Docent - TeacherGuides and instructionsBrightspace Communication: announcements, replace strings, intelligent agentsWhat is an Intelligent Agent and how do I use it? Administration | Course Admin

What is an Intelligent Agent and how do I use it? Administration | Course Admin

Why would you use intelligent agents?

Intelligent agents can be used to automatically send e-mails to students based on certain criteria. They work well with release conditions, but there are several more options you can use. For example, you can send automatic e-mails if:

  • A student has not accessed your Brightspace course for a certain amount of time.
  • A student has not undertaken any activity in your course for a certain amount of time.
  • You want to send students a reminder about a deadline a few days in advance.

Intelligent agents send e-mails using previously determined e-mail addresses or using replace strings. You can also choose whether you want to turn on the intelligent agents manually or let it work automatically. If you choose for the automatic setting, the default time setting is 8 PM.

Points of attention when using Intelligent Agents

  1. Only use intelligent agents for important things. If a student receives many (repeated) e-mails, they will be less likely to pay a lot of attention and read them carefully. That is why it might be beneficial to consider other ways of communicating:
  2. Intelligent agents are more useful in bigger groups of students.
  3. As the teacher you will be the only one to see the name and description of the intelligent agents (students will not see it):
    • Choose a sound name. You can also use numbers.
    • Choose a sound description, for example: when, to whom and why does this intelligent agent send an e-mail?
  4. Think about whether you want to use the intelligent agent manually or automatically beforehand. The manual setting will give you more control.
  5. Also think about who is to receive the e-mail: you, the student, or both:
    • If you expect a lot of e-mails, you can choose to add a line to your inbox that directly places the e-mails sent from the intelligent agent in a different folder.
    • Students can answer to mails sent by the intelligent agent. Use Settings to change the name and e-mail address of the sender. 
    • You can see to where each intelligent agents has sent e-mails using View History.
  6. If you export a course, the intelligent agent does not automatically come along.
  7. If you copy an intelligent agent to another course you have to set up the settings again. You also have to reactivate the intelligent agent.

Possible user scenarios

Below you will find six scenarios in which you could use intelligent agents. The first example has been worked out in more detail. The complete step-by-step plan for creating an intelligent agent can be found in the article How do I create an Intelligent Agent and how do I test them?

Example 1: No activity in the course

  • Why: to see whether students perform the activities in your course.
  • When: weekly, or for example each workweek (less often is also possible, but more frequently is not recommended as too many e-mails will not have the desired effect).
  • How: Select the option User has not accessed course for at least under Criteria. You can then select the period, for example five days.
  • What: the intelligent agent will send an e-mail to yourself or to the student if they have not accessed the course for the predetermined time (in this example five days).
  1. Under Course Activity, select the following option: Take action when the following course activity criteria are satisfied.
  2. Select User has not accessed course for at least and enter the desired amount of days.

Example 2: Welcome

  • Why: to welcome students after their first session in the course and possibly send them additional information.
  • When: daily during the first two weeks of the semester.
  • How: select User has accessed course during the past 1 day(s).
  • What: the intelligent agent sends an e-mail when the student accesses the course for the first time.

Example 3: Missed the first week of class

  • Why: to remind students who have not attended the first week of classes that they might be behind.
  • When: at the end of the first week of classes.
  • How: select User has not accessed course for at least 5 day(s).
  • What: sends an e-mail to the student if they have not accessed the course in the first week (you can CC yourself to stay informed).

Example 4: Successfully wrapped up the activities from the first week

  • Why: to ease students' minds after they have completed all activities for the first week and to encourage them to keep going.
  • When: if a student has completed all activities from the first week.
  • How: by using release conditions (a student has finished all activities).
  • What: the intelligent agent will send an e-mail to the student when they meet the requirements set with the release conditions (you can CC yourself to stay informed).

Example 5: low score in a quiz

  • Why: to encourage students to get better grades after they have received a low score.
  • When: 24 hours after assessing a quiz.
  • How: by using release conditions (when a student has received a score below a certain amount for a specific quiz).
  • What: the intelligent agent will send an e-mail to the student with an encouragement and suggestions to do better on the next quiz.

Example 6: Improved quiz score

  • Why: to congratulate a student with their improved test score after two quizzes.
  • When: 24 hours after assessing the second quiz.
  • How: by using two release conditions (when a student has received lower than a certain amount for the first quiz but higher than a certain amount for the second quiz).

It is strongly advised not to use intelligent agents to evaluate on a system level, meaning using an intelligent agent to evaluate whether students have or have not logged onto Brightspace for a certain amount of time. Restrict the use of an intelligent agent to your own course.
It is also important to be considerate about using intelligent agents to evaluate how long a student has not accessed your course. There might be valid, personal reasons why a student does not access your course frequently, and it would not be desirable to receive daily e-mails that remind them about inactivity if this were the case.

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