Populi

Archive for the ‘Bloggable’ Category

New course and gradebook features

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

The Populi development team released a heap of highly-requested assignment and gradebook features last night, including:

  • Extra credit assignments
  • Attendance assignments
  • Drop lowest grade options
  • Student feedback on all assignment types
  • Document viewer with annotations on file assignments
  • Improved gradebook navigation
  • New global minimum attendance settings in Academics

We’ll be going into greater detail on all of these new features in the coming days, but for now, here’s a video covering five of our favorites. Enjoy!

New stuff: master change log, logins report, online payments settings, and more

Monday, July 7th, 2014

We recently released a number of new reporting items users have been asking for.

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First, a master change log: Account Admins can now go to the new Reporting > Changes tab in Account and create detailed reports of just about any change made to any person—including what kind of action it was, when it was made, and who made it.

Next, one tab over from Changes, you’ll find the new Logins report, which lets you get login details—everything from username to IP address—for any timeframe you need.

On the Profile’s Activity Feed, you can now see admissions-related changes—status changes, application updates, questions, and more:

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And over in Financial, the new Online Payments tab in Financial > Settings gathers together all the settings you need to get your school going with online payments.

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There are also a couple new custom financial statement page layouts, which works just like our other custom layouts (transcript, award letter, etc.). There’s an overall statement that you can export from a student’s financial dashboard, and a term statement that’s available on the student’s financial term view. Contact Populi Support if you’d like to get going with either of the new layouts.

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Populi supports net neutrality and so should you

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

From Free Press’ Save The Internet site:

On Jan. 14, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order.

And now, the FCC is proposing rules that would kill — rather than protect — Net Neutrality and allow rampant discrimination online.

What is net neutrality anyway? And why should you care? One of my favorite YouTubers, CGP Grey, does a great job explaining not just what net neutrality is, but why we must defend it.

So what difference can we make? The White House has already responded to this petition asking for a restoration of net neutrality, and while this is a good start it doesn’t actually get us any closer to the goal of preserving a free and open internet.

Save The Internet has a number of ideas about how we the people can keep the pressure on the FCC to do the right thing. On behalf of Populi, I encourage you to check out the list and take action to defend net neutrality.

Heartbleed

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

On Monday, April 7, security researchers published information about a bug in the OpenSSL cryptographic software library. OpenSSL powers the encryption used to secure the internet—everything from websites to instant messaging to virtual private networks. The bug, called Heartbleed, could affect about 2/3 of encrypted internet traffic.

As of now, all Populi servers have been patched against this vulnerability, and we have no reason to believe that any of our clients’ data was compromised. Due to the critical nature of this issue, we performed the patching during business hours today—rather than after hours as we normally do—so our apologies to anyone who was affected! We’ll continue to monitor the situation and post further updates if necessary.

To the best of our knowledge, Populi has been locked-down against this bug and all data is secure.

Even more free file storage for everyone!

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Do you remember where you were on June 18th, 2013? The last time we went and upped everyone’s free file storage limit?  We remember where we were: that day, we were upping your free file storage limit. This is kind of like that, except we’re not even waiting for the summer to . . .

. . . give everyone even more free file storage.

Every plan has already received more for the same—which is for free. It happened and you didn’t even notice!

Are you on the so-called small plan? Where you used to get a measly 50 gigs of free storage? Now you get 100 gigs of free storage.

The medium plan? Been wishing you had more than 100 gigs of free file storage? You’ve been gazing wistfully at the large plan’s 200 gigs? Now it’s yours. 200 gigs of free storage.

The large plan. You had 200 gigs of free file storage. Pretty good. What would be great? 500 gigs would be great, right? And that’s what you get. 500 gigs of free storage.

Our Plan Pricing remains the same. So all those extra gigs-per-month really are free.

Enjoy it. Use it. You’ll have even more room to store and deliver your video and audio lectures and materials. Start uploading dumb stuff—like daily videos of your coffee cooling, accompanied by in-depth commentary—just because you can.

This applies to all of our current customers and anyone else who has yet to jump aboard with Populi. That extra file storage is yours to use right now!

New course roster, plus enhancements to tests and Admissions

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

The new roster and finalize-by-student are now live! Take a look at the preview we published a few weeks ago, and get all the details in the Knowledge Base.

Here are some other noteworthy items we’ve released over the past couple months

Test availability

Tests can now have open-ended test availability dates. Choose from Available from (which gives you the usual date range), Available after or until, and Always available, which keeps the test open for the entire duration of the course. This makes things much simpler for our customers who run open-enrollment courses.

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Inquiries

You now have the option, when entering a new Inquiry, whether to email the comment to the student or keep it private. That, and the comment itself is now optional!

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Miscellaneous Admissions updates

Active Leads now get the Active Lead system tag. This makes it much simpler to, for example, include them in a Mailing List.

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When you accept an application, you can now add the Lead as a new user at the same time.

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Education tech: messiah or megaphone?

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Elise Italiano at Public Discourse, in her article Community, Contemplation, and Computers: the Role of Technology in Education:

Though it is becoming clear that technology is changing the way we learn, it is not yet clear that it is improving it.

Though concerned with recent developments in K-12 education (especially in light of the White House’s ConnectED Initiative), there’s plenty here for higher-ed folks to contemplate regarding the relationship between pedagogy and technology.

Those who embrace the White House’s view of education share three main presumptions:

  1. Education should be highly individualized;
  2. Digital interaction with concepts and ideas is an effective and desirable means of learning;
  3. Education should be primarily geared toward helping produce students with skills for the workplace.

We, obviously, are in the education technology business. We really think Populi can help small colleges. But as we’ve written before, there’s a lot of hot air about online learning that has nothing to do with actually getting students a meaningful education.

The best presumption anyone can make about online learning is that it’s an amplifier: both in the sense that amplifiers get your voice out to more people, and in that small pedagogical problems are more likely to become big ones.

A few application improvements

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

We’ve been improving the new Admissions features we released just before Christmas. Here’s a quick look at what we’ve done:

Insert new elements

We updated the application designer. Previously, you had to add new elements at the end of the application and then drag them where you needed them. Now you just click the + and add another heading, text block, or field and insert the new element wherever you need it.

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Also, now you can see what’s Required without having to look in the Preview tab.

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Application fees

Previously, you had one option with application fees: collect them when the Lead started the application. Now you have the option to collect the fee at the start, or to let the Lead wait until he submits the application to pay the fee.

1-29-14 Application Fee Choice

Importing field info to the profile

The new application fields make it simple to collect information from the applicant that you can import directly to the Profile. We’ve improved that entire process:

  • We re-worked the interface: first you select whether to link to an existing field; then you pick the field you want on the application. This lets you collect the exact information you need from the applicant to import to the Profile.
  • To import a field—say, a mailing address—just set it to accepted.
  • When you accept the application, you can import course of study information (program, degree, specialization).
  • Now you can collect gender information using an application field.

Populi welcomes Josh Stevenson

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Populi is pleased to welcome Josh Stevenson. Josh will be joining our customer support team, taking calls, answering tickets, writing documentation, and making training videos. A writer and self-described competitive poet, he’ll also contribute to the blog and other writerly tasks. You know, once he’s up to speed. It’s his first week. Take it easy on him.

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Judging by the feedback we receive, our customers really dig our support. It’s something we work hard at—at last count we spend 56 cents of every dollar we take in on supporting and improving Populi. So it would be easy to think, “Well, we’ve got that part wired.” Instead, those compliments tell us just how important good support is to our customers.

To that end, we’ve been thinking about hiring a new CS person for some time. As it happens, our top choice for the role became available right when we started looking in earnest. Josh previously worked for EMSI customer support, most recently developing training and user certification programs for their web-based economics software. We’ve known him for years as a man who appreciates and shares our company values, and we’re really happy to have him join the team. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Populi Team

Friday, December 20th, 2013
Populi Team

From left: Christian Amos, Isaac Grauke, Joel Penney, Joseph Schoolland, James Hill, Mark Ackerman, Patrick Swanson, Josh Stevenson*, Nick Holloway, Brendan O’Donnell, Toby Robinson, Adam Sentz

Many thanks to all of our customers, new and old, for making 2013 a great year to work at Populi. Here’s to an even better 2014!

* Future employee #spoilers