Course Site upgrade brings new features and enhancements

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On Sunday, December 27, 2015, Course Site was upgraded to Moodle version 2.8.x. With this upgrade came some great new features, including a few that the user-community has been long awaiting. The new version features notable enhancements to the grade book, quiz activity, and even access to Dropbox as well as some patches and performance enhancements.

The grade book received the most attention in this upgrade. Instructors can now easily scroll through high-enrollment courses without losing track of which column/row they are looking at with fixed/frozen column and row headers in the full grade book view. Grades can now be added directly to the grade book from Excel using the new “Paste from Excel” feature. There is a brand new “Edit” menu that replaces the previous row of icons that had no label and were often hard to interpret. This menu behaves consistently with the same menu that appears when editing course activities.

The most important highlight is the addition of a new grade book calculation method called “Natural”. This aggregation method replaces the method previously known as “Sum of Grades”. “Natural” works exactly the same as "Sum of Grades", but also gives you the ability to specify weights. The weighting option for each category/item is turned off by default and if you opt to keep it off, this method will behave exactly as "Sum of Grades". Any gradebook shell that is imported from a previous course using the “Sum of Grades” method will automatically be set to the "Natural" method with weighting turned off. The most notable ability of the new “Natural” method is that it allows you to assign extra credit in a very intuitive manner. Simply checking the "Extra credit" option in a grade item is all that is needed to mark an item as extra credit. The calculation is then treated as you would expect when arriving at the final grade.

Creating and editing a quiz in a Course Site course is now even easier and cleaner. The quiz bank block has been removed and replaced with a much more helpful menu which gives you the option of simply adding a new questions, or pulling one or more questions from your question bank or even other quizzes. You can also drag and drop to move and re-order questions.

You can now link to and access your Dropbox files from Course Site. This works with personal and business Dropbox accounts. From any file browser window within Course Site, you will see an option to make the connection to Dropbox. Simply log in using your Dropbox account credentials and you will have access to your files.

Overall improvements include an auto-save feature in the text editor (similar to the draft auto-saving feature in Gmail), a convenient user menu in the top-right of the fixed branding bar providing quick access to “My home” and other useful links, and a “Mail now” option in forums which allows new post notifications to be sent out immediately.

For additional details and resources, see the release notes and documentation.
For help with these or any other Course Site features, contact the Instructional Technology Team at it.team@lehigh.edu