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EDIT: Educational technology development and integration team at the Department of Computer Science, Aalto University

The Educational Technology Development and Integration team (EDIT) develops and maintains technology used in teaching at the Department of Computer Science at Aalto University, and supports the department teachers in using it. The main product is A+, an open source learning environment. A+ enables automatic grading of exercises and deploying online course materials from git version control. A+ and its main backend, the exercise grading service, are implemented with the Python Django web framework.

This wiki serves in two information sharing needs: for teachers ath the CS department and other A+ users, and for EDIT management needs. Log in to learn more.

What is A+?

Support for teachers and TA's:

  • want to learn more on A+? Check the A+ manual!
  • questions? Want to report on a bug? Send an email to aplusguru@cs.aalto.fi ! We follow and respond to issues on daily basis during Mon-Fri office hours
    • URGENT questions (e.g. if the exam is about to start and there seems to be a technical issue)? Use the label TIME-CRITICAL in the subject field of your email message! We aim at reacting to these issues asap (Mon-Fri office hours).
    • you can also join the Teams team A+ support channel for teachers in Aalto Teams (Aalto external users; send us an email to aplusguru, and we'll add you there!)
  • want to follow what's going on?
    • Join the mailing list apluslms-cs@aalto.fi by sending an email to aplusguru
    • follow the changes in this wiki (log in → click on the "Watch" icon in the upper right corner and choose what you want to watch)
  • do you have a development idea? Please create an issue in Github at https://github.com/apluslms/a-plus/issues!

News

  • The Roadmap presenting the goals for using educational technology at the CS department has been updated according to what has happened during spring 2020 and planned for autumn 2020. Also some 2021 have been set.
  • The next A+ version release 1.8 will be upgraded to the A+ test version at minus.cs.aalto.fi during November 2020. The production version at plus.cs.aalto.fi will be upgraded during the Christmas teaching break, and it requires a service break. The dates will be published when available.

There will be a service break in A+ (plus.cs.aalto.fi) on Monday 15th June 2020 between 9-18! The break starts at 9.00 and ends at the latest at 18.00 (may end even earlier). During the break, A+ and the grader are out of use.

The users are informed when the break is over via this page and via the mailing list apluslms-cs@aalto.fi.

Other news summer 2020:

  • In addition to the stable production environment plus.cs.aalto.fi used for teaching, there will be a secondary environment used for development testing needs and new course material testing at minus.cs.aalto.fi (not yet available, but will soon be) The aim is that new features are first published in minus.cs, also available for teachers' testing. In addition, when teachers develop their course material, the new material can be tested in minus.cs before publishing at plus.cs
  • The release of new versions of A+ are separated from version upgrades; first, the new versions are released, and published at minus.cs, and plus.cs will be upgraded 1-3 weeks after the release
  • The responsibility for the server maintenance and version upgrades is moved from EDIT team to CS IT. We appreciate the collaboration!
  • Teacher support and training during spring 2020 and especially the Force Majeure situation and remote teaching:
    • email support: aplusguru@cs.aalto.fi
    • Online instructions: (address to be published here)
    • A webinar presenting the spring 2020 development projects will be given on Friday 29th May at 9.30-11.30 in Zoom. The recorded presentations are available in this A+ LMS Panopto directory (missing videos will be added in early June).

Release notes (A+ v1.7, June 2020)

  • A+ modules (exercise rounds) may be opened for reading before the normal opening time. That is to say, students could read the study materials (chapters) before the exercises are revealed. By default, reading is not allowed before the normal opening time. The new read opening time may be set in the module index RST file in the aplusmeta directive with the new option "read-open-time".
  • User search forms in A+ no longer include massive amounts of data that used to significantly slow down the page load time. This affects the edit course page (add assistants form), the edit submitters form in the inspect submission page, the edit student group form used by teachers, and the add student taggings form in the tag management page. The user search is now case-insensitive and users may be searched with their name, student ID, and email. The user search forms now query the A+ API so that the data of the available users need not be stored in the HTML document itself.
  • Teachers may enroll students manually in the A+ course instance. This may be useful for adding students who forgot to enroll in time or when the teacher wants to manually control which specific students may access the course. The link for enrolling students is located in the course participants page. Enrolled students may access the course even if they would normally be excluded by the course enrollment audience setting (that is, you could manually add students from outside Aalto to an Aalto-only course).
  • A+ API has new endpoints for retrieving student groups and for submitting new solutions to grading. Students may submit solutions through the API. It is possible to create plugins to programming tools (such as integrated development environments, IDEs) that allow students to submit from the IDE without switching back to the web browser. The Programming 1 course at Aalto is working on such a plugin for the IntelliJ IDEA (for the Scala language).
  • Small fixes:
    • Submissions  in the initialized or waiting for grading states are counted in the total number of submissions that students see in the A+ exercise results page for each exercise.
    • When students see warnings about the (late) deadline on top of exercises or in the top of the page in flash notifications, the warning includes the date and time of the deadline. There used to be cases that only showed the date without time.
    • In the A+ edit course page, content chapters have links with texts "view content chapter" and "edit content chapter" instead of "view exercise" and "edit exercise" so that it is easier to distinguish chapters from exercises. In addition, the edit course page shows "view submissions" links for exercises again (they got lost due to a bug a long time ago). The word "open" is changed to "view" in order to avoid confusion (from "open module" to "view module").
    • Enrollment questionnaires are not affected by the module closing time. The course has its own enrollment opening time settings, thus it never made sense that enrollment questionnaires were also affected by the module closing time (technically, the questionnaire must be placed under some module). Unfortunately, the module opening time still affects enrollment questionnaires and thus, students can not enroll if the module has not opened yet.
  • In a-plus-rst-tools, the tag v1.2 will be released soon and it is intended to be used with A+ 1.7. However, older versions work in most cases as well.
  • MOOC-Grader: the old chroot sandbox has been removed and only container graders are now supported.

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