Viewing by month: March 2015

Mar 31 2015

Updates to Discussion Forum Grading

We recently received quite a bit of good feedback about grading discussion forum posts from a course team that spent a lot of time on that task in the last term. They raised a number of excellent points about how things could be better, so here are some of the changes we've made to grading discussion forum posts based on this feedback:

  • Scores and comments are now automatically saved when the "Enter" key is pressed while typing in a score or adding a comment. You no longer have to click outside a score box or comment field for that information to be saved.
  • A "Save" button has been added to each set of grading controls for those who feel confident in saving data only when a button is pressed.
  • Discussion forum posts that still need to be graded are highlighted in orange. Once a discussion forum post is graded, the grading controls appear on a gray background instead.
  • If a category is set to have graded posts, all posts in each topic are shown to faculty, editors, and TAs by default, rather than the usual behavior of only showing the three most recent posts in the topic. This saves faculty, editors, and TAs an extra click to see all posts in that topic.
  • The error message that is shown when scores and comments fail to save for any reason has been reworded for greater clarity and now includes instructions on a simple fix to the problem: reloading the page.

More changes will be forthcoming, but these are some simple changes that will hopefully make the discussion forum post grading experience better for everyone!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:16 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Mar 23 2015

Syllabus Changes for Accreditation

In AY 2013-2014 the CoursePlus Syllabus tool was updated to allow faculty to overwrite several fields that had previously been editable only through the JHSPH course system (the system of record for JHSPH course information that serves as the basis for the JHSPH Catalog). The goal was to give faculty more flexibility to make changes in real time but unfortunately confusion about the process resulted in a number of inconsistencies between CoursePlus and the course system.

Reconciling the information is obviously important for ensuring students have the correct information about courses. Further, as part of the School's upcoming CEPH accreditation site visit, reviewers will be evaluating course descriptions and assessments to evaluate how they support SPH degree competencies.

In preparation for this site visit, a number of changes have been made to the CoursePlus syllabus tool. Most important is that it is no longer possible to edit any of the fields linked to the JHSPH course system from CoursePlus. These fields are: Course Description, Course Learning Objectives, Methods of Assessment, Intended Audience, Prerequisites, Required Text(s). Changes to these fields must be made in coordination with your departmental academic coordinator. Additionally, the information shown in these fields in all CoursePlus syllabi is pulled directly from the JHSPH course system. This way, individuals looking at course information see the exact same information in the JHSPH course system, the JHSPH course catalog, and CoursePlus. Departmental academic coordinators have spent hundreds of hours in the past few months ensuring that changes to these fields made in CoursePlus were carried over to the JHSPH course system. 

Additionally, a number of smaller changes have been made to the syllabus tool in CoursePlus to ensure consistency of information display across systems at JHSPH. Empty sections of syllabus content and sections with "From Old Syllabus" in the title have also been removed. The new "why take this course" section on the JHSPH course system information form is now also displayed in CoursePlus for courses which provide this information.

If you have questions about the content of the Course Description, Course Learning Objectives, Methods of Assessment, Intended Audience, Prerequisites, or the Required Text(s) fields in your CoursePlus syllabus, please be sure to contact your departmental academic coordinator.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:35 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Mar 18 2015

Follow @CoursePlus on Twitter for the Latest on CoursePlus

If you want the most up-to-date information about what's new or different in CoursePlus, or information about known issues or problems in CoursePlus, you can follow @CoursePlus on Twitter. This blog is a great resource for in-depth information about upcoming and new changes in CoursePlus, but our @CoursePlus Twitter stream contains a lot of the same information, pushed out on a regular basis, and includes small changes we don't blog about as well as updates on known problems in CoursePlus (and their resolution). 

Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:44 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Mar 12 2015

Searching for Courses on the Course List Page

The School has offered an extensive set of tools to search the JHSPH Course Catalog for a number of years. CoursePlus offers a list of courses by academic year, but doesn't offer any real search tools for this list because the course search tool is there for just that reason. You could use CMD (or CTRL) + F on your keyboard to bring up your browser's built-in page search to search the course list page, but many people don't know that option even exists in all Web browsers.

As such, we've added a very simple course search tool to the top of the list of courses by academic year in CoursePlus. You can search by course number or keyword in the title of a course. Search results are immediate and are limited to the current academic year. If you need more in-depth search options (ie; search by department, academic term, academic year, instructor, etc.), then the official course search tool is just a click away.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:45 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Mar 9 2015

Send Automatic Reminders to Complete a Quiz

During a January meeting with faculty and TAs about new features in CoursePlus, we were showing the new feature in the Drop Box which allows you to set up automatic reminder emails to students who haven't yet turned in a file to a Drop Box. A TA in this session asked if we could do the same for quizzes. A few weeks later, and you can now set up automatic reminder emails for students who haven't yet completed a quiz!

When you set up a quiz, you can specify the number of days before the due date of the quiz that you want the reminder to be sent, and the reminder is automatically sent to students who have not yet completed that quiz at the appropriate time. This is the generic message that is always sent:

This is an automated reminder that you still need to complete and submit answers to [title of quiz] in [course title].
The deadline for completion is [quiz due date and time] US Eastern time.

This is another great idea which comes directly from faculty, TA and student feedback!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:08 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Mar 4 2015

Daylight Saving Time Starts Sunday, March 8, 2015

This is a reminder that Daylight Saving time starts in the United States on Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 1am Eastern time. During Daylight Saving time, the US Eastern time zone shifts from -5 GMT to -4 GMT. Please keep this change in mind when preparing for your class work and due dates!


Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:34 AM - Categories: General | CoursePlus

Mar 2 2015

Listening to You About the "My Calendar" Tab

When we launched the new "My Calendar" tab in CoursePlus in December of last year, we did so at the request of many students who wanted a single place to see due dates and activity event dates for all their classes in CoursePlus. Immediately after we launched the new "My Calendar" tab, we were asked why you could only show a month's worth of events at a single time when academic terms at the School are eight weeks long. We simply wanted to see how the new tool would perform under real-world usage before expanding the scope of the tool.

We're pleased to say that we listened to your feedback and you can now view up to eight weeks (a full academic term) worth of upcoming due dates and activity event dates for all of your classes in CoursePlus via the "My Calendar" tab. We'll continue to listen to you for refinements and enhancements to this and all other tools in CoursePlus, and thank you for your feedback!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 11:44 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

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