, eliminating the need to email your work to instructors. You can view your dropbox submission history to make sure your file was properly submitted. In fact, this is always a good practice. For more information see here. Watch your e-mail for verification that the file was successfully submitted.
    Quizzes Allows you to take a quiz.  You are able to view your quiz score or class quiz stats if your instructor has enabled this permission. Save each question, and be certain to fully submit your quiz when finished.
    Discussion Lets you collaborate by posting, reading, and replying to discussion threads on different topics. In some courses, discussions are used to share thoughts about course materials, ask questions, share files, or work with your peers on assignments. You can subscribe to discussions, which sends you a notification when someone has posted something new. Compose responses outside of D2L, just in case your connection is lost.
    Groups In some courses, instructors may create student groups. In some courses, instructors may choose to give assignments to groups instead of individuals and accept one dropbox submission for the group. In those situations, any member of the group can submit files to the dropbox folder. Use the Groups tool as an easy way to e-mail other group members.
    IM Allows you to send instant messages to classmates and other D2L users. You can use IM to quickly see which of your classmates is online, or chat with a classmate or friend. Sometimes instructors choose to disable the IM tool during online quizzes.  Use the "View" menu to select a class before trying to add an individual to your contact list.
    ePortfolio A personal portfolio tool for storing, organizing, reflecting on, and sharing items that represent your learning. You can include documents, graphics, audio files, videos, presentations, course work, etc. to demonstrate your improvement or mastery of a certain area. See here for more information on ePortfolios. Even if your instructor chooses not to use ePortfolio as part of your course, you can still use ePortfolio independently of your courses by going to My Home, the clicking the ePortfolio link in the My Settings widget. Use the ePortfolio to collect work that you want to show to others outside of the classroom.
    Calendar Allows you to view and arrange your course events.  You can subscribe to your Desire2Learn Calendar from your personal calendars (for example, Google Calendar). Not every instructor uses the calendar. Be mindful of course deadlines which do not appear in the calendar.

    Other Helpful Resources for Students

    For more information on using Desire2Learn, you can...

    Some tips adapted from UW-Green Bay.

    Keywords:learn@uw learnuw d2l desire2learn student students getting started navigate navigating tools tool resources logging in logon login my home minibar navbar alert alerts preferences settings classlist content grades dropbox quizzes tools discussion groups IM ePortfolio calendar youtube can't see course cannot   Doc ID:30417
    Owner:Learn@UW Madison .Group:Learn@UW Madison
    Created:2013-05-30 10:57 CDTUpdated:2017-12-04 12:29 CDT
    Sites:DoIT Help Desk, DoIT Tech Store, Learn@UW Madison, UW-Extension and Colleges
    Feedback:  15   1