Topic: Features

Some Little Updates

Control The Flow

For use cases like interrupted case studies and structured discussions, you can now make sure that groups don’t work ahead. We’ve made it easier to control when students can and can’t see prompts.

The image below shows the session overview page, where the edit prompt button has been moved down a little, and there is a new On / Off switch that controls whether students can see the prompt.

Small Team Names

When you create a new session and have students work as “Small Teams In Class” their team name would default to the students first name and last initial, so “Samantha P, Albert D, Ryu K.”

For larger classes, we understand that you may not actually know who any of those students are and it can be beneficial to allow students to designate their team name, like “Team Blue” or “Way Back on the Right.”

The updated screen where students declare their group members is below with an option for them to Set Team Name. They can also just leave the default name as is.

New Features: Multiple Instructors and Virtual Sections

The final update of the summers is out.  While we have tested and tested there could still be some issues that pop up, please email with any problems or suggestions.

Multiple Instructors For Group

You can now have multiple instructors for a single group.  From the groups page, click on icon for Managing Instructors ( ), and on the popup simply enter the other instructors email.  If they don’t have an account, we’ll ask if it is OK for us to email them an access link.

We modeled it after Google Docs sharing, so there is also a link you can share with people that gives them instructor access.


Virtual Sections

We originally developed Visual Classrooms for smaller hybrid/blended classes, where the number of students kept the amount of discussion manageable.

Aimed at larger class sizes, virtual sections lets you break your class up into online cohorts that work together on collaborative homeworks, virtual labs/simulations, and real world data collection.

Just set the desired size of each section when creating your group, and new sections will be automatically added as students join.

You can assign specific TA’s to specific virtual sections.  Watch the short Vimeo video below to get a better understanding.



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.


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.


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.

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 if you have any problems or are getting too many emails.

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

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.