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The life cycle of a Brightspace shell

Each Brightspace shell has a lifecycle, balancing Toronto Metropolitan University's retention requirements and our need to access our materials and/or student data.

As such, a new course shell must be requested each time a new cohort of students is taking the course -- but the contents of a recent course may be copied as a starting point for that new shell.

Organization shells have a different lifespan, determined by the shell owner identifying the shell's ongoing use.

Please see the details of the lifecycle below.

Retention of student data in a course is governed by the university's course retention policy, which says that student course work is to be retained for 1 year, at which time it is to be destroyed.

Our retention policy for D2L Brightspace shells aims to strike a balance between this, and instructors' need to reference and reuse their own work (the course materials, assessments and activities) for future course delivery.

While we provide access to your course shell for 2 years after the end of the term, this does not guarantee that the students and their work will also be retained for that long.

Student accounts in the system are not kept indefinitely - 1 year after a student has left the university, their account will be deleted from D2L Brightspace, and the record of their work in the course is removed with it.

Course shell

Course shells need to be requested for every new run of the course. In other words, you cannot reuse a course shell for a new term, with a new group of students.

Organization shell

Organization shells are not constrained by term/year limitations, and only need to be requested once. Please note that organizations should not be used for collecting academic data from students that apply toward their grade -- course shells are intended for this purpose.

The Organization Shell request form can be found in the same menu as the Course Shell request form.

Course shells are set to end after the last appeals date for that term.

On the end date:

  • On the Shell End Date, there is a 24-hour processing period, during which the previous term's course shells are unavailable. This is temporary.
  • Instructors will be switched to a read-only role called Instructor (RO), which will be retained for 2 years. This allows for ongoing reference to the shell and some of the student activity data and grades*. 
  • All other users will lose access to the shell.
  • New users are not added to course shells after they have ended.

*Please note: Certain features of D2L will only apply to users who are currently 'active' in the course shell. For example, you cannot email students from a D2L shell and you cannot view the students' full Progress results if those students don't currently have access to the shell.

Check the end date in your shell by going to Course Admin > Course Offering Information. The End Date will be listed on this page.

Shell end dates by term

Course shells are set to end after the last appeals date for that term. For your reference, these dates are:

  • Fall courses: February 1
  • Winter courses: June 15
  • Spring/Summer courses: October 1
  • two-term courses will take the end date of the second term, but will always appear listed in D2L under the first term.

Can I request an extension?

Extensions can be requested for certain situations, mostly related to student access. The Instructor (RO) access will provide the Instructor of the course with access to review and copy their course shell, as well as most access to the student information (grades, assignments, quizzes, etc.)

Here are some situations that may require an extension:

  • Students are still completing the course (either due to incompletes, or because the course itself has been extended)
  • There are pending appeals

View and pin your past courses

If you think you might wish to visit your past course shell frequently, perhaps to copy content for use elsewhere, consider pinning the course, so that it will appear on your My Courses page

Viewing Past Course Shells

To pin your past course:

  • Click on the grid icon at the top of the page, then find your course in the list. It will likely be toward the bottom of the list. 
  • Click on the small pin icon to the right of the course name.

You can also just click on the course name in this dropdown list, to go directly to the course.

Shell expiry for organizations

Organization shells are available for 2 years, at which time the person with the Instructor role will be contacted to allow it to expire or to extend it for another 2 years.

What happens on the End Date?

  • All users will lose access to the shell.

Check the end date in your shell by going to Course Admin > Course Offering Information. The End Date will be listed on this page.

Course shells

Course shells are kept intact on D2L Brightspace for 2 years, exceeding the course retention policy (see the Senate "Course Management" Policy).

After this time, they are permanently removed with no ability to restore them.

Organization shells

Organization shells are kept intact for 1 year after expiry. 

After this time, they are permanently removed with no ability to restore them.