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

Mar 2 2017

On-Campus Classes Can Now Use the Schedule Builder Tool

On-campus classes and fully online courses use different tools for setting up and laying out the schedule of classes or content in a course. Many faculty who teach both face-to-face and online have asked if they could use the online course Schedule Builder tool in their on-campus CoursePlus sites. They prefer the simpler layout and increased flexibilty that the Schedule Builder tool provides them, especially in conjunction with the use of Page Builder to create standalone pages in their CoursePlus sites.

All CoursePlus sites now have access to the Schedule Builder tool. In combination with utilization of Page Builder, on-campus courses can now build out sites very similar to fully online courses.

Schedule Builder emphasizes a single item per line in the list of activities in the course. This makes for simpler visual scanning, but with a lack of dense content display. The Class Sessions tool, on the other hand, allows for denser content display per line in the list of activities in the course, but at the cost of difficulty scanning through content. You can see the overall differences between the Class Sessions tool, on the left, and the Schedule Builder tool, on the right, in the image below:

Comparison of the class sessions tool vs. the schedule builder tool

Many faculty prefer the Schedule Builder tool because of its clean look, the separation of each item in the class onto its own line in the schedule, the ability to control access to content by date, the ability to separate class dates from due dates for assignments, and the tracking of completion of individual items on the schedule by students.

If you have an on-campus class and would like to switch to using the Schedule Builder tool, you can do so at any time by clicking on the "Switch to Schedule Builder" button on the main faculty tools page in your CoursePlus site.

Switch to Schedule Builder button‚Äč

You can switch back to the Class Sessions tool at any time, if you wish. Content is not synchronized between the two tools, however. Any change you make in one tool is not reflected in the other tool. One other caveat to note: on-campus classes cannot add LiveTalks to the Schedule Builder. LiveTalks are reserved for fully online classes only.

We hope that the introduction of the Schedule Builder option to all courses in CoursePlus gives you more flexibility in designing your CoursePlus sites. There is a complete guide to using the Schedule Builder tool in the CoursePlus Faculty Guide. If you have questions or need assistance using the Schedule Builder tool, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 10:21 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Feb 22 2017

Publicly Viewable Page Builder Pages

Sometimes when faculty create their syllabus in CoursePlus, they have projects or assignments which require detailed instructions that really don't belong in the syllabus itself. In the past, there's been no way for faculty to create a whole page to detail a project, assignment, or related issue to the course that they want everyone to be able to see before the course begins.

Faculty, TAs, and staff can now create publicly viewable pages in Page Builder. These pages work just like any other page in Page Builder, except that you can link them to your syllabus (or an email, or anywhere) and then anyone in the world can see the content of those pages. This allows faculty and course teams a lot of flexibility in setting up detailed task lists, or reading lists, or project pages that can be read as students browse for courses or before the courses begin.

These pages can't be full lecture pages, as most lectures are private only to students who have registered for the course. We hope, though, that this new feature will provide even more flexibility to course teams who are looking to provide lots of information about their course to anyone who wants to see it.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 2:47 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Feb 16 2017

Full CoursePlus UI in Lecture Playback

Many students have asked us why the full CoursePlus user interface and navigation controls disappear when they watch lecture presentations in CoursePlus. This is really a holdover from a time when lecture presentations used to play back in Adobe Presenter format, and Adobe Presenter would stretch to fill the screen when possible. We wanted to make the presentations as big as possible when you viewed them, so we opted to remove all elements on the screen that would cause the presentations to display at a smaller size. That meant that the whole CoursePlus interface should be hidden to maximize the size of lecture presentation playback.

Now that we deliver lecture presentations as pure video, and those videos are set at a fixed size, it makes little sense to hide the whole CoursePlus user interface when playing back lectures. Showing the whole CoursePlus user interface when playing back lectures provides a more consistent user experience and easier navigation overall. You'll now see the full interface when you watch lecture presentations inside CoursePlus.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 10:18 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Feb 13 2017

CoursePlus 101: Give TAs, Editors, or Guests Access to Your CoursePlus Site

In this updated entry in the CoursePlus 101 series, we look at adding an editor (TA, administrative assistant, guest faculty) to your CoursePlus site.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 3:38 PM - Categories: CoursePlus | CoursePlus 101

Jan 31 2017

Important Notes About LiveTalk for Chrome and Safari Users

Both Chrome and Safari have made changes in recent months which can (and do) adversely affect using those Web browsers for participating in LiveTalks.


By default, Chrome blocks access to your microphone, which is important for participating in LiveTalks. CTL Help has a Frequently Asked Question which walks you through the process of allowing Chrome to access your microphone during LiveTalks. Please be sure to review this information so you know how to give Chrome permission to access your microphone during LiveTalk!


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.”
  6. You can add specific websites (i.e.; 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 1:05 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

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