Adding an overview to a D2L course

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About this article

This article includes a description of the Overview feature in the Desire2Learn (D2L) Content Tool. It has been updated to cover D2L Version 10.3. It is intended for instructors.

What's an overview?

The overview is a default feature of any D2L table of contents (TOC), along with Bookmarks and Upcoming Events (Figure 1). It has two, optional components: a description that an instructor can enter using the Editor Tool and an attachment that the instructor can upload. This material will be the first thing students see when they access the course content area. Students can also view this material at any time by selecting the Overview link on the TOC.

Is it required?

No, instructors are not required to include either a description or attachment in the Overview feature. If left empty, the heading, "Overview," will not be visible to students and they will instead be directed to the first item on the TOC. Instructors will always be directed to the Overview when they access the Content tool and they will see a blank content region if it's empty.

Why include it?

Fig 1. Three default TOC features
Fig 2. Select Add a description...
Figure 3. Enter a description into the editor
Figure 4. Drag and drop the file to upload
Figure 5. Select Add an attachment

An overview can help orient students by providing a starting point or homepage for the content area of a course. The course description and a few references to content structure (e.g., "Access videos by selecting the Videos link.") can help students navigate the rest of the TOC. Other potential applications include:

  • Posting an interesting image and the name of the class. Think of it as a book cover.
  • Content-related information from the syllabus (e.g., required texts).


  • Any file uploaded as an attachment to the Overview is not subject to the same tracking as normal topics in the TOC. Students will not get an indication that that they have accessed the file and instructors will not get any data regarding student access. If you want tracking, include the file as a topic in the TOC.
  • Whatever is in the overview will be displayed each time students accesses the TOC, which they do frequently. It is not a good location for lengthy documents (e.g., syllabi) or static movie content (e.g., a welcome video) that will play over and over again. It's also not well suited for dynamic content (e.g., updates, announcements, reminders). D2L offers other tools that handle those communication tasks more effectively.

Adding/editing a course overview

For all instructions below, first navigate to a D2L course and select Content from the Materials menu. This will take you to the Content Tool.

Adding/editing a description

  1. Select the Overview link from the left navigation bar.
  2. Select the Add a welcome message, overview, or description... link (Figure 2). If editing an existing description, just select the description.
  3. Use the editor to create/edit the description (Figure 3).
  4. Select the Update button to save.

Adding/updating an attachment

  1. Select the Overview link from the left navigation bar.
  2. Do one of the following: drag and drop the file into the designated area (the drop area will turn green when the file can be dropped; Figure 4) or select the Actions arrow, select Add an attachment (Figure 5), select Upload, find the file to upload, double-click the file or single-click and select Open, and select the Done button.
  3. To update an attachment, repeat Step 2. Add an attachment... will have changed to Change the attachment....

Deleting a description or attachment

  1. To delete a description, open the existing description in the editor by selecting it, delete everything in the editor, and select the Update button.
  2. To delete an attachment, select the Action arrow and select Remove attachment.

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