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Lessons from D2L Fusion: How to Support First Generation Students in Brightspace

Posted by on Saturday, August 7, 2021 in Uncategorized.

My name is Jenny, and I am a new instructional technologist at the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching. My colleagues and I recently attended the annual D2L Fusion Conference, which focuses on how to maximize the use and support for the Brightspace platform. I had the opportunity to attend sessions on how to support first generation students within the learning management system of Brightspace. Here are some of the main takeaways. 

Supporting First Generation Students 

First generation students, or students who are the first or among the first in their families to attend college (with no parent who is a college graduate), face unique challenges. They more often come from low-income households and are less likely to graduate. Research has found that cultural awareness and interrogation of assumptions about students’ backgrounds and how students learn were instrumental in increasing the accessibility of content and achieving better outcomes for first generation students.  

Brightspace offers several features that can assist with this. Presenting content in different modes (multi-modal learning) has been shown to increase accessibility; for instance, presenting content in both audio and text form may allow students to comprehend the material more easily. Listing support resources within Brightspace pages (such as links to the Center for Teaching website) can also assist students in locating help even when they and their families are not aware of how to find such assistance.   

The technology tools we use in class can support our efforts to create inclusive learning environments for first-generation students. The key is to use the tools we have intentionally. If you would like to discuss the possibilities further, please reach out to us at 

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