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The extendable learning management system - Aalto internal documentation


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titleInformation for instructions and support

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The core of A+ LMS consists of the  A+ portal  (frontend, data storage) and  MOOC grader  (assignment grading), of which new versions are released every January and June twice a year (before Christmas and at the beginning of the summer). There are also other components and services extending the core functionality. Details can be found in the public documentation:  https://apluslms.github.io

A+ is a complementary system to Moodle, the official LMS provided by Aalto Learning Services (LES) as MyCourses. You could think the difference between the two like MS Word (MyCourses) and LaTeX (A+) - at least if we forget about VBScript for now. MyCourses gives you a GUI with low threshold adoption, a wide range of tools for basic needs in teaching (sharing course material and assignments, collecting student submissions, quizzes, peer feedback and discussions) and, at Aalto, a number of licenced or free add-ins, like Panopto for creating and sharing videos, Stack for mathematical assignments, CodeRunner for programming assignments, and H5P for creating interactive contents. You'll find the complete list of features at https://wiki.aalto.fi/display/mchelp. Compared to MyCourses, A+ provides you with additional features for producing course material including assignments with automatic assessment for Computer Science needs, with the drawback of a high threshold learning curve. It is also possible to use the MOOC grader with limited functionality through MyCourses via a Moodle plugin called Astra.

When should I use A+?

(NB: now referring to standard MyCourses excluding the A+ Astra plugin) At Aalto, course workspaces for all courses published in Oodi are automatically created in MyCourses. Additionally, students are automatically enrolled to the workspace based on enrollments in Oodi. Therefore, you need to keep MyCourses in mind in every case. For additional information, please see the page About workspaces in the MChelp wiki. 

Consider using A+ LMS, when the features of MyCourses (including Stack for mathematical needs and CodeRunner for programming needs) do not fulfil your needs for course material and assessment. The main points are

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Instructions for installing the tools above are linked in the A+ quick start guide. See also the Q&A section at the end of this page.

Where can I find A+?

The Aalto A+ LMS environment is hosted and administered by the Computer science department IT (CS IT). The front-end can be found at  https://plus.cs.aalto.fi

Where and when to get help?

NOTE: Aalto CS department only offers support for CS department teachers (beyond the issues directly related to the hosting environment). Other Aalto users need to have a support person in their unit, or be able to figure out things by themselves. 

Support is available

  • online during regular working hours (Mon-Fri at least 10-16, most typically not before 9 am or after 17)
  • in person
    • at our team office A145 (CS building), Mon-Fri 13-15

NOTE: due to support availability, using submission deadlines during weekends or off-hours is at own risk.

What to do (in Aalto) if A+ is not working?

Check the CS IT status page to see if there are problems within the environment and if someone is already looking into them.

If you cannot find answers here or the status page, please contact us in Slack, or using the contact emails listed below.

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Troubleshooting

Problem: Course works in someone else's computer, but not on mine - although nothing has been changed. The docker-up.sh script gives a strange error, with the following lines shown on the console:

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Here we have gathered some answers to Aalto-specific questions. If your question is not answered here, contact us in Slack, or using the contact emails listed aboveabove-mentioned channels.

How do I start using A+ on my course?
  1. Set up the local testing environment (see A+ quick start guide)
  2. Study the sample course material, which will help you to get started in creating your own material
  3. Start creating the material for your course
  4. Before creating a remote repository, contact us and ask about hosting your course in our GitLab Group. Hosting the source files of your course in our GitLab group facilitate troubleshooting and publishing your course in A+. It also allows to keep a copy of your course even after the author of the first versions of the course leave Aalto University.
  5. Ask for help when needed;
    1. use the email support address aplusguru@cs.aalto.fi, orcreate a Slack account at https://apluslms.slack.com/ and join the channel #a-plus-help which is a public channel for general support needs. Additionally, if you are the teacher responsible for the course, ask to join the private channel #aplus-lecturers.above-mentioned channels
  6. When your material is ready and tested in your environment, see the next question to move into production

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Can I use A+ for electronic exams?

Electronic exams with A+ are piloted. Are you interested? Contact usYes; A+ can be used in the Exam studio exams, and in online exams. Want to learn more? Contact us via the above-mentioned channels!

How can I share my course material to others?

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