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Software update 21 June 2011

itslearning was updated on 21 June 2011. This time we have improved the handling of multimedia files, and we're happy to introduce a brand new content block for notifying you about new and updated elements in your courses. In addition we have many more changes we hope you'll find interesting – from planner updates to export of data.

Multimedia made easy

Many teachers and students use media elements such as video, sound and animations as part of teaching material or assignment answers. In this release we have improved the user experience around embedding and previewing of multimedia objects – both external content and content made with the inbuilt video recorder. This makes it a lot easier to use video files in content that is created with the rich-text editor.

So, what have we done? First of all, the Link to my file option in the Insert menu in the rich-text editor has been renamed to File from my web files.


 

More interesting, the My files pop-up window that appears when you click File from my web files has been changed. It now contains tools to link, embed and preview files. But what do the different icons do?

  • Link icon: Inserts an URL with a link to the file.
  • Embed icon: Embeds the video file into your content (which means that you see a player in the element to which the video is added). Note that if the icon looks like this:  the file type cannot be embedded.
  • Preview icon: Opens a new page for previewing and setting the dimensions of the videos you're embedding (see screen shot below).

 

What file formats are supported?
There's a wide range of file formats available, but we have decided to support the most common file types used for web.

  • Files from the inbuilt video recorder
  • Apple QuickTime Movie (mov)
  • Windows Media Video File (wmv)
  • Flash Video File (flv)
  • Shockwave Flash Movie (swf)

As of now, file types such as mp3, avi, mpg and mp4 cannot be embedded.

Keep up to date with your courses

To make it easier to keep up to date with your courses a new content block for notifying you about changes and updates in courses is now available on My dashboard and the course and hierarchy dashboards.


    RSS subscriptions
    Do you want to keep up to date without logging on? Why not subscribe to the RSS feed in Outlook, on your phone or your preferred RSS reader? Click the RSS icon in top left corner to subscribe. Below is an example from Microsoft Outlook.

     

    Customise the notification content block
    Want to customise the content block? Dashboard administrators (hierarchy and My dashboard) are allowed to edit:

    • block title
    • whether to show updates from all courses or just favourite courses
    • how many items to show per page

    What notifications do you need?
    What notifications would you like to receive? Click beta feedback box at the bottom of the content block to give us your feedback!

    Improvements to the course and project content block
    Previously, changes in the course content block (the one with the list of courses) was highlighted in red. The changes are now based on the course notification content block. It only shows a change if a notification has been given to the current user since the user's last visit to the course. A blue dot next to the course name indicates that it was updated since your last visit. The same changes apply to the project content block.

    Planner

    Custom fields in planner
    Before this release you could inline edit custom lesson fields in the planner. Now it's also possible to edit custom fields from the edit lesson page.


    More filter options for the planner content block
    In the Show drop-down in the planner, students can now decide to show plans within a period of time (for example a week) to give a better overview. New options are:

    • "Next week": shows the plan for the current week
    • "Next two weeks": shows the plans for the current week and next week

    Curriculum

    Our users in the US and the Netherlands will now find new learning objectives in the learning objective libraries. The learning objectives are ready to import into plans and course elements with a few clicks of the mouse.

    Common Core Curriculum for the USA
    Common Core's Curriculum Maps translate the new Common Core State Standards for Kindergarten through 12th grade into unit maps that teachers can use to plan their year, craft their own more detailed curriculum, and create lesson plans. They were written by public school teachers for public school teachers.

    Curriculum for Dutch vocational education
    Dutch users will now find the new 2011 curriculum for Dutch vocational education (BVE) in the learning objective library.

    Attendance

    Some of our users have suggested that it should be possible for mentors to comment on day and session attendance. We thought it was a good idea, and this has now been implemented in the attendance system. For ease of use, the comments on day/session attendance behave exactly similar to hour remarks. The mentor can decide if the comment should be visible for the learner.

    Do you have an idea? Please submit it in our idea portal!

    Task list deadline

    Before this update the deadlines on tasks appeared with both weeks and days. To make the deadline format consistent throughout the platform it now only shows days until deadline.

    Shibboleth

    We have added support for single sign-on through non-federated Shibboleth 1.3r.

    Procapita: Users with no username or password

    Sites using the Procapita (MIS) integration experienced that users without username and password were imported to itslearning. Procapita has updated their solution, and users without username and password are no longer imported.

    IST Extens and IST SATS

    It's now possible to export attendance, behaviour and assessment data to IST Extens and IST SATS.

    API

    More data is available in the API for apps. Administrators must approve apps that should have access to protected data from Administration >> Manage protected data for apps. This means that a school can allow an app to receive, for example, social security numbers or phone numbers.

    Enhanced IMS-ES options for integration partners

    The IMS-ES integration system has been improved. Third-party MIS/SIS vendors can now create/update Parents and Parent/Child relationships through the IMS-ES interface. To assist third- party vendors read existing groups from itslearning we have implemented the "readMembershipsForPerson" and "readMembershipsForGroup" methods.

    Periods have been replaced with terms

    In the assessment record (or grade book), periods have been replaced with terms. This article explains more about the change.

    Miscellaneous updates and enhancements

    Click to see a list of other minor updates and enhancements.

    4 comments (Add your own)

    1. Sheila Denny wrote:
    Fantastic, just inserted a video from my files!

    June 22, 2011 @ 3:11 PM

    2. Sheila Denny wrote:
    Just one thing - seems to start automatically when I go to that element. Means that with a couple of videos in the same note they start playing together! Any chance of looking at that?

    June 22, 2011 @ 3:16 PM

    3. itslearning wrote:
    Hi Sheila, We're aware of this, and you're right, it's probably not a good idea that videos start to play automatically. We hope to fix it in the next release. However, you can manually change the autostart feature on each video you go into the source view in the editor and replace autostart="true" with autostart="false". That will keep them from starting automatically. Good luck!

    June 22, 2011 @ 3:54 PM

    4. Marc Richardson wrote:
    Would be useful to have the embed web file video available in the rich content block of dashboards as well if possible.

    June 23, 2011 @ 6:29 PM

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