Aug 12 2015

Changing the Deadline for Editing Course System-Linked Sections in the Syllabus

Since launching CoursePlus syllabus-to-JHSPH course system data integration last year, we've received a lot of feedback from faculty, academic coordinators, and senior academic administration about ways to make the integrations better. One of the major changes we implemented is that sections of content on your CoursePlus syllabus which are linked to the official JHSPH course system must be reviewed by your departmental academic coordiantor before publication to students. This process takes time, and CoursePlus was allowing changes to be made all the way up to the end of add/drop in a given academic term. This didn't work well for the review process, or for Summer Institute courses, where add/drop doesn't really apply.

Effective immediatley, editing of JHSPH course system-linked sections in your CoursePlus syllabus is now locked at 11:59pm on the first day of the academic term in which the course occurs. No changes to course system-linked sections can occur in CoursePlus after this time. You can still make changes after that time by working with your departmental academic coordinator directly within the JHSPH course system. You just can't make those changes in CoursePlus after 11:59pm on the first day of the academic term in which the course occurs.

We realize that this may be inconvenient for some faculty, but it's important that students have core course syllabus information which has been reviewed by all appropriate parties the day that the academic term for a course begins. Remember, though, that you can still keep making changes in the JHSPH course system after the first day of the academic term in which your course occurs. You just won't be able to do that in CoursePlus.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 10:28 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Aug 3 2015

Ad-Hoc Peer Assessments

Since the launch of the Peer Assessment tool in CoursePlus in 2013, we've added tons of new features and reworked reporting and other core workflows to make the whole tool more powerful and useful. The Peer Assessment tool currently offers five different assessment types:

  • Students evaluate [n] randomly assigned students
  • Students evaluate group members
  • One group evaluates another group
  • Everyone in the class evaluates one group
  • Students assess themselves
  • Faculty and TAs evaluate each student

In spite of the enormous flexibility these different peer assessment types bring, there are still situations where faculty want to have different peer assessment setups. What if, for example, you wanted to randomly assign students to each other in the first peer assessment in a class, but then continue to have the same students assess each other in subsequent peer assessments? What if you wanted some students to assess more students than others in the class? What if only a portion of the class should be involved in a peer assessment?

To meet the wide range of potential scenarios for peer assessments, we've added an "ad hoc" peer assessment type to the tool. In this type of assessment, faculty and TAs manually assign students to each other in any way they see fit. All the tools in a peer assessment are available for this assessment type, including linking to a Drop Box, but faculty aren't limited in student-to-student assignments by one of the pre-set assessment types.

We think this is a powerful addition to the peer assessment tool, and will make it even more useful across courses at the School.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:54 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jul 14 2015

New Features for Summer Term

The CoursePlus team is always working to improve the tools available to faculty, students, and staff in CoursePlus. This summer has been no different. In addition to some of the major, recently-announced features, here are a bunch of the new features just added to CoursePlus:

  • Quiz Generator: Students can now opt to hide the countdown timer on timed quizzes.
  • Quiz Generator: You are now given a warning if you try to add a question to a quiz where students have already started answering questions.
  • Drop Box: The total number of submissions out of all students in the class is now shown for each Drop Box on the main faculty Drop Box page.
  • Drop Box: The faculty and student main page views of the Drop Box have been reworked to be more mobile friendly.
  • Surveys: A unique, random identifier for each student is included on the Excel export of survey data. This allows for cross-referencing individuals across surveys without knowing the individual's identity.
  • Surveys: Responses to matrix/Likert scale questions are broken out into individual columns on the Excel version of the data. Previously, all responses for a single student were listed in a single column in the Excel file.
  • Surveys: All student views of survey pages are now mobile friendly.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 11:02 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jul 7 2015

The New CoursePlus Portfolio Tool

Portfolios are a great way for students to show the map of their intellectual growth in a degree program or even an individual class. An increasing number of accrediting bodies are turning to portfolios as a way for institutions to show that students actually learned what was set out in degree program competencies or objectives. Portfolios are powerful learning tools because they combine active reflection by the student, competency tracking over the course of a program, and display of evidence (files, links, projects) that show that the student really did learn what they claim to have learned.

Over the past year, a team in the CTL has been working with a number of programs at the School to develop a portfolio tool for CoursePlus. This new portfolio tool will be used by the incoming, full-time MPH cohort as well as the majority of incoming students in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology this year. A number of other programs at the School have expressed interest in using portfolios for their students and we expect usage to grow significantly over the next few years.

The portfolio is organized around touchpoints. Touchpoints are established by program administrators and are targeted towards specific events in the program. Touchpoints are made up of three key components: reflections, which allow students to reflect in writing about a specific event or milestone in the program; competencies, which show what specific skills a student can now demonstrate based on the activities the student discusses in their reflection; and evidence, which are files, links, or other documents which concretely demonstrate that the student achieved the competencies they say that they have achieved. Some touchpoints are designated as requiring review by advisors. When work is complete on such a touchpoint, advisors will then review student work and offer commentary and feedback. Students can add their own touchpoints to a portfolio, covering significant personal events in the program, such as an internship or activity not covered in a touchpoint created by program administrators.

As the portfolio places heavy emphasis on the achievement of specific program competencies, students have two ways of looking at which competencies they have achieved at any point in the program. The timeline view lets students page though all touchpoints in a portfolio and see what specific competencies were achieved (and at what specific level) at that point in time, along with the reflections and evidence for a particular touchpoint. The dashboard view shows a student all competencies in the program and the most current level that the student has selected for those competencies.

The Evidence Library is where students can store files or weblinks that are provided as evidence towards the achievement of specific competencies in their reflections. There are tools throughout CoursePlus that make it easy to send files from a Drop Box, wiki page, discussion forum post, or peer evaluation result to a portfolio.

Finally, students have the option to create publishing views for anyone in the world to see. Publishing views are targeted towards future employers, giving them an opportunity to see an officially–branded JHSPH page which lists the skills a student gained while in a program and the evidence which shows that the student can actually perform those skills. Students have full control over publishing views. Students decide what goes on each view, and students decide who can see each view. Students will have access to their portfolio and the publishing views therein for five years after graduation.

If you are interested in using a portfolio for your degree program, please contact Sukon Kanchanaraska, Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning.

0 comments - Posted by Brian Klaas at 11:24 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jun 30 2015

CoursePlus is Changing Its Web Address on August 6, 2015

Over the past few years, CoursePlus has evolved to serve the needs of courses offered not just by the School of Public Health, but by multiple divisions at the University. It is a system no longer specific to the School of Public Health.

On August 6, 2015, CoursePlus will make the move from the web address to While the servers and networking gear behind CoursePlus will remain in the JHSPH data center, and JHSPH IT will continue to support CoursePlus, the web address will change.

The change should be seamless for everyone. Everything will continue to work as before. However, bookmarks and links that point to must be updated to point to instead. Bookmarks and links that point to will continue to work for six months after this change. After that time, will cease to exist and those bookmarks and links will no longer work.

If you have questions about this upcoming change, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:27 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jun 9 2015

Hiding or Showing the Display of an Academic Year on the My Courses Page

As each academic year progresses, the listing of all of your courses on the "My Courses" page in CoursePlus grows ever longer. If you're faculty or staff, you also begin to see course listings for the upcoming year fairly early in the current academic year. Either way, this ends up causing a lot more scrolling down the "My Courses" page to get to the academic year listings you most frequently access.

CoursePlus will now remember when you close or open the course listings for an academic year between visits to the "My Courses" page. So if listings for the next academic year are getting in your way, you can simply close it and CoursePlus will keep it closed the next time you visit the "My Courses" page or sign into CoursePlus. 

The previous academic year listing will remain closed by default, just as it has previously in CoursePlus, but you can keep it permanently open if you want to, just by clicking on the banner for that year.

We hope that this little change makes your CoursePlus experience a little bit better!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:28 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jun 3 2015

Wikis Can Now Have Unlock and Lock Dates

Over the past few years, a handful of faculty have asked us if it's possible to set up wikis so that they did not become visible to students until a certain date, or if they could completely prevent any editing to a wiki after a specific date. We're pleased to announce that you can now do both of these things in the wiki tool!

Wikis with an open date will be listed on the main wiki page in a course but will not accessible by the students who have permission for that wiki until the date/time specified in the open date has passed. Wikis with close dates will also be listed on the main wiki page in a course but a student will not be able to access nor edit the individual pages in a wiki after the date/time specified in the close date has passed.

We hope you find this new feature to be useful!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 10:29 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

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