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Using Intelligent Agents in D2L to Enhance Your Online Course

October 7, 2014

Release Conditions, Replace Strings and Intelligent Agents

There are three integrated tools that can enhance courses, increase communication and benefit candidates, that fall under the umbrella of “Intelligent Agents.” These lesser known tools are what D2L Community Manager Barry Dahl calls “secret agents.” Using {replace strings}, release conditions and intelligent agents can save instructors time, make learners more accountable and engage learners when they complete tasks or conversely, neglect to keep up with the flow of the course.

“Intelligent Agents” are tools that automate the creation and delivery of communication based on the activities of a student, or any other criteria. An example would be the creation of an email reminder to any student that has not logged in for 3 days. D2L can be set up to deliver a customized email to do that automatically. When we use the {firstname} string to write a News items, so each Candidate’s name appears at the top, we are using a basic form of Intelligent Agent to personalize communication. Using {strings} are an important part of Intelligent Agents.

Brightspace Community’s Intro to Intelligent Agents

Take a minute to view the Intelligent Agents Introduction Video :

Barry Dahl, D2L’s Community manager, who organizes content in D2L’s Brightspace Community, has posted a slideshow presentation on the basics of Intelligent Agents.

Barry Dahl’s Slideshare on Intelligent Agents

Along with these two visuals, there is a rich collection of information, documents and tutorial videos at D2L’s Brightspace Community, under the search criteria “Intelligent Agents.” Links to some of the resources are listed below, as well as others from around the D2L community.

How to Set Up an Intelligent Agent

Imagine that we need to set up an Intelligent Agent for the scenario in which a candidate has not recently logged in, where D2L will generate an email to such candidates. That email can also be sent as a bcc to the instructor. This is one of the easiest to do, and Brightspace has a Tutorial, found on their site and on their Youtube Channel. In their example, an Intelligent Agent is created to send an email to a Candidate that has not logged in for 5 days, and also has failed an assignment. In ETFO AQs you’ll only need to set the first criteria, and you may wish to adjust the number of days to 3 (or whatever you deem to be appropriate).

Start by clicking on Edit Course at the top of your Course Homepage and under the Heading “Communication,” there’s an Intelligent Agent button. Now follow the steps in their Create New Agent Video Tutorial:

There are numerous criteria that you could choose as Release Conditions for an Intelligent Agent. You can create one to send a congratulatory email when an item is completed on a Checklist, or an LE Checklist is completed, or when a certain Content area is read, or when an assignment is uploaded to the Dropbox. Here is a more complete list of the Conditions that can generate an Intelligent Agent email. Click on the list to enlarge.

Release Conditions List

I suggest setting up a simple Intelligent Agent, such as a reminder to login to the course, as your first experiment with intelligent agents. You can use the Recipe Book from the Brightspace Community featured in the Resources below to help you do this.


  1. D2L’s Brightspace Community Website
  2. Barry Dahl’s Intelligent Agent Slideshare
  3. Download the Brightspace Introduction to Intelligent Agents Recipe Book here
  4. DePaul University’s Intelligent Agent Guide
  5. Colorado University’s Replacement String Guide
  6. D2L Brightspace Youtube Video -Intelligent Agents #1
  7. D2L Brightspace Youtube Video -Intelligent Agents #2

ETFO AQ Instructors, if you have further questions about Intelligent Agents, you can contact me at my ETFO AQ email address! You can also add comments or question, if you wish, below.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2014 5:21 pm

    Wow! Seems like a time saver. I love that the messages can be personal in nature, so that the messages don’t have that “automated” feel. Thanks for highlighting some of the under-utilized tools.

  2. October 17, 2014 12:53 am

    Rod this is amazing! I look forward to setting this up for next course! Thank you so much for posting:)

  3. Jeff Pfohl permalink
    October 24, 2014 12:54 am

    Very helpful Rod. Thanks so much! Looking forward to a fly fishing demo video soon:)


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