Viewing by month: January 2012

Jan 23 2012

Downloading the Course Schedule

In reviewing the results of our annual Fall technology survey of online students, we found that many students requested features that already exist in the online course system. One of the things that students wanted was a way to download the course schedule to Outlook, iCal, or Google Calendar. This is something that's been available for more than a year in online courses. There is a similar tool on the class schedule page in CoursePlus.

To download the calendar for an online course, go to the "Course Content" page in the class website. At the top of the schedule, you'll see a link titled "Download the course schedule," as shown below:

Link to download the course schedule

When you click that link, you'll get a .zip file of .ics files for each event in the schedule. .ics is the international iCal standard for representing events in calendaring applications. There are instructions on how to import those files into Outlook, iCal, Google Calendar and Entourage in the .zip file.

(By the way, if you were aware of this feature and found it tedious to import each calendar event into Google Calendar, one item at a time, you should know that we've updated the system so that it now generates a single .ics file that contains all course schedule events. That file can be imported, one time, into Google Calendar and all the course schedule events will show up in Google Calendar.)

If the schedule changes at any point after you've downloaded the whole schedule the first time, the download link will change to indicate that there are updates to the course schedule. You can then download just the updates and import those updated .ics files into your calendar program.

If you have questions about this, you can always contact CTLT Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 11:01 AM - Categories: Online Courses | Course Tools

Jan 18 2012

Social Media in Higher Education: Facebook

This is the second post in a three-part series on the use of social media tools in higher education. This post addresses a study published in March of 2010 by Roblyer, McDaniel, Webb, Herman, and Vince Witty who conducted research on the use of Facebook as an instructional tool in an academic setting. This post also features a brief interview with Hopkins International Health instructor Professor Bill Brieger.


Posted by Rick Ivy at 12:28 PM - Categories: Teaching Tips | General | Online Courses | Distance Learning

Jan 17 2012

Rubrics: Students Like Them!

A recent paper on rubrics for online discussions had some interesting findings and in particular drew out some fantastic student responses about the use of the rubric for grading their online discussions, such as:

"I really appreciated having what was expected clearly documented at the beginning of the course. It let me know what was expected and helped me to prepare for each week. Other classes have seemed extremely arbitrary in their discussion grading and it can be very frustrating. I really enjoyed the way it was setup in this class. Thank you.”

The paper includes two versions of the rubric used and emphasizes several practices which both students and faculty found helpful in implementing and using the rubric:



Posted by Clark Shah-Nelson at 4:05 PM - Categories: VARIABLES before Assessment | Teaching Tips | Online Courses | Distance Learning

Jan 11 2012

New Online Library Coming to CoursePlus This Week

The new Online Library is finally arriving in CoursePlus this week. We had originally planned on rolling it out during the second term, but we received feedback from faculty who felt this would be disruptive. Now that we're between terms (but still in the Winter Institute), we felt that it was a good time to make this new version of the Online Library available to you.

One big, important note about this new version of the Online Library: the new Online Library will not work in Internet Explorer 7. We know that there are some faculty and staff who still use Internet Explorer 7 to access CoursePlus. However, the Center stopped supporting Internet Explorer 7 for online courses and CoursePlus in June, 2011. For a recap of the reasons why support for IE7 was ended, please see this blog post.

We have tested the Online Library against a number of modern Web browsers, and found no problems. Tested and supported browsers include:

All of these browsers are free and download quickly. If you do not wish to upgrade Internet Explorer out of concerns about what it may do to your computer, you can use Firefox or Chrome. These web browsers do not interfere with your operating system in the same ways that Internet Explorer does. (As a matter of fact, the Center strongly recommends the use of Firefox or Chrome instead of Internet Explorer.) JHSPH Information Systems will gladly help you install Firefox or Chrome on your computer, should you need to do so.

On a more positive note, here's a recap of the highlights of this new version of the Online Library:
  • A merge of the old Online Library and Web Links tools. You now manage both files and weblinks in the same place. Students also see files and weblinks on the same Online Library page in CoursePlus sites.
  • Drag and drop reordering of files and folders in the library.
  • Record an Audio Note (brief audio recording) directly into the Online Library. That Audio Note is then automatically converted into an MP3 file for students to download.
  • Upload of multiple files at once.
  • Visual feedback while uploading files so you know how long the upload will take.
  • Replace a file with a new version without deleting the file from the library.
  • Open/close dates on folders as well as individual files.
  • Send an email to the entire class when you've uploaded a new file.
  • Block individual students from viewing specific files (good for hiding an answer key from students who have not completed a homework exercise.)
  • Track which students have downloaded which files or clicked on which weblinks in the library.
  • A streamlined, single-page interface for doing all the work you need to do in the Online Library.
The new online library will have full documentation and how-to videos when its released. If you've taught or TA'd an online course, you're already familiar with this new version of the Online Library because it's the same one found in online courses.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 10:34 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jan 5 2012

Server Migration and Downtime Complete

The planned server outage for CTLT sites on Thursday, January 5, 2012, is complete. CoursePlus, TRAMS, OCW, and all other CTLT sites were back online by 8:30am this morning. The online course system, which is where a majority of the work and maintenance took place, came back online around 4:45pm. It takes some time for servers across the globe to see that the site is back online, but everyone should be able to access the online course site by the end of the day.

We are aware of one issue with the online courses: the Audio Notes tool is not currently recording audio properly. We're looking into the problem and expect to have the issue fixed by the middle of the coming week.

We thank you for your patience and certainly hope (as we know you do) that we won't need an extended outage like this again for a long time!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 4:45 PM - Categories: General | Online Courses | CoursePlus

Jan 3 2012

Extended Downtime January 5, 2012

This is a reminder that the CoursePlus, the online courses, OCW, TRAMS, eLearning Account Management and other CTLT sites will be offline on Thursday, January 5, 2012, for extended maintenance. We are moving our entire online infrastructure to a new physical setup which will, in the long run, improve the performance and reliability of our servers.

We apologize for the inconvenience this will cause. If we find that the maintenance is taking longer than expected, we will post updates to the "currently offline" page that will be shown on all of our websites on January 5, 2012.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 11:48 AM - Categories: General | Online Courses | CoursePlus

Jan 2 2012

Stealth Updates to the Online Courses

The Web development team in the Center is always busy making changes, adding features, and fixing bugs with the online course system. In the past few weeks, we've added quite a few small features throughout the online courses that you should know about:

  • BBS
    • Emoticon support can now be turned off for an individual BBS. This option is on the "BBS Settings" panel in the BBS admin in each course BBS.
    • You can now search by author only in the BBS search. You do not need to enter in a search term.
    • The BBS contribution report now displays a link back to the original topic where each student post was made.
    • If you click the link to see the original post in either the BBS search results or the BBS contribution report, and you have already viewed that topic and all of the messages in that topic, the topic automatically expands to show all posts. Previously, the topic would default to only showing new posts or the last three posts in the topic (the default behavior of all previously viewed topics in the BBS). This would often result in the original post not being shown on the screen, causing confusion.
    • Faculty and TAs are now listed in the "Search by Author" select list in the BBS search.
    • Auditors and Guests are now listed as [Auditor] and [Guest] in the "Search by Author" select list in the BBS search.
  • Online Library
    • Long Web links now wrap to multiple lines and do not spill over into the right side of the Online Library management view.
    • If you are using an old version of the Flash Player, you will get prompted to upgrade to the latest version when you try to upload a file
  • Quiz Generator
    • People who access a quiz using a mobile device (phone or tablet) are given a warning that completing quizzes on mobile devices is not currently supported.
    • If faculty or TAs access a multiple-access, graded quiz, they are given the option to start over with a new, blank copy of the quiz from the "You are about to enter a graded quiz" warning page. This will hopefully further alleviate confusion around previewing multi-access quizzes and seeing the version you originally started with but not subsequent changes to the quiz setup (including adding and removing questions).
    • Additional space has been added between the display of questions on the email copies of student results to provide better clarity of when one question ends and another one begins in that email message.
  • Drop Box
    • The Drop Box now includes the student's JHED ID in the file name, if they have a JHED ID. If the student does not have a JHED ID, their eLearning account ID is used instead. This is useful when two students in the same class have the exact same first and last name (i.e.; John Smith).
  • Gradebook
    • When you upload a ZIP file of files to return to students, the Gradebook attempts to match students to their files by the student JHED ID in the file name, if one exists. This ensures that students with the same first and last name (i.e.; Chin Chin) get the correct file assigned to them as JHED IDs are unique.
  • Course Groups
    • You can now display only students who are not assigned to any group in the "select from" list on the group editing page.
  • Class Email
    • If you select "Students" as the recipient list, the "Display on the class email archive page." checkbox is automatically selected.
  • Surveys
    • The page loading time for custom (i.e.; non-lecture, non-LiveTalk evaluation) surveys has been significantly improved.
  • Syllabus
    • Course learning objectives pulled from the SPH Course Catalog system are now listed separately in that system and always displayed in a bullet list in the online courses system.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:50 AM - Categories: Online Courses | Course Tools

Search Archives


CoursePlus on Twitter



Monthly Archives