May 13 2015

See the File You Submitted to a Drop Box Immediately After Upload

We've made a small, but often requested, change to uploading files to a Drop Box: you can now see the file you uploaded immediately after uploading, on the same screen, rather than having to go back to the main Drop Box page to see the file that you submitted. It saves one click, yes, but it's much more convenient to upload a file and confirm that you uploaded the right file all at the same time, rather than jumping between screens.

Thanks to all the students and TAs who gave us the feedback that instigated this change!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 10:05 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

May 7 2015

A New Syllabus Editing Workflow for Academic Courses

As you probably know, JHSPH is winding up its current accreditation cycle. As part of this process, faculty and academic coordinators in departments across the School went through every course syllabus to reconcile the differences between what was in CoursePlus versus the JHSPH course system — the official system of record for academic courses at the School. Also as part of that process, editing information linked to the JHSPH course system was temporarily suspended

This reconciliation process in preparation for accreditation review led to a new mandate from School academic leadership: provide consistency between the course system and CoursePlus in what students and accreditors see while maintaining flexibility for faculty to edit this content in CoursePlus. To achieve that goal, we have implemented a new workflow for making changes to academic course information in CoursePlus. This workflow ties directly into the existing processes for changes in the JHSPH course system, the official system of record about academic courses at the School.

This workflow only affects the following syllabus sections which are linked directly to the School's course system of record and course catalog search tool:

  • Course Description
  • Why Take This Course
  • Course Learning Objectives
  • Methods of Assessment
  • Intended Audience
  • Prerequisites

All other editing of a syllabus remains as flexible as it has been in the past. This new workflow also does not apply to CoursePlus sites for courses not listed in in the JHSPH course catalog.

Below is the new editing workflow for the above listed sections:

1. Faculty, TAs, content editors, or academic coordinators sign into CoursePlus and begin work on their course syllabus.

2. When faculty opt to edit one of the above listed sections of content in their syllabus, they are first shown the current version of that content in the course system. Faculty make and save their edits to one of these sections in CoursePlus.

3. Once one of the above listed sections has been edited, the official content from the course system is displayed under the subhead “Public View,” followed immediately by the version that the faculty just changed under the subhead “Your Draft.” A note indicating that this content will not be shown to students until the change goes through the JHSPH course system approvals process will also be shown.

4. Once one of the core six sections has been edited, a large button appears in the upper-right corner of the syllabus tool that says: “Send your changes to the course system for approval.”

5. Faculty can continue to make edits to any section in the syllabus as often as they want.

6. When faculty click the “Send your changes to the course system for approval” button, they are shown a confirmation screen that warns them that if they proceed, editing of any of the six core sections will be turned off until the JHSPH course system approvals process is complete.

7. When faculty click the “Proceed” button, the changes to these sections are sent to the course system web service to be put into the review workflow.

8. Once the changes are sent to the course system, the edit buttons for the above listed sections are removed from the Syllabus Builder tool for this course. A notice is also placed at the top of the Syllabus Builder page indicating that the changes for this course are currently under review as part of the JHSPH course system approvals process and that faculty can contact their academic coordinator to facilitate that process. The current official version of each of the above listed sections is displayed along with any changes immediately below each section.

9. Each time the Syllabus Builder page is loaded, the current status of the course in the course system is displayed. This way, faculty can see what the current status of the changes are (in addition to receiving standard emails about the change process through the course system).

10. Once the changes are approved in the course system, the draft changes and the status notifications disappear from the Syllabus Builder tool because the changes have been approved and are now in CoursePlus. Faculty can once again edit any of the above listed sections for their course in CoursePlus.

Three important additional notes on this new workflow:

  • Editing of the above listed sections will be deactivated at the end of the add/drop period in the term in which the course is offered. Faculty who still need to make changes to the above listed sections will have to work within the course system or with their academic coordinator to make changes after this time.
  • The "Required Text(s)" field will no longer be editable from within the Syllabus Builder tool. Due to the way in which required text(s) are added to the course system and then linked to a given course, this information can only be edited within the course system at this time. JHSPH IT is reviewing the way in which required text(s) are added to the course system to hopefully enable editing from CoursePlus at some point. 
  • Titles of the above listed sections will no longer be editable. They must always match what is in the JHSPH course system of record.

We realize that this workflow is not as flexible as the previous way of editing the above listed sections of a CoursePlus syllabus. However, the School has an obligation to provide consistent information about a course across all of its systems, and the JHSPH course system is the system of record. This new workflow still allows faculty and their instructional team to make changes to these sections from within CoursePlus without having to sign into the JHSPH course system, where the ability to make changes is limited to the primary faculty on a course.

Once the new workflow for editing these sections of an academic course syllabus goes live, we'll be posting a video demonstration of all the steps in the process.


0 comments - Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:27 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

May 5 2015

Track Twitter Accounts and Hashtags in CoursePlus

You can now track both Twitter accounts and hashtags in your CoursePlus site! A handful of faculty have asked for this feature in the past year, so we've added it as yet another data gathering tool for you and your students. The new Twitter Tracker page is under the "Resources" tab in your CoursePlus site. Faculty and site content editors can follow as many accounts and hashtags as they want, and the 50 most recent results for each account or hashtag will show up for students on the Twitter Tracker page in the CoursePlus site. 

Some faculty have set up their own accounts just for posting interesting and relevant articles and links in their area of research. Some faculty create a class-specific hashtag (ie; #sph140611) to carry on a conversation outside of a classroom. Some TAs use those same class-specific hashtags to gather specific questions for an in-class review before midterms and finals. If you're looking for ideas on how to use the new Twitter Tracker feature, there's a whole page on using the "backchannel," as it's called, in the classroom on the CTL Teaching Tookit site

As always, if you have comments or suggestions about this new feature, please let us know!

0 comments - Posted by Brian Klaas at 1:13 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

May 4 2015

Reminder: Access to AY2013-2014 Course Sites Ends on June 1, 2015

Access to AY2013-2014 CoursePlus sites will end on June 1, 2015. This is per the Terms of Service for CoursePlus

Students enrolled in courses with CoursePlus sites have access to those sites for the current and following academic years. For example, if a course occurred in the third term of the 2013-2014 academic year, a student enrolled in the course has access to the CoursePlus site until the end of the 2014-2015 academic year. After that point, access to that CoursePlus site is terminated.

If you need content from an AY2013-2014 CoursePlus site, please be sure to download that content before June 1, 2015. It will not be possible to grant access to individual CoursePlus sites from AY2013-2014 after that time.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 10:42 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Apr 27 2015

Reminder: End of Support for IE9 in CoursePlus

Earlier this year, we announced that as of June 1, 2015, Internet Explorer 9 will no longer be a supported in CoursePlus. There will be no issue signing in to CoursePlus with Internet Explorer 9 before June 1, 2015. However, after that date, an increasing number of tools and services in CoursePlus will no longer work with Internet Explorer 9.

JSHPH IT will gladly assist you with updating your computer to a later version of Internet Explorer, and you are encouraged to use an alternate browser, like Google Chrome.

For the reasoning behind ending support for Internet Explorer 9 in CoursePlus, please see our previous post on the topic.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 2:54 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Apr 14 2015

Lots of Little Changes to CoursePlus

In addition to the bigger changes we've covered in previous blog posts, lots of small changes have been made to CoursePlus in the last couple of months. Remember that you can follow @CoursePlus on Twitter to get all of these updates as they happen!

  • When printing a syllabus for an on-site course, the list of files from the Online Library, Drop Boxes, quizzes, surveys, and peer assessments for each session are displayed in the printed version just as they are on the course website.
  • The person who uploads slides via the LiveTalk slides upload tool now also receives a copy of the upload confirmation message.
  • Making an on-campus site available or unavailable to students is correctly reflected in the UI when leaving and returning to the main faculty tools page.
  • The "did you answer all the questions in the quiz" validation script now works properly when you have a multiple choice question with only one possible answer.
  • A problem with the last question in a quiz being duplicated when the question is in a question block and is a multiple-choice, multiple answer question on a multiple access quiz has been fixed.
  • Improvements have been made to the quiz copy script to help prevent copy issues when a quiz is copied into a second course, and then that copy is itself copied into a third course.
  • Multiple courses which use a single, combined site for multiple sections of a course or multiple course numbers now display a message at the top of the syllabus which says "This course uses the site for (link to other offering)(course number the site is merged into)(/link) instead of its own course website. Please refer to that CoursePlus site instead."
  • Clicking the "Think Green" banner on the student Online Library page now opens the target page in the new tab instead of a pop-up window.
  • The core layout and display framework used by CoursePlus (called Bootstrap) has been updated to the latest version, which includes a number of small accessibility improvements.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:23 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Mar 31 2015

Updates to Discussion Forum Grading

We recently received quite a bit of good feedback about grading discussion forum posts from a course team that spent a lot of time on that task in the last term. They raised a number of excellent points about how things could be better, so here are some of the changes we've made to grading discussion forum posts based on this feedback:

  • Scores and comments are now automatically saved when the "Enter" key is pressed while typing in a score or adding a comment. You no longer have to click outside a score box or comment field for that information to be saved.
  • A "Save" button has been added to each set of grading controls for those who feel confident in saving data only when a button is pressed.
  • Discussion forum posts that still need to be graded are highlighted in orange. Once a discussion forum post is graded, the grading controls appear on a gray background instead.
  • If a category is set to have graded posts, all posts in each topic are shown to faculty, editors, and TAs by default, rather than the usual behavior of only showing the three most recent posts in the topic. This saves faculty, editors, and TAs an extra click to see all posts in that topic.
  • The error message that is shown when scores and comments fail to save for any reason has been reworded for greater clarity and now includes instructions on a simple fix to the problem: reloading the page.

More changes will be forthcoming, but these are some simple changes that will hopefully make the discussion forum post grading experience better for everyone!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:16 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

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