CTL Blog

Big New Features for the CoursePlus Drop Box

October 29, 2013 | 3 Minute Read

On November 4, 2013, we are introducing some big, new features to the Drop Box in CoursePlus. These new features bring the CoursePlus Drop Box to feature parity with the Drop Box in the online course system.

Students Can Submit Files Directly from Google Drive, Dropbox, and More

You can now select a file in Google Drive (Google Docs) or from your Dropbox or Box.net account in addition to selecting a file on your desktop or laptop computer when submitting files to a course drop box. This gives you a lot more flexibility in where you store (and how you work on) files that you eventually submit to a course drop box.

If you decide to use Google Drive or Dropbox as the source of the file you want to submit, you'll need to give the application permission to do so. We use a third-party integration called "Inkfilepicker" for this functionality, so you may see that come up if you go this route. None of your files are stored on the Inkfilepicker servers. Files are securely stored on separate servers by the Center for Teaching and Learning.

Please also note that if you're really pushing the deadline for submitting a file — that is, you're waiting until the literal last minute to submit your file to a course drop box — you might end up submitting the file past the deadline. Remember that you have to first authorize Google Drive or Dropbox or Box.net to access your files, and only then can you pick the file you want to use, and only after that is the file actually uploaded to the course drop box. This process can take a minute or more, so if you wait until 11:58pm to submit to a course drop box that closes at 11:59pm and you're using Google Drive, Dropbox or Box.net, you might miss the deadline.

Set Up Drop Boxes Where File Names are Anonymized

At the request of a number of faculty, we have added a feature to the CoursePlus Drop Box that, when selected, anonymizes the file names of student files which faculty and TAs download from a course Drop Box. This means that instead of the file names having the student name in them when you download the files from the Drop Box, the file names have a random string of characters. For example, instead of a file being named "Homework_1-Brian_Klaas.doc" the file would be named "Homework_1-7URT-BQIK-J8AJ-KAN3.doc" if (and only if) you turn on this option in the setup for the Drop Box.

How is this feature useful? Some faculty who have TAs grade student papers want the grading process to be totally anonymous. If the student name is in the file name, it's not going to be anonymous. With these anonymized file names, TAs will not know whose paper they are grading (provided, of course, that the student does not put their name in the body of the paper.)

If this option is selected in the setup for a Drop Box, a key listing all students and the file names for their files will be available from within the Drop Box. This allows faculty to know which file belongs to which student. Additionally, if you upload a ZIP file of files with these anonymized file names into the Gradebook, the Gradebook uses that key to correctly assign each file to the proper student so you don't have to do that work.

We hope you find both of these major new features to be useful. If you have questions, concerns, or comments, please post below!