FS20 - SS21 Desire2Learn Semester Start Checklist

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FS20 - SS21 Desire2Learn Semester Start Checklist

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Author :
Susan Halick, MSU Information Technology
FS20 - SS21 Desire2Learn Semester Start Checklist

ST Contact profile image
Author :
Susan Halick, MSU Information Technology

Academic Calendar  Fall 2020 (FS20)

Classes Begin: Wednesday, 9/2/20 Middle of Semester:  10/21/2020

No Classes: Monday, 9/7/20 Holiday: Thursday, 11/26/20 - Friday, 11/27/20

In-person classes end at the Holiday break: Wednesday, 11/25/20
Classes End: Friday, 12/11/20     Finals: 12/14/20 - 12/18/20 Grades Due: 12/22/2020 by 4 p.m.

Academic Calendar  Spring 2021 (SS-21) *Semester dates have changed due to COVID
(See the Provost’s email in October 2020 outlining the calendar changes.)

Classes Begin: Monday, 1/11/2021 Middle of Semester:  3/3/2021

No Classes: Monday, 1/18/2021 *Break Days: Tues, 3/2 - Wed, 3/3 and Thurs, 4/22 - Fri, 4/23

*Classes End: *4/23/2021 *Finals:  4/26/2021 - 4/30/2021 Grades Due: 5/4/2021 by 4 p.m. 

*Note: the last two days of the semester, April 22&23, have no classes in preparation for finals.


Note: This checklist can also be found in the Instructor - D2L Self-directed Training site in D2L.

To access it, go to D2L > Help > Training and scroll down to find the self-enrollment link for the Instructor D2L Training


This checklist assumes that you already have a course developed that you are copying to a new semester. If you are starting new, skip step one, or ask your department if there are existing courses you can copy. MSU creates a blank course shell for every course offering, with students already populated. Enrollment adds and withdrawals are automatic. Go to Communications > Classlist in your course to see enrollments.

  1. Copy content from a development course or previous semester course to your new semester. Some courses may already have content. Check first before copying.
    1. Start in the new blank semester course, or course you want to change.
    2. Click Course Admin > Import/ Export/ Copy Components.
    3. Select “Copy Components from another Org Unit” and Search for offering
    4. Search for the course to copy “from” and click “Add Selected”
    5. Select “Copy All Components” - Be careful to only do this once.* If there is already content in the site, items will be “added” and may result in duplication of content, activities, grade items, etc. that can be difficult to clean up.
  2. Go to Course Admin > Course Offering Information. Make the course active as soon as possible and check the start and end dates. Students will not see a course in their My Courses list until you make it active. Even though you make it active, they will not be able to access the course until the start date. Students will see when the course is scheduled to start in their My Courses list. Also, consider making the end date past when grades are due so students can check their grade details.
  3. Add/Edit a Welcome Announcement to provide information on how to get started.
  4. Add/Update Syllabus and Instructor Information.
    1. Create a module such as Getting Started to place your introductory materials.
    2. Add documents by dragging and dropping files from your computer.
    3. Use the pull-down menu and select Change File to update existing items.
  5. Add other personalization items such as a welcome video and narrated lectures by using any of the following options listed under Upload/ Create, including Video, Create a link, or Create a file.  In Create a file, use Insert Stuff > My Media or Insert Stuff > Enter embed code, to insert a video from Kaltura MediaSpace (see the resources at the end of this document).
  6. Add/edit D2L due dates on activities. They will also show up automatically in the D2L Calendar and students can subscribe to receive notifications. Enter/Check start dates, end dates, and due dates by clicking on each module in the Table of Contents. Click on dates to edit and a calendar will popup for selecting new dates and times.
    1. Go to Course Admin > Manage Dates to check all dates on one page.
    2. Use bulk offset dates for moving multiple dates at once from one semester to the next. 
    3. Click on the column titles, such as Start Date, to sort and bring items with dates to the top.

Keep in mind that activities such as Discussions, Assignments, and Quizzes can be accessed from a separate navbar menu outside of Content, so you will need a start date on the activities as well as the modules if you don’t want students to access them until a specific time. See Managing D2L Start/End/Due Dates for more detail.

  1. Check that links are working and all media have captions (look for CC or closed captions).
  2. Check whether items are visible. Use Bulk Edit, closed eye or slash on icon is hidden.
  3. Review Checklists, if used. It’s best to edit these from the Course Tools > Checklists page.
  4. Check for specific dates within content, if used. To make content lessons and activities reusable without a lot of editing, use general terms, such as “your first post is due by Wednesday and replies are due by Sunday” and rely on D2L dates for specifics because they can be bulk offset. Avoid using specific dates in recordings if you plan to reuse them. List specific dates in items that are changed every semester, such as the syllabus and announcements.
  5. Check Assignment, Discussion Topic, and Quiz settings - see Bulk Edit for some of the quiz settings, such as attempts allowed.
  6. Check that Turnitin settings for assignments are correctly set as needed.
  7. Check Communication > Groups, if used, and check whether you have auto enrollments or if you need to enroll users manually. For more information, see D2L FAQs on Using Groups.
  8. Subscribe to your Course Questions Discussion topic or other discussions by going to  Communication > Discussions > (topic title) and Subscribe (from pulldown menu). Check your notification settings to get an instant notification by email (pulldown by name at the top).
  9. Check your gradebook “settings” (see the link at the top of Manage Grades). Check the box if you would like to display points in the managing (instructor) view. Do you want the Final Calculated Grade (subtotal) visible to students? See how to setup a gradebook and how to release grades in the Gradebook tips document. Also, see the D2L Help link from any course navbar.
  10. Impersonate the Demo student to view how a student sees the course and submits activities. The “preview as a student” option, accessed by clicking on your name at the top, is useful for quick checks of how students see content but you will need to impersonate the Demo student to practice submitting assignments and seeing feedback. Go to Communication > Classlist > “Student, Demo” and use the pull-down menu to Impersonate. Select your name at the top to stop impersonating.

    Two to three days into the semester, go to the Classlist and click on the “Last Accessed” column to sort. Consider sending a reminder email with tips on how to find the course to any students who have not started (check the boxes by their names and then click the email icon).

Note: Using Select Component Copy and bulk offset dates

*To bring select content in bulk from another D2L site, and to use the bulk offset dates with your course copy, use the Select Component Copy option instead of “Copy All.” If you make a mistake copying into the wrong semester course, or have duplicated items accidentally and need to empty or reset a course, see the MSU help documentation on how to Reset a course and delete everything.

More Resources: 

D2L Help (

Technology at MSU (

Zoom (

Kaltura Mediaspace: (

Instructional Technology & Development (

Additional Support

The Instructor - D2L Self-directed Training site is updated monthly with current D2L Brightspace tutorials and other reference materials, Instructor - D2L Self-directed Training Self-Enrollment Page.

If you cannot find your answers in the Instructor D2L site,
contact the MSU IT Service Desk at (517) 432-6200,