May 12 2017

Reminder: Access to AY15-16 Courses Ends May 31, 2017

Access to academic year 2015-2016 courses ends on May 31, 2017. This is in line with the policy for access to CoursePlus websites. The policy states that access to a CoursePlus site is enabled for the academic year in which the course is offered and following academic year. For example, if a course occurred in the third term of the 2015-2016 academic year, a student enrolled in the course has access to the CoursePlus site until the end of the 2016-2017 academic year. After that point, access to that CoursePlus site is terminated.

If you need materials from a CoursePlus site in the 2015-2016 academic year, please download them before May 31, 2017, as you will not be able to access the sites from the 2015-2016 academic year after that time.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:06 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

May 10 2017

Display and Open Discussion Forum Categories on a Specific Date

Faculty and TAs have a whole host of tools to control access to categories in the discussion forum in their CoursePlus sites. You can make a category visible only to a select group of students, lock the category and prevent new posts after a specific date and time, restrict posts to just faculty and TAs, and more.

You can now set a date on which a discussion forum category becomes visible to students. A number of faculty have asked CTL Help for this feature in the past year. Not only does this feature provide more control for faculty who desire it, it also helps to declutter the main category view by not showing categories that aren't going to be used until a specific date. It can also help prevent posts in the wrong category when categories are organized around periods of time (ie; weeks of the term).

Screenshot of the new "Hide Category Until" option

This option is available when you set up or edit an individual category in your discussion forum. If you have questions about how to use this new feature, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:04 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

May 1 2017

CoursePlus Outage on May 1, 2017

CoursePlus went offline unexpectedly at approximately 1:17am today, May 1, 2017, and was offline until approximately 7:05am. According to the research that CTL and JHSPH IT have done thus far, connections to the database cluster got backed up and caused a cascading failure across the CoursePlus cluster. It is not clear at this time why the connections got backed up or why connections did not fail over to another server in the CoursePlus database cluster, but we are investigating.

We apologize for the inconvenience that this no doubt caused some students, TAs, and faculty. We know that any downtime in CoursePlus is very frustrating to all of you, and we work hard to eliminate unexpected downtime. 

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:20 AM - Categories:

Apr 13 2017

Grant Special Access to a Page Builder Page

Every few months, faculty contact the CTL Help team to find out if there's a way to give a single student early access to content in their course. The student is ususally traveling when content becomes available to the rest of the class, and not having early access may mean falling behind on class work due to travel constraints.

Faculty and TAs can now grant special access to a Page Builder page to a student in their class. This enables faculty and TAs to allow individual students early access to a page in their course, before that page becomes available to all students. The tool also allows them to grant individual students access to a page after it is no longer available to students in the class.

Screenshot of the new manage special access to a page tool

Only the currently selected student will have special access to the selected page. If more than one student needs special access to the page, each student needs to be given special acccess individually. To make a change that affects access to all students in the class, the change needs to be made via the Schedule Builder tool in the website for the course.

The special access tool also has a log of who was given special access, when, and by whom.

We hope that this addition will make the management of your online courses easier! If you have questions about how this tool works, please contact CTL Help.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 2:02 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Apr 4 2017

Interface Refresh for the On-Campus Class Sessions Tool

Many changes have been made to the on-campus Class Sessions tool to make editing of sessions easier, re-ordering of sessions more intuitive, and to provide greater consistency between the different pages in the tool. You can now link to Page Builder pages from the Class Sessions tool and preview surveys from on-campus class sessions. Multiple actions have been combined into a single "Actions" menu, rather than repeating them for every class session or hiding them behind layers of information.

You can see from a comparison of the previous version of the class sessions tool on the left and the refreshed class sessions tool on the right that the changes, while many, are relatively minor:

Side by side comparison of old and refresh class sessions UI

The reordering of sessions has been completely redone, matching the reordering process of syllabus sections and quiz questions. You will no longer get stuck in the process of dragging and dropping class session boxes.

Screen capture of the revised interface for reordering the display of class sessions

Finally, class sessions can now use both a default session evaluation from a template and have multiple other surveys linked to that session.

We hope that all of these changes will make your time in the class sessions tool a more pleasant one. If you have questions or comments, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 1:49 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Mar 23 2017

Interactive Transcripts During Lecture Playback

As we move to make both CoursePlus and the content housed in CoursePlus more universally accessible, we're taking a big leap forward with the introduction of interactive transcripts during the playback of online lectures in CoursePlus. 

Screen capture of the interactive transcript player for online lectures

While downloadable text transcripts have long provided an alternative form of consuming the content of course lectures, interactive transcripts provide more functionality than simple captions for the videos. Interactive transcripts provide the following features:

  • A full transcript of the lecture on the page, right next to the lecture video
  • Real-time highlighting of the current word or phrase being spoken
  • Searching the current video for key words
  • Download the text transcript on the lecture video playback page itself

Interactive transcripts can have great benefit for a wide range of student audiences, but can be turned off if you personally don't want to see them. Additionally, interactive transcripts don't currently work on iOS devices, because iOS itself pulls the video off the underlying web page and plays the video back in a standalone, full-screen mode.

As we've demonstrated the interactive transcript feature, the most common questions were: "Is this available for all my lectures?" and "Can I search across all the lectures in a class?"

Interactive transcripts will be added to all lectures in fully online courses starting in fourth term AY16-17, and then rolling forward through every term in AY17-18. New lectures will have interactive transcripts by default.

Searching across all the lectures in a class is a feature that's on the CoursePlus roadmap. We don't currently have a firm date as to when that feature will become available.

In the meantime, we hope that you find the interactive transcripts helpful in your learning experience while in CoursePlus!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:38 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Mar 13 2017

Page Builder for On-Campus Classes

Page Builder is the tool used in fully online courses to build out standalone lecture or activity pages for students to access. Faculty can create extensive descriptions of projects, assignments, or reference guides to the course, each on their own individual page with links to files in the Online Library or other tools in CoursePlus. Page Builder is also used by the CTL team to build the pages for fully online lectures.

All CoursePlus sites now have access to the Page Builder tool. In combination with utilization of Schedule Builder, on-campus courses can now build out sites very similar to fully online courses. Links can be made to Page Builder pages from the Class Sessions tool, and you can link multiple pages to a single class session, or multiple class sessions to a single page. You can even set a date on which students will have access to a Page Builder page in your on-campus class. If you opt to use the Schedule Builder tool instead of the Class Sessions tool, you can link up pages to individual items in the class schedule, just as is done in fully online courses.

Faculty can also import pages from any course that they teach (e.g.; on which they are listed as primary faculty), not just other sections of the same course. This allows easy reuse of content — including fully online lectures — between courses.

As with fully online courses, only CTL staff can create lecture pages. Standard Page Builder lecture pages (just like those found in fully online courses) will be used from this point forward for all CTL-produced lectures for blended classes and flipped lectures. Once created, faculty, TAs, and editors can edit the content of lecture pages created by CTL staff, with the exception of the Lecture Materials box on the lecture page.

Page Builder is a powerful tool which offers a great deal of flexibility the kind of content you can put into your CoursePlus site. There's a full guide to using Page Builder in the CoursePlus Faculty Guide. If you have questions about how to use Page Builder, please contact CTL Help!

0 comments - Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:43 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

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