Viewing by month: June 2018

Jun 25 2018

Archived Pages in Page Builder

As an online course is taught over many years, lectures and activities come and go based on both what's current in the literature/research and the feedback of the students in the class. This content is stored inside pages created in the Page Builder tool in CoursePlus. As pages are no longer or relevant, they can be removed from the course schedule, but they still appear in listing of pages in the class — even long after they stopped being used.

To improve the organization of Page Builder pages in long-running online classes, we've added the option of archiving Page Builder pages. When you archive a page, the page goes into an "Archived Pages" folder at the bottom of the listing of all pages in the course webiste. The page is also no longer accessible via any existing links. Links to Online Library files, discussion forum categories, quizzes, or peer assessments are removed from a page when it is archived. Archived pages do not show in the list of items you can link to from the Online Library, Discussion Forum, Quiz Generator, or Peer Asessments.

Only CTL staff can archive pages. Faculty, TAs, and editors can view the pages in the Archived Pages folder, but cannot edit them or move them out of the archive. CTL staff can un-archive a page at any time, or even edit the page while it is in the Archived Pages folder. 

Archiving Page Builder pages gives course teams more organizational tools for managing what invariably turns out to be an ever-growing list of pages in online courses.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:56 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jun 11 2018

Behind the Scenes Improvements to Maintaining Connections to CoursePlus While Taking Exams

The team that builds CoursePlus has put a lot of effort into making online exams as seamless as possible. 

Even so, a common problem encountered by students taking longer exams in CoursePlus is a disconnect from the CoursePlus server cluster while taking the exam. This is most often caused by changes in the wireless connection (i.e.; a student is on a public or guest wireless network that recycles connections frequently), but can also be caused by a myriad of other issues related to the stateless nature of Web connections.

The Quiz Generator has been reworked to automatically log a student back into CoursePlus if the student is disconnected (and therefore logged out) while taking a quiz/exam. Previously, student answers would continue to be saved in the background even if a student was dicsconnected (and therefore logged out of CoursePlus) while taking an exam. This work has been extended to the much trickier problem of automatically rebuilding an entire session and all of the required information for that session.

Using a cryptographically signed hash sent on every request while taking a quiz, CoursePlus can derive the student login information and rebuild their active session in CoursePlus. This prevents students from clicking the "Submit Answers" button and then immediately being asked to sign in to CoursePlus — a frequent source of panic by students.

We expect that this change will significantly reduce the friction caused by disconnects in CoursePlus, and reduce the stress it causes to both students and faculty when taking online exams.

If you have any questions about this new change, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 11:05 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

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