Bug #1 – Granting Special Access to Quizzes
In the Restrictions settings for quizzes in D2L, you can scroll down to the bottom of the screen and use the “Grant Special Access to Students” button to set unique time limits or availability dates for certain students.
In this example, I’m going to edit the special access for the student listed above so that she may take the test from noon to five:
After I save, this is what I see:
Currently, if you use Special Access to grant a student a special start and end date, the time that is displayed to you after saving will be five hours ahead of what you originally set.
However…the time actually given to the student is the original, correct time that you saved! It’s only displaying the incorrect time to YOU.
This bug has something to do with how time zones are implemented and processed by the D2L software. It must be fixed by the programmers at D2L, and a fix is estimated for sometime in February 2016. You may continue to use Special Access, just keep in mind that it’s going to show you the time five hours ahead. This bug does not affect start and end dates in other areas of D2L.
Bug #2 – Grading Dropbox Submissions
The ideal way to grade papers submitted to the Dropbox is to click the “Evaluate” button across from the first student in the list of submissions:
On the next screen, you can view the student’s paper, write feedback comments, and enter a points grade. Once you have done this, click Publish in the bottom-right corner of the screen, then Next Student to advance to the next student to grade.
The Bug: It has been found that using the Next Student button no longer advances through the submissions in alphabetical order. Furthermore, it will sometimes hit the end of the list of submissions, without having brought up every student! You may continue grading Dropbox papers in this manner, but be sure to go back and check that each submission has been graded and marked as “Published.” The risk here is that some students may be skipped when grading.
While using the D2L electronic rubrics to assess Dropbox submissions is a fairly easy process, due to a design flaw in D2L’s software, adding a rubric to a graded discussion takes some extra steps.
How Not to Do It
When setting up the assessment options for your discussion activity, you may notice the option to add a rubric:
If you do add a rubric using this option, you’ll even see a link to launch and fill out a rubric for each student, when the time comes to grade their posts:
However, if you fill out the rubrics on this page, a copies of the completed rubrics will never be sent to the students, even when you check “Publish to Grades”!
This is an error on Desire2Learn’s part, and is widely considered to be a bug in their software.
Discussion Rubrics – The Proper Way
To make discussion rubrics work, we don’t attach the rubric on the Assessment tab. Rather, we go to the Grades tool, find the grade item for the discussion in the list of grades, and attach it there.
1) Click Grades
2) Click Manage Grades
3) Locate the grade item in the list, then click it’s title
4) Mid-way down the page, click Add Rubric, then choose the rubric used to grade discussions
Grading the Discussions
To use a rubric while grading discussions, we view and assess the students posts not from the Discussions tool, but rather in the gradebook itself.
1) Click on Grades
2) In the grade sheet, locate the grade item. Click the arrow in the column heading, then click Grade All
3) The next screen will list for you all of the students in the course:
For each student…
Click the icon under the Submission column to view their posts, record a score, and type written feedback
Click the icon under the Assessment column to view and fill out the rubric in a new window.
Using this method, each student will have a link to the completed rubric on their Grades screen, under the [Assessment Details] link:
SRU MediaSpace, the dedicated video system available to all faculty and students, also features a screen recording tool. The screen recorder will make a video out of your screen movements, while recording your narrations though your webcam or microphone. This is ideal for showing students how to use software. You can also use it to capture narrated PowerPoint (although using PowerPoint’s built-in narration tool in conjunction with iSpring free works best).
The attached handout will give you step-by-step instructions on how to use the screen recording tool, as well as troubleshooting tips:
This handout will walk you through the steps of creating a VoiceThread presentation. These instructions are applicable for both faculty and students wishing to create, share, and have viewers/classmates comment on their presentations.
What is VoiceThread? VoiceThread allows you to take a plain, text-and-images PowerPoint show, then add narration to each slide using voice and video. VoiceThread presentations can be shared with your students, allowing them to leave voice or video comments on individual slides. It is a more interactive way to present a narrated PowerPoint lesson.
VoiceThread Basics – for Faculty (PDF – Updated 10/6/2015)
The attached handout gives a brief overview of Blackboard Collaborate and offers instructions and troubleshooting tips for students. Feel free to download it and post it to your D2L course.
One little-known feature hiding within D2L is the ability for instructors to record webcam videos and instantly post them to a course. Here’s how:
1) From the Content tool in D2L, select the module in which you would like to post your video
2) Click New, then Create a File
3) In the next screen, type a title for your video, then click the “Insert Stuff” button (shown below)
4) In the next screen, click the Webcam button on the left-hand side, then “Allow” at the security prompt
5) You webcam will activate. Position yourself in the center of the frame, then click Record when you are ready to begin your video. Click STOP when you are done.
6) When you are finished with your video, click NEXT in the lower-right corner of the window. In the next screen, type a title for your video, then click NEXT again.
7) Click Insert to finish.
8) In the final screen, click Publish to make the video available to your students.
Conducting online, self-scoring objective tests using the Quizzes tool in D2L has become a popular way to assess students in both online and face-to-face courses. However, for faculty using online tests, the questions always comes up as to how secure online tests really are, and how to keep students from cheating. This post will attempt to clear up some misconceptions.
Hard Truth #1: Students Sometimes Copy and Share Questions Out of the Test
Now and then I hear from faculty who are shocked to find that a student has emailed them with questions taken out of a test or quiz. Yes, in the Properties screen of a quiz, you can turn off right-clicking, but students can still copy questions out by using the PrintScreen button on their keyboards, or by using keyboard shortcuts to copy and paste. Expensive and awkward software solutions exist that can disable the PrintScreen buttons and copy/paste functions, but even then students can copy and share tests by taking cell phone pictures of their screens.
Hard Truth #2: Students Sometimes Use Their Notes and the Internet to Look Up Answers
Unless you conduct your online exam in a proctored computer lab, there is no way to stop students from opening up their paper notes while taking the exam. Students may also use their cell phones or open up a second browser window to search for answers.
Hard Truth #3: Students Sometimes Take Online Tests Together
It is a common sight in the library during midterm and finals week to find students sitting side-by-side in the computer labs, working together on the same online test. This is especially common in fully online undergrad courses, in which most of the students live on campus.
Best Practices to Ensure Academic Integrity
It’s very difficult to create a perfectly secure, fully-online test, but there are strategies you can use to make collaboration more difficult:
1) When creating multiple-choice quiz questions, always use the “Randomize Options” setting.
2) It takes some time to learn how to do, but you can also randomize the order in which the quiz questions appear for each student.
3) Be sure to set a conservative time limit (30 seconds to 1 minute per question). A short time limit means less time to look up answers.
4) Also be sure to set a narrow start and end date window. This means less opportunity for students to meet up and work together.
5) When opening up Post-Test Feedback, be sure to show only questions answered incorrectly, and NO answers.
This has been the reality since before SRU used Desire2Learn, and was the case with Blackboard as well. The best approach to take is to assume that students will be using notes and other resources, and will likely be sharing details about the exams with one another. Many of the most successful online instructors place far less weight on objective tests, and instead draw most of their assessments from writing assignments, discussions, and research. Dishonesty is much easier to spot in written assignments since we can do plagiarism detection with Turnitin.