Viewing by month: July 2011

Jul 28 2011

Faculty Can Now Manage Non-Student Access in Online Courses

For years, faculty and TAs working on CoursePlus sites have had the ability to directly manage who has guest or "editor" access to their CoursePlus sites. With online courses, however, those requests have had to go through the Center for Teaching and Learning with Technology (CTLT). Today, that changes.

Faculty and TAs in online courses can now manage who has non-student access to their online courses. Faculty can give TAs access to their online courses, and a lead TA can do the same for other TAs in the course, or for guest faculty. It's a simple tool which asks you to enter someone's first or last name, and then you select the kind of access that you want to give them. The person you select is then sent an email informing them that they have access to this course, along with a link to the course website.

As with CoursePlus, faculty and TAs cannot manage student or auditor access to a course website. Student and auditor access still needs to be processed through ISIS, the University system of record for course registration and enrollment.

Although the tool warns you about this (once per offering of the course), it's bears repeating: giving a student guest access to a course website because their registration in ISIS has not yet been processed is a bad idea. Guests in online courses do not get class emails; they cannot take quizzes; their viewing of course lectures or participation in LiveTalks is not recorded; and, they do not appear in the Gradebook. If a student says that he registered for your online course in ISIS but does not yet have access to the course website, the student should contact the Registrar's office for assistance.

Finally, it is the School's policy that students enrolled in degree programs should not be given guest access to online courses. If a student enrolled in a degree program needs access to an online course, they should do so as a registered student or auditor. Questions about this policy should be directed to Sukon Kanchanaraska, the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning with Technology.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 2:52 PM - Categories: Online Courses | Course Tools

Jul 26 2011

"Unleash Your Inner Spielberg When Creating (Online) Presentations" Video Archive Posted

The video archive of "Unleash Your Inner Spielberg When Creating (Online) Presentations," a talk which I gave as part of the Center for Teaching and Learning with Technology's speaker series, is now available online via the CTLT Web Events page. I really enjoyed presenting this session to the faculty, students, and staff who attended. I had the privilege of giving this talk three times prior to this session at various conferences around the country (Adobe MAX, CUE2011, and EduComm 2011), but it was really nice to have it so well received on my home turf.

The archive does not contain the Q&A section of the presentation, as many of the questions and comments from those in attendance could not be heard on the recording. There is a link, however, to the handout which was given out at the end of the session. The handout takes the place of a PDF or handout of the actual slides used in the presentation (and contains more details than the slides themselves). If you're wondering why this is, be sure to check out the presentation!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 4:47 PM - Categories: Teaching Tips | Web Events

Jul 15 2011

New BBS Coming to All Online Courses in August

As the "Remaking the BBS" series has documented, the Center has been working on a new version of the BBS used in online courses for the past nine months. We've been testing the new BBS in a handful of courses, and we're ready to roll it out to all online courses that start after August 1, 2011. 

For more information about what's new, here are all the blog posts in the "Remaking the BBS" series, each of which details a different aspect of the new BBS:

As always, your feedback has driven our work on the new BBS, and your future feedback will help to make it even better. We look forward to hearing from you!


Posted by Brian Klaas at 11:38 AM - Categories: Online Courses

Jul 12 2011

A New Version of the Drop Box Coming to CoursePlus

In the coming weeks, CoursePlus will be updated to include the same version of the Drop Box tool that has been available to online courses for some time. The new version of the Drop Box includes some important new features which make it easier for faculty, TAs, and administrative staff to manage Drop Boxes. Some of the highlights of this new version include:

  • Multiple assignment parts per Drop Box. You can now collect up to five (5) files from each student in a single Drop Box.
  • Submit files on behalf of a student. Faculty and editors can now submit a file to a Drop Box on behalf of a student. This is very useful when a student can't submit their file in the regular fashion, but you want to take full advantage of the organizational capabilities of the Drop Box.
  • See who downloaded files, and when. Each student file in a Drop Box now shows if the file has been downloaded by a faculty or editor, and when they downloaded the file.
  • See a history of student submissions to a Drop Box. If the Drop Box is set up to allow multiple submissions, you can see a history of all submissions by the student to that Drop Box. Multiple versions of the files are not stored, however. Only the history of when students submitted a file to that Drop Box is displayed.
  • Let students see other student submissions. You can set up a Drop Box so that once files are submitted, students can see everyone else's submissions. This is useful when students need to evaluate or critique other student papers, projects, or assignments.
  • Get notified when students submit files to a Drop Box. You can optionally turn on notifications so that every time a student submits a file to a Drop Box, an email is sent to the specified address.
On the student side, there is one significant change to the Drop Box: uploading of files now requires the Flash plug-in. This requirement is in place so that students can receive visual feedback while they upload files. For smaller files, visual feedback generally has not been an issue. For larger files (PPT presentations, for example), students told us that they often did not know if the file was uploading properly because they received no visual feedback. Uploading via the Flash plug-in allows us to provide the visual feedback that students have asked for.

This version of the Drop Box has been in use in the online courses for over a year, and has received very positive feedback. We expect that those of you who use CoursePlus will be equally as pleased.


Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:01 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jul 7 2011

Changes to the Gradebook, Surveys, and Video in Online Courses

As part of a fairly substantial update that was rolled out to the online course system at the end of May, a couple of new features have been added to various online course tools. These include:

  • Gradebook:
    • The "Prepare Final Grade" page now has a "Save Only" option that saves any manual adjustments that faculty have made to an individual final grade.
    • If an item is excluded from calculation in the final grade, and the "Show grade in student view" option is deselected, then the row for that item and the grade for that item will not appear in the student view of the Gradebook. This allows for completely hiding certain items from the student view in the Gradebook while using the Gradebook to track those items.
    • A spinning circle indicator now appears when you add or edit an activity in the Gradebook to provide visual feedback that your request to add or edit an activity is being processed.
  • Surveys:
    • There is now an option available for faculty or TAs to be notified via email when someone submits responses to a survey.
    • The 1400 character limit on essay question responses in surveys has been removed.
  • Video:
    • If you are accessing an online course website from an iPad, iPhone, or other iOS device, you can now watch videos (not lectures) in course websites. Please note that not all class websites have been updated for this new feature yet. As the academic year progresses, we will be updating course videos. Fully synchronized course lecture presentations still do not play on iOS devices due to the lack of support for the Flash Player on iOS devices.
    • Video playback will now adjust to a higher quality version of the file, if one is available, when the connection improves significantly while playing back the video. If you already are playing the highest quality version of the file, you will see no change.


Posted by Brian Klaas at 3:56 PM - Categories: Online Courses | Course Tools

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