14 December 2010

Extra Credit Grade Categories

If you have a grade category that consists only of Bonus (extra credit) items, make sure to check the box so that the category "Can Exceed." If you do not, the points for any items within that category will not be included in the Final Calculated Grade item.

Thanks Linda Sneed for discovering this.

30 November 2010

Share content confidentially with students

In addition to assessment data, the Grades tool can be used to share other information confidentially with students. Here are the steps to do so:
  1. Create a grade item for this purpose.
    Note: Make it a Text item if there is not a score associated with the content you want to share.
  2. Back on the Grades List / Manage Grades page, click on the Enter grades icon for the item you created.
  3. For a student, click on the Enter comments icon. This opens a pop-up window with two fields. Click on the box "Comments for users:" to add comments for this particular student. You can use the Quicklink button to add links to external videos or course files.
    Note: If you want to share a particular file with a particular student, that file must first be uploaded to the Manage Files area of course.
Students can access this content by going to the Grades page within your course offering.
The video demonstration shows an example using individual videos on EduStream: [VIDEO DEMO]

Thanks to John Gilgun for asking the question.

Collecting student lab data

Thanks to Mark Lee for asking this question: "Is there a way to post an Excel spreadsheet in the dropbox so that students can post their results? Now each student is posting a separate spreadsheet, and I have to transfer the data manually to a combined sheet."

My answer:
Do you want students to be able to enter data and see the results as they do, or do you want to collect data and then display their results to them?

Converting an Excel spreadsheet into an interactive web page will give you the first option, but it is usable only in Internet Explorer and does not include charts. The data is not saved, though a student can download the Excel file to a local computer.

For the other option, one way is to use a quiz that collects the data only. You can create a report in CSV format with their answers (grouped by student) and then format that data as you wish for student display.

A second way for this is to use a Google Docs form and spreadsheet. You can design a form that asks for the specific data and then take their results and publish the spreadsheet the form appends to. You can also publish charts separately from the spreadsheet, and the data updates automatically. Each student could fill out the form multiple times. One way to discourage this is to place the form inside a quiz.

16 September 2010

View a course offering as a student via the Instructor-student role

You can view a course offering as if you were a student without logging out by switching your role within the course offering to Instructor-student. This role has the same privileges as the Student role with one exception: Users enrolled as instructor-student can switch themselves back to the Instructor role.

While enrolled as Instructor-student, you can take quizzes, view content, submit files to dropbox folders, etc., as if you were a student. All of your activity is recorded as if you were a student. You will not be able to see any course material that is hidden from students, including items that are restricted by date and by release condition.

This is a change that must be done via the Classlist, not the Role Switch widget. [VIDEO DEMO]

27 August 2010

Rating Discussion Messages

One of the options for discussion is to allow users to rate the messages that are there. This can be turned on by clicking the Settings link from the Discussion Area and then clicking in the box so that messages can be rated.

Note that this is an org unit setting, which means that it applies to all discussion messages within that course offering.

Once turned on, each user can apply a 1 to 5 stars to each message. The average rating of each message appears on the list of messages, and the number of ratings for a particular message is displayed when the message contents are visible. It is not possible to see what rating a particular user has applied to a particular message. Users can change their ratings of messages at any time.

20 May 2010

Letter Grades without Schemes

If you are using Desire2Learn's grade tools to share offline grades and want to post a final letter grade without creating a grade scheme, you can create an item specifically for this purpose via a text grade item. On the Manage Grades page, click the button to create a New Item and then select the Text item.

Once created you can enter any text into the grade field for each student. The item does not have any points possible, so it will not affect the Final Calculated Grade.

NOTE: If you use this for a class final grade, you should not release the Final Calculated Grade. Otherwise students might get confused by seeing two items labeled final grade.

19 May 2010

Prevent printing

If you have an image or document that you do not want students to be able to print or copy and paste from (e.g., for copyright reasons), there are a couple of ways to do this in Desire2Learn:
  1. Use the full version of Adobe Acrobat to attach security to a PDF file. On the Document Properties dialog box (access from the File menu) there is a Security tab. Choose password security and you can require a password to print or copy text and images from the document. Once you set a password, you can upload the document anywhere inside Desire2Learn. Make sure you do not require a password to open the document. Students will be able to download the PDF file to their local computers, even though they will not be able to print it.
  2. Use the Respondus LockDown Browser and Desire2Learn's quiz tool to images and text within a Desire2Learn web page. You can create a "quiz" and only include text and/or image information as its "questions," and if you require the LockDown browser to view the "quiz" students will be unable to print, copy, or email the information from that page. For images, you can create an Image Information item. This item allows you to upload an image file from your local computer and add accompanying text. For text, you can create a Text Information item. Like other text boxes in Desire2Learn, you can copy and paste formatted text into this box. Students will need to "submit" the quiz in order to close the LockDown browser.
NOTE: It is important that you do not add a quicklink to a PDF file inside a text box in a LockDown browser quiz. If you do, the email link within the Acrobat Reader application will work. And your students will not be able to submit the quiz, which will force them to shut down their computers using the power button. Ouch!

17 May 2010

Locked user account

To prevent successful brute-force attacks from compromising a user's login credentials, Desire2Learn is set up to lock a user if more than five incorrect passwords are tried within a short period of time (a minute or so). The account is then unlocked automatically after about ten or fifteen minutes. Users who need immediate access can contact the help desk.

03 May 2010

RE: Do I need MS Office suite?

Though this is not strictly a Desire2Learn question, it can affect how we create materials for this system. A colleague asked for my thoughts comparing MS Office, OpenOffice.org, and Google Docs for his home computer. Here is my response:
I would hold off on paying for the software and try Google Docs. I like always having access to the documents wherever I am, and the features are more than adequate for what I do. Unless you use macros or have detailed formatting needs, Google Docs work great. I used to be concerned about access to those documents if the internet is unavailable, but I use those rare times to get other things done like organize papers (on my desk at work), and there are a zillion things to get done at home. Google Docs can export into PDF and MS Office formats, so you could access those via the Office software on your computer at work if you wish.

OpenOffice is even closer to MS Office than Google Docs, but it is not in the cloud so you would have to keep track of document versions or transport files from one place to another. If I were in your situation I would use Google Docs as my primary place to do work, so that I would not have to worry about transporting files from home to work. If I needed extra formatting capabilities or had to print at home, I would have OpenOffice on that computer.

12 March 2010

Special Access to Quizzes

On the Restrictions tab for each quiz is a button to "Add Users to Special Access." This tool allows you to give individual students a different time limit and/or different date range to take a quiz.

19 February 2010

Special Access for a Dropbox Folder

You can use the special access tool on the Restrictions tab of a dropbox folder to give individual students extra time to submit a paper. This is especially useful if you have plagiarism detection turned on for a folder and a student has submitted a file format that is not recognized by Turnitin.com. [VIDEO DEMO]

02 February 2010

View Edit History for Discussion Messages

Student users can edit (only) the discussion board messages they wrote, and instructors can view that editing history. [VIDEO DEMO]