Forms and Surveys at Hampshire

The Hampshire Form Generator

For over ten years, Hampshire IT has supported a custom tool, built by students, for generating online forms. Many staff, faculty, and students have used the Hampshire form generator to create online forms and surveys for different purposes. While this system has worked OK for the needs of some, it is lacking in features and has some bugs of its own. Rather than focusing our time and attention on maintaining the Hampshire form generator (and, frankly, rebuilding the wheel) we are embracing other tools that already exist with similar and better features. Enter Qualtrics…

Qualtrics

Qualtrics Research Suite is a powerful tool for building complex surveys and doing data analysis. Hampshire has a license to use this software, which has been a key part of collecting data for the Office of Institutional Research for the last few years. Much like the Hampshire form generator, anyone with a Hampshire username and password can create forms and surveys using this software. Learn more about the latest version and features of Qualtrics.

We will be hosting workshops this Spring for folks who are interested in learning more about Qualtrics. In the meantime please contact Asha Kinney with any questions or to request training.

The Future of the Hampshire Form Generator

Hampshire IT has made the decision to slowly retire its custom form generator. The slow retirement will look something like this:

  1. The ability to create new forms will no longer be available as of March 1, 2016. People will still be able to submit responses to existing forms, and owners of those forms will still be able to access and export responses, but nobody will be able to create brand new forms.
  2. The ability to submit responses to forms will no longer be available as of August 1, 2016.
  3. The ability to access and export responses to forms will no longer be available as of September 1, 2016.

What Does this Mean for Form Owners?

  1. If you have any forms in the form generator that need to be active after August 1, 2016, the forms will need to be recreated elsewhere. Unfortunately there is no way to export forms out of the form generator. We recommend creating forms in Qualtrics, but if you find that Qualtrics is too much for your needs and you want a more simple form building tool, please get in touch with IT and we can discuss other options for creating basic online forms.
  2. If you want to save responses to any of your forms you must export that data before September 1, 2016. Here is a quick video that shows how to download form response data.

Questions?

Contact the Applications and Web Services team.

Say Hello to Another New Programmer

Please join us in welcoming Kevin Wiliarty, our new senior web programmer in IT. Kevin is joining our small team of web programmers in Applications and Web Services that is responsible for technologies supporting the web presence of the College. Kevin comes to us with a great deal of experience in higher education, including active participation and development in the Collaborative Liberal Arts Moodle Project (CLAMP) community. He’ll be kicking off this summer with an upgrade to Hampshire’s Moodle installation.

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Our New Web Programmer

Please join us in welcoming Vincent Abruzzo, our new web programmer in IT. Vince is part of a small team of web programmers in Applications and Web Services that is responsible for technologies supporting the web presence of the College. These responsibilities include recommending, installing, maintaining and administering content management software and supporting users in a decentralized content model; and recommending, installing, maintaining and administering learning management software and working with the technology for teaching and learning staff to support instructional technology needs. We are also responsible for designing and developing new database-driven web applications in addition to maintaining and enhancing existing ones; performing quality assurance testing to ensure cross-platform and cross-browser compatibility; resolving structural problems; and providing technical support for various web sites and services.

Moodle Upgraded to 2.6

In order to keep up with security updates, feature additions, and improvements, we’ve upgraded Hampshire Moodle installations to version 2.6. The highlights of the changes include:

  • A new, Hampshire-branded, responsive theme/design.
  • A new format that allows for collapsing and expanding sections in a course/site.
  • A new text editor.
  • Editing icons switched to a menu.
  • A new feature for annotating PDFs.
  • A new login block that shows help text and login link when logged out and a log out link when logged in.

Moodle

Hampshire College uses Moodle for course websites, but we also have a separate installation called CWS (community websites) that is used for managing collaborative projects and committees. Up until now, CWS had been using a different version and theme for Moodle, but now it has the same version and design as Hampshire course websites.

Check out the Moodle Guide for Faculty for screenshots and more details about the new Moodle version. Questions, concerns, or feedback can be sent to moodle@hampshire.edu.

Design Changes for the Hampshire Website

Have you noticed that www.hampshire.edu looks a little different lately? Once again, Hampshire IT and communications staff have been hard at work to implement more improvements for the Hampshire website. We’ve introduced some small design changes, based on usability testing and best practices, that we believe will have a big impact on making the website more user friendly and visually appealing.

The Highlights of These Enhancements

  • Changes to the homepage layout allow for showcasing a lot more content, in a visual manner, about our awesome students, faculty, staff, alums, and news and events on campus.
  • We’ve changed the letter case styling from all lower and upper case in some areas to follow standard capitalization rules, which makes the text easier to read at a glance.
  • Website pages have been widened to 960 pixels, allowing content to flow on the page without appearing narrow or squished and without as much scrolling. Wider images at the top of each page allow for more opportunity to highlight different aspects of the Hampshire community.
  • Navigation boxes on the left side have been moved down to align more with the content of pages where a user’s eye will notice it. This shift, along with consistent capitalization and lines between menu items, makes navigating through the website a faster and easier process.
  • Content calling for a user to take action, such as requesting information, has been styled differently and moved to the right side of the page where it will catch the attention of the user, as opposed to the left side of the page.
  • Small style changes, such as headline text and background colors, were made to enhance the visual appeal of the content.
  • Social media links have been moved to a consistent location in the footer.
  • A new look and feel for the Areas of Study listing.

Questions, concerns, or feedback about these changes can be sent to drupal@hampshire.edu.

Welcoming (Back) Our New Telecommunication Technician

Please join us in welcoming our new telecommunication technician, Dan Cottle 05F, to the Hampshire IT team. We’re happy to have Dan, an alum who worked in the student diagnostic center when he was a Hampshire student, back on campus and working with us once again.

The telecommunication technician assists the network engineer in the design, construction and maintenance of the College’s campus network and phone infrastructure. The technician oversees physical network implementation; works closely with the campus electricians in planning the low voltage portion of new construction and renovations; and provides support and troubleshooting for VoIP ,POTS , CATV, and network infrastructure.

In plain and simple words, if you need a phone set up or some cable wired then Dan is your man. He’ll be assisting Josiah with network and phone related tasks around campus. Dan’s office is on the third floor of the library.

Notes from Last Week’s Moodle Meet-up

A group of faculty met on September 20th, 2013 in the Center for Teaching and Learning to discuss Moodle. Natalie Arnold of IA and Jason Tor of NS showed their moodle sites and strategies with the group. Here are some highlights and tips from the discussion.

Useful Practices & General Tips

  • Moodle is helpful for keeping the class organized, especially when it comes to group projects and making sure each group knows what it is doing when.
  • Giving TA’s editing access to Moodle and letting them help set up the site can be great, as they are “less scared”.
  • Since the Moodle site can become very looong, Natalie puts information pertaining to the final project at the very top instead of the very bottom.
  • Readings can be assigned to groups within a class- either by just stating on the site “this article is for group x” or you can set Moodle to limit access to a resource to a group of students.
  • Natalie found that putting information “one click down”- ie on a sub-page or within an assignment- became problematic because students wouldn’t always click a link and were missing information. She started putting all important info right on the main page.
  • She found that lots of repetition was also important in making sure students didn’t miss important information, especially in tutorials.
  • Jason used the “Questionnaire” feature to poll the students at the beginning of the term about their current knowledge and interest levels, goals for the class, etc.

Questions & Clarifications

  • Quickmail versus News Forum: The News Forum is a one-way forum which the instructor can post to, and posts go out as emails to the whole class. Students cannot post or respond to the news forum.
    • The news forum no longer appears by default in new course websites, but it can be added in by adding in the “Latest News” block.
    • Quickmail basically does the same thing so IT recommends people just use that.
  • For those that don’t want or care about the Course Information block: you can click the little eyeball appearing to the top right of the block when editing is turned on. This hides it from everyone, including the students. Minimizing or docking the block only affects an individuals view.
  • Discussion of reports in Moodle. You can view a student’s activity report, but please bear in mind that it is not 100% accurate. Depending on how a resource is set up, Moodle may not know whether a student clicked it or not. Files, for example, default to “force download”- which is far better usability-wise but does prevent Moodle from registering if a student clicked a link.
  • That said, even if a student downloaded a reading that’s no guarantee that they read it!
  • General questions about tracking student work in assignments and forums. Both can be set up to use Moodle’s “grading” feature to allow the instructor to keep track of who’s submitted what.
  • Question of how to have students build portfolios from semester’s work and then submit on Moodle. There’s not a great automated way to do this but students can compile their work as a single PDF or similar and submit as assignment.

Use of Discussion Forums in Moodle

  • Natalie used forums and had them as a required class activity. Students had to post and also had to post a reply to someone else.
  • She found that having a discussion forum changed the class dynamic in a positive way in that students were more comfortable in class after interacting online.
  • Jason required students to post a question about the week’s reading to forum. This made it very apparent who had done the reading and who had not.
  • He had students attempt to answer each other’s questions, he also addressed them in class. He generally only chimed in on the forum when a student gave a wrong answer to a question.

General Discussion of Jason’s “Team-Based Learning” Approach used in Biochemistry Class

  • The class worked in groups on problem-based case studies and reported out during class on their findings.
  • Jason took more of a guide-on-the-side role, never lectured, and simply floated around class answering questions the various working groups had.
  • There was no way to not participate in class. Also, it would quickly become apparent when students didn’t prepare or do reading since there was no way to fly under the radar.
  • General discussion of how this kind of learning experience builds greater retention of material and really stays with the students.

We plan on offering similar sessions in the future so stay tuned or check out the Center for Teaching & Learning Program Calendar here.