Posts By: Coop

First Summer Updates

The first of our two major summer updates is out with some exciting new features.

Sharing Activities

You can now create and edit activities collaboratively by directly inviting other instructors.  It is modeled after Google Docs, where you can give an instructor access by entering their email or by sharing a link that gives them editor access.

1 minute video:

Video Capture From Browser

You’ve been able to capture videos from mobile devices for a while, but from desktops you could only upload an existing video.  Now students can directly capture video right from their browser.

Chrome and Firefox are currently the only browsers that support this new HTML5 standard (no flash), but other browsers will eventually build this functionality in as well.

VideoPost

Set Post Color

Giving everyone another way to group and classify posts was a requested feature, and you can now set the header color of specific posts. You can access the color option from the Options dropdown on every post.

SetColor

February 2016 Updates

Save and Export Rubric Grades

The student table has two new columns, a “Final Grade” and “Notes” columns.  This allows you to adjust the automated grade more easily after reviewing the student’s work.

Grades are now saved automatically any time a change is made, but there is a save button as well.  Students do not currently see their grade or notes, we are working to pass this information back to your LMS and will have that functionality in a few weeks.

Release and Due Dates

When creating a session, you are now required to set a release date.  This allows you to schedule sessions to be visible at a date in the future.  Students won’t have access to the session until midnight local time on the release date.

There is also a Due Date that is optional.  Students can see the due date, but are still able to post after that date has passed.  We are working on an option in the rubric to break out posts that took place after the due date.

newsess

Download All Posts

Some teachers (and researchers) want to download all the posts for a given session for classification or analysis.  From the Session Overview page, go to the List View (top right), and there is a new button called “Download All Posts Excel” which will export all the text of the posts for the session.

excel

Sketch Pad Updates

The sketch pad you already love just got a lot better.  We’ve completely updated the layout and functionality to make it easier for students to capture and annotate their work.

New Features

  • Sketch on Anything – any images you capture (upload, camera, copy/paste) can be sketched on
  • Shapes – Straight lines, squares, circles
  • Students can now upload an image to be the background
  • Works on any mobile device


Vimeo:  https://vimeo.com/151410156

Automated Email Notifications

emailnotifyWhats New

Email notifications of posting activity and responses are now being emailed to users, on a schedule they set, to let them know about activity while they were away.

Why Didn’t It Always Do That

One of our main tenets is that if you are going to do something, do it right.

Having taught courses using BlackBoard, Canvas, and Sakai, one of my biggest annoyances was the volume of notifications that destroy your inbox.  Every time someone posts something, boom, email.  Turn off your computer for 2 hours and you’ve got 100 emails letting you know about every little thing.

This firehose of information is worse than no email at all, and is more annoying than useful.  In addition, this single data point gives me no insight into overall activity.

How Does it Work

We’ve tried to keep the concept simple and flexible.  There are two types of notifications that get raised, “Responses” and “Posts.”  Both options can have different notification schedules which can be set from your account page (seen below).  If we are sending you an email (like for responses), we’ll include the latest Visible Posts report as well, no need for more emails.

email_schedule

Set Your Notification Schedule From Account Page

 

Visible Posts
Every time someone in your course makes a post that is visible to you (remember, teachers can set prompts so students can’t see their peers’ ideas), we log it.  The report shows the number of new posts, grouped by each prompt and activity.  So for students in multiple courses, or teachers with many classes, they can get a quick sense of where the activity is happening in each one of those courses in the same email.

email_table

Table Summarizing Activity

 

Posts Responded To

When a thread you have participated in gets added to, this is likely something you would like to know about relatively soon, which is why it is a separate option.  For the following thread, only Antonio and Ben would get emails (in table form like the one above) with the following totals:

  • Antonio B – 2 Responses
  • Ben R – 1 Response
  • Mr. Coopey wouldn’t receive any notifications, since he was the last one to respond.
thread_email

Comment Thread

 

Final Thoughts

We are excited to add this functionality but I’m sure there will be some growing pains.  Please let us know at support@visualclassrooms.com if you have any problems or are getting too many emails.

Slow Email

snail-mail-vs-emailWe’ve been seeing some slow email delivery through our third party email service.  We are working with them to figure out what the problems is.

If you are trying to reset your password, please be patient and don’t reset it 10 times.  The email will get there, it might just take a while (up to 20 minutes).

20 minutes to deliver email?  In 2015?  Ridiculous, right?

*** UPDATE ***

After digging into the wonderful world of email digital signing, things have mostly been resolved.  Most emails are arriving within seconds, although occasionally still take a few minutes.  Please email support@visualclassrooms.com if you continue to have issues.

Welcome!

new-home-cake-5Welcome To Our New Home

The move last Friday was a success and we are settling into our new home.  While we have thoroughly tested everything I’m sure there will still be some minor bugs that pop up, so please send support@visualclassrooms.com an email if you run into any problems or see something that is out of place.

The help documentation is in the process of being updated and we will soon have many “How To” videos to go along with the updated help.  We appreciate your patience and if you have any questions or confusions while the help is updated, please don’t hesitate to send us an email.

Student Subscriptions

Teacher accounts are still free, but students will need to have a subscription.  Students can pay with a credit card, or schools/departments/teachers can purchase a bulk set of licenses to allow students to join for free, see the pricing page for more information.

Changes to Individual vs Small Team work

Instructors have always loved that students can quickly create and contribute as part of a small team, with each student getting “credit” for those posts.  Last year the type of activity determined whether students should join as a team or an individual.  This was confusing to new teachers.  Now, when creating a new session, there is a dropdown that allows the instructor to specify whether the activity should be completed as an individual or small team.

new_sess_drop

For students, the “Group Password” option is no longer available due to security and privacy concerns.  Students will always login with their individual account.  For Small Group sessions, students will get the familiar screen that allows them to form a team from the class roster.  The logged in user MUST be a part of this group (see Robert M below, he cannot be un-checked).

new_team

Thanks and Please Contact Us

I will be creating more posts about some of the other changes, but these were the major ones that might cause some confusion for existing users.  We are confident that the changes will allow new visitors to start using Visual Classrooms more easily.  Remember that if you have any problems please email support@visualclassrooms.com and let us know.

We are looking forward to another great year in your amazing classrooms.

Eric Coopey

eric@visualclassrooms.com

Moving Updates

August 14th, 2015
moving-truck
We are officially moving all data from InterLACE to Visual Classrooms on Friday August 14th.  Updates and announcements will be added to this post as they become available.

 

STATUS:  Complete

9:40AM – InterLACE taken offline, maintenance message up

11:15AM – Uploads (both student and teacher) successfully copied over to new environment, MySQL migration in progress

1PM – Database restored, SSL certificate installed and tested, application files posted.  Initial testing underway.

2PM – Public access restored to VisualClassrooms.com, final testing underway and looking great

4PM – We’re calling it, everything has been tested, have a great weekend

LMS Integration

We are excited to announce that Visual Classrooms can be seamlessly integrated with Learning Management Systems (LMS) like BlackBoard and Canvas. Leveraging an industry standard called Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI), we can be added to any LMS in minutes.  Instructors and students won’t need another login or separate system, with Visual Classrooms LMS integration they quickly and easily share a superior collaboration and discussion environment.

Our HTML5 based responsive design does an amazing job fitting Visual Classrooms to the size of the embedded frame inside the LMS, and Visual Classrooms can also be launched in a separate tab as well.

The video shows exactly how it works, using Canvas as an example, but we’ve tested all of them and the experience is very smooth. If you are interested in integrating Visual Classrooms with your LMS please contact us at support@visualclassrooms.com

Rubric Based Analytics

We are excited to release a new reporting tool that will save teachers time by giving them ways to automate certain aspects of their assessment while still providing them opportunities to inspect and respond to individual student work. The video walks you through creating a Rubric for an activity, which auto-grades based on the criteria you develop.

We see this really as just the first version of this tool and are already working to let the teacher provide individualized feedback to a student and to export the grades/notes to their LMS or external grade-book.

InterLACE ➡ Visual Classrooms

In August, InterLACE (http://int.erlace.com) will become Visual Classrooms.

logo_700x150

 

InterLACE was coined way back in 2011 and stood for Interactive Learning And Collaboration Environment, which was a research project at Tufts University studying the effect of technology and pedagogy on student learning and engagement.  It was an NSF funded project that used pre/post testing, interviews, video analysis, and a variety of methods for reporting and interpreting data about the effect of using InterLACE in blended and online classrooms.  The results were very exciting, with statistically significant gains in content knowledge over comparison groups.  The social network and engagement levels were also changed in positive ways.  Several members of the research team have spun the technology off into a corporate entity.

As much as we have loved “InterLACE” through the years, the name has become somewhat problematic.  It doesn’t capture the wonderfully expressive and engaging environments we’ve created, and people quickly forget the name (not good for a business!).  After much deliberation (and a lot of frustrating searches for available domain names), we are excited to make the change to Visual Classrooms.

All teacher data (activities, collections, groups) will be copied from InterLACE to Visual Classrooms in August, we’ll send out an email letting everyone know when.  Any student data over a year old will be archived and not copied over.

The NSF is no longer funding the platform, so we are moving to a student based subscription model.  We have reached out to many existing teachers personally, but if you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact me directly to talk about options for ensuring you don’t lose this valuable resource for your students.

We want to thank all the students, teachers, and administrators who have helped us get this far, and we look forward to providing even better service and results to your wonderful (visual) classrooms.

Eric Coopey

CEO and Co-Founder

eric@visualclassrooms.com