Oct 13 2016

Portfolio Updates for the First Term

The team at the Center for Teaching and Learning responsible for CoursePlus works closely with the faculty and adminsitrative staff using portfolios in their degree programs. We get a lot of requests for enhancements and improvements to the portfolio, and we work hard to make as many of those requests happen. To that end, here's a list of changes we've made to the portfolio tool in the first academic term:

  • There is now a "Return to Student as Incomplete" workflow for touchpoints which require advisor approval. If an advisor marks a touchpoint as "Incomplete - Send Back to Student," the student is notified and can see the faculty feedback on the relevant touchpoint page. The student can then make adjustments and return the touchpoint to the advisor for additional review. A history of student reflections and advisor comments is displayed to both students and advisors.
  • Touchpoint display on the main student view has been modified so that if there are more than five (5) touchpoints in a program, only touchpoints that are due in the next 16 weeks (two academic terms) are shown, rather than all touchpoints at once. There is a button to show all touchpoints, grouped by academic year, at once. Any touchpoints that have a status of "Waiting for Student" or "Returned as Incomplete" are always shown.
  • The text of each reflection prompt has been removed from the main listing of touchpoints in a student portfolio. This makes the page significantly more readable.
  • The "All Touchpoint Completion for a Cohort" report for program administrators can now be exported to Excel.
  • If a student has set up a bio-sketch publishing view, a link to that bio-sketch is now also available in the program administrator when you look at students in a cohort.
  • When a student selects a level for a competency, a checkmark briefly appears next to that competency, indicating that it has been saved. 
  • Program admins can now filter the overall competency report by date, so that they can see how all students in the program self-rated on competencies at a specific point in time. 
  • Program admins can now hide the display of entire cohorts of students from faculty advisors.
  • The list of student advisees in the faculty advisor view is now grouped by cohort and cohort start year so that the most recent cohorts display first.
  • Expand/collapse buttons are available on list of student advisees in the faculty advisor view so that entire cohorts can be hidden or shown at once.
  • A link has been added to faculty self-service in SIS on the advisor dashboard page.
  • An individual no longer needs to have the default role of "Faculty of Record" in CoursePlus in order to be added as an advisor to a cohort.
  • The touchpoint type (Reflection/Task) has been removed from the main touchpoint view for students.
  • The time stamp on personal journal entries now displays in 12-hour format, instead of 24-hour.
  • Custom due dates now appear in the timeline view of a student portfolio, instead of the default due date for that touchpoint.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 4:00 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Sep 28 2016

New Table Tools in the Rich Text Editor in CoursePlus

There's a powerful rich text editor used in many tools in CoursePlus. It's not quite the same as editing a document in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, but it provides a lot of formatting and media insertion options when creating text in CoursePlus. While this tool has had table editing tools for a long time, we heard from some faculty that they didn't know that they could add tables to text fields in CoursePlus, and that editing table layout and properties was just too hard.

We're pleased to announce that the rich text editor found throughout CoursePlus has an all-new, easily discoverable set of tools for creating tables!  The new tools make setting up a table, adding or deleting rows and columns, and merging rows and cells much easier:

Icons representing the new table tools in CoursePlus.

The new table tools can be found at the top of almost every rich text editor in CoursePlus. We hope you find them easier to use than before!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 10:15 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Sep 23 2016

Important Notice about Safari 10 and LiveTalk


Safari 10 was released on Tuesday, September 20, and includes a significant change which affects attending LiveTalks.

By default, the Flash Player is turned off in Safari 10. It will appear to websites that Flash is simply not installed, and you will always get a message saying that you need to install the Flash Player — even if you have already installed the latest version of the Flash Player.

To enable Flash Player in Safari 10, you must do the following:

  1. In Safari, go to Preferences > Security
  2. Make sure that “Enable Plug-ins” is checked.
  3. Click “Plug-in Settings”
  4. Select “Adobe Flash Player” from the list. If Flash is not installed, it will not appear in the list of available plug-ins. 
  5. Once enabled the plug-in is enabled by clicking the checkbox next to "Adobe Flash Player," set the “When visiting other websites” option at the bottom of the screen to either “Ask” or “On.”

You can add specific websites (i.e.; connect.jhsph.edu only) to this screen, so that Flash is only allowed to run on specific websites and not everywhere, but the website must be open in your web browser at the time.

If you need help making this change, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:35 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Sep 6 2016

Cleaning Up the Syllabus Builder Interface

In addition to making significant improvements to the printed version of a syllabus in CoursePlus, the CoursePlus team has also cleaned up the Syllabus Builder tool interface to make it easier on the eyes. We've removed a lot of visual clutter and extra whitespace so the whole page has a leaner, more readable look. Sepecifically, we've:

  • Taken the sidebar of suggested sections and put it into a drop-down button at the top of the page
  • Removed some of the suggested sections in the sidebar because they were never used in the past two years
  • Reduced the box sizes and font sizes of section headers
  • Reduced blank space between sections
  • Provided a "Collapse/Expand All Sections" tool so you can quickly see all the sections on the page
  • Removed the "See Student View of the Syllabus" button because that's available from the "Syllabus" menu at the very top of the page

We hope that these changes make it an easier tool for everyone to use!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 11:05 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Aug 29 2016

Vastly Improved Printing of the Syllabus

Faculty haven't always been happy with the printout of the syllabus in their CoursePlus sites. The CoursePlus team has been gathering feedback about this issue, and we're pleased to announce that we've made significant improvements to the printed version of the course syllabus in CoursePlus. Some of the changes include:

  • A cleaner font throughout the document. When alternate fonts are used on the webpage version of the syllabus, they are substituted for the standard font in the PDF version.
  • Font size is reduced overall, especially in headers. This results in fewer pages in the printed document.
  • Whitespace has been significantly reduced, including the automatic removal of leading or trailing whitespace in the webpage verison of the syllabus.
  • Page numbers have been added to each page.
  • A footer has been added to each page which shows the course number, title, academic term and year, and the last updated date/time.
  • Sections of the syllabus or even standard pieces of content like the days/times of the class that are not used or are blank are suppressed in the printed syllabus.
  • The layout of the "Contact" section has been redone to reduce unused space.
  • Email addresses in the "Contact" section are now active hyperlinks.
  • Class time notes are imported from the JHSPH course system and displayed next to the class dates/times.
  • Objectives are numbered, not bulleted.
  • If a course's learning objectives are "Information not required for this course type" or "No objectives have been defined," the Course Learning Objectives section is not shown.
  • Links to files in the Online Library appear as active weblinks.
  • The list of class sessions has been vastly improved, reducing whitespace and listing Online Library files in a multi-column list, rather than a single column list that took up a lot of vertical space.
  • The date of the class session now appears before the faculty name (if any).
  • Class session dates now use the full name of the day and the month of the session, rather than an abbreviation.
  • A JHU watermark has been added to the first page of the printed syllabus.

If you haven't tried printing your course syllabus recently, please do so! Additional refinements will be made to the printed version of the syllabus as requests and feedback continue to come in.

Please note that the "Print to Word" option in the syllabus will be removed as of October 1, 2016. The main reason for this is the "Print to Word" option is both expensive to maintain and used by a very small number of people. Of the 1,321,906 visits to course syllabi pages between January 1, 2015 and June 13, 2016, only 2426 of those requests (0.18%) were for the Word version of the syllabus. As it is expensive to maintain the Word version, and difficult to implement some of the above changes to the Word version of the syllabus, we will be removing that option from CoursePlus as of October 1, 2016.

Your continued feedback about the syllabus tool is important to us. We want it to be a great tool for everyone, so please contact CTL Help or your course instructional designer with additional concerns, questions, and feedback about the syllabus tool.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 11:16 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Aug 24 2016

Recording and Notes from "What's New in CoursePlus AY16-17"

If you couldn't make the Tuesday, August 23 session on "What's New in CoursePlus AY2016-2017," below are two valuable resources for you:

  1. A recording of the presentation
  2. A PDF of notes highlighting the new features and significant changes to CoursePlus

Thank you to everyone who attended the session, and thank you for your great feedback!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 4:07 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Aug 16 2016

Change Submitted Answers for a Quiz Back Into an Active, In-Progress Quiz

In spite of our best efforts to the contrary, students still occasionally have computer or network problems which prevent them from properly completing an exam or quiz in CoursePlus. Oftentimes, these are single-access, single-attempt exams where the student has one and only one chance to take the exam and submit answers.

While we've long had tools which enable faculty to allow students back in to a single-access, single-attempt exam if they have a problem, once students submitted their answers, those answers were final and unchangeable. There was no way for a student who submitted answers in spite of having some kind of problem (ie; not being able to open a file linked in the exam) to go back and finish the exam once the problem was discussed and resovled with the course faculty.

We're pleased to announce that we've added a feature to the Quiz Generator to address exactly this problem.

Screenshot of the "Change Answers Back into an Active Quiz" link

After a student submits their answers, a new option has been added to the the view of the student's responses and scores: "Change Answers Back Into an Active Quiz." Once you click this link and confirm your choice, the students answers will be changed back into a working set, and the student can access the quiz again (given the proper permissions) to continue working on the quiz.

If the quiz is a single-access, single-attempt quiz, students are also automatically given permission to access the quiz one more time. It is strongly recommended, however, that you still consider any other special permissions needed for the student to complete the quiz. Students may need more time, may need to have access to the quiz if it's already outside the normal dates for taking the quiz, or you may want to lock down any answers the student did submit themselves before running into a technical problem. You will need to set those permissions yourself. 

It's also important to note that when you change student answers back into an active quiz, any scores or feedback you may have provided for the student are deleted. 

We hope that this new feature helps alleviate a little bit more of the stress encountered when students have problems taking quizzes or exams, and makes it much easier for a student to simply finish their work, rather than having them start everything over from scratch.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 1:18 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

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