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We are delighted to announce that our creative developers have just released a series of updates and improvements to the LMS!

Here's a catalog of what's new since the start of last semester:

Home Page Redesign

You probably noticed when opened your home page that it looks a bit different. Right now, the most significant change is the addition of permanent links directly into various parts of an online class: the syllabus, the outline, and the discussion. This is just the first in a series of improvements — more cool stuff is still to come later in the semester!

 Show screenshot...


Navigation Enhancements

In response to user feedback, we have made several enhancements to topic navigation:

  • As of November, when you choose a layout and sort order for a topic, the system remembers your choice (learn more). This means that a topic will have the same set-up the next time you open it — regardless of the topic defaults. And this is true for all users.
  • You will now find a "Back to Top" link and a "Create new Post" button at the bottom of every page in a topic.
 Show screenshot...


Our Mobile App

 The AAU Classes app is now available for both Android and iOS. Learn more:


Notifications Updates

Notifications for students launched in Fall 2016 (learn more). Later in the fall, user tagging became available.

Beginning this spring, you can choose to watch any topic. This is a great way to keep an eye on new activity in your class — in your Instructor's Office, for example.

 Show screenshot...

  • Whenever there is new activity in a topic you are watching, you will receive a notification. The alert will appear in your Notifications Center (accessible from the bell icon at the top of the page).
  • You can also use the Settings menu to enable email alerts or to send notifications to the lock screen on your phone or tablet (if you have the AAU Classes app installed — see above).
 Show screenshot...


Display Options for Image Thumbnails

 As of November 2016, it became possible to set the size of image thumbnails (learn more). You also have the option to rotate uploaded images and to select the "poster" image for any post (learn more).

Now users can also add captions to the images they upload. The caption is displayed below the image thumbnail.

 Show screenshot...
 

Lengthy captions will be truncated in the thumbnail view but can be read in their entirety in the push-down/Notes viewer.

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Notes Mark-Up

The Notes tool launched in Fall 2016 (learn more). Notes is being improved until it offers all the features currently available in the whiteboard — but without Flash. Last fall we introduced tools for creating call-outs, as well as text, audio, and video feedback. The latest improvements include:

  • a full-screen view
  • the ability to hide markup
  • the option to delete all annotation

 Show screenshot...

 Drawing tools and other enhancements will follow in the coming months. The old whiteboard will not be eliminated until the Notes tool has equal functionality.


Attaching (private) files to grade comments

In response to requests from many online instructors, it is now possible to attach one or more files when you post assignment grades. These attached files remain private — that is, they can be seen only by the student receiving the grade and by you. This new feature allows you, for example, to upload a completed rubric to accompany a grade.

 Show screenshot...
 

Editing Topic Dates

Two key changes allow you to change the dates for your topics more quickly.

  • We have added a Due date column to the main Global Topics page, so you can change all the dates for any topic from this page. In addition, your date choices are now autosaved.
 Show screenshot...

  • If you want to extend the closing dates for assignments beyond their due dates, you can now do this for all assignments at once. Note that this tool is available for both global topics and for section topics. You simply define how many days beyond the due date an assignment topic should remain open. Extending your closing date allows submission of late work and a class critique discussion.
 Show screenshot...


Instant Feedback

Beginning in Spring 2017, a new feedback feature enables students (and instructors) to instantly submit comments and suggestions about their online classes. Simply click the Feedback tab, located on the side of every page, to provide your feedback and requests. This feature allows us to quickly address students' concerns and to gauge — and, we hope, to increase — student satisfaction. 

 Show screenshot...
 

The Online Help Desk will route the comments to the responsible groups. Feedback about instructors will go to Online Student Academic Support (OSAS) and the Online Instructional Review and Improvement (OIRI) Team. We will work with students to resolve their concerns and share relevant feedback with instructors. (Notice that the user's name is included in the report, so this feedback is not anonymous.) By the way, the feedback tab was piloted in a select group of courses in Fall 2016 — and the (very few) comments we received about instructors were overwhelmingly positive!


Please let us know how these tools are working for you — or if you have questions. And please keep the feedback coming — that's how we decide what to build next!


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10 Comments

  1. Hi Jenny,

    Thanks for all the great updates–no small task to be sure.  I really like the new Notes interface, but for some reason last term, the whiteboard no longer functionedfor me (meaning I wasn't able to use the tools to "draw" feedback).  I probably should have brought it up then, but ended up just providing all feedback in Notes instead.  Did others have this issue?  I haven't tried again this semester, but will let you know if I experience the same problem. 

    Thank You!  Val Taylor-Smith / Packaging 2 - GR 322

    1. Hi, Valerie—

      I'm sorry to know you're been having problems with the whiteboard. I don't know whether anyone else has had similar difficulties, but I encourage you to report issues like this to the Help Desk (online@academyart.edu). They are the main conduit for getting information about system problems back to the developers, so we can figure out what's going wrong.

      Best,
      Jenny

      1. Thanks, Jenny!  Will do!

         

  2. I have had  a couple of instances with the Whiteboard not doing it's thing. Perhaps it was because of Flash and Safari. Once I converted to Chrome it seemed to work fine.

  3. I am having problems with using the LMS for my onsite classes. Last semester I was able to use LMS course website for my onsite Physics and Math classes. I set discussions there, students uploaded there assignments and discussed them. Also I actively used the LMS messaging system to communicate with all my students. This time I don't see my two onsite classes listed in the messaging system at all and there is no way for students to participate in discussions. I need immediate help (today!!).  Many thanks for any help/advise.

    1. Hi Ludmila,

      I use this option for my onsite classes as well.  I believe only department directors are allowed to make the request to have Discussion option turned on for a specific instructor's classes.  Please ask your director if he/she can do this for you.  

      1. Thanks, Bob. Apparently there was some confusion about the continuing need for directors to request that discussions be enabled for onsite classes. FYI, in the very near future it will be possible for instructors to activate online discussions themselves. Stay tuned!

  4. Thank you for all these wonderful changes!  (smile)

    I would like to see a "fit to screen" option for the Notes pushdown display.  Usually when I click on the Notes for an image, the image is much longer than my screen and so I have to scroll down to view the whole image.  This makes critiquing an image as a whole difficult.  Am I missing something?  

    Thanks,

    Courtney

    1. Great suggestion, Courtney! The best approach is to send an email with this request to onlinefeedback@academyart.edu. The development team reviews these requests, so it's the best way to get your ideas and suggestions on their radar.

  5. Great changes, Jenny! Thanks for the good work!

    -christo