D2L - Learn About Navigation in D2L (UW-Madison)


UW-Madison is adopting Canvas as the single, centrally supported learning management system, and discontinuing support for Desire2Learn (D2L) and Moodle. Access to D2L and Moodle will permanently end June 1, 2018. For information about retaining materials from D2L or Moodle, please refer to this document.

This document is associated with the task, Build Your Course Architecture and Navigation. It provides an overview of the navigation options you may want to consider while building your course.

D2L Branding

What is Navigation and why is it important
Courses offered partially or completely online are not just about the content and activities.  Students get the most out of courses when they are easily able to see the connections between content and move fluidly through the course.  When considering your course's navigation structure it is important to ask theses three questions:
  • How will my students know where to go?
  • How will my student know what to do there?
  • How will my students know what time to go there?
Your navigation can help students know how to interact with your class...or get in the way.

Content Tool, Course Builder, and Manage Files--What's the difference?

Manage Files:  D2L is at it's core, a website.  Websites are built from a series of HTML files that live together in one place.  D2L uses different tools to give structure to those files so they can be accessed and interacted with.  In D2L, this collection of files is called, "Manage Files."  The Manage Files Tool not only is a repository for files, but is a place where files can be uploaded or deleted for use with other tools. See the document, "Understanding the Manage Files Tool" (CROSS REF) for more detailed information.  Files uploaded in the "Course Builder Tools" or the "Table of Contents" are automatically added to "Manage Files."  Instructors can also upload files right to "Manage Files," and held there until they are assigned to a course Module or Topic. 

Course Builder Tool:  Is only viewable by the course instructors.  It is technically a place to outline the course by dragging and dropping different elements into place.  Instructors can build a course outline using place holders that don't require the actual file or activity.  This allow instructors to map their course and flow without worrying about the details
  • Actual files can be uploaded from Course Builder or pulled in from Manage Files.  Placeholders for activities are also available, but instructors can actually create activities in the Course Builder as well.
  • The course map represented in Course Builder is automatically recreated in the Table of Contents and vice versa. 
  • Navigation from Module to Module and Topic to Topic is automatically assigned in the Course Builder as it is in the Table Of Contents.
Table of Contents Tool:  Is has both and instructor view and a student view.  A course can be built in the Table of Contents just as it is in the course builder.  However, there are no place holders in the Table of Contents Tool.  So, if an instructor is interested in outlining a course in it's entirety without adding actual files or setting up activities, the instructor may prefer using the Course Builder Tool. 
  • The Table of Contents structure is represented as Modules and Topics in the Course Builder 
  • The Table of Contents tool represents more of what the students will experience as they interact with the course
Table of Contents or Course Builder:  Which method is better?
This choice is really a matter of preference.  If an instructor prefers to set up the course map and flow before adding content or activities, the Course Builder may be a better choice.  If an instructor prefers to set up the course map, add content, and set up activities week to week the Table of Contents may be a better choice. 

Navigating with D2L's Built in Navigation Tools

D2L courses have built in navigation that may suit your needs.  Let's take a look at the built in Navigation elements

The Content Browser
The Content Browser is a homepage widget that is included with the default D2L homepage.  It duplicates the modules from the table of contents and presents them as folders.  When student expand the folders they can see the content and activities included in that module. Students can navigate directly to the material from the Content Browser. 

This is an image of the content browser widget that is included on the D2L default homepage. 

Content Browser Tab
When students are in content or an activity, they can navigate around the course by using the Content Browser Tab.  In the image on the left, the tab is closed.  

 Content tab closed
Students click on the tab to expand it.  The tab mirrors the content browser.  Modules are top level navigation.  Students can go down a level to access links for content or activities within the modules.  Note the forward and back arrows at the top of the tab.  Those move student to the previous module or next module as laid out in the Table of Contents. 

Students can also go directly to the Table of Contents by using the Breadcrumb link above the arrows at the top of the Content Browser Tab.
Open Content Browser Tab

Breadcrumb links
Along the top of many activities or pieces of content, Breadcrumb links will be displayed along the left hand side.  These links demonstrate the hierarchy of the content being viewed within a module.  
Forward and Back Arrows

Navigation Tools in Content 
On the right hand side are options for bookmarking a piece of content or moving forward or backward within the module. 
Forward and Back Arrows

Navigating from the Table of Contents

The Table of Contents is a view of the course content that can be accessed through the link in the NavBar, or various Breadcrumb links (as shown above).  The Table of Contents displays the Course Overview, the Modules, and the content within the modules. Content and activities are known as Topics in D2L nomenclature.  Students access this by clicking the titles.   Take a look at this map of the Table of Contents.

View of Table of Contents in D2l

In text Navigation

In text navigation puts links to readings and activities in context.  This may be especially useful for fully online classes, self-registration classes or classes with a lot of content the instructor has written.  This method is also useful if you would like to keep everything centralized, rather than having students jump from tool to tool.  Below is an example that uses one "home base" file for each module.Links are added within the file, and activities open in a new tab.  Students never need to leave to navigate away from the context of the module. 
 This is a screen shot of a course page that uses intext navigation rather than the table of contents.


Keywords:learn@uw learnuw d2l desire2learn brightspace navigation inline in-text homepage content browser table of contents buttons links course builder manage files table of contents   Doc ID:55428
Owner:Learn@UW Madison .Group:Learn@UW Madison
Created:2015-08-20 10:04 CSTUpdated:2017-12-04 11:29 CST
Sites:Learn@UW Madison
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