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The Content tab in D2L includes various materials that your instructor has compiled for the course including articles, websites, videos, podcasts, PDFs, etc. Instructors often organize materials according to the course units.

The Content tab is divided into two panes, the left module pane and the right detail pane. The left module pane includes the Overview, Upcoming Events, Table of Contents, and course modules. Using the left module pane allows you to easily navigate through the course schedule, content and assignments. The right detail pane allows you to view the individual components of each module as well as the new completion bar and completion tracking features.


The Overview module allows you to view the introduction to the course topic, content, and expectations for the course. You may access the Overview from the left module pane.This new feature will be visible to students only if the instructor has entered text or added an attachment to the Overview. You may see the Overview in some courses and not in others.

NOTE: The Overview is the default page displayed the first time you access a course. If the instructor has not entered any information in the Overview, you will be taken to the Table of Contents instead.

course overview

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events displays start, end, and due dates for course materials in Content as well as dates applied to other course tools due in the next 9 days. You may access Upcoming Events from the left module pane.

NOTE: The number beside the upcoming events link indicates how many upcoming events you have.

  1. Click Upcoming Events in the left module pane.

    upcoming events

  2. Any upcoming events will be displayed in the right detail pane.

    upcoming events 1

    NOTE: You can collapse individual events by clicking the icon on the right: collapse

Table of Contents

The Table of Contents lists all of the modules in the course and can be accessed from the left module pane. This view makes it easy to browse all course materials and assignments. The number beside a module listed in the Table of Contents indicates how many topics within the module that need to be completed. As you work through the course materials, the number will decrease.

  1. Click Table of Contents in the left module pane.

    table of contents

  2. The course materials and assignments will appear in the right detail pane.

    course materials and assignments

  3. If you would like to view a specific module from the left module pane, you may click that module to display only the topics in the module in the right detail pane.

  4. Click on the topic links to view or download the material contained in each topic.

Completion Bar

After accessing either the Table of Contents or an individual course module, you will notice a completion bar at the top of the right detail pane. This bar will display both the number and the percentage of topics you have completed. As you work through the course assignments and materials, the bar will fill.

completion bar

Completion Tracking

D2L now offers completion tracking on course materials and assignments. With this new tool (displayed to to the right of each topic in Content), you may monitor your progress through course materials in Content. The numbers to the right of the module titles in the left pane indicate the number of tasks requiring completion in each module. These numbers decrease as students complete the course materials.

Your instructor may choose from three completion tracking options and may mix the types in your course:

  • Automatic—sets a topic as completed when the user views it; some activities, such as discussions, assessments, or file submissions, must be completed before they are tracked as completed.
  • Manual—allows students to manually set the topic to complete status as they move through the course work. The manual option is set by default in all of your D2L courses but your instructors may change it.
  • No Completion Tracking—disables this feature from your course; the display will be blank to the right of the topic.


   Completion Methods  Before Viewing Topic   After Viewing Topic
     Automatic Tracking               grey dot               grey check
     Manual Tracking               blank square               green square
No CompletionTracking        [no icon displays]      [no icon displays]


  1. If your instructor has set Automatic Completion, a gray dot will be displayed to the right of the topic title in the right pane before the material is accessed. After accessing the material, a check mark indicating completion of the item will display and the completion bar at the top of the screen will update. The numbers to the right of the module titles in the left pane will decrease as you complete the materials in Content.

  2. If Manual Completion is set in your D2L course, a blank square will display to the right of the topic title in the right pane. When you complete a topic, manually click on the square to the right of the topic. After doing so, a green check mark indicating completion will appear and the completion bar at the top of the screen will update. The numbers to the right of the module titles in the left pane will decrease as you complete the materials in Content.

  3. If your instructor has chosen No Completion Tracking, the display will be blank to the right of the Content topics in the right pane. No numbers will display to the right of the module titles in the left pane.

Navigation and Layout

D2L provides navigation features which allow you to easily navigate through the individual components of a course module. By using either the breadcrumb links or the previous and next buttons, you can navigate through the course content. Version 10.3 also features a new floating and collapsible side panel giving you quick access to the Table of Contents.

Watch this LTS video tutorial about navigating the Content tool in D2L.



Breadcrumb Links

When you are viewing a topic, the breadcrumb trail at the top of the screen allow you to navigate through the path you took to reach the current page. You can click each section of the breadcrumb trail to return to the previous page.


Floating Side Panel

When you view a topic, the floating side panel can be accessed on the left side of your screen, giving you quick access to the course's Table of Contents:




Content 10.3 floating module pane


Content 10.3 expanded side panel



You may click on the tab to expand the side panel:

  • The panel floats down the page in its open or closed state as you scroll through the displayed topic.

  • When the side panel is expanded, you may navigate to a previous module or to the next module with these controls Content 10.3 side panel arrows at the top of the panel.

  • You may access another topic in the current module by clicking on the topic title in the list:

     Content 10.3 topics in floating right panel

  • Click the Content 10.3 return to table of contentsGo to Table of Contents icon to return to the Table of Contents page.

Previous and Next Buttons

The previous and next buttons appear at the top of the right detail pane when you access an individual component of a course module. These buttons allow you to navigate through the content that come immediately before and after your current page.

Content 10.3 Previous and Next Buttons

Icon Descriptions


            Icon                                        Description
    Download Button This view allows you to check the boxes of the items you would like to print or download from the course content. See Print/Download Course Files for more information.
 bookmarks This button shows you the course content that you have bookmarked.
 recently visited This button allows you to view the course content topics you recently visited.
           acrobat Course content type: Adobe Acrobat document.
            activities Course content type: Link Topic.
            webpage Course content type: Web page.
            word  Course content type: Word document.
            powerpoint Course content type: PowerPoint slideshow.
 submit feedback When you are viewing a topic, this button allows you to rate the item and leave feedback.
NOTE: You can opt to make your rating and comments anonymous in the Submit Feedback dialog box.
           bookmark When you are viewing a topic, this button allows you to bookmark a topic to make it accessible from your Bookmarks.
          popout When you are viewing a topic in the course content, this button allows you to undock the topic so you can view it in a new window.
      Print When you are viewing a topic, this button allows you to print the item.
         Content 10.3 Previous Button This button allows you to view the previous course content topic.
    Content 10.3 Next Button

This button allows you to view the next course content topic.

User Progress for Students

The User Progress feature allows you to view a progress summary of an individual course.

  1. To access your User Progress, click the Personal Menu button on the top right side of the screen  student

  2. From the dropdown menu that appears, choose Progress


  3. The Progress Summary appears.

  4. From the Progress Summary you can view statistics for Grades, Objectives, Content, Discussions, Dropbox, Quizzes, Checklists, Surveys, and Login History.
    NOTE: The Login History displays the number of times you have logged into D2L, not to a specific D2L course.

Accessing Content

Print/Download Course Files

To print individual course content items,

  1. Click on the title of the topic you wish to print.

  2. The document then displays in the document viewer.

  3. Scroll down the page to the Print button below the document viewer.

  4. Press Print; the Print dialog box will appear. Choose the printer and settings you prefer, then press Print at the bottom of the dialog box.

To print multiple Course Content items,

  1. Choose the Content tab.

  2. Select the module in the left module pane; when selected it will be highlighted in blue.

  3. At the top of the right pane, press the Download downlad button.

  4. A zip file is created.

  5. Extract the files; then you will be able to print the desired topics.

Downloading Multiple Course Files

While many files within your course may be web pages that simply appear when you click on them, other files may need to be downloaded to your computer before you can work with them. If you click on a file and it opens, your computer is configured to work with the file. However, if the file does not open, you will need to follow these instructions:


  1. In Desire2Learn, click the file link.
    The File Download dialog box appears.

  2. Click Save.
    The Save As dialog box appears.

  3. Using the Save in pull-down menu, select the desired save location.
    OPTIONAL: In the File name text box, type the desired document name.

  4. Click Save.
    The file is saved to the specified location.
    The Download complete dialog box appears.

  5. To open the file immediately, click Open.
    To open the folder the file was downloaded to, click Open folder.
    To close the dialog box, click Close.

  6. Using the appropriate software program, open the file.


  1. In Desire2Learn, click the file link.
    The Downloads dialog box appears and automatically downloads the file to the desktop.

  2. When the download is completed, close the Downloads dialog box.

  3. Using the appropriate software program, open the file.

Working with PDF Files

PDF file is a document saved in the Portable Document Format. To read a PDF file, you do not need the original program used to create the file, but you do need Adobe Reader. This software is free and can be downloaded from the Adobe website.

The instructions may vary slightly depending on your individual computer setup. The Learning and Technology Services Help Desk is available to help if you have problems. They can be reached at 715-836-5711 or at

Requirements for Accessing PDF files

Here are the requirements you will need in order to access PDF files:

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Internet Browser
  • Network Connection
  • Time to download the files

Downloading and Installing the Adobe Reader


Adobe Reader is a program that is provided free by Adobe and will allow you to access PDF files. You only need to download and install the program on your computer once.

  1. Go to the Adobe Reader website.
    The Adobe Reader Download page appears.

  2. Unclick the check box if you do not want to install the Google Toolbar.

  3. Click Download Now.
    A list of steps and a Security Warning dialog box appears.

  4. Click Run.
    The software downloads and another security warning box appears.

  5. Click Run.
    A User Account Control dialog box appears.

  6. Click Yes to allow the program to make changes to your computer.

  7. Save the file preferably on the desktop where you can find it easily.

    Note: Depending on your type of computer, operating system, and Internet browser, these steps may vary slightly.

Installing Adobe Reader

  1. Go to the folder that you saved the Adobe Reader install program in.
  2. Double click the install program icon. Reader Icon

  3. Click Next.

  4. To confirm the location, click Next again.

  5. At the Thank You dialog box, click OK.
    The installation of the program is now complete.

Reading PDF Files with the Adobe Reader

Depending on your computer setup, you will either be able to read PDF files automatically, or read them by saving them to your computer first.

Reading PDF Files by Saving Them First

  1. Right click the link to the PDF file » select Save Link As... or Save Target As...

  2. In the Save As dialog box, select the location where you want to save the file.

  3. Click Save.
    The file will begin downloading.

  4. When the Download Complete dialog box appears, click Open.
    The file will open in Adobe Reader.

    Note: You can access the file again by navigating to the folder you saved it in.

Reading PDF Files Automatically

  1. Click the link to the PDF file.
    The file should open in Adobe Reader automatically.

Media Files and Browser Issues

If you are linking to media (video/audio) in your D2L courses, your students may experience issues viewing and/or hearing these files depending on what browser they are using. The recommended browsers are:

  • Windows - Internet Explorer
  • Macintosh - Safari

You may reference more information about this issue at UW-Madison Knowledge Base.

Help Desk

For more information or to request a service, contact the LTS Help Desk:
HelpDeskLogo715-836-5711 | | OL1106