Jan 3 2018

New Gradebook Tool Coming in the Third Term

You may be aware that faculty in first and second term courses had ongoing problems with the Gradebook in CoursePlus. The situation is now under control and issues are now isolated to one-off problems in individual courses. Even so, the CoursePlus team began work on a complete rebuild the Gradebook tool in October. The goal was building a new, modern code base that focused on reliability and speed. This work is nearly complete. A new version of the Gradebook will be available in your third term CoursePlus site.

The new Gradebook functions the same way as the old Gradebook. The setup, grading, and sending of grades and feedback works in the same way as it did before. We've focused on making things super reliable and faster, where possible. There should be no learning curve for anyone who has used the Gradebook before.

The rebuild of the Gradebook required a completely new underlying data structure. The side effect of this change is that setups from previous versions of your course Gradebook will not carry over into the new version. This means that the Gradebook setup must be rebuilt when your third term course begins. The CTL Help team is happy to assist you in this process, should you need help.

This change only affects the Gradebook. It does not affect any other tool in CoursePlus. All data in all other tools will carry over as normal.

The new Gradebook will be available in your third term course sites on January 18, 2018. We realize that this is shortly before the start of the third term. CTL Help is, again, happy to assist you in rebuilding your Gradebook setup, should you need help. CTL Help is also happy to answer any questions you have about the new Gradebook.

We appreciate your patience during this change. We're sure that the improvements in reliability and speed will make the administration of your courses simpler and faster.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 2:55 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Dec 13 2017

Blocking Sign in to CoursePlus Using Internet Explorer 11

We've posted before that Internet Explorer Edge is the only version of Internet Explorer supported in CoursePlus. There have been system notices about this in CoursePlus at the start of the summer, first, and second academic terms. This is also stated on the terms of service page for CoursePlus.

Beginning January 3, 2018, you will not be able to sign in to CoursePlus using Internet Explorer 11. 

If you want to use Internet Explorer to access CoursePlus, you need to use Internet Explorer Edge. Internet Explorer Edge only works with Windows 10 — now the preferred version of Windows for the Johns Hopkins University. If you are running Windows 8 or Windows 7, you need to use Chrome or Firefox to access CoursePlus. 

Posted by Brian Klaas at 3:03 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Dec 6 2017

Lots of Tweaks to the Printed Syllabus

We know that the syllabus document is an important piece of any course. The School has encouraged faculty to use the Syllabus Builder tool in CoursePlus to build their course syllabi, as it provides a consistent and easily accessible format for students viewing this information.

We get a lot of feedback about the printed version of the syllabus as well, and we've recently made a number of small changes based on faculty feedback:

  • The base font of the whole printed document is now slightly larger
  • Space between sections of content has been shortened
  • The word "Syllabus" had been removed from the document title
  • In the footer:
    • the course title and time of last update have been removed
    • the page number has been moved onto the same line as the rest of the footer
    • the font size has been increased
  • The phrase "Online Course" is no longer shown if no room number is provided in the Syllabus Builder

Additionally, on the Syllabus Builder tool itself, when you add a section to the syllabus from the "New Section" tool, that section is removed from the list of options in the "New Section" tool drop-down.

Your feedback is, as always, critical to the success of CoursePlus. If you'd like to see other changes in the printed version of the syllabus, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:22 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Nov 7 2017

Automatically Flag Students Who Leave the Exam Page During an Exam

The Quiz Generator in CoursePlus is being increasingly utilized in courses to deliver cumulative exams like midterms and finals. Faculty are rightly concerned that students do not engage in activities which violate the School's academic ethics code while taking these exams. 

CoursePlus has, for some time now, automatically logged student activity when they take a quiz or exam, including if they go off the quiz/exam page, and, since November, 2016, the ability to show if a student accessed other pages in CoursePlus while taking the exam.

This data is very useful to fauclty concerned about academic ethics violations, but faculty or TAs would have to review the log of activity for every student who took the exam to equitably check and see if there were potential academic ethics violations while taking the exam. This is a tedious process.

We've added a new option to the setup to quizzes/exams in the Quiz Generator that gives you the option to automatically flag students who leave the exam page or view other pages in CoursePlus while taking the exam. This option is turned off by default, and must be enabled on an exam-by-exam basis.

If this option is turned on, and a student has left the exam page or visited another page in CoursePlus while taking the exam, a visual alert is placed next to the student name on the main "Responses and Grades" view of the exam in the Quiz Generator:

Icons alerting that the student left the exam page.

The red circle with the exclamation point inside indicates that the student left the exam page and visited other pages in CoursePlus while taking the exam. (The brown stopwatch icon indicates that the student took less than 10% of the allotted time to complete the exam, sometimes also an indicator of potential academic ethics violations.)

Please note that, just as with the adding of the log information that shows if a student visited pages other than the exam while taking the exam, this indicator does not immediately appear the second that a student visits a page other than the exam page while taking the exam. This indicator only appears after the student has submitted their answers to the exam and the full set of CoursePlus logs has been analyzed. Typically, this process takes about 30 minutes from the time the student submits their exam.

If you have questions about how this feature works, please contact CTL Help!

November 20, 2017 Update: 

After receiving a couple of questions about this feature, here are some more details:

  • If a student loses their connection and signs back in to the course website to continue taking the exam, then that counts as viewing another page in the course website. As such, the student will be flagged.
  • If the student switches away from the exam and looks at the main course content page, or a lecture, or the Online Library, that counts as viewing another page in the course website. As such, the student will be flagged.
  • If the student switches away from the exam tab into another web browser tab or another application on their computer, the student will be flagged. We cannot look into other web browser tabs or desktop applications to see what a student did while away from the exam page. That is a basic limitation of Web browsers.
  • The flag is there to highlight a potential problem. Just like any tool which “detects” potential cheating, data needs to be reviewed. The data in this case is the log of student activity while taking the exam (“View activity log” on the individual student responses page).

Posted by Brian Klaas at 2:10 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Oct 11 2017

Tagging and Searching Questions in the Quiz Generator

Some courses have a lot of questions in the Quiz Generator for their course. Finding one specific question out of the 300 (or 500!) plus questions in a course can be tedious, at best. To that end, we've added the ability to tag and search on questions (and tags) in the Quiz Generator.

As you create or edit questions, you can add tags to them.

Form field to add one or more tags to a question.

Tags are simple words that can help you identify:

  • the subject area of the question
  • the course learning objective or departmental competency which the question meets
  • the lecture with which the question is associated

As you add tags to questions, tags are auto-suggested to you in the "Add Tags" field so you can re-use tags across questions. 

When you use the "Add/Edit/Remove" questions page to add questions to a quiz, you can now search by either tag or perform a search in the "Search" box at the top of the page. The search tool looks through the text of any question (not the answers or text contained in linked files), and displays only questions which match the search text.

Example of filtering questions by tag.

Example of searching questions by free text.

We hope that this addition will make the organization of quiz/exam questions in your courses much more efficient, and save you time when building quizzes and exams from large question banks. If you have questions about how this new feature works, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:20 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Oct 5 2017

A Tweak to Drop Boxes for Exams

The Drop Box is one of the most popular tools in CoursePlus. Many courses use it, and many use it to collect written, take-home or open-book exams from students.

Some faculty do not know that when a student submits a file to a Drop Box, that student can download the file that they submitted at any time. If the student is part of a degree program portfolio, the student can also send that file to their portfolio. This enables students a nice degree of flexibility in having access to their course work.

If the file that the student submits is an exam, however, some faculty do not want students to be able to have long-term access to their copy of the exam. To that end, we've added a new option to the Drop Box setup: flagging a specific Drop Box as being for an exam, and to disable student downloading of their submission or sending their submission to their portfolio:

Option indicating that the Drop Box is for an exam.

This option is turned off by default, and must be enabled on a Drop Box-by-Drop Box basis. 

Please note that this in no way prevents a student from storing a copy of the file they submit to the Drop Box  on their own computer, or in the cloud. CoursePlus cannot delete a file of a student's computer once it has been submitted to a CoursePlus site.

If you have questions about how this new feature works, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 2:36 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Sep 18 2017

Lots of New Statistics Data in the Quiz Generator

Faculty and TAs ask frequently for more information about the data captured in student exams and quizzes in CoursePlus. Having pre-computed statistics helps them make decisions about what is working (and what is not) in this kind of assessment.

We've added a number of new statistics to the Quiz Generator in CoursePlus. Here's a brief tour:

First, basic statistics about student performance on a quiz are now shown on the main "All Responses and Grades" page as soon as students start taking a quiz, and also appear on the main quiz overview page once the quiz is closed to students.

Basic statistics about student performance on a quiz

Next, statistics about student performance on each individual question in a quiz are now available. If you view the "Responses to Questions" report on the "Statistics" tab for a quiz, you will see the following information:

  • Number of students who answered the question
  • Number of students who skipped the question
  • Percentage of students who received full credit on the question
  • Percentage of students who received partial credit on the question
  • Percentage of students who received no credit for the question

Sample of the breakdown of student scoring on an individual question

This appears in addition to already existing data on the percentage of students who selected each different possible answer to the question. This data is also shown for essay and fill-in-the-blank questions, fulfilling a long-standing facuty and TA request.

Finally, there's an entirely new tab of statistical data for each quiz: the discrimination value tab:

Discrimination Value tab location

Briefly, this tab shows you information about the difficulty of each question in the quiz. Two pieces of information about each question are shown:

  1. The difficulty index of the question on a scale of 0-1 as measured by the percentage of students who got full credit for the question.
  2. The discrimination value for the question. The discrimination value refers to how well an individual question in an assessment differentiates between high and low scorers. The discrimination value can be in the range of -1 to 1. If the majority of students whose overall performance on the quiz was in the top 50% of all scores answered the question correctly, the value will be closer to 1. If the majority of students whose overall performance on the quiz was in the bottom 50% of all scores answered the question correctly, the value will be closer to -1.

Discrimination value report table

In addition to simply showing the difficulty and discrimination values for each question in the quiz, the report also highlights the following:

  • The questions answered correctly by the most students
  • The questions answered correctly by the fewest number of students
  • Questions with a negative discrimination value
  • Questions with a discrimination value less than .2, which is generally considered the cutoff for question discrimination desirability.

You can download the source data which splits students into low and high scorers used in calculating the discrimination values in Excel format.

We hope that all this additional data helps you create better quizzes and exams! 

If you have any questions about these new features, please contact CTL Help.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 11:35 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

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