CTL Blog

A Few Changes in the Online Course Tools for the Third Term

January 21, 2011 | 3 Minute Read

The Web development team in the Center for Teaching and Learning with Technology works throughout the year to continually improve the tools available in online courses (and CoursePlus). A number of small, but important or useful changes have been made to a variety of tools in online courses in the past couple of months. Some of those changes include:

  • Drop Box:
    • Submit a file to a Drop Box on behalf of a student. Faculty and TAs sometimes find themselves the recipient of a file from a student who may have had problems submitting a file via a course Drop Box. As a result, faculty and TAs would have to keep that file separate from all the files in the Drop Box. Now faculty and TAs can submit a file on behalf of a student, allowing the file to be managed like any other in the Drop Box.
    • The Assignment Description field from the class schedule is now displayed on the "View Student Submissions" page for a Drop Box. This is useful for differentiating between Drop Boxes when all Drop Boxes have the same name in the class schedule (ie; "Assignment" or "Homework").
    • A numeric identifier value has been added to each student file renamed by the Drop Box. This is important for courses where all Drop Boxes have the same name in the class schedule (ie; "Assignment" or "Homework") because file names will be the same for each Drop Box. Faculty have overwritten files on their local desktops in these scenarios, causing them to think that students submitted the wrong file for the Drop Box.
  • Gradebook:
    • A new, streamlined version of the indivdiual student Gradebook page is now being used.
    • When entering grades for individual students, the grading method and maximum possible points are now displayed.
    • 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.
    • Asterisks indicating that there is feedback waiting to be sent for a given item in the Gradebook work properly now.
    • 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 some faculty.
  • Surveys:
    • Results of surveys from previous offerings of the course are now viewable.
    • Due to issues with very long responses to essay questions, the responses to essay questions have been limited to 1400 characters. Students see a "Characters Remaining" indicator when typing responses to essay questions.
    • Problems copying and pasting from Word documents that contain Word Smart Quotes have been fixed.
    • Reports with lots of data (ie; all survey results to PDF) load appreciably faster.
  • Wikis:
    • When you delete a file via the file management window, all references to that file are automatically deleted off the current page.
    • You no longer have to provide a description for a file that you upload into the file management window. If no description is provided, the file name is used as the link text when you insert the file into a page.
    • Office 2010 files are now supported for uploading into the file management window.
  • Online Library
    • When you replace one file with another, the "Posted" date is automatically updated with the current date.
    • The "Critical" (or "Required") importance level is now displayed in red text.
  • Course Groups: A "Delete all course groups" tool was added.
  • Other: You can no longer access online courses using Firefox 3.0. Support for Firefox 3.0 ended in 2009.