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.