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Brightspace Staff Support

How to navigate in Brightspace

Our tutorials will make use of terms such as ‘navbar’ and ‘sidebar’ as we talk you through the steps in each guide. This guide will show you where these different navigation objects are located. A video tutorial is just below, and text instructions with screenshots are below that.

Login screen

Brightspace login screen

If you’re not logged in, the first thing you see when you visit is the login screen. If you get an error here, and you're certain that your username and password are correctly entered, you’ll need to contact IT.

Brightspace homepage

brightspace homepage

The Brightspace homepage is the page that users land on after logging in.

Here, you will find:

  • The ‘My Learning Spaces’ widget, which displays Brightspace modules which you have access to
  • The ‘My Announcement’ widget, which displays announcements from modules that you have access to
  • The ‘Calendar’ widget, which displays events in modules that you have access to
  • Links to support that you can access

Navigation menus at the top of the page

brightspace menus

There are three components to the navigation at the top of the page:

  • ‘My home’ – Clicking the UoS logo will take you to your Brightspace homepage (see above).
  • Minibar – Contains the waffle menu, the settings menu…
  • Navbar – Contains the links for navigating within a module or within the Brightspace homepage.

The minibar


  1. Waffle menu - Displays a list of the modules which you have access to, along with a search function.
  2. Message alerts - Displays instant messages that you have received on Brightspace, or emails received through Brightspace.
  3. Subscription alerts - Displays updates for discussion forums that you have chosen to subscribe to.
  4. Update alerts - This icon will display a notification when a wide range of actions take place in any of your modules.
  5. Profile and account settings - Allows you to change your Brightspace profile, as well as notification and account settings.
  6. Admin tools - Displays settings related to the management of courses and users, depending on your role.

The navbar

When you’re in a Brightspace module, your navbar will most likely display like this:

brightspace navbar

Here’s an overview of each menu item:

  • Content – Selecting this will take the user to the module overview, if you have one. (If you don’t see ‘How to create an overview page’. They’re very useful.) It may also take the user to the point which they last progressed to.
  • Assessment – You can access the gradebook from here, as well as seeing things like quizzes, assignments and rubrics. There are also a couple of reference materials, such as the student guide and the extenuating circumstances policy.
  • Communications – This gives you access to the range of tools that you can use to speak to students, or to create discussions amongst them.
  • My Brightspace – Currently, this has one menu item, which is ‘awards’. This will show awards that have been given (and that you have won) in the module.
  • Help – Here, there is a link to ‘Ask the expert’, a link to IT, and a system check option which will tell you if Brightspace is working as it should be.
  • Control panel – This is a very important area, because it gives you access to all of the tools that enable you to control content, manage assessment and administer the module.

Module homepage

brightspace module homepage

The module homepage will display when a user opens up the module after selecting it from their Brightspace homepage (see above).

Here, a user will see announcements, the module calendar, any bookmarks they have created and their progress in each folder. Announcements are very useful. See ‘How to create an announcement’ for more information.

Note that the module title at the top of the page is a link. This will show wherever you are in the module and will bring users back to the module homepage.

The overview page and the sidebar

brightspace overview page and sidebar

Selecting the content menu item of the navbar will take the user either to the overview page, or the last point that they were at in the content.

  • Overview – Here you can provide guidance to students for how to follow the module  structure and include your module guide as a PDF. See ‘How to create an overview page’.
  • Table of Contents – Selecting this menu item from the sidebar will display all of the folders within the module, making it easy to quickly add, move or edit content.
  • Folders – Selecting the folders will take you to an overview page for that folder. Folders can also contain sub-folders.

Note the numbers in the boxes by the Table of Contents and the folders. For lecturers, it displays how many topics are in each folder. For students, it will show how many topics they have left to view.

The Table of Contents 

brightspace table of contents

The table of contents will show you all of the folders and topics within your module. You can move things from one folder to another by selecting the little waffles next to the names of the folders or topics. 

Also, if you select 'Related Tools', then 'View Reports', you can get a useful summary of how long your students are spending on each page on average.

The ‘breadcrumbs’ menu

brightspace breadcrumbs menu

This will appear when a user is in a topic and will display links to get back to the Table of Contents and the folder or subfolder that the topic is in.