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Brightspace at the Faculty of Humanities

Smoothly using Brightspace

Updates 2021

The new semester is approaching, so this is a good time to go over again the different ways you add files to Brightspace. There can be different and perhaps unintended consequences depending on the way you add your files, so make sure you choose the right way.

NOTE: Please keep in mind that you are not uploading literature or other copyrighted material to your course! Check here for more information.

  1. Content > Add Existing > Browse or Drag&Drop. Upload a file to Brightspace, and convert it to .pdf. Make the file available for a specific date or time with Manage Dates and/or for a specific audience with Release Conditions.
  2. Content > Create New > HTML Document > Insert Stuff or Add link. Creates a link to the file, which opens in a new tab. Note: Never add exam questions or other sensitive documents in this way. Instead, follow the exam protocol.
  3. Course Tools > Course Admin > Manage Files > Upload. Upload a file to Brightspace, but do not convert it to .pdf, allowing e.g. PowerPoint slides to be played with audio. You can then add the file to a Content folder via Content > Create New > HTML Document > Add link > Course File.


Here you'll find:

  1. Instruction videos 
  2. Online training sessions 
  3. Manuals and getting started 

And if you wish to directly explore Brightspace, you can log in here.

1. Instruction video's

Instruction videos will give you a good idea about what Brightspace looks like and how it works. You can find an overview of all available instruction videos here.

These are our faculty instruction videos:

The video Broodje Brightspace demo session explains the implementation project and shows some basic actions in Brightspace:

2. Online training?

Please contact ECOLe for an appointment.

Central training

Online training sessions are also organised at university level. You can  sign up here. The most up-to-date information on the university-wide training programme can be found here

3. Manuals and getting started 

You can log in to Brightspace here. Use your ULCN login credentials to log in (just as on Blackboard).  

On https://universiteitleiden.screenstepslive.com/ there are step-by-step instructions for all Brightspace functions, from Assignments to Quizzes.

Practice in your Sandbox. You can find this personal practise environment when you log in to Brightspace.  

Take the Brighspace online training. This training module can be found when you log in to Brightspace. You can go through the modules at your own pace.  

Please enroll your co-teacher(s)

Unfortunately it was not possible to add co-teachers to Brightspace courses during the migration. If you teach a course with one or more other teachers we kindly ask you to enroll them yourself. Use this manual or follow the steps in the FAQ -> Enrolment, below.


Faculty support

Please contact the Faculty Implementation Team (FIT) via ecole@hum.leidenuniv.nl

The members of the Faculty Implementation Team (FIT) are

University central programme support

The central programme uses this Brightspace Programme Site.
That team can be reached via this e-mail address.


  • Why Brightspace?
    Brightspace is the digital learning environment for the 2020/2021 academic year, replacing Blackboard. Brightspace is user-friendly, responsive and offers many opportunities for the future of education. Blackboard needs to be replaced because the license has expired.
  • When will Brightspace go live?
    September 2020.
  • When will the migration from Blackboard to Brightspace take place?
    From May 2020 migration will start for courses for the 2020/2021 academic year, semester 1.
  • What is your approach?
    It is our aim to remove as much of the burden from instructors as possible. This means for instance that moving course content from Blackboard to Brightspace is done by a team of student assistants, after consulting the instructor(s). Instructors will also be invited to attend different types of training sessions and the Faculty Implementation Team (FIT) is prepared to provide personal support.
  • Is Brightspace difficult to use?
    Surveys held for all faculties in the pilot phase of the project show that instructors and students quickly learn to work with Brightspace and that it is a pleasant environment to work in.
  • Is there only an English interface for Brightspace?
    At the moment, there is only an English interface. There is some demand for a Dutch interface, but as the current Dutch version is inadequate, it is not possible to offer it at present.
  • How will I be invited for a training?
    Instructors will receive an email about the change to Brightspace and they can sign up online for training sessions online.
  • What kind of training sessions will be offered?
    Demo sessions, also called “Broodje Brightspace”: training in a lecture hall at coffee or lunch time, which includes sandwiches/coffee/cakes. Interactive sessions: training in a computer room where instructors can get some hands-on experience with Brightspace supported by the FIT.
    Walk-in sessions: at the end of the summer, refresher trainings will be organized for instructors with specific questions.
  • When will I receive a training?
    The faculty training programme runs from March 2020 to August 2020. After Brightspace goes live in September 2020 the project team and all related support will remain active for another semester.
  • How much time does a training take?
    The training sessions will take between 30 minutes and one hour.
  • How can you I get to know Brightspace right now?
    It is possible to receive a so-called Sandbox. This is your personal test environment. Please send an email with your ULCN username and the request to create a Sandbox to ecole@hum.leidenuniv.nl. You will also be enrolled in the Brightspace Online Training. In the coming months all instructors will receive a Sandbox.

    And here's a Sneak Preview of Brightspace.
  • Can my programme get a communal Sandbox?
    A Sandbox is a personal test environment based on the ULCN details of one person. This person can enroll colleagues as instructors, but would no longer have a personal test environment.
  • What kind of support is available?
    Online manuals on https://universiteitleiden.screenstepslive.com/
  • Support channels
    for students via the Helpdesk
    for instructors in Humanities: via ecole@hum.leidenuniv.nl
  • FIT (Faculty Implementation Team) via ecole@hum.leidenuniv.nl
  • Sandbox (personal test environment)
  • Brightspace Online Training (to take in your own time)
  • Information about the project at FGW and Q&A: -->{C}
  • Is an instructor expected to migrate their course(s) from Blackboard to Brightspace?
    The migration will be done by the central team, unless the instructor specifically indicates they prefer to handle the migration of content themselves. This might be the case when the content of a course will change significantly in the new academic year, or when a course is newly offered and there is no content to migrate. Regardless of whether the migration is done by the central team or by the instructor themselves, the Faculty Implementation Team (FIT) will provide support and the instructor has the final say on the outcome.
  • How long will Blackboard remain accessible?
    From October 2020 onwards, Blackboard will operate under a read-only (archive) licence. The last three years will be accessible online, while the other years are accessible upon request. Instructors can log into the archive server to access and download their old content. Tools such as Turnitin, Pitch2Peer and Kaltura will remain operational under the read-only licence. Modules on the archive server can no longer be made available and students cannot enroll themselves any longer.
  • Will collaborative modules for lecturers, study coordinators or programmes also be migrated?
    Each case will be considered separately. In some cases, Office365 will be a better option than Brightspace. This process will be supported by the Humanities FIT.
  • Will there be Brightspace modules in which students can hand in their thesis?
    Yes, each BA and MA programme is supposed to automatically get their own Brightspace course every year. The Faculty Board has specifically requested this, and the project team has also instigated this option. Note that the Regulations still have to be reviewed in light of this ambition.
  •  How do I add literature and other textual content?

This can be done in several ways. 

  1. Adding Announcements is done via the Home page of your course, Create an announcement. 

  2. Add your own texts (Word, pdf), syllabi, powerpoint slides etc. by uploading via the Content button in your course, then select Add Existing. Scroll down and click “browse” to find your file and upload it. You may also drag & drop your files in the marked area.

  3. Adding a new page in your course, e.g. where you explain what students should do every week, is done by the Content button, Create New, HTML Document. There are some layout buttons. You may also include web links (URLs) or embed Kaltura or YouTube videos using the “Insert Stuff” button. 

  4. Adding literature should be done by linking to the catalogue of the University Library in the first place as linking is the way to reduce costs for copyrighted materials. It is strongly recommended to use licensed materials from Leiden’s Digital Library as much as possible. Find the permanent link and add it to the Content of your course: Content, Create New, WebLink, or embed the link in the HTML Document (see 3).  

  5. In the second place, you may find a link to the literature that is hosted on an open access or legal public domain platform. In general, this is not a private website of an individual. You can add this link in the same way as a permalink from the University library. 

  6. Finally, if there is no legal link to the literature available, you may make a short copy of it and publish that as pdf in your Brightspace course, while mentioning the source. If you want to supply the whole document to your students, you must ask Stichting UvO (formerly St. Pro) permission beforehand. Only then and after payment, you can make a long copy and upload it to Brightspace. However, the literature must be registered in advance in the so-called LOR (Learning Object Repository). Go to the Content button, click the 3 dots “…”, Publish to LOR. Select the file you want to register, and fill in the metadata. Next, to add the file to your course, go to Content again, Add Existing, LOR. Find it, add it. Adding content as pdf is strongly discouraged. 

    Please consult the website of the Copyright Information Office for the details. 

    Do not forget to make all added content Visible to students. 

  • Is the week structure compulsory?
    The week structure is a way of offering course materials in a structured and uniform way across the university. If the structure does not correspond with the structure of the course or does not make sense didactically , it can be changed. In the migration phase, these changes will be made by the central team. The instructors can also make changes to their course.
  • Can a content item easily be hidden from students?
    Yes, there is a clear option for this in the course. An instructor can check whether the content is displayed correctly by selecting the option View as Student.
  • Can you search for a specific content item?
    Instructors can find an overview of course documents under Course Admin. This overview is not searchable.
    This overview is currently not available for students, but is anticipated for a future release.
  • Where can I find those nice images to use in my course?
    There is a difference between decorative images and educational images. The latter category almost always falls under the Fair Use act: the image has to be functional and correspond to the text. For decorative images, copyright rules have to be kept in mind. More information can be found at the Copyright Information Office at the Leiden University Library.
  • Can students from other institutions get view-only access to a course in Brightspace?
    Students who are not enrolled in uSis can be enrolled as a read-only students (called Observer in Brightspace). They need a student number in order to be enrolled. The Discover Tool will be available soon for this purpose. Students will be able to enroll themselves in uSis-courses as Observer, and only if the instructor permits the student’s enrolment. Non-uSis courses will be considered individually for inclusion in the Discover Tool.
  • Can students from other institutions also log into Brightspace using their own institution’s credentials?
    Enrolling students from other institutions is currently not possible but will hopefully be possible in the future, depending on agreements with other institutions. Once those agreements are in place, students will likely be automatically enrolled in Brightspace.
  • How do students enroll for their course?
    Students will enroll themselves on uSis, and will then be automatically enrolled in the corresponding Brightspace course. Unlike what used to be the case with Blackboard, the two systems will be connected.
  • What happens if the link between uSis and Brightspace doesn’t work?
    If the connection unexpectedly does not work, students will be enrolled semi-manually. For this, lists of s-numbers and corresponding courses are needed from the administration offices. The manual enrollment is usually completed within a working day.
  • What happens if a student doesn’t appear in Brightspace? Students who are enrolled in uSis but do not appear in Brightspace need to contact ISSC.
    Students who are enrolled in a non-uSis course (such as those in the Academic Language Centre) need to get in touch with their administration office.
  • As an instructor, can you manually add  students to your course?
    It is not possible to manually add students to your course. Student enrolment has to go via uSis. If an instructor is able to add students through a back door, the synchronization with uSis is no longer up to date. This means that grades will not be recorded for these ghost students, for instance.
  • As an instructor, can you manually add colleagues to your course?
    It is possible to enroll a colleague, as long as this colleague has a ULCN account (staff or guest account. Please find the online manual here.  
  1. Go to your module in Brightspace.
  2. Click on Course Tools -> Classlist -> Add participants ->Add existing users.
  3. Fill in the name or login name of your colleague.
  4. Press Enter.
  5. Check the right person from the list.
  6. Select the role Instructor or Assistant-Instructor.
  7. Click on Enroll Selected Users.
  8. Click on Done.
  • It often takes a lot of time to enroll exchange students on uSis, so they often miss the first weeks’ worth of content. Can something be done about this?
    It is not possible to enroll students who do not have a student account. As soon as the enrolment of an exchange student is complete, and they receive an account with login details, they can be enrolled in uSis (and Brightspace).

Sneak Preview of Brightspace

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