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QMplus Groups & Portfolios Summer Upgrade

19 May 2015 Posted in: Announcements, Articles, News By: Brett Lucas

Theme teaserThe 2014/15 academic year has seen a major increase in the use of the Groups & Portfolios area of QMplus to support teaching, learning and administration around Queen Mary.  The 2013/14 QMplus student survey also found that there was growing awareness from students of the potential of the system to support their learning. There are, however, some practical issues with the configuration and design of the software that have affected its uptake and the decision was made to address some of the major issues as part of the QMplus phase III project.

This summer we are going to carry out our first major upgrade to the software that will include a design overhaul, some new technical developments and major additions to the range of content that can be placed on portfolio pages themselves. We are also going to change the name!

This page has been designed as the hub of all information about what we are doing, what changes you can expect to see and when. If you are a user of the software or just interested then bookmark this page for future reference.

Main purpose

The purpose of this strand of QMplus phase III is:

  • To upgrade Mahara to the latest working version – i.e. Currently we are on version 1.7 we will be moving to version 1.10
  • To introduce a responsive theme
  • To refresh and relaunch Mahara to the wider college community
  • To expand the functionality of the system
  • To tidy up a number of outstanding technical issues

New Name

qmPlus-hub_white_transAs part of the upgrade and new look and feel of the software we are also rebranding it. Say a big welcome to: QMplus Hub! Much less of a mouthful than Groups & Portfolios, we hope that ‘the Hub’ will soon resonate with both staff and students.

 

New features

In this section I have included the major new features that will be coming in the summer upgrade.

 Design/ Look & feel

  • A brand new responsive (mobile friendly) user interface.
  • Clearly signposted guidance areas on different ways that the software can be used to build portfolios, run groups etc
  • New flexible page layouts enabling horizontal rows as well as vertical columns in a number of preset and user-defined layouts.
  • Page skins – allowing for some modification of the overall design of your page.
  • New iconset

 Development work

  • Implementation of Clean URLs i.e. your pages can now have a URL that will be easier to read (& remember) and chosen by you.
  • All Staff and student accounts in the database – no more having to click through to enable account creation so groups can be set-up more easily.

New Blocks (page content)

  • Embed a PDF
  • Embedly – ability to embed a wide range of content from external sources
  • Badges – display badges from your Mozilla backpack
  • Notes block – which also has a comments feature
  • Social media accounts – (linked to your profile info)
  • Feedback block (i.e. you can move the feedback box from the bottom of the page to wherever you want it.
  • The contact info block -> becomes the profile info block

General usability

  • Block chooser repositioning – the block chooser moves from its horizontal position to a vertical position – reducing page clutter when designing your page.
  • Drag & drop file capability (similar to QMplus)
  • Warning message if you navigate from a page without saving it!
  • Fulltext search
  • Profile completion progress bar
  • Ability to drag pages into collections
  • Ability to upload files to CVs and notes

Fixes to ongoing technical issues

  • Error message when attempting to login via mahara.qmul.ac.uk
  • Emails containing links to Groups & portfolios/Mahara are routed via idcheck to the correct page
  • Email invitations to groups take users to the correct page when links are clicked
  • Page Watchlists function correctly – i.e. users receive notifications

Other changes

  • The ability to message multiple people + reply to
  • Ability to archive portfolio submissions
  • Ability to report objectionable forum posts

Key dates

Late May – Early June – Workshops for staff on new features

28 April 2015 – Implementation of clean URLs

16 June 2015 – Upgrade of QMplus Groups & Portfolios (subject to confirmation)

ELU Contact

Project lead for the Upgrade is Brett Lucas. Please get in touch if you have any questions or feedback

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