Tips on Creating a Good Student Experience on Quercus

Quercus is a tool we have to be be very familiar with here at Rotman. It’s important to keep things simple and easy to find when building out your Quercus course so students can focus on the course content rather than them getting bogged down in Quercus difficulties. When implementing your course content on Quercus, I think it’s important for us to look at the Quercus experience from the student’s experience and work backwards from there. That’s why I like to recommend a very simple approach, since students mostly want to be able to access the most important information first.

The Home Page

The most important thing to remember when making the home page is to keep it simple. Some people like to point the homepage to the course modules and that is perfectly fine! However, if you want to have a bit more of a personalized landing page, here are a few things to consider. I find it best to have the course syllabus prominently displayed on the home page, because students will need to access the syllabus many times throughout the course. It’s nice to have a little course introduction too, perhaps just a short paragraph on the course and introducing yourself to the students, and some contact information too. You can also include the webinar links for online lectures on your home page so that they are easy to find, and thats about it! The Rotman Course Template homepage follows these principles too, you may have seen it on your own courses:

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Course Navigation

The same principle of simplicity goes for the course navigation. Important items such as the course syllabus, modules, announcements, and assignments should be easy to find, while unnecessary items should just remain hidden. A good way to do this is by customizing the course navigation. Though the order of the items could be moved around, here is how I usually recommend instructors to arrange it:

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The rest of the navigation items such as Pages, Files, etc. I like to keep hidden as they aren’t necessary for students to see (they can see all those items through the modules).

Grade Posting Policy

This is an important one! The grade posting policy determines whether students receive their grades automatically (right as the instructor submits individual grades) or manually (whenever the instructor chooses to release grades). Of course the ideal scenario is to release the grades at the same time manually, otherwise some students will get their grades before others, which can be a problem. So it is important to ensure that the Grade Posting Policy is always set to Manually Post Grades.

Shows where to find the manual gradeposting policy setting

The good news is, Rotman courses are by default set to manual so most times you won’t have to worry about this setting, but occasionally it is important to make sure the setting is correct. You can simply check the setting by going to the gradebook, click on the gear icon in the top right of the screen, then click on the Grade Posting Policy tab in the popup and ensure that it is set to manually post grades.

Another thing to double check is the Grade Posting policy of each individual assignment/quiz. Typically if the policy is set at the course level, the quizzes and assignments created in the course will follow the same policy. However in some cases when you import assignments/quizzes from other courses, they will still be using the automatic policy which can be an issue. The best way to ensure everything is set up correctly is to look at the columns in the gradebook. If the assignment’s grade posting policy is set to manual you will see the word “MANUAL” like this in capital letters and bolded beside the assignment name. If the GPP is set to manual, it will not display the same text.

Assignment 10’s GPP is set to automatic while Assignment 1 is set correctly to manual. Make sure all your assignments/quizzes display like Assignment 1 in the gradebook.

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To do this, you simply hover over the assignment name in the column, and three dots will appear, click them and select Grade Posting Policy

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A panel will appear on the right side of the screen, and share you simply select Manually and click Save.

Accessibility

Another thing to consider when building your course on Quercus is Accessibility. If you are creating a lot of pages for your course, you can take advantage of the Accessibility Checker. This is a built-in feature on Quercus which flags some common accessibility issues. To use the Accessibility Checker on Quercus, you just need to click the accessibility icon right underneath the Rich Content Editor when editing a page:

location of accessibility Icon

If there are any issues, a red bubble with a number will appear on the accessibility icon. The number in the red bubble indicates the amount of potential accessibility issues within that particular page. Once you click on the icon, it will take you through all of the different issues and assist you on how to fix the issues.

View Issues

When an issue is detected, the Rich Content Editor highlights the affected area [1]. The sidebar displays the accessibility attribute [2] and an explanation of the error [3]. To learn more about the accessibility attribute, click the Information icon [4].

Taking these small extra steps helps to ensure that your Quercus course is accessible for everyone, and helps create a better Quercus experience for students.

Thank you for taking the time to read the first entry into the Rotman Digital Blog. Eventually we would like to have guest writers from around Rotman to write about any topic related to digital learning or utilization of educational technology in the classroom. We hope to make this a medium for everyone to share their experiences!

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