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Since Monday 03 October 2005 04:30 pm

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tweaks of the week

Friday 30 October 2009 05:16 pm

SIPBS website
minor tweak to staff pages (missing google analytics code)

fixed bug in build_asst_zip that was causing incorrect file naming

fixed bug causing incorrect listing of 'group blogs'

what's new
is now linked in classes and has options to show discussion and blog as well as class contents

template site
added login form to home page as option (instead of login link); fixed non-DS auth file (session name missing); added forgotten password link to logins; updated mailshot to support attachments (add this to SPIDER??)

safety - risk assessments
updated code to add users to risks

updated with link to previous session on pdp home page to allow staff to view pdp of alumni

squid/allClassResults fixed so only show results by students in class for this session for quizzes completed this session (was showing quizzes completed in any session e.g. from last year for resitting students); do_quiz updated to limit number of attempts per session rather than per lifetime





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Thursday 29 October 2009 12:47 pm

12:27:30 today we had our 3 millionth page visit for the month of October by a 1st year BA Sport and Physical Activity student. Total visits are now at 3,003,037 and still climbing...

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Record visits

Tuesday 27 October 2009 11:22 am

October has always been one of the busiest months on SPIDER, and 2009 is no exception. Its turning out to be a record breaking month, as we are already at 2.7Million page visits. Previous October visits were 2.3M in both 2008 and 2007, with 2006 peaking at 1.98M. At current daily visitor rates we may hit a record 3M by the end of the month. The busiest day so far was Oct 5th, with a record high of 172,069 page visits.

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changes n tweaks

Friday 23 October 2009 04:37 pm

updated to include recipient address in footer to help ITS trace bouncing emails

fixed a bug that was inserting class codes into myclasses for users who were on class list but not yet registered on SPIDER.

fixed bug that was blocking class editors access to editing attendance registers for their classes - was using a SESSION variable set from class home page, which was not much use if editor goes direct to tools/ attendance

fixed display bug causing overlay of bottom navigation in IE browsers

updated page to allow for show/hide of group members; tick now shows if user is member of group; improved the join groups box (indicates if a 'family' is no longer open for joining);

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Unified VLE & SPIDER

Thursday 22 October 2009 11:16 am

Many people have asked me if the adoption of Moodle as the ‘core VLE’ on campus will mean that SPIDER will be replaced and what that will mean for them as SPIDER users. Often this is due to a misunderstanding on what the unification process is aiming to do. Moodle and SPIDER share many functions, and where possible it makes sense to centralise these, so in this respect, SPIDER would be “replaced”. For example, both systems can provide file upload facilities to allow staff to present lecture material to the students on a class site or class home page. However, SPIDER contains many Strathclyde-centric or heavily customised features that are perhaps used by only a few or in some cases many users, which are not available in Moodle. For example, there is a laboratory results recording and marking tool that is customised to store the lab output for a 3rd year Pharmacy class. Data entered by students is checked and marked automatically by SPIDER, saving staff hundreds of hours of marking.


There are many other tools on SPIDER that were either created for a particular class/ degree or support teaching administration tasks that are particular to a department or Strathclyde’s way of working. There are other systems on campus, such as STAMSVLE that have similarly customised teaching tools. It makes little sense to rebuild these tools inside Moodle when they are already functioning tools within SPIDER if we can instead unify the systems.


This is where the ‘web services’ idea comes in (see the document on Howard’s prior post). There will be a single portal web site – the “Unified Platform” that users log in to. The ‘single sign on’ service (Shibboleth) will handle user log in once, so no more logging in to several different systems as we do today. The portal site will use further services to pull together or aggregate all the information and data a user requires. For example, a class service will pull all a user’s current classes to the portal, in much the same way that the VLE tab in PEGASUS does just now. A ‘messaging’ service will aggregate all the ‘news’ postings that are relevant to that user, a ‘groups’ service all their groups and so on. The end result is that the user is on a single website, but all the information and tools they need are presented in one place, with all these different services doing the work to bring everything together. The information that is being provided to the end user could be coming from many sources – Moodle, SPIDER, the central Oracle database or indeed any system on campus that we wish to hook into. Below is a screen grab of how a portal, based on SPIDER, can pull in these services (the grab shows the SPIDER classes, PEGASUS, nemo and the BBC home page). The Unified Platform will have similar portal features.


The current change to “VLE” is aiming to present a coherent, unified VLE, bringing the best of what we have already on campus together in as seamless a way as possible. There will be changes in the next few years, but this services model will provide us with the opportunity to make changes for the better.

You can follow the updates to the VLE unification at http://support.learnonline.strath.ac.uk/updates/

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bring on the wall....

Friday 16 October 2009 04:44 pm

IT services 'tweaked' the firewall on campus resulting in https access to SPIDER being blocked to off-campus users for an hour or so on Thursday afternoon. Much fun and merriment ensued as we had no idea what was going on (being on campus, all was fine and dandy). The problem was fixed ASAP once we let them know there was a problem. ITS owe SPIDER buns and cakes as compensation...

tweaked the admin alumnifyStudents script to be a bit more accurate in changing students (now checks DS vs new registrations to make sure users haven't got new reg numbers) and has a confirm option before making blanket changes (only available to superadmins just now)

updated the test builder filter to use proper AJAX instead of a nasty old JS so that it can do exact and substring matches, as well as selecting between ID number and/or Rx text searches

updated the user list code on the systems of work for radiation users - now that we have over 30k accounts on SPIDER it didnt like the old drop down list with 'everyone' in it.

fixed (well bodged) the ePDP to only show a user's current PDP if they are doing a second degree (so PhD students dont see their UG ePDP) as it was seeing  year 1 PhD as 'year 1 resit'. Need to put in a proper fix for this to allow users to move between their new and old ePDP.

bug fix - class tutors were not able to view/add exams as academic session not being passed correctly

bodge/fix for adding data for all CH6xx class exam data (as pass by session) so that they show up correctly as credit values (the chemists didn't realise they had to add exam marks, had just populated the class lists...). Minor bug fixes to student_credits script (presentation/layout).

file manager
fixed the file manager so that it now works with the (badly behaved) Safari browser

WIP - updating the booking tool to allow its use as a calendar for various users/groups. Will allow e.g. students to 'book' tutorial slots with a staff member.

drag boxes
WIP: drag boxes (cf BBC home page) navigation option on SPIDER-DEV given various tweaks to make it work properly in IE

we've had over 1.8 million page visits so far this month, and we're only just about half way through - compare this to Oct 2007/8 where we had about 2.3 million, so we're on track for a major record month.


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this weeks tweaks

Friday 09 October 2009 05:02 pm

showClass/poll bug
fixed a display bug in showClass/ inc_show_class_discussions that was causing polls to be hidden when the discussion tab was present on a class page if any discussions contained HTML and/or smilies.

mailing list
updated code that manages mailing list. Added in view option. Updated help wiki with changes

updated tools page with links to new mailing list module

updated tutor/index so that Aston do not see revision test. Note: need to update search filter in test editor

added 'hidden' option for groups (createGroup, viewGroup, inc_usersGroups). This allows groups to be used for 'allocation' e.g. marking of questionnaire quizzes; without the group member seeing the actual group. Fixed bug in group creation that allowed duplicated names of sub groups based on 'core' group name. Note: ? add group discussion moderation option to call tutor?

activity choices
added tool to allows students to continue to search/view projects after activity has been allocated

updated debug code in programme page. Note: need to sort out PhD/MPhil difference using PPIO_code instead of prog_code?

updates to file attributes, class files, category headings, class, assignments, quiz, discussions, questionnaires, PDP progress, groups, polls, mailing lists, messaging



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Friday 02 October 2009 05:17 pm

made a few additions to activity manager, classes, quizzes, mySettings pages

minor tweaks to view_script to show minor data items required for English Rx (nurse id, phone, qualifications on privates, practice IDs etc)

class lists
fixed bug in edit class lists for that was storing current session value when adding students to previous sessions

activity manager
bug fixes in allocation; added supervisor to export of project based allocations; added project list to view progress

class descriptor
put in changes to degree programme listings; modified ordering of classes in copy/edit/delete tools

updated createQuestionnaire to allow no-superadmin to see 'run as quiz' and 'manage marker groups' options

radiation database
bug fix in montly actions script to obey active flag in radiation users to determin who gets montly mailings

updated inc_bottom_bar to link to new quiz tool insted of old shockwave

fixed bug in self join groups that allowed concurrent joining of a sign-up group that could allow more than the max group membership

minor fix to alt tags on tick/cross graphics

pharmaLinks website
updated info_files with latest pdf files

added missing link to add class list if class list does not exist

update some FAQs to link to help wiki and update content. SW movie bug fix via properties/ untick allow backward compatibilit. Still amazed at number of emails from students who dont bother reading the FAQ about class list issues...


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