Spotlight on an Advanced D2L Class-Management Feature: Intelligent Agents, an Early Warning System

Blank white diamond shaped warning vector traffic sign mockup. Empty road sign template.Most likely, you are familiar with D2L’s basic instructional functions, such as presenting content, actively engaging students, assessing learning, communicating with students, and grading. (If you are not, consider these short video tutorials and/or schedule a D2L Tool Overview appointment with me).

In what follows, I am going to shed light on an advanced D2L class-management tool that may soon become your favorite: Intelligent Agents. Although this tool sounds like something out of a James Bond movie, it is simply meant to help you easily identify students at risk of failure in your course.

What, Where, and When

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-2-45-58-pmLocated under the communication tools visible to you in “Course Admin” mode (formerly known as “Edit Course”), this tool allows you to set early warnings in your course based on low or no course login activity as well as low or no participation and performance. When the conditions of your choice are met, this tool automatically sends out a warning email (whose content and frequency you personalize in advance).

The email could be programmed to go out to students, to you, or both, based on what you are trying to achieve.

Email Sent To Students

For younger and/or extrinsically motivated students, such an email reminder can make a positive difference in their attention to detail, efforts, and learning gains. The email can simply state the unsatisfactory behavior (e.g., no course login in a week) and suggest ways (and, in some cases, incentives) to rectify that behavior, setting the student up for success.

Email Sent To You

This pre-programmed email can save you time and help you identify student attendance and participation problems before they become negative patterns. Once you receive an email that a specific student is under-performing in some way, you can than reach out to that student privately to see what kind of assistance s/he needs, if any.

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If you’d like to learn more about intelligent agents, consider the following resources:

Replacement Strings

As you set up an intelligent agent, you’ll find the need to address students by name. How can you do that with a prefabricated email? By using what D2L calls “replace strings” or “replacement strings”. They cause for D2L to replace a string variable (i.e., a code) with a specific piece of information.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-2-44-39-pmYou may have used the code {FirstName} in your course announcements, to have D2L replace that code with the first name of the D2L user reading the announcement. For example, if you say “Dear {firstname}” and Hassan Faiza reads the announcement, it will display “Dear Hassan” instead; when Alice Stein reads it, it will say “Dear Alice”; and when Max Howard reads it, it will say “Dear Max”.

Uses for Replacement Strings

Replacement strings can be used in the email address, as follows:

{InitiatingUser} refers to the student who under performed and thus met the intelligent agent’s criteria

Replacement strings can also be used in the body of your email, as follows:

  • {InitiatingUserFirstName} will be replaced with the first name of the student who under performed and thus met the intelligent agent’s criteria
  • {InitiatingUserLastName} will be replaced with the last name of the student who under performed and thus met the intelligent agent’s criter

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If you’d like to learn more about replacement strings, consider the following resources:

  • Common Replacement Strings: This article from D2L’s documentation explains and exemplifies common replacement strings. This is not an exhaustive list of replacement strings.
  • Accepted Replacement Strings: Some replacement strings work in announcements but do not in the body of an email, for instance. This University of Colorado Boulder article explains where in D2L you can use replacement strings.

Setting Up an Intelligent Agent

That said, here is  a 3-minute video illustrating how an intelligent agent is created.


If you have any questions or would like to have a second opinion as you start using intelligent agents, please reach out to me —  call, email, stop by, or, better yet, schedule us for a Name Your Teaching Tool appointment focused on this D2L tool.

Alternative assistance can be obtained through my instructional-systems analyst counterpart or by calling the Georgia View D2L Help Center (at 855-772-0423).



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