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PlusPortals Update: September 6, 2016

We are pleased to announce the arrival of a new major feature in the PlusPortals: The Unit Builder. This new feature will allow administrators to create and edit Lesson Planner units on an administrative level, and to attach files and links that are visible only to teachers. The Unit Builder represents the first phase of a much larger project for the future, in which we will be providing additional unit-based content as well as the ability to create, edit, and monitor lessons from within the Unit Builder.

In addition to this new feature, accounts can now be automatically created for AdminPlus staff member accounts above ST300.

The PlusPortals were updated during the early morning (EDT) on September 6, 2016. Please review the full details below.

Features and Enhancements

 

Creating and editing teachers’ Lesson Planner units on an administrative level

Lesson Planner units can now be created and edited by administrators in the PlusPortal Admin Site. This can be done in the new administrative console called the “Unit Builder.” In addition, files and links, such as curriculum documents and reference websites, can now be added to units using the new Teacher Resources feature. These resources will be accessible only to teachers – parents and students will not be able to see them.

Please see the “Unit Builder Overview” section at the bottom of these notes for important information and a guide for the Unit Builder.


Setting Lesson Planner permissions for teachers

You can control teachers’ Lesson Planner permissions in the Settings area of the Unit Builder. At this time, the settings are specific to units, but there will be additional controls in the future.

• Allow teachers to edit the content of Units created by administrators? – This setting will be “un-checked” by default.

º If checked, teachers will be able to edit the Unit Name of units created by administrators on the Unit Builder.
º Even if this setting is un-checked, teachers will always be able to edit the Start Date and End Date for these units.
º If a unit is assigned to multiple classes, when a teacher edits the Unit Name, Start Date, or End Date, the unit will be duplicated separately from the other classes the unit is assigned to so that the change does not affect other classes. If a change should affect all classes, the change should be made by an administrator on the Unit Builder.

• Allow teachers to create units? – This setting will be “checked” by default so that teachers’ current abilities are not interrupted.

º If checked, teachers will be able to create their own units.
º Units created by teachers will also appear on the Unit Builder, accompanied by an Information icon that will show which teacher created the unit when the mouse is hovered over it.

• Allow teachers to add files and links to Teacher Resources? – This setting will be “un-checked” by default.

º If checked, teachers will be able to add their own files and links to the Teacher Resources area.

Note: Teachers will never be able to edit or delete files and links added to Teacher Resources by administrators.


Granting access to the Unit Builder for other administrators

By default, only the PlusPortalAdmin user will have access to the Unit Builder. In order to provide other admin users with access, go to the Manage Accounts → Admin area and click on the edit icon for a user account. In the Setup box of the Permissions section, check the box next to Unit Builder and click Update User.

 

Accessing Teacher Resources in the Lesson Planner as a teacher

Teachers will be able to access Teacher Resources by clicking on the folder icons next to the units. Teachers will be able to easily see if a unit contains files and links by the folder icon. If a unit contains files and links, the icon will appear as a folder with documents. Otherwise, the icon will appear as an empty folder.

If given permission in the Setup → Unit Builder → Settings area, teachers will also be able to add their own files and links to the Teacher Resources of a unit. Files and links added by teachers will also be visible in the Unit Builder.

Note: If a unit is assigned to multiple classes, files and links added by teachers will be visible in all classes the unit is assigned to.

 

Creating PlusPortals user accounts for AdminPlus non-teaching staff members (APIDs ST301 to ST600)

PlusPortals accounts can now be automatically created for AdminPlus non-teaching staff members. Previously, schools needed to create Admin accounts directly in the PlusPortal Admin Site for these staff members. While these Admin accounts provided them with access to the PlusPortals, their login point was the PlusPortal Admin Site. With this new feature, these users will have a landing page just like that of teachers, on which they can easily see School Announcements, Alerts, Notifications, Calendar Events, and Resources.

These non-teaching staff member accounts will be maintained in the Manage Accounts → Teachers area, from where login credentials can be sent to the users via e-mail. Access to the following features can be granted:

• Groups
• E-Mail
• Messages*
• School Calendar*
• School Announcements
• School Resources*
• Course Requests
• Directory
• Forms

Note: At this time, these users will have read-only access to the School Calendar, School Resources, and Messages features (they will be able to receive internal PlusPortals messages, but will not be able to send them). In the next update, they will have the ability to post events, add resources, and send messages.

To set permissions for these user accounts, go to the Permissions → Teachers area, set the intended permissions using the checkboxes in the Master Menu section, and then click Save Settings at the bottom of the screen.

Note: At this time, if non-teaching staff members are synced to the PlusPortals, their information will appear in the Directory along with teachers. In a near future update we will be including a setting to control this, allowing you to hide these non-teacher staff members from the Directory.


In order to create these non-teaching staff member accounts in the PlusPortals, TeacherPlus Sync Manager version 2.14.0 and Sync Engine version 1.0.93.0 are required. Hosted schools have already been updated with these versions. Non-hosted schools can download and install the TeacherPlus Gradebook Service Pack, available on our website at the link below:

http://www.redikersupport.com/downloads/


Once the TeacherPlus Gradebook Service Pack has been installed, to create these accounts just go to Tools → TeacherPlus Setup & Sync Manager → Send (Sync) Settings and set the Send Non-Teaching Staff Data option to “Yes.” Then, click Done and run an All Data send process for this initial sync.

Feature Fixes

• The Average and Grade controls in the Progress Box Column Settings box of the Permissions → Summary area are now functioning properly. Previously, Averages and Grades were always showing even when these controls were unchecked.

• Individual file uploads are no longer limited to 25 MB, except for when adding attachments to e-mails. The limit for uploading individual files across the PlusPortals is 50 MB.

• Teachers can now upload files from Google Drive to the Files section for Class Resources. Prior to this update, an error occurred when attempted to upload files from Google Drive, prompting the teacher to select a class to which the file should be uploaded, even when a class had already been selected.

• Students and Parents can now access the details of events feeding from Google Calendar. Previously, when a Parent or Student clicked on one of these events, an error occurred.

• Calendar Events feeding from Google Calendar will no longer appear in the Communications → Calendar → Manage Events area, as the content of these events is not editable in the PlusPortals – the content must be edited on the source Google Calendar. Prior to this update, these Google Calendar events were appearing in the Manage Events area, and if a user attempted to edit these events, an error occurred.

• Announcements, Notifications, and Alerts will now show on users’ Home pages based on the user’s Time Zone. Previously, while these items showed properly in other areas, on the Home page these items were showing based on Coordinated Universal Time.

• Class Events created by teachers will now be included in Calendar and Agenda print-outs for Student and Parents.

• Homework Assignments and Quizzes within a Lesson Plan view will now appear to Students and Parents only when set as “visible.” Prior to this update, while events that were not set visible were properly hidden in the rest of the PlusPortals, all activities within a Lesson Plan were showing in the Lesson Plan view.

• The information shown to parents in the Student Directory will now adhere to the Select the Directory Visibility for Student Portal settings in the Permissions → Parents area of the PlusPortal Admin Site. Previously, the information shown was controlled by the settings in the Permissions → Students area, instead.

• Login credentials will now print properly for individual users. Prior to this update, if login credentials were printed using the new print functionality introduced in the August 5, 2016 update, and the body of the credentials was less than 15 lines, the credentials were printed with two users on each page.

• The footer bar on the PlusPortals enhanced login page will now adhere to the color setting in the Miscellaneous → Appearance → PlusPortals Home Page area. Previously, this footer bar was always displayed in Rediker teal.

Unit Builder Overview

Important Information and Facets

The Unit Builder is more than just a way to create and push units to the Lesson Planner for teachers. When a unit is created on the Unit Builder and assigned to a class, the unit seen on the Unit Builder by the administrator is the same as the unit seen by the teacher in the Lesson Planner. They are not two separate, connected units – rather, they are one in the same. Any changes made on one end will be immediately reflected on the other.

• Units are connected between the Unit Builder and the teachers’ Lesson Planners. Changes to the content (Unit Name, Start Date, End Date, Teacher Resources) of a unit from either area will immediately reflect on the other end.

• Teachers can be given permission to edit the content of units created by administrators in the Unit Builder. In this case, an Information icon will appear next to the name of this new unit indicating that it was “Edited by [Last Name], [First Name].” This will help to identify units created by administrators versus units created by teachers.

• Units created by teachers will appear on the Unit Builder – even units that were created before the release of the Unit Builder. In this case, an Information icon will appear next to the name of this new unit indicating that it was “Created by [Last Name], [First Name].” This will help to identify units created by administrators versus units created by teachers.

• If a unit is assign to multiple classes and a teacher makes a change to the Unit Name, Start Date, or End Date, the unit will be duplicated for that teacher, and separated from the unit for the rest of the classes the original unit was assigned to.

For example, let’s say you create a unit named “Unit 1” in the Unit Builder and assign it to all Science classes in the school.

Initially, on the Unit Builder, you will see all sections of Science classes appearing in the Classes column. If the teacher of 0437/02 accesses the unit in the Lesson Planner and changes the Unit Name, Start Date, or End Date, the unit for that teacher will be duplicated (including Teacher Resources) and separated from the original unit.

After this occurs, on the Unit Builder you will see that the original “Unit 1” is still assigned to all other sections of Science classes, but there is also a new unit assigned only to 0437/02. This new unit will have an Information icon next to its name, indicating that it was created by the teacher.

• The same unit can be assigned to multiple classes in the Unit Builder, yet teachers can add lessons to the unit independently, without affecting other classes the unit is assigned to.

For example, let’s say you create a unit named “Chapter 1” in the Unit Builder and assign all sections of Algebra I and Algebra I Honors (0209/01, 0209/02, 0209/03, 0209/04, 0210/01, and 0210/02).

If the teacher of 0220/01 accesses the unit in the Lesson Planner and adds a lesson named “Polynomials,” the lesson will not be added to the unit in the other two sections. This is intentional, as the classes may be operating on different days or even different marking periods, and also may be covering different content or operating on a different structure.

As a result of these facets, administrators can use the Unit Builder at any level of involvement – from simply monitoring the units created by teachers, to creating basic or “generic” units and assigning them to many classes at once to create a structure and allowing teachers to edit the names and dates, to creating specific units for individual classes.

While it is possible to copy existing units to other classes in the Unit Builder, only the content of the unit itself is copied – any lessons created under the unit by teachers will not be included. While teachers can already copy lessons from other classes they teach, in the future we will be providing the ability for teachers to copy lessons from other teachers’ classes, as well as the ability for you to create lessons in the Unit Builder and attach them directly to units.

Unit Builder Guide

To access the Unit Builder in the PlusPortals Admin Site, go to Setup → Unit Builder. Creating and editing units and adding Teacher Resources in the Unit Builder is quick and easy. Just follow the simple steps below:

 
Creating New Units

1. Click the Add a Unit button in the upper-right corner of the Unit Builder.

• A new line will appear in the Unit Builder grid.


2. Enter a Unit Name by clicking in the red-highlighted Unit Name

• The name can be up to 200 characters.

3. Click the Assign button to assign the unit to one or more classes.

• The Assign Unit To Classes screen will appear, on which you can assign the unit by Course or by Section.

º If using the Course option, the unit will be added to all sections of the selected course(s).
º If using the Section option, the unit will be added to only the selected section(s).

4. Highlight and move one or more courses/sections from the Available grid to the Selected grid by clicking the Right-arrow button, the click the Done

• You can hold the [Ctrl] or [Shift] key and click to select multiple courses/sections.

5. Enter the Start Date and the End Date for the unit by clicking on the Calendar icon, or by clicking in the date field and typing the date in MM/DD/YYYY format.

• These dates are optional when creating units on the Unit Builder – they can be left blank for the teachers to populate later in the Lesson Planner.

6. Click the Save Disk icon to save the unit.

Note: If the name of a unit is too long to display on the Unit Builder grid, or if the unit was created by or edited by a teacher, an Information icon will appear in the cell. Hover the mouse over the icon to see these extra details. If none of the above conditions apply, the icon will not appear. See the example below, which illustrates what will appear when two of the conditions apply:

 

Adding Teacher Resources to Units

1. Click the Folder icon in the Tools column on the line of the unit to add files and/or links to that unit’s Teacher Resources.

• This icon will appear as a “folder with documents” if files and/or links have been added. Otherwise, it will appear as an “empty folder.”

2. The Teacher Resources: [Unit Name] screen will appear, on which you can switch between Files and Links modes using the toggles in the upper-left corner.

• When in Files mode, click the Add Files button to add files.

º Files can be added from My Computer, Google Drive, or OneDrive.
º Multiple files can be uploaded at once from any of these sources.
º The “Description” field is optional.

• When in Links mode, click the Add Links button to add links.


Editing Existing Units

1. Click the Edit icon on the line of the unit to be edited. This will place the unit in edit mode.

2. Make any applicable changes, such as adjustments to the unit’s name, adding the unit to more classes, removing the unit from specific classes, or adjustments to the unit’s dates, then click the Save Disk icon.


Deleting Existing Units

1. Click the Trash Can icon on the line of the unit to be deleted.

2. A confirmation message will appear, warning you that the unit and any lessons attached to it will be deleted. Click Confirm if you are certain that the unit should be deleted.


Copying Existing Units

1. Click the Add a Unit button to add a new unit, then click the Copy icon.

2. The Copy Content from Existing Unit screen will appear, on which you can select a unit to copy the content from.

3. Select the unit from which the content should be copied and click the Copy Selected Unit

• This will copy all content from the selected unit, including the Unit Name, Start Date, End Date, and any files and links contained in Teacher Resources.

4. Make any applicable changes to the Unit Name, Start Date, or End Date, and click the Assign button to assign the unit to one or more classes.

5. Click the Save Disk icon to save the unit.

 

If you have any questions related to this update please e-mail portalsupport@rediker.com or call Tech Support at 800-882-2994.


Sincerely,

The PlusPortals Team