Category: Online Courses

Apr 22 2014

"Recent Items from the Online Library" Box on the Course Home Page

When the online course and CoursePlus systems merge at the end of the academic year, we'll be introducing a new element to course home pages: a "Recent Items from the Online Library" box on each course home page. This box includes the five most recently uploaded (or replaced) files or links in the course Online Library.

Aside from making the course home page more useful, the other purpose of this addition is to help replace some of the functionality on the “What’s New” page in CoursePlus. In case you don't know, when students sign into CoursePluse, there is a “What’s New” link next to each course in which they are enrolled. This page lists recently added quizzes, surveys, Drop Boxes and Online Library files for a specific course. Unfortunately, this feature won't make it into to the merged CoursePlus right away because it’s not a very scalable tool (it takes 5-7 seconds to gather all the data for just one course). It also helps to divert students from actually going into a CoursePlus site and engaging in the full scope of activities therein. It’s certainly convenient, and our hope is that — while no replacement for a custom, per-person, per-course “What’s New” page — the "Updates to the Online Library Box” will help replace some of this convenience.

0 comments - Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:24 AM - Categories: Course Tools | CoursePlus | Online Courses

Apr 17 2014

Variable Credit Courses Will Not Be Listed in the Merged CoursePlus

When the online course and CoursePlus systems merge at the end of the academic year, there will be a change to the courses listed on the "Course List" view in CoursePlus.

Currently, if you go to the CoursePlus home page and click on “Course List,” you will see variable credit courses listed. These are generally .840 courses, though there are a handful of others which have variable credit. We cannot create CoursePlus sites for those course numbers as a) there’s no faculty assigned to these courses, and b), more importantly, there’s no single course for all students who may have signed up for that variable credit SSR. Everyone is doing something different. If faculty need a CoursePlus site for special courses that have students register as SSRs, faculty can request a non-catalog CoursePlus site and the CTL team will gladly set one up.

These courses generally have no information (description, learning objectives, methods of assessment, etc.) in the SPH course catalog. These courses also cause confusion on the part of students who register for variable-credit courses and don't see them listed when they sign into CoursePlus. Faculty who teach a group of students as an SSR are also often confused as to why a .840 course isn't available to them to set up, when, in fact, they simply need to request a non-catalog CoursePlus site for that group.

After discussion of the above with a number of teams and with the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, we have decided that variable-credit courses will not be listed in the merged system. If you questions about this, please contact the Center for Teaching and Learning.

0 comments - Posted by Brian Klaas at 4:24 PM - Categories: CoursePlus | Online Courses

Apr 8 2014

What Are the Differences Between Online and On-Campus Courses in the New CoursePlus?

The merged CoursePlus houses both online and on-campus courses in a single system. The tools in CoursePlus are the same for online and on-campus courses, with the following exceptions:

  • On-campus courses have a class sessions tool that can be edited by faculty, TAs, and editors on the course.
  • Online courses have a schedule tool that is currently only editable by the instructional designer assigned to the course.
  • On-campus courses have one-click tool that makes the course site available or unavailable to students.
  • Online courses become available to students on the day the course begins. There is no option to make an online course site unavailable to students.
  • On-campus courses have a tool that displays a link to the eReserves site for that course. Online courses usually post this information on course lecture pages by default.
  • Online courses have a "Welcome" page for visitors not enrolled in the course. On-campus courses do not have this page.
  • Online courses have a "Faculty" page in the "Syllabus" section of the course site which displays custom biographical information about course faculty, guest speakers, and TAs. On-campus courses do not have this page.
  • There is no LiveTalk page in on-campus course sites.

That's it for the differences between what you see in online versus on-campus course sites. If you have any questions, please let us know!


0 comments - Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:22 AM - Categories: CoursePlus | Online Courses

Apr 1 2014

The New "My Courses" Page

When the online course and CoursePlus systems merge at the end of May, 2014, there will be numerous changes — some of which we've already detailed in other posts. In this post, we'll take a look at the all new post-sign in, "My Courses" page.

The My Courses page is what you see immediately after signing into CoursePlus as either a student or editor (using your eLearning account) or primary faculty on a course (using your my.jhsph account). Unlike the current version of CoursePlus, if you sign in as faculty, you see all of your courses displayed, whether it's an online or on-campus course, and regardless of your role in the course (faculty, guest faculty, editor, guest, student, etc.). All your courses in one place — a big improvement over the current setup!

Here's what the My Courses page looks like:

On the left, you'll see all of the course sites to which you have access listed by academic year, then academic term, in reverse chronological order (just as it is now in CoursePlus and the online course system). You'll see your role in each course (student, faculty, guest faculty, editor, etc.) on this page, rather than having to click through a series of tabs, as you must in the current CoursePlus. You'll also see a column with other key information about each course:

  • The start date of the course (online courses only)
  • If there are recent announcements in that site (indicated by a red star)
  • If the site is not available to students
  • If the course has been cancelled
  • If you can set up the site for that course (only if you're primary faculty on the course)

Academic coordinators who sign in to CoursePlus using their my.jhsph account will be able to see all CoursePlus sites in their department in this list.

On the right, there are a number of useful tools. First up is the My Calendar box, which should be familiar to anyone who's taken or taught an online course. The My Calendar box shows upcoming items on the class schedule for both online and on-campus courses. In order for on-campus class information to make it into this box, faculty or course editors need to use the class sessions tool to add class session information to their CoursePlus sites.

Below the My Calendar box is a listing of the most recent blog posts on the CTL Blog. We hope this provides everyone with an easier way of getting news and updates about changes to CoursePlus, course tools, and best practices in education in general.

We think the new My Courses box is a significant improvement over the current course involvement listings in both the online course and CoursePlus systems. We hope you do too!

0 comments - Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:50 AM - Categories: CoursePlus | Online Courses

Mar 25 2014

"About the Course" is Becoming "Syllabus"

Since the launch of both the online course system and CoursePlus, the "About the Course" section of each class website has been a constant. The main "About the Course" page is really the course syllabus, and as online course syllabi have become common at the School, more people are looking for the word "Syllabus" when they access a course website.

With the launch of the merged CoursePlus/online course system, we're renaming the "About the Course" tab to "Syllabus." The same content will be available (syllabus, schedule, and faculty listing (online courses only)), it's just the title of the section that has changed. This change will make it easier for everyone to quickly find the course syllabus.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:39 AM - Categories: CoursePlus | Online Courses

Mar 19 2014

Questions about the Migration of JHSPH Email to JHU and CoursePlus

With the migration of email addresses to the main JHU email system, there have been a number of questions about how this impacts CoursePlus. Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions about the email migration as it relates to CoursePlus.

Can I sign to CoursePlus in via the faculty login using my new account?

No. The faculty login in CoursePlus asks for your my.jhsph username and password. While this was the same as your email username and password before the migration, my.jhsph accounts still exist and will exist for the foreseeable future. The School’s course database is tied directly to my.jhsph accounts, and the courses you teach as a faculty member are tied to your personal my.jhsph account. As such, you will still need to sign in to CoursePlus via the faculty login using your my.jhsph account username and password.

Will you be changing all eLearning account email addresses to their new counterparts?

No. We will not change anyone’s eLearning account information, including the email address an individual may have entered. 

CoursePlus uses whatever email address students put into their JHSPH eLearning account. For many students, this is an email address. For many students, it’s a Gmail or Yahoo address. CoursePlus will not change student email addresses automatically once a student’s email account is migrated to If a student wants to update their eLearning account with an email address, they are welcome to do so, but we will not do this for them. Students can update the email address in their JHSPH eLearning account whenever they want to, and that change is reflected immediately in CoursePlus.

Emails sent to addresses that have been migrated over to will still make it to the appropriate email address for the next year. At some point, however, emails sent to will no longer work, and it will be up to each individual to update their eLearning account with a new address.

Can CTL Help assist me with problems with my new email account?

Unfortunately, CTL Help cannot assist you with your email accounts. Just as CTL Help has no access to your JHED information, so too do we lack the ability to see anyone’s email account other than our own. The IT@JH team will help you with your email account should you need it.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 11:19 AM - Categories: CoursePlus | Online Courses

Mar 18 2014

What Will the Merged CoursePlus System Look Like

We've announced that the online course and CoursePlus systems are merging at the end of the 2013-2014 academic year. The major changes to the site were covered in a previous blog post, but one thing that was not included was how things will look in the merged system. 

While the entire site is getting a visual refresh, most of the individual tools that faculty, TAs, and students currently use will look more or less the same. The site home page and individual course home pages, however, are going to look a bit different. The functionality of these pages is largely the same. They'll just have a shiny new user interface to make them look better on desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.

First, let's take a look at the new CoursePlus home page:

You can see that the overall look is cleaner and more open, with bigger fonts. Links to the various course lists are easier to find, and types of courses (from the catalog, online, non-catalog) are easier to find. We've also made it easy to get to other, related tools (course search, eLearning account management, ISIS) from the CoursePlus home page.

There will be future posts about how the course listing and post-login pages will look, but for now, let's move on to an individual course home page:

Again, there is a much more open look and feel to the page. While we've retained the same information architecture for course sites, we've replaced the tabs on the top-right of the page with simple text links and drop-down menus for each sub-section of the site. This means you can jump directly to the roster page in a site from the course home page.

For faculty, TAs, and site editors, there is also now a "Quick Jump" box which lists nearly all the tools available to you on the course home page. You no longer have to go from the site home page to another gateway page to get to the tool you want. You can jump in a single click from the course home page.

The display of the course term and academic year is also more prominent at the top of the page. Knowing which year's version of a course site you are working on is very important, especially to faculty who teach multiple courses in multiple terms each year.

Each course home page also lists upcoming events from the course schedule (or class sessions tool for on-campus courses), recent posts in the discussion forums, and recent items added to or updated in the Online Library. If students, faculty, TAs or staff involved in the course are currently visiting the course website, their names are listed in the "Who's Online" box on the left side of the page. All of this information makes the course home page a more dynamic place and gives everyone in the course a quick overview of what's going on in the course.

While each online course has a custom banner at the top of the course home page, on-campus courses will get a standardized banner which lists the course title, number, term and academic year in big, bold letters. 

We hope you like the changes that we've made. We think they make the whole site easier to navigate and easier to look at. We'll be detailing additional changes to the look, feel, and functionality of the merged CoursePlus in the coming weeks, and in the meantime, we welcome your feedback!

0 comments - Posted by Brian Klaas at 1:45 PM - Categories: CoursePlus | Online Courses

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