Jul 8 2014

Reminder: The Rich Text Editor in CoursePlus Has an Equation Editor and a Drawing Pad!

If you never taught or took an online course prior to the merging of CoursePlus and the old online courses system, you may not know that the rich text editor found throughout CoursePlus has two very powerful features: the ability to render LaTeX equations and a drawing pad that lets you insert drawings right into the rich text editor.

If you look at the rich text editor in the discussion forum, quizzes, or elsewhere in an online course site, you will now see the Greek Sigma symbol as a button in the editor toolbar.

Equation Editor Button

Clicking this button will bring up the LaTeX equation editing window.

Equation Editor window

You paste in syntactically correct LaTeX markup, and the result is rendered immediately in a preview. Clicking OK to close this window inserts the equation wherever it your cursor is placed in the rich text editor box. 

The other new button in the rich text editor toolbar is the paintbrush button:

Paintbrush Button

Clicking on this button will bring up the drawing board tool, which allows you to quickly sketch or draw something (or mark up an equation or create a 2x2 table, etc).

Drawing board tool

Once you click the OK button, the image is saved, and then that image then becomes part of the content of your discussion forum post, email message, quiz question, etc. This is a great tool for marking up something that isn't possible to type.

These tools are available throughout CoursePlus, wherever there is a rich text editor, with one notable exception. The equation editor tool does not work within the class email tool. The reason for this is because the rendering of equations inside the Web browser requires code to execute. Email clients do not allow code to execute when you open an email message because that would be a major security risk. As such, the equation editor isn't available in the rich text editor inside the class email tool.

We hope that you find these additions to the overall CoursePlus toolbox useful. If you have any feedback, we'd like to hear it!

0 comments - Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:05 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jun 24 2014

New Quiz Generator Features for Those Coming from the Old CoursePlus

With the launch of the merged CoursePlus, faculty who had never taught an online course before now have access to a wide variety of new features and improvements to the tools that they had used in the old CoursePlus. The Quiz Generator has some significant new features which were not available in the old CoursePlus, but had been available in the online course system since the 2012 academic year. These include:

Multi-Access Graded Quizzes

  • Faculty are able to set up a quiz as graded, but then specify only allowing students access to the quiz once, or as many times as needed.
  • As students work on a multi-access quiz, their answers are automatically saved while they work. If the student leaves the quiz and comes back to the quiz, their answers appear exactly as they left them.
  • Students can submit their answers only once, regardless of the number of times they can access a graded quiz.
  • Faculty can set up a quiz so that students can access it as many times as needed, but have a countdown timer just as they could previously, so the student only has a total of [n] minutes to be on the quiz page.
  • Faculty can set up a quiz so that students can access it as many times as needed, but only have a set period of time (ie; 90 minutes) to work on the quiz. That time starts counting down the moment the student first access the quiz and continues to count down even if the student leaves the quiz page. At the end of the set period of time, the quiz is automatically submitted, even if the student isn't on the quiz page.

Allow Students to Continue Work on Single-Access Graded Quizzes

  • If a student can't complete a quiz that can only be accessed once (technical difficulty, etc.), faculty have an option on the special permissions page to let the student continue working on the quiz.
  • If a student is given special permission to continue working on the quiz, faculty have the option of "locking down" the existing student answers so the student can't change them.
  • If a student is given special permission to continue working on the quiz, the countdown timer (if one is used) will continue from the time the student last communicated with the server (so if they had 25 minutes left when they had a problem, they will have 25 minutes when they get special access again).
  • Note that if a student already submitted their answers to a quiz/exam, there is no option to let the student back into the quiz to change their work. (This is a feature that we will add in the coming months.)

Log of Student Activity in a Quiz

  • You can now see a log of all activity by a student when taking a quiz. This includes:
    • Starting and leaving a quiz
    • Selecting or changing answers
    • Snapshots of answers to essay questions as they are written
    • Warnings given to students about leaving a single-access graded quiz
    • Submission of answers Email messages sent by the system to the student

If you have questions about how to use any of these new features, please contact your course instructional designer or CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 10:34 AM - Categories: Course Tools | CoursePlus

Jun 10 2014

Copying Your Syllabus or Online Library From One CoursePlus Site to Another

As you probably know, when you set up a CoursePlus site, you are given the option to copy content from another section or offering of the same course. What you may not know is that there are a growing number of tools in CoursePlus that let you copy content for the same tool from another section or offering of the same course even after you've done the initial site setup.

Both the Syllabus Builder and Online Library tools allow you to copy the entire syllabus or Online Library from another section or offering of the same course at any time. It's important to note that when you perform this copy, it replaces everything currently in the syllabus or Online Library of your CoursePlus site. There's no option to only pick and choose what you want from the other CoursePlus site.

In the Syllabus Builder tool, the link to do this is in a box at the bottom of the column of suggested syllabus sections on the right side of the page. The box is titled "Copy catalog information from another section of this course." Once you click this link, you will be shown a list of other sites to pick from before confirming the copy.

In the Online Library, click on the "Options" tab. Scroll down until you see "Online Library Migration":

Online Library Migration Tool

Click "Preview" to ensure it's the one you want to copy. Once you're sure, click the "Copy" button to erase your current Online Library and copy everything from the other CoursePlus site's Online Library.

Remember: when you perform this copy in either tool, it replaces everything currently in the syllabus or Online Library of your CoursePlus site.

We'll be adding more copying tools to CoursePlus in the coming months. Our first target will be the Quiz Generator, where you will be able to pick and choose the quizzes you want to copy instead of having to copy all quizzes at once. If there are other tools where the copy feature would be useful, please let us know!

0 comments - Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:45 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jun 2 2014

Two Things all JHSPH Faculty and Students Should Do...

With all of the recent migrations and changes to @JHU email and CoursePlus, there are a couple key things that we should all do:

1. Update your Email address (to @jhu.edu) on the CoursePlus eLearning Account page. Once you have been migrated on email, this important step will help ensure that your emails come from and go to the correct address.

2. Change all bookmarks and/or reference links from distance.jhsph.edu to courseplus.jhsph.edu. This will help ensure that students or others attempting to reach a particular class or destination will be able to. Keep in mind that your saved passwords will also be tied to the old address, so you will likely want to re-save any passwords in your preferred browsers.

Also, if you experience oddities or abnormalities while using CoursePlus, here are some tips to try before contacting CTLHelp:

  1. Clear your browser cache: http://ctl.jhsph.edu/help/index.cfm/go/faq.display/faqID/75/
  2. If that does not work, please ensure that you don’t have any kind of “on startup, pick up exactly where I left off” settings turned on. Google Chrome has this in the Chome Preferences, under “Settings” -> “On Startup.”

Of course, if trouble persists, please use the CTL Help resources or open a help call

0 comments - Posted by Clark Shah-Nelson at 2:02 PM - Categories: Course Tools | CoursePlus | Distance Learning | General | Online Courses | Tech Tools

May 29 2014

Change Your TAs from the "Editor" Role to the "TA" Role in the New CoursePlus

With the arrival of the new CoursePlus, faculty have more options when it comes to the administrative roles to which individuals are assigned in your course sites.

In the old CoursePlus, there were only two non-student roles: faculty and editors. In the new CoursePlus, there are many more roles: faculty, TA, site content editor, and guest faculty. The "Add TAs, Editors, Guest Faculty, and Guests" tool in your course site has the details about what each role can do, but there is one key change about the role of editors vs. the role of TAs in the new CoursePlus: editors don't have access to grading activities (including the Gradebook) in the new CoursePlus. The "site content editor" role in the new CoursePlus is really just that: a role for individuals like academic coordinators and administrative assistants to edit content in your site. It is not a role for people who need to enter grades in the Gradebook.

Your TAs should be put into the TA role in the new CoursePlus, not the editor role — unless you don't want your TAs doing any grade-related work.

When we were building the new CoursePlus, we realized that there was no way for us to know if an individual in the old CoursePlus was really a TA or what we now term a site content editor. We could not arbitrarily change everyone who was an editor in the new CoursePlus to be a TA in the new CoursePlus because that would mean giving a good number of people access to grades and grading activities who should not have that access.

For existing sites and sites you may create this upcoming academic year, you may need to go into the site and remove the editor role for someone who is a TA and give them the TA role instead.

0 comments - Posted by Brian Klaas at 10:30 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

May 27 2014

One Last Reminder Before the CoursePlus Merge: Supported Web Browsers

Tomorrow — Wednesday, May 28, 2014 — the new CoursePlus goes live. We've covered many of the changes in detail in other blog posts, but the fastest way to learn about what is new and different is this five minute video.

We also wanted to remind everyone that there are technical requirements for using CoursePlus, all of which are listed on the CTL Computing Requirements page. If you are still running Windows XP as your opertating system, you must use either Chrome or Firefox as your Web browser. Internet Explorer 8 (which many Windows XP systems still run) is not supported by CoursePlus. We stopped supporting Internet Explorer 8 back in January, 2012. While you could still access CoursePlus using IE8 with occasional problems, you will not be able to sign into the new CoursePlus with Internet Explorer 8. You will have to use an alternative (and more up-to-date and secure) browser.

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

May 22 2014

Change to the "Preview Quiz" Page in the Quiz Generator

When a faculty, TA or staff member previews a quiz in the online course system, they have two options to choose from: "Test the Quiz as a Faculty/TA/Staff member" and "Test the Quiz as a Student.” These two options are nearly identical, and the separate links were only added after we received feedback years ago from a handful of people who weren't sure what things would look like to students vs. faculty who were taking or testing a quiz.

The only functional difference between "Test the Quiz as a Faculty/TA/Staff member" and "Test the Quiz as a Student” on that page is that clicking the "Test the Quiz as a Faculty/TA/Staff member" link resets your attempt on the quiz every time, whereas the "Test the Quiz as a Student" link lets you pick up where you left off on a multi-access quiz. Even so, if you access a multi-access quiz on the "test as student" link, you're presented with the option to start over with a new copy anyway. There's no real difference between the two links.

As such, we have combined the "Test the Quiz as a Faculty/TA/Staff member" and "Test the Quiz as a Student” links on this page into a single link titled “Test the Quiz."

The single “Test the Quiz” link will act the same as the current "Test the Quiz as a Student” link in that if you access a multi-access quiz on the "Test as student" link, you're presented with the option to start over with a new copy anyway.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:10 AM - Categories: Course Tools | Online Courses

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