What's New for Summer 2013
From e-Learning Documentation
e-Learning Support Services is pleased to introduce you to the newest version of our course management system, e-Learning. e-Learning is built on the Sakai platform, and an upgrade to the 2.9 version is planned for installation in the break between Spring 2013 and Summer 2013. Listed below are in-depth descriptions of the changes and improvements to each of the tools, plus new tools and features.
When grading in Assignments, there is now a hyperlink below each student’s name labeled “Grade,” which is more informative for instructors. In prior builds, an instructor would click on the student’s name to grade, but this feature makes the grading process more explicit and more intuitive.
When using Assignments, now there are better instructions and precautions to instructors when the Turnitin option is selected. For example:
“NOTE, If using Turnitin:
- Set this assignment to "Single Uploaded File only."
- Tell students:
- Submit only one attachment.
- Only use file types: Word, PDF, HTML, RTF, or plain text.
- Always include file extension.”
Instructor can now submit on behalf of student, in the case that the student has trouble submitting or emails the assignment to the instructor. This can be accessed on the Assignment List by clicking on View > Assignment List by Student. Next, choose a student and click on the blue hyperlinked text, “Submit as student.” The submission will log which user submitted on behalf of the student, in addition to the time and date.
Within Discussions, when a user opens up the Discussion tool for the first time, there are now better instructions for users about creating forums and topics:
“Use Forum Settings and Topic Settings to change the title and other details of this forum. New forums and topics can only be created by you or someone with your level of access. Use Template Settings to set up a template for all new forums.”
Rather than the old “Delete” link, users are now presented with a “More” drop down menu, which enables them to duplicate forums, grade forums or delete them. When a user clicks on “Grade,” they are taken to the updated Statistics & Grading page, where they can click on the new grading icon for each student (red ribbon with a gold star). When the grading icon is clicked on, a new pop-up menu appears, enabling a user to enter in a grade for a student (and select a gradebook item if it has not be previously created.)
If no Gradebook item is assigned to the forum or topic, a user will be prompted to select one (but you can not create new Gradebook items from Discussions, only associate with existing ones). You can also choose a gradebook item for all users from the A user can choose to either grade by user or by individual topic. Messages in the same forum can be assigned to two different Gradebook items as well. That is, if one student posted to Topic A, I could assign it and enter the grade into Gradebook item A, while I could enter another student’s grade for Topic A into Gradebook item B. Word count for each student post is now also provided.
Settings have changed in setting up forums and topics, as well. Users now can specify that they want a student to post something in a forum before being able to read anything by using the “Require users to post before reading” setting. Students receive an alert message stating, “You must post to this topic before you can view any messages” when attempting to view messages in these forums. Once they post, the messages become accessible. Grading settings have been moved up on the settings page and now provide additional details about grading to users:
- For forums: “This will be the default in this forum's topics. You can override this association in the child topics by changing it in the Topic settings.”
- For topics: “This will be the default when grading in this topic. You can assign any entry from the Gradebook to contributions in this topic. This is just setting the default.”
Permissions has a new look and feel now, and is easier to work with and more intuitive for users. Rather than working with the old drop down menu and check box function, all roles are outlined with their default permission level. This can be change to any other permission level using the drop down menu, and can be fine tuned using the expandable/collapsable “customize” menu for each one.
There is now the capability to create auto-topics based on groups in the course. When you select "Automatically create multiple topics for groups," the following caption appears:
"An instance of this topic will be created for each group selected below. Permissions are configured automatically. Default permissions are based on this forum's permissions configuration. Each group will be set to Contributor in their group's topic and None in other automatically created topics."
A user can specify the general title for each topic, such as Lesson 1 Discussion, and select which groups will be included. A topic will automatically be created for each group that will only allow access for that particular group. One thing to keep in mind is to restrict Student access (and CE Student access, if that applies) to “none” at the forum level before creating the topics.
Gradebook now contains similar features to Gradebook 2. Gradebook now allows users to drop the highest grade, drop the lowest, or keep the highest grade. Users can specify what number they wish to keep or drop. When a user views “All Grades,” they can now also hide columns through the “Hide/Show Columns” feature. In addition to Excel and CSV, there is now a PDF export option within Gradebook.
Gradebook 2 features a wider display drop down menu for sorting sections or groups within a course. Prior to this, the course section was truncated. UFID is now displayed in Gradebook 2 as a column. Exported files containing UFIDs and section numbers can be imported into the Gradebook 2 as is, without removing either of the columns.
The new skin includes icons for each tool in the Tool Menu. It also features a collapsible “Toggle” Menu, which enables a user to minimize the tool menu, and only tool icons are displayed. Hidden tools are now italicized in the Tool Menu, as well. Another main improvement is the ability to jump to a tool within any of a user’s course sites using the course navigation tabs at the top of e-learning. For each course, a drop down menu with the top ten tools in the course can be displayed, and a user can jump to a particular tool without having to open the course home page first.
There will also be a “quick publish” button located above the tool menu, which will enable users to quickly publish their unpublished course. This is an improvement on the confusing publish process in the site info tool.
Learning Modules (new tool) - Pilot for Summer
Learning Modules allows user the ability to sequence content, that is require the completion of one or more tasks before others are released to students or project site participants. Pages (parent and sub or child pages) can be time released, and subpages can be time released independent of their parent pages.
Learning Modules makes sharing multimedia content a lot more intuitive and easy for the user than adding content through the old HTML editor. Users can simply link to a video or upload a file by clicking on “Add Multimedia.”
Learning Modules provides detailed tutorials for creating different types of content within Learning Modules, such as multimedia content and sequencing. Tutorials include recommendations for browsers, file types and formats, and known issues, etc. LM also provides a set of “best practices” for accessibility and disability accommodations.
Some tools can be pinned to Learning Modules, such as Assignments, Tests & Quizzes and Discussions. Resources can be easily integrated and linked to, and BLTI tools can be added. Sections can be added to enable students to add their own content to lessons, and student commentary sections can be added, as well.
IMS CC zipped files can also be uploaded, which is useful for those using Softchalk. Other key benefits include the overall look and feel of Learning Modules and the access capability. The look of Learning Modules is modular, rather than an outline like Lessons. Content can be easily reorganized, and subpages can be added to main content pages.
The Mail tool can now be configured to not allow students to send mail to all participants, certain roles and certain groups. This does away with the possibility of students sending a message to everyone in the student role, which is something that was requested. A BCC field has also been added to the Mail tool to allow for blind copying.
In Preferences, the My Active Sites and Hidden Sites now have a larger display. The Profile tool search functions better now, making it easier for users to search for one another. There is also a better messaging system built into the Profile tool, with the capability to write on other users’ profile “walls.” , and has a built in messaging system. Users can search for connections and email them using their official UFL business email.
Podcast has a browse field for the file as opposed to choose file in 2.8.
The instructions and look of WebDAV, or “upload-download multiple resources” has changed to a more modular, organized view, making it easier for instructors to read the instructions and jump to the operating system directions that are relevant to them.
Page order and the show/hide tools functions are now working in IE & Chrome and the icons no longer “jump” away from the curser. In Page Order, there are also two new functions:
- hide from normal users
- disable for normal users.
There is now the ability to import a file with groups in it, rather than manually creating them in the site. By choosing “import from file,” a user can import a formatted CSV file to create groups within the site. The following instructions are provided to explain the process:
- The CSV file should contain the group details in the columns: group title, username. Columns must be in the order above, but do not include a row of column headers. Fields must be comma separated, contain no spaces between fields and each field surrounded with double quotes if it is to contain a space.”
There is also the capability to create randomized, auto-groups. This function will randomly select students and divide them by number of groups needed or the number of users needed per group, which is determined by the user. To access this function, select Auto Groups, select one site role, and choose “Create random groups from members with selected role(s).”
Another large improvement is the ability to import content created using the text editor into a new course site without the links breaking. The links will update to reflect the new course ID.
Tests & Quizzes
The Tests & Quizzes interface has changed, and now divides working assessments (formerly called pending) and published assessments between two tabs on the tool, with short descriptions of who each tab is released to. The overall performance has been improved, with better, site-specific query that will help with tests given to groups.
There is now the capability to create calculated questions within Tests & Quizzes with a description on how to do so. Additional instructions and examples of how to create a calculated question are included and can be accessed by clicking on the “show/hide more instructions and examples” hyperlink. When a user enters in the question and selects “extract variables and formulas,” the variables will automatically be extracted from the question. Variable minimum and maximum values can then be entered, along with the formula for the question. For more information and an example, see:
Audio questions are also now functioning in Tests & Quizzes. Users can specify how many seconds they wish to give a student to record the answer. When the student opens the question, there is a link for them to click on to launch the java applet. The student does not have to download anything - they simply accept terms and the application launches, allowing the student to record audio. The student will need a microphone for this function. If a student runs past the time limit, the application automatically stops and saves what was recorded in the time limit. This works in all browsers.
Finally, there is a new matrix of choices survey option in Tests & Quizzes, where the rows and columns of the matrix can be completely customized by the user.
T&Q has a Retract now option that states “Retract Now Confirmation
A retracted assessment is no longer available for students to take. Retract Now will override any future Available or Due Date. Are you sure you want to proceed?”
In 2.9, when a user logs into e-Learning for the first time, they are presented with a tutorial for the new interface.
The tutorial includes the following parts:
- Basic Welcome and introduction to Sakai.
- Site Navigation
- Tool Menu
- “Toggle” Menu (Collapsible tool menu)
- Refresh Tool
- Help Tool
- Profile Tool
Tutorial windows move around the user interface to instruct users where each are located. Instructs user that they can access the tutorial information at any time by clicking on any of the “?” icons throughout:
“Detailed information about each feature can be accessed by clicking on the icon found throughout Sakai.”
Basic Learning Tools Interoperability (BLTI) tool integration is now available for all users from site info and Learning Modules.
For more information about BLTI, please visit: