Tuesday, January 17, 2012

To Publish or Not to Publish, That is the Question

By Alan Regan

Q: "Are class sites automatically unpublished at the end of an academic term?"
A:  No.

Since we've received a few questions about this recently, I thought I would post a quick note on this topic. The question is related to Courses (powered by Sakai), the university's official learning management system. At the beginning of each academic term, we automatically create course sites for all five schools. These sites are initially "unpublished." This means that faculty can see them, but students cannot. It allows professors the time to upload resources and configure the site before classes begin. When ready, professors "publish" their sites so that students can see and access them.

At the end of the term, we do not "unpublish" sites automatically. We leave this at the discretion of our professors. Many professors encourage learning to continue even after a class has ended. Several graduate students have noted their appreciation for the fact that conversations in discussion forums, lecture materials, and other content are still accessible after a semester/trimester ends.

Of course, if a majority of professors prefer that we automatically unpublish all class sites at the end of a term, we can easily do this. If you are a professor at Pepperdine University and feel that past class sites should be automatically unpublished, please let us know.

Q: "Do you delete old class sites?"
A:  No.

With our previous learning management system, storage was very expensive. On our new service, Courses/Sakai, storage is not as expensive. Rather than routinely erase old classes, we decided to retain all past classes. This way, professors can refer back to older class materials and even copy materials into new class sites.

At the end of each academic term, we strongly recommend that professors backup their class Gradebook or other grade data for safekeeping. This is a good practice and will serve as an additional backup in the event that a professor accidentally removes content on Courses/Sakai.

See Also:

Friday, January 6, 2012

Checklist for a New Academic Term

By Alan Regan

Welcome back!

As you get started with a new academic term, we want to remind you of the most common items professors do at the beginning of a new semester/trimester.

Checklist for a New Academic Term:

  1. Access Courses (powered by Sakai).
  2. Publish your class site so that students can see and access it.
  3. Reorder your site tabs to access your classes quickly and easily.
  4. Add or remove tools to engage students in learning activities.
  5. Reorder your tools to focus student attention.
  6. Post your syllabus to inform students of learning objectives and requirements.
  7. Copy course materials from a previous semester to repurpose your hard work.
  8. Combine class rosters if you are teaching cross-listed classes or multiple sections of the same class but want to manage only one site.
If you are new to Courses (powered by Sakai), need a refresher, or want to expand your knowledge, please sign up for a one-on-one consultation with our Technology and Learning team.  You may also contact your Seaver College technology liaison or graduate campus support representative for training and support.

And if your students need some guidance, point them to http://bit.ly/coursesguide or TechCentral.

We hope you find this information valuable!