Viewing by month: April 2009

Apr 29 2009

PDF Annotator Now Available from Information Systems

Ross McKenzie, the Director of Information Systems, sent out an exciting email message today:

Information Systems is happy to announce that we have finalized a site license for PDF Annotator software. PDF Annotator is a Windows software that allows adding highlights and notes to any PDF file. It will work on scanned image PDFs as well as PDFs created from files.

Complete details on acquiring the software and getting a license key are in the portal at

Mac users, don’t despair! There are directions at the same location for annotating PDFs using the Mac program Preview or obtaining a freeware program called Skim.

PDF annotation is a great way to reduce the amount of paper generated by online courses and online supplements to face-to-face courses. Additionally, if lecture notes are stored digitally, they become searchable, which is a big boon when reviewing for exams. If you have your notes in digital format, you can store them "in the cloud" via a service like GMail, or DropBox, or even in your JHSPH email account. If you do that, those digital notes can go with you wherever you have a connection to the Internet, so the notes you need don't get left at home when it's time to go to work or school.

For more information about PDF Annotator, see the link above. Mac users already have PDF annotation software installed on your computer. It's done with an application called Preview, and there is built-in help to demonstrate PDF annotation.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 11:54 AM - Categories: General

Apr 28 2009

Recap of Updates to the Online Library

Based on the feedback from faculty, TAs and instructional staff involved in online courses, the Online Library tool in online courses has received a number of updates since the start of the third term. Below is a recap of those changes:

  • There is now a checkbox that can be clicked to select items in the "Link to PageBuilder pages" and "block students" tools. This simplifies the selection of items, especially multiple, non-contiguous items. You can hold down the SHIFT key to select multiple, contiguous items as well.
  • The highlight color in the "Link to PageBuilder pages" and "block students" boxes has been altered to improve the distinction between an item that is selected and an item that is not selected.
  • The height of the "Link to PageBuilder pages" and "block students" boxes has been increased to display more items at once.
  • The date a file was posted, rather than the file size, is now displayed in the main view.
  • When you drag items in the library, a visual indicator shows you exactly where the file will be inserted when you stop dragging the item.
  • When you hover for one second over a folder because you want to drop a file in to that folder, the folder flashes then opens so that you can drop the file in to the folder. This is how "spring-loaded" folders work on other Web applications and some operating systems.
  • You can change the folder assignment for any item when you edit that item.
  • In the folder assignment drop-down, the parent folder of the subfolder is listed in parenthesis.
  • If you select an open or close date, the checkbox for using an open or close date is automatically selected.
  • When you use the date picker for the open/close date options, all other items on the screen are blocked from selection. This prevents you from accidentally blocking a student from seeing a file when using the date picker.
  • Speaker names are listed when you link to a lecture page.
  • "Success" notifications now disappear on their own after a few seconds.
  • The total number of items within a folder and all of its subfolders is now displayed. Previously, only the number of items in that folder but no subfolders was displayed.
  • The trash can now appears immediately to the right of an item when you start to drag the item. This makes dragging items to the trash can easier and quicker.
  • You can replace a file that is currently on the server with a file of the same name without receiving an error message about two files having the same name.

There have also been numerous bug-fixes and other behind-the-scenes performance improvements during this time. We want to thank everyone who has provided feedback to us about the new version of the Online Library.

If you have any additional suggestions for changes or additions to the Online Library, we would love to hear them! 


Posted by Brian Klaas at 1:41 PM - Categories: Course Tools

Apr 23 2009

CoursePlus Access Problems on 4/22 and 4/23

Late in the afternoon on Wednesday, April 22, students and faculty who were not logged in to a computer on the JHSPH network began experiencing problems accessing CoursePlus. This includes those who attempted to access over the public wireless network at the School, or via Welch Library. Students and faculty who were logged in to computers hard-wired in to the JHSPH network did not experience any access problems.

The cause of this problem was a network misconfiguration for the CoursePlus server. The CoursePlus site was fully available without any issues to those not affected by the network misconfiguration. CTLT and Information Systems staff identified and isolated the issue. Full access to CoursePlus, regardless of the network from which it was accessed, was restored at 11:06am. We will continue to monitor the situation and post any additional updates here, should they be necessary.

Our sincere apologies for the frustration caused by this access problem!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 11:39 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Apr 22 2009

The May 2009 Patch to CoursePlus

CoursePlus is getting a small, end-of-year update to implement a couple of long-standing faculty requests. Those changes are:

  • The anonymous feedback tool is now turned off by default. Anyone with editing privileges on a CoursePlus site can turn on anonymous feedback on the "Communication Tools" page. Anonymous feedback is no longer available for courses for which there is no CoursePlus site.
  • When setting up a CoursePlus site, faculty can now copy the content of a CoursePlus site from a previous term of a course with the same course number even if they were not the primary faculty on that course when that course was offered. This means that if you are now the primary faculty on a course which was previously taught by someone else, you can copy the content of the CoursePlus site from that previous offering of the course. Prior to this change, you could only copy content if you were also the primary faculty on the previous offering of the course as well.
    • Note that primary faculty from the previous offering who are no longer listed in the catalog as being involved with the course will receive an email message notifying them that the content of their CoursePlus site was copied.

There are a couple of additional behind-the-scenes, administrative changes in this CoursePlus patch, but the above listed items are the only changes that directly pertain to the faculty, staff and students who use CoursePlus.

Thanks again to everyone who provided feedback about CoursePlus and helped to get these changes made!


Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:45 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Apr 20 2009

Welcome to the CTLT Blog!

The Center for Teaching and Learning with Technology here at the School of Public Health is involved in many educational and educational technology activities. A lot of the faculty, staff and students at the School don't really know all that we do and how we go about doing what we do. This blog is an effort to keep everyone in the JHSPH community aware of what we in the Center are working on, why we're doing what we are doing, and what we're looking forward to.

Although my focus is on the development of new educational technology and tools in online courses, CoursePlus, and online training, the blog will feature many of the voices from the Center on a range of topics. Instructional Designers might post about trends in educational technology and best practices for teaching — with or without technology. Our OpenCourseWare coordinator might post about recent developments in the open learning content community and how it impacts us here at JHSPH. The Center's director might stop by from time to time and talk about the direction in which the Center is headed.

Through all of this, we want to hear from you. We want to hear your ideas and your feedback on our ideas. The Center is here to work with everyone in the JHSPH community to make teaching and learning with technology at JHSPH as good as it can be.

To stay up-to-date, be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed by clicking the "RSS Feeds" link at the top of the page. You can also get email announcements of new posts to the blog by using the box on the right side of the page.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 4:20 PM - Categories: General

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