Announcements / Instructors / New Features

The Organizer Feature and new Course Manager navigation

What’s New to SIMnet?

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The left-hand navigation of the Course Manager has been changed in two ways. First, the Classes sub-heading, formerly under Users has been moved to its own heading to better house the new Organizer feature. Second, the Learning sub-heading has been split to display Lessons and SIMbooks.

The Classes section has the Manage sub-heading which contains all of the previous Classes options: Search, Create, Import, and Archive. In addition to these options there is the new Class Organizer feature.

The Class Organizer feature allows you to manage the way your students see class materials. Many instructors elect to organize their course around dates – like midterms or breaks – or around modules – like Word or Access. The Class Organizer allows you to manage your class by creating groups of similar materials. Once you have grouped desired materials together you can control how that group is presented to your students.

For example, one option would be to group the Office level books by module. If all of the Word assignments – SIMbooks, Lessons, Exams, SIMpaths, and Projects – are grouped together, you can control how that group is displayed all at once. You can elect to hide the entire group from students if they should be focusing elsewhere, or show students assignments that aren’t yet available so that they can plan their study calendar.

The Class Organizer also allows you to make changes to each assignment individually, changing the Scheduling, Gradebook Options and Restrictions as you would from the individual content sub-headings all on one screen!

How do I use this feature?

After you have used the Create sub-heading to add your assignments to a new class, navigate to the Organize sub-heading under Classes to access the Class Organizer. Once you have navigated to the Class Organizer, you will see a screen like the following. This class has been created as an example class named SIMnet Blog Class:

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On the left you will see all of the assignments for the class, and, shortly, all the groups for the class. On the right, you will see a Settings menu. This menu changes based on what you have selected on the left. Currently, the entire SIMnet Blog Class has been selected. You can make changes to the group description, sorting, and whether or not students will be able to see unavailable assignments. At this point, students will see the same view that they do today – all of the available assignments based on start and end date on their Assignments page.

Now it’s time to create a group! Click the Create Group button in the lower right corner of the Groups box. The following dialog opens:

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Type the name of the desired group and click Save. In this case, the new group is named Word Module. It’s highlighted on the left. The group title and settings are visible on the right.

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Now you can populate the group. Simply click and drag all of the desired items into the group.

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Once that’s completed, you’ll note that all of the assignments under the Word Module have been indented to show that they are under the Word Module group.

Let’s take a look at what students are seeing at this point. We’ve created a single group and added assignments to that group.

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We can see the new type of tile: the gray Group tile, displaying the title Word Module and all of the other tiles with assignments that are not part of a group. If you click on the group, you can see what’s in it:

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Also of note in this view is the bread crumb bar atop the tiles, in yellow. You can see that the student has navigated from the class home to the Word Module group. This can be useful if the instructor has created a number of nested groups. For example, we could create a group for all of the SIMbook assignments in the Word Module.

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Back on the instructor side, if we make changes to the Word Module group settings, we can see what they do to the student view. First, let’s add a group description to the Word Module. An example of a group description is below. Click Save when you are finished making changes.

On the student side, that change occurs under the breadcrumbs for the group:

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The Settings area for groups also includes options to sort assignments. You can sort by Title, Start Date, Due Date, End Date, and Custom. Each of these sort options changes the way that assignments are sorted on the left and the way that those assignments are sorted in the student’s view. If you elect one of the date-based options on the sort, the date will show on the left in front of each assignment (but won’t show on the student’s view).

You can also change Student Visibility settings for entire groups. You can elect to Show Unavailable Assignments which displays assignments that have not met their start date, are past their end date, or have used up all of their attempts. This option only displays the assignment but does not allow the student to take the assignment when these requirements have not been met. You can also toggle the Show Group option which you can use to hide groups and their assignments entirely. If you elect to hide a group, the group and all assignments on the left become gray.

The final product is to create a group for all of the available assignments. Here it has been done by module:

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Now the student will see the module groupings instead of the entire list of assignments for the class:

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If we hide the other modules that the students aren’t focusing on yet, we can see them grayed out on the left side of the Class Organizer screen.

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And those same groups will be removed from the student’s view.

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Why was this change made?

The Class Organizer feature allows instructors to organize the assignments in their class all from one screen. This can be in the form of grouping similar assignments by type, content, or date (or other!) or by making changes to the assignments within any group.

This change will be particularly important in those inevitable moments when a class schedule changes. Instructors will easily be able to see that all of the assignments in a module have been effectively changed and grouped and that all subsequent assignments have been updated as well.

When will this feature be available?

The Class Organizer and the changes to the navigation on the left side of the Course Manager will be available in the next week or two.