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 all about the updates below.
Brand new calendar!
Forget what you know about the calendar in itslearning. 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, colour codes to distinguish courses from each other, 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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Create your own learning objective repository
Have you ever felt the need to make your own learning objectives which can be accessed by your entire school or site? Do you feel the national curriculum is too complex to use? Or maybe you don't have access to a national curriculum at all? Then the new learning objective repository is probably what you need. It allows you to create your own library of learning objectives, and we have made it easy to import entire structures by means of spreadsheets such as Excel. 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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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 to itslearning.
Read more about how easy it is to connect your Dropbox account to itslearning.
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New planner layout
We know some of you hate changes, but those of you who use mobile devices will love the new layout of the planner. To be honest, the previous design wasn't the best for small screens. The table layout tended to stretch and forced the users to perform a lot of scrolling. We have fixed all that in a brand new planner layout, and have made a version that looks good in print. As of now you can switch between the new and old design, so if you don't like it, simply go back to the old.
See the new planner demonstrated in a video.
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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.
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, but instead saved their answer as a draft.
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.
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 onto 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.
We have introduced five new services to the Organisation API:
- Create.ExtensionInstance (Page)
- Create.ExtensionInstance (File)
We have also made some changes to the Create.Course.Planner service.
Attendance, behaviour 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, the changes include possibilities for:
- changing attendance remarks.
- converting hour absence into day absence.
- showing the total number of absent class hours in the report.
Adding behaviour remarks for multiple students
You can now quickly set a behaviour remark for multiple students from the behaviour overview page. Simply select a group of students and click the Add remark button.
Setting term-defaults for positive or negative behaviour remarks
Different schools have different practices when using the behaviour module. While some use both positive and negative remarks, others only use negative remarks. To save time, we're now making it 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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- 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 a badge to indicate 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 organisation 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 organisation. 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 organisation.
- 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 projects. 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 project 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 badge 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.
A number of issues have been corrected, and these are the most important (pdf file, English only).
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Posted on May 12, 2014
by Øyvind Flatnes