Merry Christmas and a Happy 2020 From Populi!

Merry Christmas From Populi

2019 has been a big year for us with a lot of focus on making sure Populi can continue to serve you well for years to come. In addition to the all new Search engine we released recently, the biggest development project of the year was one you probably didn’t notice at all. In 2019, a tremendous amount of effort and attention has gone into the biggest infrastructural upgrade Populi has ever been through; one that is designed to keep Populi humming merrily along as more and more of you use it more and more every day.

Another big push this year was in improving how we communicate with all of you. Key pieces have been ongoing live training webinars, and our new YouTube channel (go smash subscribe!). We’re making sure to keep our social channels up to date so you can keep up with what’s going on with Populi. To that end, please do follow us on whatever channels you like to use. In addition to YouTube, you can find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even LinkedIn.

As always, from everyone here to all of you who made 2019 a great year to work at Populi, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

P.S. Here on the cusp of the next decade, it bears mentioning that a handful of you have been with us since before the start of this one (and a fair few more for very nearly that long). Thank you for taking a chance on us. We hope that we’ve served you well over the past years, and that we’ll continue to do so for many more. It’s not hyperbole to say that we wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for y’all. So, thank you, thank you, thank you.

New Search

New Search is here! After about a month in public beta, Populi’s new search engine is now live for everyone.

Here’s a video overview we made when the public beta started. Since then, thanks to your feedback, we’ve made a number of tweaks and improvements including the triumphant return of phoenetic matching. It’s good now. Really.

Coming soon: Custom Locks

We have a big update for student locks right around the corner. Here’s a look at what we did and what you can do with Custom Locks.

Not stretchy enough

Populi currently has three built-in locks: Registration, Grades/Transcript, and Financial. They work okay for some schools, but other schools need each lock to do a little more or a little less—or maybe even something else altogether. One popular example: if you want to restrict a student’s access to his unofficial transcript but not to his current grades, you’re out of luck because the Grades/Transcript lock hides both things from that student. User access for adding and viewing locks is also a bit too rigid. In short, locks need to be far more flexible than they currently are.

The update will let you tailor Populi’s locks meet your school’s needs. You’ll be able to customize each lock in three different ways:

  • Lock Types: You can name your own locks.
  • Lock Areas: You’ll decide what parts of Populi each lock closes down.
  • Lock Permissions: You’ll choose who can add, remove, and view each lock.

Lock Types

In addition to the current set of built-in locks, the update will introduce a new, highly-requested type: Courses, which bars the student from accessing any course content. Via support request, you can ask us to modify any of these built-ins, add new locks, or remove an existing lock altogether. You can have as many lock types as you wish and customize each one’s areas and permissions (more below). You can even set up "redundant" locks for use by different departments—for example, a Course lock for Registrars to bar academic discipline cases and another, separate Course lock for financial staff to handle students with unpaid bills.

Lock Areas

Here are all the areas of Populi that the new locks can affect—each of your custom locks can have as many or as few of these as you need (or even none!):

  • Grades bars access to in-progress course and assignment grades.
  • Transcript keeps students from exporting their own unofficial transcripts.
  • Registration prohibits self-service, online course registration.
  • Charge to account removes the ability to charge bookstore purchases to that student’s account.
  • Courses zaps the student’s access to courses.

Lock Permissions

Anyone with the Staff, Faculty, Advisor, or Academic Auditor roles can see any lock type once it has been added to a student. Beyond that, Custom Locks let you specify who has access to other information about the lock. You can set which roles can add, remove, or change each lock type, as well as who can read the lock reason (besides the student). Permissions can be set for individual roles or whether the user is the student’s advisor.

Additionally, you’ll be able to apply the same lock to a student multiple times. F’rinstance, you might have a Registration lock available to Academic Admins and Advisors. A student’s Advisor applies that lock because the student needs to meet with her before registering. Then an Academic Admin applies that same lock at the same time because of an incomplete course from the previous term. Now the student has two Registration locks for two different reasons—and even if she deals with one lock, the other one can remain until she deals with that issue, too.

A few other things

Besides the lock reason in which you explain to the locked student why he’s in this predicament, you can also leave internal notes visible only to users who can add, remove, or change that lock type.

Reporting has been tuned-up, too: where once you had to look up locked students by searching for the system tag in the Data Slicer, you’ll soon be able to search by lock type.

If you like the current locks, you’ve no need to do anything. But if you’d like to have us customize your school’s locks, get ahold of us once they’re released and let us know what you’d like. And how, you ask, will you know they’ve been released? Head over to our Release Notes and click the Follow button!

We expect to release Custom Locks in the next few weeks.

New features for online tests

We just released a bunch of new features for online tests. Here's a look...

Points calculation


The new Points Calculation feature gives you three options to determine how the test's points will be distributed among its questions:

  • Fixed points: You manually distribute the points while you design or edit the test.
  • Weight questions equally: As you add questions, the test's points will be evenly distributed among all the questions, automatically.
  • Question points total: The test (and assignment) points will add up whatever points you assign to individual test questions.
Edit all question points at once

If you want to change how many points each question is worth, the new Edit all Question Points function lets you do that for the whole test all at once—no more need to edit each individual question (though you can still do that, too).


Importing tests and questions

The course Test > Questions view now lets you import questions from other courses to which you have faculty or admin access. We also spruced up the Import Test feature—now called Import Test Sections, it lets you import individual questions, headings and text, or even the entire test.


Duplicating questions

When editing an existing question, you can now choose to edit the original question (and change it everywhere) or duplicate the question and edit only the copy.