Category: CoursePlus

Jan 7 2020

New Methods of Assessment Tool in the Syllabus

Last year, the Office of Academic Affairs, in conjunction with the Committee on Academic Standards, rolled out a long-developed revamp to the way in which the methods of assessment are specified for a course in the School of Public Health's course system. Previously, faculty and TAs could enter whatever text they wanted into the "Methods of Assessment" field for a course in the SPH course system. There was a standard style expected in this field, but it was difficult to enforce standards in this free text field. It was also difficult for the school to ask questions like "How many courses use presentations as a method of assessment?" given the variance in which any given method of assessment could be specified. 

CoursePlus now allows you to edit a course's methods of assessment in this new format in the Syllabus Builder tool. 

Screenshot of new Methods of Assessment editor

The new methods of assessment tool allows you to select the individual method for assessment from an approved drop-down list and specify the percentage that the method contributes to the course final grade. You can select up to two "Other" items from the drop-down and provide your own description for the activity, but you are encouraged to use items from the drop-down list whenever possible. The total of all methods of assessment must add up to 100% (or 99% if there are three methods and each is weighted equally). As with other sections of the syllabus that are linked to the course system, any changes to the Methods of Assessment field will require submission to the course system for review and approval.

It's important to note that there was no automatic conversion of a course's methods of assessment from the old format to the new. This means that when you first update the Methods of Assessment field in a course in CoursePlus (or the SPH course system), you will need to recreate the full list of methods of assessment using the new tool. Once you do that, however, any future changes will start in the new format using the new tool.

Standardized display of methods of assessment is good for students and good for the School. If you have any questions about using this new tool, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:25 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Dec 11 2019

Save Time Organizing Students with Signup Sheets

Many classes have activities where students need to self-select into groups to work on a project or assignments. Many classes have end-of-term summative activities like presentations where students need to present their work over a series of days. Some classes offer office hours so that students can get one-on-one assistance from faculty and TAs.

Organizing all of these activities can be a headache. Some faculty resort to using a shared Word document, or a Google doc, or a wiki in their CoursePlus site. Some faculty and TAs manage shared email inboxes, where they have to sort through 20 or 50 different email messages to put student requests in order.

The Signup Sheets tool in CoursePlus is specifically designed to drastically simplify the burden of this kind of work. With Signup Sheets, you can:

  • Create topics and have students sign up for that topic for a group, paper, project, or activity
  • List days on which final presentations will occur and students can sign up on a day that works for them
  • Set up office hours and students can sign up to attend 
  • Guage student interest in specific topics or activities to cover in the course
  • Convert student signups in to CoursePlus course groups for additional work

The Signup Sheets tool makes quick work of all of the above. In addition to creating sheets for students to sign up on, the tool also has the ability to:

  • Set an open and close dates for signing up
  • Limit students to signing up on one of a set of available sheets
  • Allow group signups when groups are defined in the CoursePlus course groups tool
  • Send reminders to students who haven't signed up
  • Export all signup information to Excel

In the case of office hours, you can give the Signup Sheets tool a block of time and say "I can see up to five (or six, or eight) students during this time," and the tool will make five (or six, or eight) equal slots during the time you've specified.

There is a full set of documentation on how to use the Signup Sheets tool in the CoursePlus guide for faculty. As always, CTL Help is also available to answer your questions.

The Signup Sheets tool has a surprising number of different possible uses. We encourage you to take a look, and see how the tool can save you time in the administration of your classes!


Posted by Brian Klaas at 3:52 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Nov 5 2019

Web Accessibility Improvements to CoursePlus

Making the web accessible to everyone is not only a public health issue, it's simply the right thing to do. The Center for Teaching and Learning has long pushed to make the content offered in online courses (and CoursePlus in general) accessible. From a core, accessible PowerPoint template used for all lectures to interactive captions on every online lecture, accessibility is an important part of the work that CTL performs every day.

The CoursePlus web application has long had basic accessibility features built in to make it easier for screen readers and other assistive technology to work with the site. Technology and accessibility standards keep changing, however, and CoursePlus needs to keep up with those changes.

You may have noticed a recent change to the color of links and some other items on the CoursePlus main pages. These changes were made to make the site more accessible to people with vision issues, and to meet more modern accessibility standards. Additionally, a lot of behind the scenes work was done to make pages — particularly those outside of an individual class — more accessible to those who navigate solely by keyboard.

There's always improvements to be made, and the CoursePlus team continues to work on improving navigability and accessibility throughout CoursePlus. While you may not see changes as obvious as link colors changing in the future, rest assured that the CoursePlus team continues to refine how the site works to make it a better experience for anyone using assistive technology.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 7:40 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Oct 8 2019

Highlights of What's New in CoursePlus for the First Term

CoursePlus is always changing. Faculty, staff, and students alike request that new features be added or altered. The team that builds CoursePlus doesn't stop this work, even in the summer. Here are some important changes to CoursePlus from the past few months that you may have missed due to end of academic year busyness or summer break:

A lot more happened to CoursePlus in the last few months, but these are the highlights. There is a full, detailed list of changes to CoursePlus broken down by month available for you to view at any time. You can also follow the @courseplus Twitter account for changes as they happen.

If you have questions about any of these changes, please contact CTL Help. They're always happy to answer your questions.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 11:07 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Aug 21 2019

Peer Assessment Updates for the Start of First Term

The CoursePlus team is constantly fielding feedback from faculty, staff, and students. Peer assessments are complex activities in any course, and each course runs their peer assessments a little differently from any other course. Building a single tool that accommodates the ways in which everyone runs their peer assessments requires the CoursePlus team to continually refine the Peer Assessment tool.

To that end, a number of changes were made to the Peer Assessment user interface to make it easier to discover and use the many options in the tool, including:

  • It's much more obvious where faculty enter their own feedback on a student assessment.
  • Instructions on sending results are now displayed when there are results to send.
  • Details about “What to show when students are emailed their results” have been expanded and clarified.
  • The controls on the main page of the Peer Assessment tool have been reorganized to group similar functions together.
  • Checkboxes on the report page have been moved and organized to make their purpose clearer.
  • The "n/n" counter column on the main report page has been removed to reduce visual clutter.

The "Assessment Summary" report — the report that shows the collected responses from other students about a single student in the class — has received a lot of attention as well. The following changes have been made to that report:

  • The report looks more like a plain-text report, and less like an interactive form. The primary text font on the report has been made slightly smaller and uses an easier-to-read font.
  • You no longer have to scroll through individual cells in the rubric to read long-form text in that cell. 
  • You no longer have to scroll through long-form student comments on a criteria in a rubric.
  • A link has been added to the end of the report to jump back to the top of the report.
  • An "Add faculty feedback" button now appears at the top of the report which, when clicked, immediately jumps you to the part of the report where you can enter your own feedback for the student.
  • All all scores now consistently show to 2 decimal places.

Additionally, a new report has been added that shows who each student assessed — the "Who Assessed Who" report. This report makes it easy to quickly see the other students to which student was assigned.

We hope that all of these changes make it easier for you to use the Peer Assessment tool in your courses. If you have any questions about these changes, or have additional feedback about the Peer Assessment tool, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 10:53 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Aug 7 2019

Send Both Individual Student and Class-Wide Feedback from the Gradebook

The Gradebook has long been the tool from which faculty send not just grades, but also feedback, to students. Feedback could be a text-based message, or a file that has been marked up with comments and review. Customised feedback could be created on a per-student basis, or a single message or file could be sent to the entire class. This was, however, an either-or proposition: you could either send feedback on a per-student basis or you could send a single message or file to the entire class.

Thanks to the hard work of the CoursePlus team, this binary choice no longer exists! You can now send both individual student feedback and class-wide feedback for a single Gradebook activity. If you want to provide customized feedback for each student but also send a message and a sample file which highlighted best practices on the activity to all students in the class, you can.

For each student in each activity in the Gradebook, indicators for both individual and class-wide feedback are displayed:

Screenshot of new individual and class-wide feedback

Note that you will only see class-wide feedback displayed next to each student name if you have created either a class-wide text message or uploaded a file to send to everyone in the class.

The icons for individual and class-wide feedback have also been adjusted. You'll now see a paper plane icon for feedback that needs to be sent, a green checkmark for feedback that has been sent, and a gray dash where no feedback exists for that student.

If you decide that you don't want to send class-wide feedback to students after all, clicking the trash can icon next to the class-wide feedback for one student will delete that class-wide feedback for all students with one click.

We hope that this change provides even greater flexibility for faculty and TAs in giving feedback to students in their classes. If you have any questions about this change, please contact CTL Help — they're always happy to answer your questions.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:28 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jul 25 2019

End of Access to Pre-AY19 LiveTalks in CoursePlus

As the School (and University) has moved from Adobe Connect to Zoom for live, synchronous class sessions, we are fast approaching the time when access to old LiveTalk information in Adobe Connect will no longer be available.

The School's Adobe Connect server will be retired on September 1, 2019. For students and faculty alike, LiveTalk recordings from classes in AY18-19 and prior will no longer be available starting September 1, 2019. 

For faculty, this also means that some LiveTalk reporting data from courses in AY18-19 and earlier will no longer be available in CoursePlus after September 1, 2019. While you will still be able to view the LiveTalk attendance reports and see if a student attended a LiveTalk, you will no longer be able to see how long a student spent in a LiveTalk session in AY18-19 and earlier on September 1, 2019. If this data is critical to you, you should download the report data prior to September 1, 2019.

Please note that CTL will not be able to access any LiveTalk recordings or time spent in LiveTalk data for you after September 1, 2019. We realize that this will be an inconvenience for some, but our Adobe Connect infrastructure must be retired due to licensing and security considerations.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 1:51 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

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