Category: Course Tools

Jul 9 2013

Submit Files to the Drop Box from Google Drive or Dropbox

We've just rolled out an exciting new feature for students who submit files to a course drop box. You can now select a file in Google Drive (Google Docs) or from your Dropbox or account in addition to selecting a file on your desktop or laptop computer when submitting files to a course drop box. This gives you a lot more flexibility in where you store (and how you work on) files that you eventually submit to a course drop box. Additionally, the new file picker for the Drop Box also supports dragging and dropping files from your desktop into the Drop Box file picker window.

If you decide to use Google Drive or Dropbox as the source of the file you want to submit, you'll need to give the application permission to do so. We use a third-party integration called "Inkfilepicker" for this functionality, so you may see that come up if you go this route. None of your files are stored on the Inkfilepicker servers. Files are securely stored on separate servers by the Center for Teaching and Learning. 

Please also note that if you're really pushing the deadline for submitting a file — that is, you're waiting until the literal last minute to submit your file to a course drop box — you might end up submitting the file past the deadline. Remember that you have to first authorize Google Drive or Dropbox or to access your files, and only then can you pick the file you want to use, and only after that is the file actually uploaded to the course drop box. This process can take a minute or more, so if you wait until 11:58pm to submit to a course drop box that closes at 11:59pm and you're using Google Drive, Dropbox or, you might miss the deadline.

This feature is only available in online courses at this time. We plan on bringing it to CoursePlus by the second academic term.

If you have feedback about this new feature, we'd love to hear it!


Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:19 AM - Categories: Course Tools | Online Courses

Apr 2 2013

Using the Rich Text Editor on iOS Devices

If you are using iOS 5.1 or later on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, we have a bit of good news for you: the rich text editor that we use in the course BBS, wiki, class email tool and Announcements tool now works on iOS devices! 

Previously, we had to provide a simple text box with no formatting if you were using an iOS device. This is because the rich text editor just didn't work on iOS devices. The group that makes the rich text editor recently updated it so that it now works on iOS devices, and we've added that version to the online course system.

If you're using an Android device, however, we don't have good news for you. The rich text editor still doesn't work on Android devices — although the new Chrome web browser that Google is building for Android 4 and later should work once Google finishes the product. We're keeping an eye on this so we can hopefully bring the rich text editor to Android devices soon as well.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 11:54 AM - Categories: Course Tools | Online Courses

Mar 27 2013

Upload Images Directly Into BBS Posts

If you've ever tried to insert an image directly into a BBS post, you know that you had to point to an image somewhere else on the Web. You couldn't simply upload a file on your computer directly into a BBS post. You could add a file as an attachment to your post, but you couldn't display it inside the BBS post itself.

That has changed. Starting today, you can upload images from your computer directly into the body of a BBS post in any online course. How do you do this? There's a new button on the rich text editor control bar for BBS posts that allows you to insert an image directly into your post:

Insert Image into BBS Post Button

Click this button, and you'll be prompted to pick a file from your computer to insert wherever the cursor is in the BBS post box. You can even re-use images you've already uploaded if you need to do that.


Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:34 AM - Categories: Course Tools | Online Courses

Mar 25 2013

Major Updates to the Drop Box in CoursePlus

Just in time for the fourth term, the team in the Center for Teaching and Learning has added some major new features to the Drop Box in CoursePlus. Here's what's new:

  • Students can submit files on behalf of a group. When a student submits a file to a group-enabled Drop Box, the student sees a drop-down list of all the course groups to which she is assigned. If the student is turning in a file for the group, she selects the appropriate course group from the list. When a student submits a file, all group members get an email confirmation of file submission, and the faculty view of the Drop Box shows that all group members turned in the file. Learn more about submitting for a group in the Drop Box.
  • Timed Drop Boxes. You can now set up a Drop Box so that a student will only have a set amount of time from the moment they "unlocked" a Drop Box before they can no longer submit a file to a Drop Box. If you have an assessment where students need to work inside of a specific type of document (an Excel file or R script, for example), you can offer that document to students and know that students only have a limited amount of time to work with the document and return it to you via the course website. Learn more about this powerful new feature.
  • Get notified about submissions after the deadline. You've been able to get email notification of all submissions to a Drop Box, but now you can be notified only after the due date and time of the Drop Box, if you want. Learn more about submission notification options.

The addition of these features brings the Drop Box in CoursePlus in line with the Drop Box in online courses, so you have the same options and opportunities available in each!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:11 AM - Categories: Course Tools | CoursePlus

Feb 25 2013

Letting Students Know You've Seen Their BBS Posts Without Directly Replying

Faculty have told us that while they try to stay on top of the BBS discussions in online courses, they don't always have time to respond to student posts. Oftentimes, the faculty will read posts and come back to them at a later time to respond. As a result, many faculty have expressed an interest in a way of letting students know that their posts have been read even if the faculty can't respond right away.

Following up on this request, we've added a small feature to the BBS in online courses. When anyone on the course instructional team (faculty or TAs) views a topic in a BBS, the message "Last Viewed by Instructional Team on [date time of last view]" now appears at the top of the post. This way, students know that someone from the instructional team has read their posts, even if they haven't directly responded to them.

If the faculty and TAs feel that this feature is too intrusive into their activity in the course BBS, this feature can be turned off for the entire course BBS by selecting the apporpriate option in the BBS Admin.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 2:21 PM - Categories: Course Tools | Online Courses

Jan 29 2013

Farewell, Audio Chat

The Audio Chat tool has been removed from online courses as of Monday, January 14, 2013.

When we launched Audio Chat almost a decade ago, it was a solution that didn't have a comparable equivalent in the desktop world. Now students, faculty, and staff have Skype, Google Hangouts, and the University's Adobe Connect service at their disposal for online conferencing and discussion. These tools offer much better service and many more options than Audio Chat.

Audio Chat is based on aging Flash media technology. The platform on which it's based -- Adobe's Flash Interactive Server -- hasn't gotten a lot of attention in recent years, and there is no solution for this platform which works on smartphones or tablets. Tools like Skype, Google Hangouts, and Adobe Connect are continually updated, have mobile options, and provide much better service overall.

Our logs show that only a handful of students used Audio Chat in the past few years. If you were one of those students, you should definitely look into Google Hangouts or the University's Adobe Connect service. Both are easy to use and provide a much more robust and better designed experience than Audio Chat ever could.


Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:43 AM - Categories: Course Tools | Online Courses

Nov 26 2012

Get Notified About Drop Box Submissions after the Deadline

There has been an option in the Drop Box setup to send notifications to a specified email address each time a file is submitted to a Drop Box. This is useful for passively monitoring when students submit files, but we've received feedback over the past year that it would be great to only get email notificaitons if there are submissions after the deadline for a Drop Box. This way, faculty or TAs are direclty notified if a student is turning in a file after the deadline, rather than having to look at the list of all student submissions to see who turned in a file after the deadline (where such submissions are flagged in red).

We recently added the ability to receive email notifications only after the deadline for the Drop Box has passed to the Drop Box in online courses. This options is available when you edit the Drop Box settings:

Upload Notification Options in the Drop Box

This is a small change to how Drop Boxes work, but one that will be very helpful for some faculty and TAs!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 1:00 PM - Categories: Course Tools | Online Courses

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