Software update May 2014

Software update May 2014

The first update this year continues our focus on responsive design and includes some brand new features we hope you will find useful. We think many of you will be excited about the calendar and Dropbox integration. We have also introduced a new local learning objective repository, a new and simple way of integrating apps, a new planner layout, and much more. Read about the updates below and join us for a special webinar, outlining all of the new features and functionality!

Note: Some article updates within the itslearning helpdesk will not be displayed until the actual release date (Monday, May 5th).

New planner layout

We know change can sometimes be uncomfortable, but those of you who use mobile devices will love the new layout of the planner. The previous design wasn't the best for small screens; the table layout tended to stretch and force the users to perform a lot of scrolling. We have improved that in a brand new planner layout and have made a version that looks great in print! As of now you can switch between the new and old design so if you're uncomfortable with the change, simply go back to the old.

See the new planner demonstrated in a video.

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Create your own learning objective repository

Has your school or district established its own learning objectives? Do you want those objectives available to your entire school or site? Then the new learning objective repository will likely be of great use to you. It allows you to create your own library of learning objectives and we've made it easy to import an entire hierarchy or set of standards by way of spreasheet. After you have created your own objectives, the teachers at your school or site can use them as assessment criteria in elements such as tests and assignments.

Read more about the new learning objective repository or see it explained in a video.

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Brand new calendar!

We're introducing a brand new calendar with everything you need to keep track of what's happening in your courses. As well as keeping you up to date on schedules and appointments, the new calendar is easy to use. It features inline editing directly in the calendar cells, color codes to distinguish courses from one another, advanced filtering, drag and drop, the possibility to see other people's calendars, easy iCal export to other calendars, and much more.

Read more about the new calendar or see it explained in a video.

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A new way of using apps

Our app library is popular, but now we're introducing even more ways to integrate apps in itslearning. A standard managed by IMS Global Learning Consortium, LTI is short for Learning Tools Interoperability and allows for seamless connection of web-based, externally hosted applications and content to other platforms. As an itslearning user, you can use the LTI integration to connect to a number of exciting tools. itslearning does not supply these apps, but is merely facilitating their use in the platform.

Read more about how easy it is to add LTI tools.

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Dropbox + itslearning = better access to files

It is now easier than ever to access files from your Dropbox account and upload them to itslearning. The File and link tool has a new Dropbox option that allows you to select files from your Dropbox and upload them directly into itslearning.

Read more about how easy it is to connect your Dropbox account to itslearning.

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Other improvements

New messages content block

Previously, parts of the content of messages were displayed in the content block. To prevent sensitive or private information from being shown on dashboards, we are now only displaying the sender and timestamp on the dashboard. If you click the sender's name, the message will expand and show the message, as well as provide the user with options to reply directly within the content block.

Assignments

You can now preview uploaded files within itslearning without having to download them. As of now we mainly support multimedia files, but we will continue to add support for more file types in the future. Also, based on user feedback, we've made a slight change to the user interface for saving an assignment as draft. This is to avoid situations in which students believed they had submitted their answer, but instead saved their answer as a draft.

Assessment record

To provide students with a better overview of their assessments, we have now introduced a feature called 'Latest Assessments' to the assessment overview in the profile. This overview shows the five latest assessments. When you check it out you can also experience the new responsive layout of the page.

Improved menu pages and tables

To make the user experience better on small devices, we've changed the layout on many of our menu pages, such as the Add page in courses, the Administration page and the ePortfolio pages. Previously, these pages did not work optimally on small screens. Now the category boxes stack vertically and a new three column layout presents the content. This improves the flow of the page on all screen resolutions. We've also improved and adapted several of our tables for smaller screens.

Criteria-based assessment

To offer flexibility to different educational visions, it is now possible to choose whether to show or hide status information with the setting 'Show report status to students'. By default this setting is unchecked. Administrators can enable it for all new courses in the learning objectives report settings, and teachers can do this in their course under the Assessment settings on the Settings >>Learning objectives page.

Generic planner changes

When creating a new topic, it was possible to have a folder created automatically for it. Elements created in the planner for this topic would then end up in this folder. With this release, the relationship between topic and folder has become even tighter; when you rename or delete the topic, this will also apply to the folder. For folders connected to a topic in the planner, you will see a message to inform you of its status.

(The changes described in this section apply to both the new design described above and the old design.)

Viewing unenrolled students and their grades

Students that are dropped or unenrolled from courses will not disappear completely from the participants list in the course. We have introduced a new tab in the course participant menu called Unenrolled participants. This lists any students who were enrolled in the course, but have since left. From this overview it is also possible to access their assessment record.

Granting students temporary access to courses

Students can now be granted temporary access through the 'Unenrolled participants' page in the Participants page in courses. Once granted, the student is allowed the same access to the course as any other course participant. This means they can access the course pages and submit assignments. Moreover, the course teacher can complete assessments or record other information for the student.

Note: This feature must be enabled at the site level, please contact your local support team.

Organization API

We have introduced five new services to the Organization API:

  • Create.ExtensionInstance (Page)
  • Create.ExtensionInstance (File)
  • Read.courses.for.person
  • Read.project.for.person
  • Read.projects

We have also made some changes to the Create.Course.Planner service.

Attendance, behavior and mentor group management

Improvements to the attendance page

The term overview page for attendance has been modified with several improvements to ease the work for the mentor. As well as a new link on dates to quickly navigate to the attendance for a specific day for a specific student, additional changes include:

  • changing attendance remarks.
  • converting hour absence into day absence.
  • showing the total number of absent class hours in the report.

Adding behavior remarks for multiple students

You can now quickly set a behavior remark for multiple students from the behavior overview page. Simply select a group of students and click the Add remark button.

Setting term-defaults for positive or negative behavior remarks

Different schools have different practices when using the behavior module. While some use both positive and negative remarks, others only use negative remarks. To save time, it's now possible to define the default remark type for a term. For example, if a school only uses negative remarks – or if the majority of remarks are negative – this can be set as the default.

Mentor: Adding and removing individual students into a mentor group

You no longer have to create ad hoc hierarchy groups to attach a group of students to mentor groups. Mentors can now be assigned to individual students as well.

Clearer distinction of terms

To make it easier to quickly find a term, terms are now classified as current terms, future terms and past terms.

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Minor changes

  • It is now easier to edit the question of a test simply by clicking the question title in the question column.
  • A refactoring of the whitelist filter now enables it to run considerably faster than before for users who enter large chunks of text.
  • The 'Enrolled participants' tab in courses has been renamed to 'Applicants'. This is because it shows users who have enrolled either freely or with registration, and there will now be an icon indicating the number of pending applications. We've also introduced a new filter option which, by default, lists the pending applications.
  • We are changing the default organization selected when creating a template letter that is not related directly to a course. If the student is member of a single school only, that school will be selected as the default organization. If the student is a member of multiple schools, or is only a member of a site, the site will be selected as the default organization.
  • Previously, it was only possible for administrators to add parents to a child. Now it is possible to add children to a parent as well.
  • Administrators can now view a user's courses and communities. A new tab named Projects and Courses is now available on the edit user page, providing administrators with an easier way to view and manage course and community memberships.
  • The email notifications sent to users about new assignments and for news and bulletins have been updated.
  • Participants in discussions can now respond to a discussion directly from the discussion thread page.
  • It is now possible to change events in resource booking events even though a resource is attached.
  • The notification icon for new messages in the personal menu is now also visible on smaller screen resolutions.
  • In the list of answers in the assignment tool the Show link at the far right will link to the submitted answer, but the participant name is where most users will focus. We have now given this link a less important status, and the Show link will now get the focus it requires.

Corrections

A number of issues have been corrected, and these are the most important (pdf file, English only).

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Release 45 Webinar

Join us for a short webinar on the latest itslearning update! You'll witness firsthand how itslearning continues to evolve towards a student-focused, personalized learning platform through its latest release featuring a wide variety of product enhancements including:

  • A more student-focused lesson planner
  • Customizable site-level learning objectives for student learning goals
  • Improvements in the mentor/mentee relationship for individual learning plans
  • Enhancements to the shared calendar including improved interactivity and collaboration

Register Today!

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