TED Tips – Issue 2: What is the difference between a Learning Management System (LMS) and a Digital Learning Environment (DLE)?

Almost every university uses a learning management system (LMS).  Think of a learning management system as the software infrastructure or the online website that delivers the “stuff” of a particular course.  An LMS can be used to present content, provide information, and manage administrative duties.  It may be helpful at tracking enrollments, attendance and grades.  The approach of an LMS often emphasizes technology – it is a “management” system.  What a Learning Management System does not often emphasize is facilitating learning.

In contrast, there is another approach, a “Digital Learning Environment” (DLE).  This approach is also known as “The Next Generation Digital Learning Environment” (NGDLE).  The scope no longer contains a single application – but an ecosystem that supports higher education.  Multiple technologies and services meet a variety of learning needs with a greater emphasis on flexibility.  It should be less a “one size fits all” but a set of tools based on common standards.

The University of Wisconsin System is also moving away from an LMS and towards a DLE.  The approach should be against the implementation of a required technology solution, but more in favor of creating a flexible set of services and tools that support teaching and learning.

To quote the University of Wisconsin System DLE strategy:

Our DLE is not a learning management system (LMS).  Rather, our DLE is a federated, online environment that includes services and tools purposefully brought together to support the needs of teaching and learning in all modes (i.e., face-to-face, blended/hybrid, and fully online).  Our DLE challenges the traditional role of an LMS as “the” platform for managing course documents, quizzes, videos, and the like.  By shifting our perspective from an LMS-based content platform, to a “digital environment” that creates information we can act upon, UW System can then realize the many benefits of an interoperable suite of services and tools that allow us to maximize student access and success.  https://www.wisconsin.edu/dle/strategy/

This allows the UW system to integrate tools through a common platform while creating and easy point of entry, a secure sign-on leveraging our “federated” identity, and services that communicate to each other while ensuring appropriate security and privacy.  Instructors will have the freedom to apply these tools to their teaching to support their students learning.

next generation digital learning can take many forms.

Underlying this belief are five key characteristics that define the UW System Digital Learning Environment. I will explore these characteristics in more detail in the coming weeks as part of this blog.  For now, I want to introduce the characteristics as the drivers behind the project.

  • Accessibility and the principles of universal design are fundamental, so that all students, regardless of ability and learning preference, can succeed in all instructional modes.
  • Provides a platform to support learning and administrative analytics, readiness and learning assessment, progress mapping, advising, and “early alerts” to trigger interventions to ensure student success.
  • Collaboration is expected, encouraged, and supported among those within and outside the institution.
  • Components are interoperable; meaning they are standards-based and work together seamlessly, not stapled together to sit side-by-side.
  • The environment is student-centered, and allows for a personalized experience for the student with regard to both content and pathways.

Within this Digital Learning Environment, a platform presents content.  The University of Wisconsin System has chosen Canvas Instructure as that main platform.  Canvas is envisioned as the main tool “hub.”  The emphasis is on creating a seamless, consistent, and accessible student experience.   Canvas integrates additional tools and services.  Tools and services are currently being evaluated for inclusion and integration within this environment.

In summary, a Digital Learning Environment (DLE) emphasizes pedagogy that then allows for the adoption of technology that supports teaching and learning.   Instead of being a single monolithic technology, you can personalize instruction through the set of tools and services to meet your course needs.  A DLE supports face-to-face and online courses.  This approach imagines The Next Generation Digital Learning Environment as both an ecosystem and a mind-set.   The DLE supports accessibility, analytics, collaboration, interoperability, in a personalized experience.

– Ted Witt

Next Week:  What is the status of the Canvas migration project here at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater?







Using Poll Everywhere to Engage Students

Are you looking for ways to increase student engagement? You might be interested in using Poll Everywhere. Poll Everywhere allows you to receive immediate feedback from your students, who can respond in real-time to polls that you create. Students can respond to Poll Everywhere polls via their computers or mobile devices, thus offering the potential to transform lectures from a passive experience to a more active and engaging experience for students.

This summer, the Learning Technology Center is offering two sessions where you are welcome to come learn more about using Poll Everywhere in your course. Each session aims to introduce you to Poll Everywhere, and to help you get it set up to use in your own class.

The dates/times for the sessions are below (just click on the session to sign up):

Tuesday July 24th, 2018 at 9:00 AM in McGraw 19A

Thursday August 2nd, 2018 at 2:00 PM in McGraw 19A

If you have any questions about these sessions, please contact the UW-W Learning Technology Center.

D2L eGrading Process Available for Spring 2018

The D2L eGrading process is now available for the Spring 2018 semester. This process allows instructors to transfer final grades from their Desire2Learn Gradebook directly to their WINS Grade Roster.

If you prefer step by step documentation, that can be found at: WINS eGrading Overview.

If you have any questions or concerns with the eGrading process, please contact UW-W Desire2Learn Support.

Summer 2018 Institute for Online and Blended Teaching Applications Open

The Learning Technology Center is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the 2018 Summer Institute for Online/Blended Teaching.

If you are new to teaching online or blended, or want to revitalize a current online or blended course, please consider participating in this unique program. The Institute for Online/Blended Teaching provides online and blended instructors the opportunity to collaborate with other instructors around campus on course design strategies and teaching best practices. This intensive, and interactive, series of workshops simulates taking a blended course and integrates a variety of different methods and technologies. The structure of the Institute allows participants to explore new instructional and course design methods, and participate in learning activities similar to what a student would experience.

The Institute consists of required online and face-to-face meetings. Face-to-face meetings are held on the UW-Whitewater campus, and online meetings are held via web conferencing technology.

Dates and Requirements:

The Institute focuses primarily on pedagogy, and using technology to support student and instructor success (not just for the purposes of using technology). The Institute will only briefly address specific tools (such as learning management systems).

There are five mandatory meetings for the Summer Institute: three face-to-face meetings held on the UW-Whitewater campus, and two online meetings held via web conferencing. All meetings require some degree of pre-work. The first meeting is a half-day, face-to-face meeting on Thursday, May 31st. The second meeting is a half-day online meeting on Thursday, June 14th. The third meeting is a full-day, face-to-face meeting on Thursday, June 28th. The fourth meeting is a half-day online meeting on Thursday, July 12th. The Institute concludes with a final half-day, face-to-face, meeting on Thursday, July 26th. Specific times will be provided to accepted participants.


All faculty and teaching academic staff who will be teaching at UW-Whitewater during the 2018-2019 academic year are eligible to apply. However, participation in the Institute is competitive, as typically more applications are received than can be accepted. Expect that incomplete application forms will be rejected. Accepted participants will be notified following confirmation from their respective college. Applications are due Friday, March 23rd, 2018.

The application form is available at this link: http://uwwhitewater.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_88kmxIUlheavzyR


If you have any questions about the 2018 Summer Institute for Online/Blended Teaching, please contact the UW-W Learning Technology Center.

Winterim D2L Scheduled Maintenance

Technologists at DoIT in Madison will be performing scheduled infrastructure maintenance impacting Desire2Learn on four occasions in the coming month.  It is worth noting that three of these are during regular maintenance windows, while the other is on a Sunday morning.  During these times, Desire2Learn will not be available.  Access will be restored as soon as possible after the work has been completed.

  • Thursday, December 28; 5:00am-7:00am (regular maintenance window)
  • Thursday, January 4; 5:00am-7:00am (regular maintenance window)
  • Thursday, January 11; 5:00am-7:00am (regular maintenance window)
  • Sunday, January 7, 2018; 8:00am-12:00pm

As you are working on and preparing your Winterim courses, please adjust your course assignments and due dates accordingly.

If you have any questions or concerns about this outage, please contact UW-W D2L Support.

Register for the Saturday LTC Instructional Development Event

The Learning Technology Center (LTC) is offering an all day Saturday event on December 9th, focusing on instructional development! This event is a great opportunity for instructors who are not able to contact the LTC during our standard operating hours to receive D2L assistance.

LTC Computers

Join us at the LTC office, in McGraw 120, as early as 8:00am for D2L one-on-one support that is focused on your specific D2L needs. We are also offering two sessions of D2L basics, which may include information such as how to set up LockDown Browser, upload test questions, transfer grades to WINS, and much more!

If you are not able to make it to campus, no problem! You can schedule a one-on-one WebEx meeting during the 1:1 appointment times listed below. To schedule a 1:1 appointment, contact the LTC after you register.

Please stop by to get your questions answered, stay until your problems are solved, and close out the semester successfully!

Saturday Event Schedule

*sessions subject to change based on instructor needs.

8:00 – 10:00am    Staff available for 1:1 appointments with instructors

10:00 – Noon         D2L basics help

1:00 – 2:00pm         Staff available for 1:1 appointments with instructors

2:00 – 3:00pm         D2L basics help

3:00 – 4:00pm        Staff available for 1:1 appointments with instructors

For further questions about the Saturday LTC Instructional Development Event please contact the LTC at ltc@uww.edu. To sign up, go to https://my.uww.edu/signup/Registration/Details/15325 (and log in with your Net-ID and password). Registration closes on Wednesday, December 6th!

Winterim 2018 and Spring 2018 D2L Course Requests

Winterim 2018 and Spring 2018 D2L course requests will soon be available in the D2L Course Request Application.

  • Winterim 2018 requests can be placed starting Monday November 6th.
  • Spring 2018 requests can be placed starting Monday November 13th.

As a reminder, course requests for a semester become available on the first day of priority registration for students.  D2L courses need to be requested every semester.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact UW-W D2L Support.

Desire2Learn 10.7 Upgrade – What Happened This Summer?

There was an upgrade to Desire2Learn on Thursday, June 15th and if you weren’t teaching you may have missed it. D2L received a handful of new features, and fixed a slew of outstanding issues.  We are excited to share all of these with you.

This post will highlight a few items we believe are the most impactful, but a more complete “What’s New?“ document is available here: https://spaces.uww.edu/x/TwF5

Additional Functionality for Creating Group Discussions
When creating a new Discussion Topic, there is now a “Topic Type” option.  This adds the ability to create a Group or Section topic that is available to everyone, but only allows students to see threads created by users in their same group or section.

Updated Quiz Question Authoring ExperienceNew quiz expereance
A visual redesign of the Quizzes tool to improve the usability of creating and editing Multiple Choice, True/False, Short Answer, and Long Answer questions. Instructors are able to opt out of the new change individually.

Turnitin / GradeMark Enhancements
Dates are now correctly set in the Turnitin side to avoid the “Error communicating with Turnitin” error.
When you copy Turnitin-enabled folders into another course, you can now enable all folders at once.

If you have any questions or concerns about this upgrade, please contact UW-W D2L Support.

Desire2Learn 10.7 Upgrade – June 14th/15th

There is an upgrade to Desire2Learn scheduled to start at 9:30pm on Wednesday, June 14th and be completed by 10:30am on Thursday, June 15th.  During this time, you will not be able to access Desire2Learn.  Please plan your summer course work accordingly.  We are in the process of creating a “What’s New?“ document and will make it available in the coming weeks.  We do not foresee any more changes with this update.

If you have any questions or concerns about this upgrade, please contact UW-W D2L Support.

Spring 2017 Updates from the Learning Technology Center

Over the last year, the Learning Technology Center has been hard at work refining our mission.  The full mission statement can be found on our website: http://www.uww.edu/icit/ltc/ltc-mission-statement

WE BELIEVE in integrating pedagogy and technology to assist instructors in developing effective learning experiences.

WE SUPPORT instructors in their pursuit of excellence in teaching and student learning.

WE INNOVATE with instructors by initiating emerging technology exploration projects that investigate learning technology trends in higher education.

WE CONNECT people on campus and beyond who have the same interests and are doing the same things to create community among instructors.

WE PARTNER collaborate, and communicate with colleges, programs, departments, instructors, and tech-liaisons to understand and meet university instructional needs.

WE LEAD learning technology initiatives and extend expertise to campus wide initiatives.

The UW-Whitewater Learning Technology Center (LTC) is here and ready to help you! Our team of experts have a wide range of skills to tackle all of your instructional course related needs.

New LTC Website

Along with the updated mission statement, we also revamped our website to better align with the new mission.

webbyThe LTC Team. Do you want to know who makes up the LTC and some fun facts about them?  Put a face to that name and check out our new LTC Team page.

Quality Services. The list of service offerings on campus may be overwhelming at times.  We put together a simple list of our supported services all in one place, with links to easily view more information about them.

Timely Assistance.  We may not be here 24/7, but we do have resources that are available at all hours of the night.

Emerging Technology Exploration Projects.  We are always looking for the next best thing, and watching trends to see what’s on the horizon.  See what we are up to this semester!

Creating Community.  No one likes to sit around alone, in the dark, struggling on their own.  Our goal is to create communities and enable users to work together to collaborate on new approaches and ideas.

Cutting Edge Programming.  Things change every day, so we do our best to offer workshops and events to keep everyone up to speed on the current education technology and trends.

Head on over to the site ( http://ltc.uww.edu ) and check it out.  Feedback is always welcome!

LTC Staffing

degenWe are happy to welcome Shane Degen into the LTC family.  Shane was hired back in October of 2016 in the role of Learning Management System Admin and Student Advocate (aka D2L Admin).  Shane is a UW-Whitewater Alum and has extensive experience with online education and D2L.  Welcome Shane!

The LTC is actively recruiting for a new Learning Technology Specialist Position.  This position will allow us to further our exploration of emerging technology and also provide additional support related to pedagogy and instructional technology.  More information on the position is available at: https://my.uww.edu/employment/jobs/LTC12782.html

The LTC is also hiring for the Technology Promotion and Adoption Specialist Position.  This position will work with departments to understand technology needs and promote technology adoption to meet those needs. More information on this position is available at: https://my.uww.edu/employment/jobs/12680.html

Weekly Email Updates

figure3_4Did you know that you can get a weekly email update about what’s going on in the LTC? Every Monday morning, you’ll get an email that contains a summary of the latest items from our blog. To sign up for these updates, just fill out the form below!

Spring Book Group

The LTC will be holding a book group this spring.  Motivating and Retaining Online Students is a research-based book which provides effective online strategies that help minimize student dropout, increase student retention, and support student learning.  This group will include an opportunity to interact with one of the authors, allowing participants the chance to learn from her experience.

Meeting Time: Tuesdays 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Meeting Dates: January 31, February 14, February 28, March 24, March 28 & April 11

Register at: https://my.uww.edu/signup/Registration/Details/14953

Upcoming Events

Check your calendars and save the date!  We have a number of events coming up this semester that you won’t want to miss!

  • Celebrating Teaching and Learning: Strategies that Transform Educational Experiences and Enhance Student Success. Save the date:  Thursday, May 18 from 8:30am-4:30pm. This special forum is meant to showcase the wide variety of ways we are all transforming the lives of our students through teaching and learning.  It will include break-out presentations, discussions, and a keynote address.
  • Summer 2017 Institute for Online/Blended. This highly interactive workshop demonstrates teaching best practices using a variety of teaching methods and technology tools.  The structure of this course not only allows you to explore new teaching and course design methods, but it also enables you to participate in activities that provide you with experience in being an online “student.” Applications will be available in early February.
  • Discussion Basics. This LEARN/LTC workshop series is focused on how instructors might most effectively utilize discussion in our courses (both face-to-face and online).  The first session (2/16) is on discussion basics – core principles and purpose of discussions as well as sharing strategies and tips for more effective discussions.  The next sessions will focus on difficult discussions (3/8) and discussions conducted in D2L (4/13).- a collaboration with the Learn Center.

LTDC Virtual Showcase – Save the Date

2017SaveTheDate3c-1Save the Date! The UW System Learning Technology Development Council (LTDC) Showcase 2017 will be held virtually April 4-5, 2017.  This year’s theme is Humanizing Learning.

This virtual conference offers an opportunity for sharing your successes and challenges in teaching with technology. This conference will provide you with the opportunity to virtually connect with other practitioners and requires neither travel expense nor a significant time commitment.

Watch our blog for updates once the showcase schedule is released!

Course Repository

icit-ltc-course-repoStarting with the Spring 2017 semester, we launched a new storage offering called Course Repository – aka Course Repo.  Course Repo is designed to offer classwork specific storage on a per semester basis.  Specialty course storage by request is also available.

The idea behind this storage offering is to offer an easy way for a course to collaborate that has unique file storage needs which cannot be met by other existing storage solutions.

Course Repo is a replacement for some old storage offerings which some of you may have known as student storage or class storage.

Documentation and training materials are available on the website: Course Repo.

If you are interested in having a repo setup for your spring 2017 courses, contact the Learning Technology Center to schedule a consultation and we’ll make sure it’s the right solution for you!

Turnitin Dropbox Dates

Since the D2L Upgrade last summer, we have been made aware of an ongoing issue that is impacting how Turnitin works inside of the Dropbox.

Some users may be receiving a message reading “Error communicating with Turnitin.  Try to resubmit the file.  If this issue persists, contact your administrator”.

tii-logoIf you are seeing this error message, please make sure that you have both a start date AND end date set on your Dropbox in Desire2Learn.  Once you have set the start and end date, the issue should be resolved and you can resubmit the file.

Desire2Learn is working on a solution to this problem, however at this time we don’t have any information on when it will be released.  Until then, hang tight and remember to set a start and end date on your dropbox!

More information on this issue is available at: Turnitin Date Management within D2L.

Respondus Lockdown Browser Update

CaptureWe have deployed an additional enhancement to the Respondus Lockdown Browser for the Spring semester.  In previous versions, students needed to open the Lockdown Browser separately, login, and browse to the quiz.  Now, there is an easy way!

In any browser, the students will see a “Launch LockDown Browser” button on configured quizzes.  When they click the button, the Lockdown Browser will launch, and students will automatically be logged in and taken directly to the quiz in D2L.  This helps improve the user experience for the student.  If LockDown Browser is not installed, a message will be displayed telling them to download it from the above link.

Student facing documentation has been updated to reflect the change.  These documents can be found at: LockDown Browser: Getting Started (Students).

Exploration: New Technologies

shutterstock_382942804We have been exploring a number of cool technologies and have some new things for you to try out!

  • Pattern. A few UW-Whitewater classes are testing a tool called Pattern in the spring semester of 2017.  Pattern is a tool to help students track and measure your learning patterns, providing analytics and insights to become better learners.  The tool allows users to track how they spend time in and out of the classroom, and provides a personalized visualization of their data.
  • Desire2Learn Intelligent Agents. The Intelligent Agents tool allows instructors to have D2L email students who meet Release Conditions in their course.
  • Desire2Learn Awards Tool. The Awards tool allows instructors to provide students with non-grade incentive to meet short term goals through the creation and distribution of awards.

Need Desire2Learn Help?

We are here to help you with all your Desire2Learn (D2L) course needs! The best way to request support is by using our online support form which is located at http://d2l.uww.edu/contact


We do our best to respond to all support requests within 1 business day of receiving them. We do monitor the box on evenings and weekends for critical issues on a best effort basis.

Don’t forget to request for spring semester courses! Course creation must be completed every semester, and it is a manual process on our end. Courses created by 3pm on business days are typically available the next day. Request for your courses at http://my.uww.edu/d2lrequest

Don’t forget to Visit Us

Are you still with us? If so – great, you made it to the end!  Did you know the LTC employs a former kids train conductor, a guitarist, a first time college grad in the family, an Eagle Scout, a former EMT and a brewmaster?  If you didn’t then you haven’t explored the website enough.  Go look at it now! http://ltc.uww.edu Be sure to stop by the LTC throughout the semester to visit. As a reminder, we are located in McGraw Hall, Suite 120 and are around between 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM weekdays. We can also be reached at ltc@uww.edu or 262.472.1004. We’ll always be willing to help, and have plenty of treats on hand for your sweet tooth. Have a great semester!