Viewing by month: July 2012

Jul 30 2012

The End of QuickLinks

In case you haven't been to the School's main website lately, the School's main website has undergone a major redesign. It's a big improvement over the old design, and makes finding information faster and easier. As part of the redesign, the School has put greater emphasis on online courses. Currently, clicking on links to online courses from the School's main website brings you to the online courses home page, which does not (currently) use the new design of the School's website.

In order to bring the online courses home page in line with the School's new design, we have to make a number of changes. In addition to a redesign of that page, we're also moving some content back to the School's website, and we're removing the QuickLinks tool.

After looking at actual usage of the QuickLinks tool on the online courses home page, we found that only a handful of people (staff and students) use the QuickLinks tool. Given that usage is so low, and given that there are design limitations brought about by the new page design, we have decided to retire the QuickLinks tool. The QuickLinks tool was going to be removed as part of the eventual merge of the CoursePlus and online courses websites, but the redesign of the School's website has accelerated that process.

If you are one of the handful of people who currently uses the QuickLinks tool, you have until Wednesday, August 8 to move that information elsewhere. Web browser bookmarks are a superior alternative to QuickLinks, and given that browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Safari now synchronize bookmarks across multiple devices, you can have those links with you no matter what device you may be using.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 10:16 AM - Categories: Online Courses

Jul 23 2012

URL Shortening

Have you ever been to or viewed an online presentation where a web link was on the screen that you could not click on, and took you a whole minute - or even longer - to write down? URL shorteners, like,,, and many others, make it possible to present a super short URL that is much quicker to write down or connect to in your web browser. TinyURL, for example, can change something like this:  into something like this:

Keep in mind that not all URL shorteners allow you to choose your own custom alias as we have above, with "jhsphtoolkit" - some will assign random letters and numbers into your shortened URL. We prefer the following that allow you to add your own custom alias (as long as someone else hasn't taken it already):

One other feature you might enjoy is that some of these tools include the ability to track how many people use the shortened URL. Here's a page with more info on some of these handy tools, which we highly recommend for a more user-friendly presentation.

Posted by Clark Shah-Nelson at 2:39 PM - Categories: Teaching Tips | General | Tech Tools

Jul 12 2012

What's New in the CoursePlus Gradebook

The CoursePlus Gradebook has just received a major update. From vastly improved speed to a lot of handy changes, here's the list of everything that has changed:

  • Enter Grades Area
    • Load time for the main "Enter Grades" page in the Gradebook has been significantly reduced.
    • All activity related to a student grade is now logged and displayed in the grade history. Previously, only changes to a grade were logged. Now, if a file is uploaded for student feedback, that is logged. If a grade is deleted after one has been entered, that is logged.
    • The "Grades by Activity" view now displays 50 students per page, up from 25.
    • Page load time on Gradebook items linked to the Quiz Generator is significantly faster.
    • Uploading large ZIP files with more than 100 student submissions is now handled better by the Gradebook.
    • A warning is now given that grades will be deleted if you change the setup for an item in the Gradebook where grades exist.
    • A "give all students full credit" option has been added to the grading view.
    • A warning is now displayed on the "Enter Grades" view when feedback has already been sent to students that any changes in feedback automatically result in an email with the updated feedback being sent to students.
    • When editing existing text feedback, the "Write new text Feedback" button has been removed and replaced by a "Save Text Feedback" button. Faculty and TAs would sometimes click this button thinking it was a save button, but instead it would delete existing feedback and allow them to start with an empty slate.
    • When you manually override a grade pulled in from the Quiz Generator, the "Email Grade/Feedback to this Student" button does not appear for students who have not yet been sent feedback, as feedback for items in the Quiz Generator should be sent from the Quiz Generator. You can only email a grade for an quiz/exam from the Quiz Generator from the Gradebook if you manually override a grade created in the Quiz Generator.
    • 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.
  • Student Gradebook Page
    • A new, streamlined view of the individual student Gradebook page has been implemented. We've removed a lot of the repetitive text and visual clutter and made it easier for students to see their grades and feedback in a simple, grid format.
    • Feedback/files are only displayed to students on the student Gradebook page only after feedback/files are emailed, or if the "Display grades on student view" checkbox is checked. If the feedback/files have been sent to students, but the "Display grades on student view" checkbox is not checked, the feedback/files are displayed on the student view, but not the 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.
  • Gradebook Setup
    • A warning is now given if the overall grading method for the Gradebook is percentage-based, but the items in the Gradebook do not total to or go over 100%.
    • Deselecting "Display the grade for each activity in the student view" on the Gradebook setup page now correctly deselects the appropriate checkbox all the way down the chain, including all checkboxes next to each student name for each graded item in the Gradebook.
    • 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.
  • Final Grade Page
    • You can no longer alter the automatically calculated percentage value on the "Prepare Final Grade" page. Previously, you could change this value but it would not be saved when the "Save All Grades" button was clicked, confusing many people.
    • 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 you have questions about any of these changes, remember that there's extensive help built into the Gradebook itself, and CTLT Help is just a click away!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 1:29 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jul 6 2012

Emergency eReserves Outage this Weekend (July 6-8)

CTL just received word from the Welch Library team that the ERES (eReserves) system that's used for some summer institute courses will be offline this weekend. The official Welch statement is as follows:


Posted by Judith Julien-Alexander at 6:24 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jul 2 2012

Updates to the Online Course System for Summer Term

Although June seems like it would be a slower time at the School, with the academic year just ending, the team in the Center for Teaching and Learning has been very busy adding new features to the online course system. Listed below are the new features that have been added for the start of the summer term:

  • Faculty and TAs now have access to Page Builder. Page Builder is the tool that CTL staff use to create lecture pages, activity/exercise pages, and the faculty bio page in online courses. One of the Center's goals for the next couple of years is to empower faculty and TAs to make changes and additions to their online courses in ways that they simply could not before. Giving access to Page Builder is a step towards that goal. With Page Builder, faculty and TAs in online courses have broad control over the lecture and activity pages in their online course sites, including:
    • Creation of new activity pages.
    • Editing of metadata (title, subtitle) and all sections of content on activity pages.
    • Editing of all sections of content except the "Lecture Materials" box on lecture pages.
    • Previewing any Page Builder page at any time.
    • Editing faculty/TA bios.
    • Adding, managing, and deleting faculty groups for display on the course faculty page.
    • Editing the course home page welcome text.
  • Quiz Generator changes. The following new features have been added to the Quiz Generator in online courses:
    • Faculty and TAs can now select an item on the course schedule to which the start/end dates of the quiz will sync. This now enables faculty and TAs to create new versions of exams and link them to the proper item on the course schedule whenever they see fit, without having to go through their course instructional designer.
      • Note that if you adjust schedule dates from the Quiz Generator, the "Start Available Date" on the schedule will be set to the "Access beings at" date for the quiz, and the "End Available Date" and the "Due Date" on the schedule will both be set to the "Access ends at" date for the quiz.
    • If you opt to display the answer key to a quiz, you also need to provide the date on which the answer key is no longer visible to students. This change was necessitated by the sync of schedule dates to quiz begin/end dates. Once the date on which the answer key is no longer available to students has passed, the link to the quiz answer key no longer appears on the course schedule page.
    • Answers to questions are now displayed on the main quiz overview page.
    • If a question is excluded from scoring, this information appears on the main quiz overview page and on the answer key.
  • Additional changes:
    • The confirmation window that appears after you delete an item in the Online Library now defaults to "OK" in the main button, instead of "Undo." An undo link has been added to the confirmation window so that you can still undo a delete.
    • If an item on the schedule becomes available at a time other than midnight (00:00 hours), the time at which the item becomes available is now included on the "Daily Course Notifications" email message.
    • Printing BBS topics using "File" -> "Print" now results in more printer-friendly pages.
If you have any questions about any of the above changes, please let us know!


Posted by Brian Klaas at 11:42 AM - Categories: Online Courses | Course Tools

Search Archives


CoursePlus on Twitter



Monthly Archives