Category: CoursePlus

Mar 18 2019

New Look for the Main Faculty Tools Page

The main faculty tools page in every CoursePlus course website is a hub for faculty, TA, and instructional staff activity. Many links to new tools and reports in CoursePlus have been added to this page over the years. Some of the link organization makes sense, and others, quite frankly does not.

The main faculty tools page has been re-organized. The key to this reorganization is a new grouping of tools titled "Activities and Assignments." This new grouping puts tools like the Drop Box, Quiz Generator, and Gradebook all front and center on the main faculty tools page. The new layout is now live in CoursePlus. 

In on-campus courses, the new layout looks like this:

Screenshot of the new faculty tools page for on-campus courses

In online courses (or on-campus courses using Schedule Builder), the new layout looks like this:

Screenshot of the new faculty tools page for online courses

We hope that this new layout will make it easier to find the tools you need, and will bring some of the most commonly used tools front and center in your CoursePlus website.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:17 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jan 31 2019

Access to Three Years of Courses in CoursePlus

For many years, students, faculty, and staff have had access to CoursePlus sites for a maximum of two academic years. A course site was visible for the academic year in which the course was offered, and the following academic year. This met the needs of a large number of people who use CoursePlus, but not all.

Students in part-time programs and students in doctoral programs are in those programs for longer than two academic years. Not being able to see courses from more than one academic year in the past could be problematic as students prepared for capstones or oral examinations. 

In early January, the CoursePlus team quietly rolled out the ability for students, faculty, and staff to have access to CoursePlus sites for a maximum of three academic years. Therefore, if a student takes a course in the third term of AY2018-2019, the students have access to that course site through May 31, 2021 — three full academic years. This change is also retroactive, so everyone now has access to their sites from the 2016-2017 academic year.

While it would be wonderful to offer access to any course taken by any student at any time (or set up by any faculty member at any time), there are finite resources at play which make keeping sites available indefinitely a probematic proposition. We must balance the need for fast access to the sites for currently running courses with the need of a much smaller population to access courses which ran in the past.

Remember also that CoursePlus provides tools for students, faculty, and staff to quickly download all files in an Online Library, or the content of online lectures — the very materials most people have requested when wanting to view courses from four, five, six, or more years in the past.

We hope that access to three academic years worth of courses will help everyone access the content they need from CoursePlus, when they need it.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:00 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jan 16 2019

CoursePlus Updates, Listed by Month

The CTL Blog and the @courseplus Twitter feed are two ways that you can get information about what's new and different in CoursePlus. Many people are not aware that there is also a list, updated monthly, which details all changes to CoursePlus, big and small.

The CoursePlus Updates page lists all of the changes that occur to CoursePlus each month. The list is presented in reverse chronological order, with the first entry going back to September, 2014. Most of the information on the CoursePlus Updates page is usually first presented on the @courseplus Twitter feed, but not everyone uses Twitter. Please note that the @courseplus Twitter feed contains real-time updates to problems with or unplanned outages in CoursePlus, something not listed anywhere else.

Bigger items listed on the CoursePlus Updates page usually make their way onto the CTL Blog with greater detail about the change than found on the CoursePlus Updates page. However, blog posts usually only appear after the related change is already listed on the CoursePlus Updates page. 

Additionally, the Center for Teaching and Learning offers monthly (and sometimes twice monthly) workshops about teaching with (and without) technology, often focusing on the tools in CoursePlus. These sessions also cover new and improved CoursePlus features.

We hope you take advantage of the resource(s) that best fit your needs for learning about what's new and different in CoursePlus. As always, CTL Help is happy to answer any questions you may have about CoursePlus.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:34 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Dec 13 2018

See the Exact Steps Taken in Calculating a Student Grade in the Gradebook

Gradebooks can be complicated things, with many activities grouped into categories and different rules about how individual grades in a category factor into a student's final grade. It can sometimes be difficult to know the exact set of steps taken in calculating a student's grade.

Fortunately, the Gradebook in CoursePlus has a tool for faculty and TAs that shows the exact steps taken in calculating a student's grade in the course Gradebook. This tool can be accessed at any time, even before the final grade in the class is calculated, and the steps shown will update when you add additional scores in to the Gradebook. 

To access this tool, go to the student view of any student in the Gradebook. For example, in this example class, we're viewing the Gradebook page for a student named Luke Cage:

Screenshot of an example student's grade book page

Click "Show Grade Calculation Details page for [student name]" at the top of the page. This reveals all the steps, in order, that the Gradebook took to calculate the current student grade in the class:

Screenshot of the calculation of an example student's grade

Both the actual current grade and the current grade as displayed to the student are shown. Remember that the grade as displayed to the student may be different than the actual, real current grade because sometimes indivdiual graded items aren't displayed to students. For example, you may have graded a midterm, but not displayed grades to students because not all students took the midterm. This is why we show calculations for both the actual current grade, and what is currently shown to students.

We hope that the information shown in this tool will help you better understand the exact steps taken to calculate a student grade in a course. You can even share this information with students who may have concerns about how their grade is calculated. 

If you have questions or concerns about how the Gradebook is calculating a student grade, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 10:28 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Nov 27 2018

Panopto Outage on Saturday, December 15

Panopto will not be available on Saturday, December 15 from 7pm-11pm EST.  Panopto, the company which makes the service and provides hosting of all JHU content in the service, will be upgrading Panopto, the service, to version 6.0. Unfortunately, JHU has no control over the scheduling of this outage. Please plan accordingly for a complete lack of access to Panopto during this time.

Panopto has posted information about what's new in the 6.0 update

Posted by Brian Klaas at 1:15 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Nov 20 2018

Say Hello to Signup Sheets!

Faculty frequently need students to sign up for activities in their courses: office hours, project topics, presentation days, and more. Some faculty have created Google Docs to facilitate this process. Some juggle email combined with an Excel spreadsheet. Others hand out lined pieces of paper in the classroom.

We've added a new tool to CoursePlus that lets faculty set up virtual pieces of paper (or “sheets”) on which students can sign up for activity topics, office hours, groups — really anything where a list of names needs to be collected. Faculty or TAs can create individual sheets, time-based sheets, or groups of sheets where students can sign up inside the course website.

For example, faculty can create a time-based sheet for students to sign up for office hours. The faculty fills out a form that says "I can see a maximum of 8 students between 1pm and 3pm on Thursday," and the Signup Sheets tool creates the appropriate signup form with 8 slots split equally across the 1-3pm period. Another example would be faculty in an online course creating a group of signup sheets for end of term final presentations in LiveTalks. One sheet would be for the Monday LiveTalk and one sheet would be for the Wednesday LiveTalk. Students would be able to sign up on one of the two virtual "sheets" to indicate the session at which they wanted to present.

Here's an example of a group of signup sheets for students to pick the day on which they will present to the class:

Screenshot of a group of signup sheets

All sheets have open and close dates so that faculty and TAs can control when students sign up. Students can add or remove themselves to a signup sheet, or sign up their entire course group — if that feature is enabled in the Signup Sheet setup. Faculty and TAs can even add students to a Signup Sheet if they need to. There is a history tool on each sheet that shows all signup activity by students, TAs, and faculty.

Faculty and TAs can see who has (and has not) signed up with a click of a button. With the click of another button, faculty and TAs can send a reminder message to students that they need to sign up on a sheet (or group of sheets). There is also an option to export to Excel all data for a Signup Sheet or group of sheets.

Screenshot of a group of signup sheets

Students can be sent an automatic reminder that they need to sign up for a Signup Sheet, sent one day before the signup period closes. Signup Sheet open/close dates also appear in the student "My Calendar" view and in the Daily Course Notifications email.

The Signup Sheets tool can be found under the "Resources" heading in the Faculty Tools area of every CoursePlus site.

We hope that faculty and TAs will find this to be a useful addition to the administration of their classes. If you have any questions about how this new tool works, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 10:55 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Oct 29 2018

Full Emoji Support in the Rich Text Editor

Although not always appropriate for professional work, emoji represent a rich system of communication in any online environment. Students (and many staff) use them frequently. They provide an expressivness and emotional clarity that text alone often cannot.

The rich text editor found in CoursePlus now has support for a wide range of emoji characters found on modern smartphones and operating systems. Typing the colon character ( : ) now brings up an emoji menu, as it does in many Web-based rich text editors.

Screenshot of the emoji menu in the rich text editor in CoursePlus

Once you type the colon ( : ) character, you then need to follow that with typing the start of the emoji character name — "smiling_face_with_halo," for example. There is a full list of the emoji available in the rich text editor in CoursePlus, and that list includes the official names for each emoji symbol.

We hope that this broad support of emoji helps to make CoursePlus a more expressive place for all types of interactions. If you have any questions about this new feature, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 10:45 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

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