Setting up email or SMS notifications on D2L

Image by tyle_r via flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Image by tyle_r via flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

We use a piece of software at Laurentian called D2L (formerly known as Desire2Learn). For those who are unfamiliar with it, D2L is what is refered to as a Course Management System (CMS) or a Learning Management System (LMS). Blackboard, Moodle, and Canvas are some of the other popular alternatives within this market segment.

When a student logs into D2L they find entries for each of the courses in which they are enrolled. The amount of material available in each course depends entirely on the instructor. Some elect not to use it at all. I use it extensively for distributing lecture materials and assignments, posting announcements, hosting course-related discussions, and even collecting and marking assignments. Because we use it so much in my classes, I inform the students during the first lecture that they are responsible for staying updated on the news and content available on D2L.

One piece of feedback I have received from students is that they sometimes forget to check the site regularly. Thankfully, D2L has notification features which will automatically send email or text reminders about new content. This post will walk you through how to set up these notifications so that you can remain updated without having to login to D2L on a regular basis. Continue reading

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Design lessons from the badminton birdie

Image by Rebecca Partington via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Image by Rebecca Partington via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

One may not naturally associate badminton birdies with space flight, but Burt Rutan saw a connection. A shuttlecock inspired his solution to a significant engineering problem.

The Ansari X-Prize was created in 1996 to spur the development of private space travel. Ten million dollars was offered to the first team capable of designing a re-usable system that could take three people 100 km above the Earth, then return them safely to the ground, and do so twice within a two week period. Rutan’s company Scaled Composites, in collaboration with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, developed a vehicle called SpaceShipOne which won the X-Prize in October 2004. Continue reading

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