The crew here put in a late night October 3rd releasing our latest update to Populi. Here's what's new...
Our top Feature Request: Course Evaluations
Populi course evaluations let you gather your students' thoughts on your courses and faculty so you can dig into the results to gauge where your school is doing well and where it can stand some improvement. Here's how it works:
First, you design your course evaluation. It's a lot like building an online test, but with a different set of question types. You can set individual questions to required or optional and to apply to the course or the faculty. After you design the evaluation, you attach it to your courses.
Then you set evaluation availability on the Academic Term page. You can make it available to your students for any timeframe, with the option to lock their grades if they don't complete the evaluation by a certain date (they unlock it by submitting the evaluation). And to help preserve student anonymity, you can restrict faculty from seeing the results—or release them only after 60% of the course's students have submitted responses. If you need to adjust the availability for a particular course, you can do that on that course's Info tab.
After students submit their evaluations, the results are aggregated in the Course Evaluations > Reporting tab. The report filter lets you drill down to see evaluations from different terms, programs, courses, campuses, and for particular faculty members. You can also export the results to integrate the results with other reports.
We've also added a Common Cartridge importer to Populi courses. If your school comes over to Populi from another LMS that supports Common Cartridge, Populi can now import your assignments, lessons, discussions, links, and tests from the other system. Just click the action gear in the course Info tab, select Import Common Cartridge, and check off the course elements you wish to import. This will save your faculty the work of manually re-entering all their info stored in your old LMS.
For those who don't know about Common Cartridge, "It's a set of open standards... [that] enable strict interoperability between content and systems." That is, if you design a test in one CC-compliant system, it will work in any other CC-compliant system. If you'd like to read more about Common Cartridge, there are worse places to start than the IMS Global CC FAQ.
The Populi Knowledge Base is public
Though not actually part of our software release, it's worth mentioning that the Populi Knowledge Base is now public—that is, anyone on the internet can come read it. It makes it easier to link to articles when we respond to support requests, and it also helps new users get on board. Of course, you need to be logged in to submit a new request or suggest a new feature—but the rest of it is wide open for anyone to read.
Course rosters: more accessible, more handsome*
You can now accept online applications for past academic terms—up to one year in the past (useful for modular and other open enrollment courses).
Catalog courses now have settings that let you create development courses. Development courses do not affect earned credits or GPA, but do count towards enrollment figures when it comes to calculating financial aid. Essentially, they let students attempt credits without ever earning them—if your school takes Federal financial aid and gives out athletic scholarships, you know of what we speak (there's also a corresponding setting for transfer courses, too).
Bulletin boards now have a 50,000-word per post character limit, and discussions have a 250,000-word per post character limit. Start typing!
W's now show on transcripts as soon as a student withdraws (that is, after the add-drop date and before the course is finalized).
* Provided, that is, that your student ID pics look good...