Welcome to the ATutor Instructor Documentation!
Most of the course management tools are found in the Manage section and are available to instructors and students with assigned privileges.
After logging in, use the Create Course link from My Start Page.
Some course properties include:
Enter the necessary information and use the
Save button to proceed into the newly created course.
Announcements added through the Manage section will appear on the course Home page, sorted by date in descending order.
If the Syndicate Announcements options is enabled in the course Properties, it is possible to subscribe to the feed using a RSS reader.
ATutor offers the facility to create backups of your course and restore the contents of those backups at any time. This is very useful for duplicating a course or saving the entire course for safe keeping in the case of accidental loss.
The Backups utility is found under the Manage section and is available to Instructors and Sysytem Administrators.
Each course can store only a finite number of backups (default 5). That limit can be altered by the Administrator using the System Preferences option.
To create a backup of the current course, use the Create link found on the Backups page. All created backups are stored securely on the ATutor server. The space required for the backups does not affect the course's size quota. Once a backup is created, it will be listed on the main Backups page where it can be managed.
Backups can be restored by selecting a backup and using the Restore button. The restoration process will present details on what is stored in the backup and allow instructors to select which course material they wish to restore.
Backups can be downloaded and stored locally by selecting from the list of backups created and using the Download button. Locally stored backups can be uploaded back into the original course, into a new course, or into another installation of ATutor.
The backup file itself is a compressed archive in a format specific to ATutor. Backups cannot be used by any other system other than ATutor. Extracting the backup archive to view and change its contents is strongly discouraged as it may currupt the backup, making it impossible to restore.
Backups are forwards compatible, but not backwards compatible with older versions of ATutor. That is, backups can be used with all future versions of ATutor, but cannot be used with versions of ATutor older than the version originally used in the backup's creation.
Selecting a backup and using the Delete button will delete that backup.
Use the Edit button to edit the description of a selected backup. This will not change the backup's contents.
The chat section is used for managing chat transcripts. An active transcript will record all of the chat messages as they are posted. There can be only one active transcript at a time.
A transcript is started by using the Start Transcript link. A unique name must be given to a new transcript when it is started.
Content in ATutor can be managed in many ways and can be imported and created from many different sources. Content can be entered manually, created from HTML files, standards compliant content packages, or from a learning objects content repository. Content that already exists in ATutor can also be exported into any of the mentioned formats. Only instructors and students who are given content privileges can manage course content.
Existing content pages can be managed using the Shortcuts links available when viewing a content page.
Using the Tabs in the Content Manager, content can be created, its location, keywords, and date properties set, and glossary terms defined. It can also be previewed and have its accessibility checked. While creating content, save often. Unsaved information is indicated by a red bullet in the corresponding Content Manager tab. When content editing is complete, choose the Close after saving option, then press
Content can be created in either 'plain text' or 'HTML' mode. Plain text mode is useful for quickly writing up text content. HTML mode allows for extra features like text formatting and layout, but is a little more complex to use.
If using plain text mode, just type the content in the Body window. Note that any extra spaces between characters will be removed (i.e. two or more spaces), but any blank lines will be saved with the text.
If using HTML mode, you can type HTML tags in the Body window along with your text. If you are unfamiliar with HTML, you can use the visual editor by clicking the
Switch to visual editor button.
The File Manager is a tool that allows you to upload files from your local system to be used in your course. The popup File Manager can be open alongside the Content Editor by selecting Open File Manager.
See the File Manager section for details.
In either plain text or HTML formatting mode, you can insert terms to tell the ATutor system which words you wish to mark as glossary terms.
Using the Add Term link will add [?][/?] into your content, and any text you put after [?] and before [/?] will specify the term you want to define. Alternatively, you can manually type [?][/?] into your text without having to use the Add Term link.
Once you have specified the terms you would like to define, you can go to the Glossary Terms tab to write the definitions. Once this is done, the terms and their definitions will appear in the glossary and in the content.
In either plain text or HTML formatting mode, you can insert code which is useful for differentiating blocks of text (like math equations, program code, or quotations) from the rest of the text content.
Using the Add Code link will add [code][/code] into your content, and any text you put after [code] and before [/code] will specify the text you want to differentiate. Alternatively, you can manually type [code][/code] into your text without having to use the Add Code link.
Like code and terms, colour may be added to text content in the same way. Use the appropriate colour icon to insert colour tags into the content. Valid colour options are blue, red, green, orange, purple, and gray. Also, colour codes can be typed in manually by using the following tags: [blue][/blue], [red][/red], [green][/green], [orange][/orange], [purple][/purple], and [gray][/gray].
Rather than typing out content, it can be uploaded from a text or HTML file on your local file system. Once uploaded, the content of that file will be displayed in the Body window. Keep in mind that uploading in this manner will replace any existing content in the Body window.
While editing or creating content, it is wise to frequently Save your content. When you are finished, use Close to close the content editor. Note that this does not save your content first so any unsaved content will be lost.
In the properties tab, you can move the content page, select a Release Date, enter keywords for easier searching, and specify its related topics.
For each content page in the course, it is possible to specify other content pages as being related. Related topics can appear in the side menu, allowing students to quickly jump to a topic. Related topics are cross-refrenced meaning the content page chosen to be related will also be related to the current page.
If Terms were specified in the Content tab, they may be defined under the Glossary tab. Enter the definition or explanation for each term specified in the Content. See the Terms section in Entering Content for details on how to add glossary terms to your content.
It is also possible to relate terms to one another within the glossary by specifying a related term. This will add a link to the related term beside the glossary item.
The Preview tab displays the content page as it looks with the formatting given. This is how the content page will appear to a user, with custom HTML, Glossary Terms, Code, and colours.
The Accessibility tab performs an analysis of the content for accessibility problems. Recommendations are given and you are given the option to implement or reverse corrections.
After opening the Accessibility tab, review the report, and notice the number of known and potential problems
Correct the known problems by reviewing the report, then returning to the Content tab to modify the HTML. Return to the Accessibility tab again when the known problems are corrected to see a Conditional Pass. Select from the choices available in the potential problems listed, then press
Make Decisions to update the report. When all known problems are corrected, and decisions have been made on all potential problems, a Full Pass will be displayed, after which you can be sure the content will be accessible to all your students.
ATutor provides importing and exporting of course content using IMS 1.1.3 or SCORM 1.2 content package specifications. Exported content can be viewed offline, and transferred to other systems. If enabled, students can also export content for offline viewing. See course Properties to learn how to enable content exporting for students.
An entire course, a chapter, or a single page of content can be exported as an IMS 1.1.3 or SCORM 1.2 content package. Exported packages are archived into a single file using ZIP compression. All content is exported including the terms and glossary, colours, and code.
To export content, select the scope by choosing an option from the What to export menu. Then, using Export will generate a download through your browser. Optionally, you can choose to export the content directly to the TILE content repository if you have a TILE authoring account.
To view a content package offline that has been exported from ATutor, you will need a IMS 1.1.3 or SCORM 1.2 viewer, or a web browser, and an application to unzip the package. To view the content in a web browser, first extract the contents of the ZIP file into an empty folder on your computer, and then open the file index.html in your browser.
To import a content package into ATutor, it must conform to IMS 1.1.3 or SCORM 1.2 content package specifications.
Before importing, specify where in the course structure the new content is to be placed by using the Import into menu.
Select the content package to upload by choosing the file from your local file system, either by typing the path into the Upload a Content Package text field, or by using the Browse button. You can also import a content package over the Web by entering the URL of the package.
Using Import will upload the content into the course at the specified location.
Instructors can view Content Usage statistics, or Student Specific Usage data. Content Usage will list the overall number of Visits to each content page, the number of Unique Visits, the Average Duration of each visit, the Total Duration of all visits to each page, as well as the Details of all visits to each page. If enabled, students can also view their own content usage using My Tracker.
Use the Reset link to empty the Content Usage data.
Content created in ATutor can be exported to The Inclusive Learning Exchange (TILE) using the Export tool on the Import/Export Content screen. Content can also be imported from the TILE repository by entering a search term into the TILE Repository Search, then using Import next to a listing in the search results. Use the Preview link next to a search result to open the TILE content browser, or use Download to retrieve the content package from TILE repository. Once downloaded, the retrieved package can be imported into ATutor using the Import/Export Content import tool.
Visit the TILE web site for more information about using the repository, and to set up an account on the system.
The Packages tool, when enabled, allows instructors to include SCORM 1.2 Sharable Content Objects (SCOs) as part of their courses. SCOs remain separated from the course content as complete learning units. SCOs should not be confused with content packages which are loaded into ATutor using the Import/Export tool in the Content Manager.
Note: The ATutor SCORM Run-Time Environment (RTE) that plays SCOs requires users to have Java 1.5 (i.e. JRE 1.5) installed on their computer.
Use the Packages link from the Manage area to access the following:
Upload a SCO from your computer, or enter the URL to a SCO located on the Web to import it into your course.
Removes a SCO from a course, and deletes all associated files.
Credit Mode sets the package to credit or no credit.
Lesson Mode is set to
browse if the package is to be available for evaluation, or set to
normal as a lesson..
Using the Course Email option, you can send an email to all assistants (students with privileges), enrolled, un-enrolled, and /or alumni students in your current course. A copy of the email is also sent to your registered email address.
The Enrollment list for a particular course determines which of your students have access to the course content and course management tools. Instructors can create, import and export student lists.
To administer members of a course, log in as the instructor and select the Enrollment option from the Manage screen.
Students who are enrolled in a course can be assigned course administrative privileges. This allows your students to perform actions like managing content, creating and marking tests, managing ACollab groups, or moderating forums or the chat. This tool is useful for creating teaching assistants, or for creating multiple instructors for a course. Select the users you wish to give privileges to, and use the Privileges button. Then choose which tools you want each student to have access to and use the Save button.
Instructors can mark students who have completed the course as alumni. Alumni have access to all course content with the exception of tests and surveys. They can particpate in activities to help new students master the content of the course, such as contributing to the forums. Select students from the Enrolled list, then use
Mark Alumni to add the students to the Alumni list. Re-enrolling or removing alumni can be done from the Alumni tab.
Under the Groups section of the Enrollment area, an instructor can create a group and add course members to it. This allows the instructor to administer different tests to different groups. When creating a test, there is a property for assigning the test to existing groups.
It is possible to enter or import a course enrollment list into your ATutor course. Those on the list can be added to the
Enrolled list immediately, or added to the
Not Enrolled list and later moved to the Enrolled list when the time comes to give students access to the course. When users are added or moved to the Enrolled list, they are sent an email with instructions on how to access the course.
You have the option of manually generating the student list by selecting the Create Course List option. This option is useful if there is only a small number of users to be added to the course. With many students, the Import feature may be a more efficient option.
To import a class list from your local system into ATutor, create a plain text file with the format "firstname", "lastname", "email", with one student per line. This file can be generated from a spreadsheet application, a database, or created manually in a plain text editor.
To import a course list (in the file format mentioned above), use the Import Course List link. Choose the course list file on your system by using the Browse button, and then use the Import Course List button.
When importing an enrollment list, ATutor will automatically generate login names for each new user based on their first and last names. There is an option to choose a format for this - either separating the username with an underscore or a period. (i.e. J_Smith, or J.Smith).
A course enrollment list can easily be exported from ATutor and is useful for creating a backup or for importing the list into other courses. Choose which subsets of users to export (enrolled students, not enrolled students, and alumni) and use Export to download the list. The exported list is in the same comma-separated format as that described in Creating a Course Enrollment List for Import above.
ATutor has a file system used for storing course resource files, and it is managed with the File Manager. The File Manager allows instructors to include files associated with course content into content pages. The File Manager also allows you to create, edit, move, and delete files.
The File Manager can be found in the Manage area, linked from the Content Editor so it can be opened while authoring content pages, or linked throughout the Test Question authoring screens so files can be managed while assembling tests.
Create Folder button creates a folder on the ATutor system for better organizing uploaded files. It is possible to create folders and move files into folders at any time.
Uploading files using the File Manager is one way of adding content to your course. After uploading a file, it can be added to a course by using the Content Manger tool and providing a link to the file within a content page.
Browse... opens a local file browser window in which to choose the file for upload.
Upload will upload the specified file to the ATutor system. Specify a file by either typing the path and filename in the text field or by using the
The Create a New File area allows for quick creation of a new text or HTML file. If using Text mode, any blank lines will be saved with the file. If using HTML mode, HTML tags will be permitted. Selecting
Save will save a new file with the entered information (filename and content) into the ATutor system and return to the File Manager.
Cancel will discard the file and return to the File Manager.
Text or HTML files created using the File Manager, or uploaded from another source, can be edited by selecting the Edit icon next to the file name listed in the File Manager.
Use the link on the filename in the File Manager to preview that file. Files that can be viewed online, such as images, text, or html files, will open in a preview window. Files that can not be displayed online, or require a plugin, will prompt you with a download confirmation message.
It is possible to Rename, Delete, and Move files and folders within the File Manager. Choose a file (or files if mass-deleting or moving to one location) from the File Manager list, then use the appropriate button for the action.
Renaming a file will change the name of the file.
Deleting a file deletes all selected files and folders from the ATutor system. If a folder is being deleted, the files within it will also be deleted. Once the deletion is confirmed, the files can not be undeleted.
To Move files to a different location, choose a new location from the File Manager tree and use the
Move button. Once the move is confirmed, all selected files will be found in the new directory.
After uploading a ZIP file to the File Manager, select the Extract Archive icon next to the file name. This will display the contents of the zip file and suggest a directory name in which to unzip the archive. Use the
Extract button in the ZIP file viewer to unzip the file into the specified directory.
Illegal file types will not be extracted, and file names containing illegal characters will be renamed. The viewer will show illegal file types crossed out, and files with illegal characters pointing ( => ) to the renamed file that will be extracted.
A Forum is an area that allows course members to communicate in a structured manner through messages. The forums can be enabled or disabled and linked from the main navigation, the course home page, or displayed as a menu module. These preferences can be specified in the Student Tools section of the Manage area.
Course instructors and students with forum privileges can manage and mediate the forums by deleting, locking, and sticking threads and messages.
To create a new forum, use the Create Forum link in the Forums section of the Manage area and enter a title and optional description. New forums will be accessible to all course students, instructors, and alumni.
To edit an existing forum, select the forum in the Forums manager and use the Edit button. Make the necessary changes and then use Save to return to the Forum Manager, or Cancel to return to the Forum Manager without saving any changes.
To delete an existing forum, select the forum in the Forums manager and use the Delete button. The forum and all threads and messages within it will be deleted.
Shared forums are special forums where members of different courses can engage in discussions with one another. The instructors, and students with forum privileges, of each participating course can manage and moderate the shared forum. Shared forums can only be created by an ATutor administrator.
As an instructor, it is wise to become familiar with the forum management tools. To access these tools, browse a forum while logged in as an instructor or as a student with forum management privileges.
For each thread in a forum, the following actions are available:
Use the exclamation point icon next to a thread to stick it. This keeps the specified thread at the very top of the forum's thread list and is useful for keeping important information visible to forum users.
To unstick a thread, just use the Sticky Thread icon again.
Some possible uses of a sticky thread include: course dates, forum rules, contact information, or important course material.
Use the Lock icon next to the thread title to lock a thread. There are two options for locking a thread - lock posting and reading, and lock posting only. Lock posting and reading closes the thread so that no one can read the contents or post replies. But note that the title of the thread will remain listed in the forum. Lock posting only will let users read the entire thread but not post any replies to it.
To change the lock preferences or unlock a thread, use the Unlock Thread icon.
The course instructor and students with forum privileges can edit and delete posts. Access to these tools are available when viewing a thread message.
The Glossary lists all course terms, their definitions and related terms. Terms can be added to the glossary by using the Add Glossary Term link in the Glossary Manager, or by adding terms directly into content while it is being created using the Content Editor.
The Glossary is a Student Tool and can therefore be enabled or disabled, linked from the main menu, linked from the home page, or displayed as a module in the side menu.
Links to external websites can be added to the student Links area, allowing course members to visit course related information elsewhere on the Web. Both students and instructors can add links by using Suggest Link. Student-submitted links must be approved by the instructor in the Links Manager. Instructors can also add links by using Add Link in the Links Manager.
The Links section is a Student Tool and can therefore be enabled or disabled, linked from the main menu or linked from the home page, and assigned as student privilege.
It is necessary to create at least one category before adding any links. Use Create Category in the Links Manager to create categories for organising course links. To edit or delete existing categories use the Categories link in the Links Manager. Note that categories that have links associated with them may not be deleted until those links are removed from the category.
Polls are useful for quickly gathering course member opinions. Instructors and students with poll privileges can post a question with up to seven choices for answers. Unlike Tests and Surveys, Polls are not graded. Because Polls is a Student Tool, it can be enabled, disabled, and positioned according to the Student Tools preferences.
The Properties Manager allows the adjustment of several visual, behavioural, and technical details of a course. Options include the course title and description, the default language used, exporting behaviour, course access level, copyright, and course icon. The Properties Manager is also where to delete the course. Additional properties are managed by the ATutor administrator including upload file size limitations and space limitations for a course. Contact an ATutor administrator if these properties need to be changed.
An instructor can delete a course using the Properties manager. Once a course has been deleted from the system, it can not be restored (unless there is a backup). There will be prompts to confirm the action before actual deletion occurs.
The statistics page displays the number of Members (registered users) and Guests (unregistered users) who have logged into the course. Use the Properties manager to control guest access to the course.
Student Tools is a collection of course features that may be useful for various types of learning activities. Tools include: Forums, Glossary, Site-map, Links, Polls, TILE Repository Search, Tests & Surveys, My Tracker, Export Content, Chat, Directory, Inbox, and Packages. Instructors can decide where these tools will be accessed from - the Main Navigation, and/or Course Home.
If neither Main Navigation or Course Home options are selected, then that Student Tool be "turned off", or not accessible to students. An instructor might choose to turn on Student Tools as they are needed, for example turning on the Tests & Surveys tool when a test is available, or turning on the Chat when an online meeting is going to take place.
Using the arrows in the Order column will change the ordering of the student tool as it appears in the Main Navigation and on the Course Home page.
Some of the student tools can be accessed through the side menu. Which side menu items, and the order in which they will appear, can be controlled by selecting the tool name from the dropdowns, in the order of preference. Those more likely to be used can be placed at the top of the menu.
The instructor, and course members with test privileges, can create tests and surveys to be administered to enrolled students. There are a variety of options for defining tests like setting the release date, and using randomized questions or group-specific tests. Once a test or survey has been created, add questions to the Question Database, and then add these questions to the new test.
To begin creating a test, use the Create Test/Survey link. Filling out the information on the Create Test/Survey page will address all the administrative options for a test. Actual questions are added to the test in a separate step.
Some properties that may require explanation when creating a Test/Quiz:
Surveys are the same as regular tests, with the exception that no marks be assigned to questions (and no results be released), and in some cases it might be preferable to treat submissions as Anonymous. This can be done by choosing Yes from the Anonymous property setting.
Once the initial properties have been saved, the test or survey will be listed in the Test/Survey Manager. From here, one can Edit the test properties, Preview the test questions, add Questions to a test, view the Submissions received so far, view the test Statistics, or Delete the test.
The Question Database is where course test and survey questions are stored. Questions are created separately so that they may be reused in different tests and surveys.
Test questions are created through the Question Database by selecting a type of question from the dropdown and using the
Create button. There are a variety of different types of questions: multiple choice, true or false, open ended, and Likert. Open ended questions can be single words, a sentence, paragraph, or a single page answer. Options will differ depending on the type of question being created. All new questions, when saved, will be added to the Question Database where they can then be used in Tests or Surveys.
Question categories are useful for organizing questions, but also make it easier to add questions into tests. When adding questions, it is possible to simply check the box beside the category name which will add all of the questions within it, instead of having to check each question separately. Use the Create Category link to create a category. It will then appear in the Question Categories manager where it can be Edited and Deleted.
In the Test/Survey Manager, choose the test who's properties you wish to change and use the
Edit button. This will display a screen like the one for Creating Tests & Surveys, where the test's properties can be altered and saved.
To delete a Test or Survey, choose it from the Test/Survey Manager and use the
Delete button. Aftering confirming the delete action, the test will be removed. Note that the questions within the test will not be deleted as they are stored in the Question Database.
To preview the questions of a test or survey, choose the test from the Tests/Survey Manager and use the
Preview button. The screen displayed shows what the student will see when he/she takes a test. Tho the exception is previewing randomized tests, which displays all of the questions assigned to that test rather than showing a random number of them (what the student will see).
To manage the questions in a test, choose the test from the Test/Surveys Manager and then use the
Questions button. Questions in the Question Database can be added to your test by using the Add Questions link. Check the questions and/or categories of questions to be added to the test and use the
Add to Test/Survey button. After confirming this action, the added questions will appear in the Question Manager. Beside each question is a box in which to enter a weight or mark for that question. If this is for a survey, leave the weight box empty. Note that Likert questions do not get marked and therefore do not require a weight.
It is also possible to Edit or Remove questions by using the links beside each question. Editing a question will alter it in the Question Database, and thus affect all tests and surveys using that question. Removing the question only removes it from the test and will not delete the question from the Question Database.
To view the submissions of a test, choose a test from the Test/Survey Manager and use the
Submissions button. The list of student submissions will be listed, and can be filtered to show all, marked or unmarked tests.
Unmarked tests are those requiring instructor input, or those with open-ended questions. Multiple-choice and true-false questions are automatically marked by the Atutor system and Likert questions do not require marking.
To view and/or mark test submissions, choose a submission from the list and use the View & Mark Test button. The test will be displayed with a box beside each question for entering or editing the mark. Multiple-choice and true-false answers show a red "X" icon beside an answer if the student answered incorrectly, or a green checkmark if he/she was right. If an answer is incorrect, the correct answer will be shown with a green checkmark after it in brackets. Use
Save to enter the marks into the system and return to the submission manager.
To view a test's statistics, choose the test from the Test/Survey Manager and use the
Statistics button. There are two sets of statistics available for tests. The first is Question Statistics which shows each question of the test and the number/percentage of students who chose each of the answers. Submission Statistics shows each submission's overall mark and marks given for each test question. The overall test average is also calculated.
If an instructor would like to compile a list of frequently asked questions (and answers) for course members, they may do so by going to the FAQ section of the Manage area. Topics must first be created, and then questions can be created and associated with a particular topic.
Since version 1.5.2., the FAQ is a Student Tool and can therefore be enabled or disabled, linked from the main menu or from the home page.
Since version 1.5.2, System Administrators are able to enter syndicated news feeds into the system, making them available to instructors to use in their courses. Instructors can display the news feeds in the side menu of their courses by going to Side Menu section of Student Tools, under Manage, and selecting a feed from the dropdowns.
Since version 1.5.2, course members can use Google to search the web from within an ATutor course.
The Web Search is a Student Tool and can therefore be enabled or disabled, linked from the main menu, linked from the home page, or displayed as a side menu box.