Aug 9 2017

Pulling the Peer Assessment Tool for a While

Peer Assessments have been available in CoursePlus for the past couple of years. To be honest, though, the tool has never been particularly stable. In half the courses that used the Peer Assessment tool, the peer assessment would go off without a hitch (provided, of course, that the peer assessment was set up properly). In the other half, though, some kind of manual intervention by the team in Center for Teaching and Learning was required. That's not the kind of experience that we want faculty, TAs, and students to have.

After long discussions within the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), we've decided to pull the Peer Assessment tool from CoursePlus for the next few months for a lot of under-the-hood retooling. We're focusing on making the tool completely reliable, requiring no manual intervention by CTL team members — the kind of experience you've rightfully come to expect from all the tools in CoursePlus. There are also performance optimizations around reporting in the Peer Assessment tool that we plan to make because no one gets upset when an application runs faster.

This change most directly affects first and second term courses in the 2017-2018 academic year. CTL instructional desigers have reached out to affected fauclty. If you have not been contacted by a CTL instructional designer and are using the Peer Assessment tool in the first or second academic term, please contact CTL Help right away. We'll connect you with an instructional designer who can work with you on equally effective alternatives.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 2:52 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Aug 7 2017

Drop Boxes for Specific Course Groups

Over the past academic year, we received a number of requests to allow course Drop Boxes to be visible to and submittable by specific groups of students. This lets administrators set up a Drop Box only for those students in the "DrPH Program" group in a site, or faculty to only allow the groups "Presentation - Sustainable Cities" and "Presentation - Built Environment" to submit to a specific course Drop Box. 

To create a Drop Box that can only be seen by specific groups of students, you first have to set up a group (or groups) in the Course Groups tool. Once you do that, the list of course groups appears when you create or edit a Drop Box:

The option to limit a Drop Box to select course groups.

You can select one or more course groups to have access to the Drop Box. Only the students in the selected groups will see the Drop Box on the Drop Boxes page in the class website, and only the students in the selected groups can to submit files to that Drop Box.

We hope that this new feature makes Drop Boxes and CoursePlus even more flexible! If you have questions about this new feature, please contact CTL Help.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:02 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jul 10 2017

An "Exam Dates" Section in Your Syllabus

The School of Public Health frequently surveys students about their experiences during their graduate degree programs. One piece of feedback that has come up repeatedly in these surveys is a desire by students to know the dates of the midterm and, especially, final exams before the term begins. This gives students the opportunity to plan ahead for the coming term and hopefully avoid taking a course load that puts multiple final exams on the same day.

To help facilitate this process, the JHSPH Committee on Academic Standards asked the CoursePlus team to add a recommended "Exam Dates" section to the Syllabus Builder tool. We've done that:

The exam dates section highlighted in the "New Section" drop-down.

When you click on the "+ New Section" button in the Syllabus Builder, you'll see a pre-made section for "Exam Dates." You can enter your exam dates and students can see this information before they register for courses, enabling them to better plan their academic schedules.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 12:12 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jun 6 2017

Logging of Quiz Setup Changes

The Quiz Generator tool has added a number of important and useful new logging features in the past year, including the logging of special permissions changes for a quiz, when students took less than 10% of the allotted time for the quiz, and the enhanced logging of a student's activity in CoursePlus while taking a quiz. 

We've just added even more logging information, but this time it's specific to the setup of a quiz, and is only visible to the faculty, TAs, and staff working on a quiz. 

First, you can now see a log of all changes made to the quiz setup on the main quiz setup form:

Location of link to view log of setup changes

This log shows all changes you make to all the options on that form. Click the "View log of quiz setup changes" link to see the log of changes made to the setup by anyone on your course instructional team.

Second, there is now a log of all questions that have been added to or removed from this quiz during the current course offering. This is particularly useful if multiple people are working on a quiz or exam and you want to know who added or removed a specific question.

The link to display the log of adding/removing questions from a quiz

The link to this log only appears on the "Add/Remove/Edit Questions" view inside the quiz question manager. 

Please also note that only changes made during the current offering of the course are logged. Changes made in a previous offering of the course (eg; the prior year's verison of the course) are not shown.

We hope that this helps you answer questions about changes made to the setup of your quizzes!

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

May 12 2017

Reminder: Access to AY15-16 Courses Ends May 31, 2017

Access to academic year 2015-2016 courses ends on May 31, 2017. This is in line with the policy for access to CoursePlus websites. The policy states that access to a CoursePlus site is enabled for the academic year in which the course is offered and following academic year. For example, if a course occurred in the third term of the 2015-2016 academic year, a student enrolled in the course has access to the CoursePlus site until the end of the 2016-2017 academic year. After that point, access to that CoursePlus site is terminated.

If you need materials from a CoursePlus site in the 2015-2016 academic year, please download them before May 31, 2017, as you will not be able to access the sites from the 2015-2016 academic year after that time.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:06 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

May 10 2017

Display and Open Discussion Forum Categories on a Specific Date

Faculty and TAs have a whole host of tools to control access to categories in the discussion forum in their CoursePlus sites. You can make a category visible only to a select group of students, lock the category and prevent new posts after a specific date and time, restrict posts to just faculty and TAs, and more.

You can now set a date on which a discussion forum category becomes visible to students. A number of faculty have asked CTL Help for this feature in the past year. Not only does this feature provide more control for faculty who desire it, it also helps to declutter the main category view by not showing categories that aren't going to be used until a specific date. It can also help prevent posts in the wrong category when categories are organized around periods of time (ie; weeks of the term).

Screenshot of the new "Hide Category Until" option

This option is available when you set up or edit an individual category in your discussion forum. If you have questions about how to use this new feature, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:04 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

May 1 2017

CoursePlus Outage on May 1, 2017

CoursePlus went offline unexpectedly at approximately 1:17am today, May 1, 2017, and was offline until approximately 7:05am. According to the research that CTL and JHSPH IT have done thus far, connections to the database cluster got backed up and caused a cascading failure across the CoursePlus cluster. It is not clear at this time why the connections got backed up or why connections did not fail over to another server in the CoursePlus database cluster, but we are investigating.

We apologize for the inconvenience that this no doubt caused some students, TAs, and faculty. We know that any downtime in CoursePlus is very frustrating to all of you, and we work hard to eliminate unexpected downtime. 

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

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