Learn@UW - Using Intelligent Agents

If you are an instructor/course owner, you can use Intelligent Agents in your course. Intelligent Agents are processes that monitor your course to find activity that you specify, then act on that activity as you indicate.

Examples of uses for Intelligent Agents include: 

Situation Example
Emailing students to welcome them at the start of the course "Hi Arnold. Please note your Marketing 311 course started on Monday. Welcome!"
Emailing students when their grades reach below a certain level "Hello Ericka. I see that your Marketing 311 grade is at a D average. My office hours are from 7-10AM on Tuesdays if you'd like to discuss problems you're having understanding course material."
Running a check for students that haven't accessed the course within a set number of days. You can email the student and CC yourself as a notification measure "Hello Paul. It's been 7 days since you've visited the Marketing 311 course site."
Sending yourself an email when something has been submitted to a dropbox in your course "This email is to notify you that Susan Brown has submitted a file to a dropbox in your Marketing 311 course."
Emailing students after they view content "Hello Anu. I noticed you've viewed all of the Unit 2 content in the Marketing 311 course. Great job! Please be sure to visit the Unit 2 discussion boards and take the quiz."

You can run an agent manually whenever you want (on demand), or set it to run on a schedule (daily, weekly, etc.).

IMPORTANT: Because Intelligent Agents launch emails to people in your course, it's recommended that you test agents properly before releasing them. If you're new to using Intelligent Agents and need testing assistance, please contact the Learn@UW team.

To create an Intelligent Agent for a Learn@UW course:

  1. In the course navigation bar, go to Course Admin > Edit Course, then select Intelligent Agents
  2. On the Agent List screen, click the New button. 
  3. In the Agent Name field, type a name for your new agent.
  4. Select the Status: Agent is enabled box if you want the agent enabled once you save.
  5. Determine the criteria the agent looks for:
    • If you want the agent to search for login activity, select the Take action when the following login criteria is satisfied check box and choose which of the two login activities you want to monitor.
    • If you want the agent to search for course activity, select the Take action when the following course activity criteria is satisfied check box and choose which of the two course activities you want to monitor.
    • Click the Attach Existing or Create and Attach buttons to select or create release conditions for the agent to monitor. For more information about Learn@UW release conditions, please refer to this document
  6. Determine the action the agent takes when its conditions are met:

    • Select one of the Action Repetition options to set whether the agent takes action once or anytime the conditions are met.
    • If you want the agent to run on a schedule, select the Use Schedule check box, then click the Update Schedule button. Set the schedule in the Update Agent Schedule pop-up window. Click the Update button in the Update Agent Schedule pop-up to save the schedule.

  7. Select HTML or Plain Text for the email format.
  8. Enter the names of recipients in the To, Cc, and Bcc fields. To send an email just to the student who triggered the agent, you can use special replace strings in these fields. For details, see the Replace Strings for Intelligent Agents section of this document, below.
  9. Enter an Email Subject. You can also use replace strings in this field.
  10. Enter a Message. You can also use replace strings in this field.
  11. IMPORTANT: Emails sent via Intelligent Agents will come from "noreply-learnuw@doit.wisc.edu". Unfortunately you cannot modify the 'From' value to include your email address. But, you can take these measures as workarounds:
      • Include your email address in the CC or BCC fields so that you receive a copy of each email sent. If you do this you'll probably want to set up an email filter to isolate these messages in your email inbox.
      • Be sure to include your name and contact information in the email body, including email address at which you would like to receive replies
      • Be sure to include something along the lines of "Please do not reply to this message" at the end of the email body.
  12. When you're done creating the intelligent agent, click the Save and Close button.
Replace Strings for Intelligent Agents
Replace strings are information placeholders that you can use to populate information that is variable. When the email is sent it will be populated with the information represented by the replace string.

Email address replace strings
You can use the following replace strings in the address fields for the intelligent agent emails. Curly braces must be included.

  • {InitiatingUser} - The user who performs the action that meets the agent's criteria. The 'Initiating User' term refers to the class member/student who meets the criteria in the agent, not the person who set up the agent. 
  • {InitiatingUserAuditors} - The auditors for the user who performs the action that meets the agent's criteria.
Email body replace strings
You can use the following replace strings in the HTML editor for the agent email body (NOTE: You must use HTML format in order for these replace strings to work). Curly braces must be included.

  • {OrgName} - The name of the organization (Madison)
  • {OrgUnitCode} - The course code; for example, spanish311_001_fa12.
  • {OrgUnitName} - The course name, as indicated on the Course Offering Information screen.
  • {OrgUnitStartDate} - The course start date, as indicated on the Course Offering Information screen.
  • {OrgUnitEndDate} - The course end date, as indicated on the Course Offering Information screen.
  • {InitiatingUserFirstName} - The first name of the initiating user.
  • {InitiatingUserLastName} - The last name of the initiating user.
  • {InitiatingUserUserName} - The Learn@UW username of the initiating user.
  • {InitiatingUserOrgDefinedID} - The Org Defined ID of the initiating user.
  • {LoginPath} - The Learn@UW login URL

                    To manually run an Intelligent Agent:

                    Typically, Intelligent Agents are set up to run on a schedule you determine. However, if you don't want to have a regular schedule set up for an agent, you must run it manually.

                    1. On the Agent List page, click Run Now from the context menu of the agent you want to run manually. The agent will run shortly.

                    To delete an Intelligent Agent:

                    1. On the Agent List page, click Delete from the context menu of the agent you want to delete.

                    Other considerations for using Intelligent Agents

                    • Remember that Intelligent Agents do not send emails immediately after a condition is met (for example, a student gets a 70% score on a quiz). Instead, an Intelligent Agent will check for criteria at the scheduled time you choose OR when you run it manually.
                    • Use Intelligent Agents sparingly--if students receive too many emails, the emails may lose their effectiveness.
                    • If you're copying components from one course to another, each Intelligent Agent will be copied over, BUT the settings of each agent will not be copied.
                    • If you are exporting a course, Intelligent Agents are not included as part of the course export package.




                    Keywords:learn@uw learnuw d2l desire2learn intelligent agent email e-mail replace string strings InitiatingUser OrgUnitName repetition   Doc ID:26658
                    Owner:Kristy B.Group:Learn@UW Madison
                    Created:2012-10-01 13:58 CDTUpdated:2014-07-08 09:18 CDT
                    Sites:DoIT Help Desk, DoIT Tech Store, Learn@UW Madison
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