The User Interface (UI)


The User Interface (UI)

This tutorial should help explain the following...

  1. Basic Terminology
  2. Navigating Outside of Your Course
  3. Navigating Within Your Course


Basic Terminology


Widgets are main links to important categories of information.  In the example below, you can see widgets for the  "Getting Started" and "User Interface" modules. Widgets are used to subdivide content into groupings.



Accordions are menus with headers that can open to display more detailed information, should the user want it, or closed to keep pages less cluttered. Opening and closing accordion areas can help you focus on specific subtopics.


Breadcrumb Trails

As you navigate through a course, you will often want to "back out of" the pages you have visited. At the top of your page will be a short list of the path you followed. You can click on any title to return to that page.


Ellipses, which look like three dots in a row (...) are often used to hide more options. In breadcrumb trails (see above) they can signify more options in which page you return to. In some areas, they are hidden until you hover over them. As  student, you will not see many of these. 



A chevron is a "V" shaped symbol wither on its side (">") or pointing downward ("v"). They can be found at the beginning or the end of a title, and signify that there is more hidden information or options. They are sometimes called a carrot or a drop down arrow. Click on chevrons to reveal hidden contents or a drop down menu of options/ actions.


Dropdowns / Contextual Menus

These are hidden menus that only appear when you hover over or click on a chevron or ellipses. These menus are not universal, but are instead specific to whichever chevron or ellipses you are clicking. 


Navigating Outside of Your Course

The following content is designed to help you get familiar with the general navigation you will need to get started within Brightspace.

The Minibar

This is your primary navigational tool in Brightspace. It holds the course selector, your personal settings, and notifications. You can always find the Minibar at the top of your screen, no matter where you are in Brightspace.

Working from left to right across the Minibar you will find:


The Home Icon

This is your safe place. If you get lost in Brightspace click here to start over from a familiar  landing spot- "Homepage". This icon can look like a house, a campus logo, or a SUNY logo, but whatever it looks like it will always be in the top left of your Brightspace interface.


The Course Selector              

This icon, which looks like a waffle,  allows you to search for course that you are enrolled in. 


Messages Alert/ Notifications

The icon that looks like an envelope is you notifications. Click this icon to see your email  and  instant messages.


Subscriptions Alert/ Discussions

The icon of a "conversation bubble" is where you will find discussions in forums, topics, and threads you have subscribed to.


Updates Alert

The bell icon is where you will find update alerts, new and updated announcements, due dates,  end dates, and grade updates.


The Navbar

This navigation area can change depending on where you are in Brightspace (for example - within one specific course or looking at your college's homepage).  

*Note: that the items on the navbar can be customized by the institution and therefore may look different within your learning environment from the example above.


Personal Settings

The upper right of the Brightspace window you will see your name. If you click on it you will find areas that allow you to add a picture and let others get a sense of who you are. A favorite phrase or list of hobbies are common options. You can even choose the size of font your prefer, and the appropriate time zone for your location. You can also use this area to get a quick overview of your progress or to just log out. For more detailed instructions please see the our tutorial on Changing Your Personal Settings.


Home Page and Widgets

Widget examples:

Your course Homepage (see "Home icon" in the Minibar discussion above) is the landing spot for your course. It contains widgets which are sections of content. Think of widgets as access points to major course areas. Common widgets are "Getting Started"" Announcements"," Calendar", and "Content Browser".


Navigating Within Your Course

Now that we have looked at the interface on an institutional level, let's dive into how things work within a course.



The navbar is located along the bottom of the Minibar. You will have a variety of tabs, all of which are determined by the template or templates your institution is utilizing.

Note: Keep in mind that the navbar can also look different depending on what page you are viewing it on. 

The common links in the navbar usually include:

  • Content
  • Assignments
  • Discussions
  • Quizzes
  • Grades


Content Browser

You can access the Content Browser by clicking Content on the far left of the Navbar.


The Content Browser Page:

The content browser area is where you to browse course content, view recently visited topics, and view bookmarked topics from your course homepage. You can access your recently viewed and bookmarked topics from the content browser home and use the left column menu to navigate course content topics and modules.

As you navigate deeper into content modules, the navigation at the top ("breadcrumbs") enables you to move up one module level or jump backwards to the content browser home.

To view a topic, click on its name to launch it in View Content. The content browser widget retains the place you left off when you return to your course homepage. Continue through the accordion you are currently viewing to see some of the useful widgets you can add to your content browser.




Article ID: 141805
Thu 9/15/22 10:00 AM
Wed 7/12/23 8:24 AM