Friday, October 14, 2011

Sapling Learning v1.19 Release Notes

This week we released an update to our software on all servers. This was the first release of a new regular, every-other-week release schedule:
This week's release contained several new features and bug fixes (over 90 separate issues). Here's some of what it contained:


Accounts:

  • Easier Facebook connection for existing users.
  • We now show "Institution" on user profiles, rather than "City, State" and "Country."
  • Better validation of registration forms to avoid some common issues.
  • Changes to the available profile fields on our high school servers.
Student Assignments:
  • Improvements to our beta Anywhere Activities (assignments that can be embedded within books or on web pages, etc).
  • Interface improvements to the assignment Sidebar.
  • Improvements to the due date view in the assignment Sidebar (but this has a bug that will be fixed Monday; if the due date in the Sidebar doesn't match the due date on your course page, the due date on your course page is the correct value).
  • Screen Reader text for text areas (we know it's kind of annoying right now, bear with us; we had to get something in place for our visually impaired students, we'll clean it up a bit in our next major release).
Instructor Assignment Settings:
  • Your TechTA can now reset assignments for individual students (they used to have to go through a more complicated process to do so).
  • Your TechTA can now change the score on an individual question for an individual student (again, they used to have to put in a request for this to happen).
  • Your TechTA can now reset an individual question for an individual student, to allow them to try again (all three of these features will eventually be made available to instructors, after the TechTAs help me find any remaining kinks).
  • You can now set up an "Available From Offset" for assignments, making assignments available for certain groups or individual students later or earlier than others. This could be used to make a post-lab assignment available to each section of a lab after their lab session, for example, or to let one student into an assignment early.
  • We updated the "Uncategorized" setting on your Activities and Due Dates page to "Default," to make it clearer what that category is for.
  • Assignments Stats now show an Average for each student.
Authoring:
  • We fixed a bug making it difficult to reuse images in questions you author.
  • We made a number of changes to our Vector Diagrams module for physics (although we still have a few more fixes to make to finalize this module).
Course Management:
  • You can now import assignments from previous courses (or from your current course, if you want to duplicate an assignment). Your TechTA can walk you through how that works.
  • We added a "Clock" block, which you can find under "Turn editing on" and then in the "Blocks" drop-down at the bottom of the rightmost column. This block shows the current server time, adjusted to the user's time zone setting. It also warns students if their time zone doesn't match their institution's time zone, and allows them to quickly fix it.
  • We also made a number of behind-the-scenes changes to course settings to make it easier for your TechTA to create your course.
Layout:
  • The friendly faces staring down from the top of every page are much smaller on the main page (after you log in), and we removed them from every other page. You can now see more of your course without scrolling.
Payment:
  • We made several improvements to the payment system. Unfortunately, a typo in these changes currently prevents many of you from using "Switch role to Student," but we will fix that issue in our next major release.
Other:
  • We fixed and updated several things on the "landing page" (the part of the site you see before you log in).
  • We made several tweaks to the database to speed up some things.
  • We made numerous bug fixes.
We will have a small release Monday to fix a few issues (I'll post release notes for that once it's out). We also hope to give you some more visibility soon into some things we're working on, such as this pad-shaped thing (see photo at right) that we're working on for Fall 2012.

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