Prepare for the end of an academic term
Instructors can prepare for the end of an academic term by working through this checklist of technology-related tasks. This includes configuring course access and releasing final grades in Brightspace, entering official final grades in Minnesota State eServices, communicating with students, and organizing course materials and activities for potential reuse. Not all tasks apply to all courses.
Retention of student assessment data
Evaluating student work and assigning grades are the exclusive responsibilities of the instructor. There are no contractual, system, or university policies governing an instructor's retention of graded student work (e.g., papers, essays, discussion posts, quizzes, exams, art work) at the end of an academic term. However, there are two situations in which this information might be helpful: grade appeals and grade changes. Retaining student assessment data for at least six months and up to four to seven years can help instructors address these contingencies if necessary. Instructors are encouraged to include their data retention policy in their syllabus.
Instructors have up to the time of degree conferral to change the final grade of any student in any of their courses. Submit a request using the Change of Grade form in WarriorSpace.
All assessment data is private information and protected by FERPA. If instructors choose to retain graded student work beyond the end of the term, note Board Policy 3.26 – Intellectual Property and Board Policy 3.1 Student Rights and Responsibilities, Part 10 – Property Rights. Any work created by a student to meet a course requirement is that student's property and protected by federal copyright law. Students must be able to retrieve their work from the instructor when it’s no longer needed for evaluation. Written permission is required before an instructor can use a student’s property for purposes other than academic performance evaluation.
Brightspace student data
D2L Brightspace course shells are considered secure storage and all student work and assessment data contained within a Brightspace course will remain there until purged by the system office after seven years of inactivity (e.g., logins, course copies). A Brightspace course export package does not include any student data. A Brightspace grade book export file does include private grade information and should be stored in a secure location.
If you used D2L Brightspace to support your courses this term, here are some tasks you may want to complete:
- Check your course end dates. If you want an active course to remain open beyond the end of the term (e.g., so students can check their grades), adjust your course end date accordingly. If an active course does not have an end date, it remains open indefinitely.
- Release your final grades. If you want your students to see their final grades in Brightspace, you must release them. Remember, these are not official grades and you still need to submit those using the Minnesota State eServices website.
- Prepare final grades for Minnesota State import. If you want to import your final course grades from Brightspace to the Minnesota State eServices website, rather than entering them manually, you must first convert them into an approved letter format.
- Save a copy of your grade book. If you used the Grades Tool, export a copy of your grade book and store it in a secure location.
- Post a closing message. Post an announcement and/or send an email message letting students know how to check their final grades, how long they will be able to access your Brightspace course, and how to get in touch with you if they have questions.
- Back up your courses. Now is a great time to create a backup copy of this term's courses.
- Deactivate your courses. Although your students will be unable to access the course once its end date elapses, you may want to deactivate the course as well. This will remove it from your students' My Courses list.
Official final grades
Don't forget to submit your official final course grades before the deadline. Final grades in Brightspace are not official grades.
- Submit official final grades. Official final grades are due by the deadline specified in the academic calendar. Use the Minnesota State eServices website to post your official final grades.
- Change an official final grade. To change an official final grade already submitted to Minnesota State eServices, sign in to WarriorSpace, select the Forms I Can Submit tab, and complete the Change of Grade form.
If you used Zoom for web conferencing in your courses this term, here is a list of tasks you may want to complete:
- Change passcodes. If you plan to reuse any recurring Zoom sessions next term and you have protected them with passcodes, you may want to change those passcodes.
- Remove alternative hosts. If you made any students alternative hosts in recurring Zoom sessions you plan to reuse, you may want to remove them.
If you used Microsoft 365 applications this term to share files and support collaboration, here is a list of tasks you may want to complete:
- Unshare OneDrive folders. If you shared a folder with your students from your personal OneDrive, you may want to revoke those sharing permissions.
- Remove students from Teams sites. If you assigned students as members of a Teams site that you plan to reuse, you may want to remove them from the site. You can also delete the Teams site if you don't plan to reuse it. Note that this will delete all of the information in the site.
- Delete group chats in Teams. If you created a group chat in Teams to text message your class, you may want to delete it. Note that this will delete all of the posts in that chat.
If you used Qualtrics to support research projects in your courses this term, here is a list of tasks you may want to complete:
- Remove students as collaborators. If you gave students Collaborator permission on any of your Qualtrics projects, you may want to remove them.
- Remove yourself as a collaborator. If your students gave you Collaborator permission on any of their Qualtrics projects, you may want to remove yourself.
Extending course access
Occasionally a student will need more time to complete a course. If you do decide to close the course at the end of the term but a student needs access to complete missing work, notify TLT (email@example.com) and request that the student's role in the course be changed to allow access to the materials even though the course is closed. Once the student completes any missing work, let TLT know and the role change can be reversed to remove access to the course.
Many of the checklist items in this article continue the age-old tradition in higher education of representing learning as a limited-time opportunity. What we call "semesters" draw to a close, final grades are assigned, textbooks get sold, and students are dismissed. With the advent of learning management systems like Brightspace and the enormous amount of time and effort that instructors put into creating online resources for their students, it seems a shame that they should lose access to them while they are still WSU students. Consider removing your Brightspace course end dates and keeping your courses active to encourage students to return to refresh their memories, find that pearl of wisdom, and make stronger connections across their courses as they progress toward their degrees. If you are interested in taking this one step further and creating an online version of your course or an open textbook that is always available to all WSU students, or even the whole world, contact TLT (firstname.lastname@example.org).