SMS, Q&A, Course Evaluation tools in Sakai

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  • 1. SMSQ&ACourse Evaluations
    Stephen Marquard
    Centre for Educational Technology, University of Cape Town
    June 2010
  • 2. 3 Sakai contrib tools
    SMSMobile messaging from Sakai
    Q&AQuestions and Answers
    Course EvaluationsOnline course evaluations and surveys
    11th Sakai Conference - June 15-17, 2010
  • 3. SMS
    11th Sakai Conference - June 15-17, 2010
    Wth Sakai U 2 can snd txt msgs to grps of ppl! W00t!
  • 4. SMS Overview
    What is it?
    SMS provides mobile text messaging in Sakai, including a tool for sending messages, and a “switchboard” for handing incoming messages to tools or scripts.
    Where do I find it?
    More information?
    Screenshots on Confluence. Ask questions on the sakai-dev list, or contact UCT.
    11th Sakai Conference - June 15-17, 2010
  • 5. Outgoing SMS
    11th Sakai Conference - June 15-17, 2010
    In the SMS Messages tool,
    Write message (with context and sender)
    Select recipients by one or more of:
    Users with a role (e.g. Student)
    Users in a group (e.g. Tutorial 1)
    Users by name
    List of mobile numbers
    c. Calculate cost / credits
    d. Send
    e. View delivery status
    See more screenshots at
  • 6. Incoming SMS Examples
    11th Sakai Conference - June 15-17, 2010
    Placement offers: “UCT Health Sciences offers you a place in MBChB for 2010: SMS ‘offer studentnumber accept/decline’ to #####” (200+ responses in 10 minutes).
    Q&A: What new use of Vula are you considering? SMS your answer to#####
    R 3461 I would like to use Vula for surveys
    Q&A: Ask a question about Vula: SMS your question to#####:
    Q smsdemoHow can I use Vula for surveys?
    Other possible uses for incoming SMS: Chat, Polls, Glossaries, etc.
  • 7. Incoming SMS
    Any tool/service can accept incoming articles by registering a command prefix with the SMS service.
    Either implement ShortMessageCommand or configure a REST endpoint for incoming messages.
    Example code:
    Example REST registration: see
    11th Sakai Conference - June 15-17, 2010
  • 8. Deployment considerations
    Service provider
    You need a service provider with an SMPP gateway (e.g. What destination networks / countries are supported, and at what cost per message?
    Mobile numbers
    Populate user numbers in the user profile, or implement a provider (e.g. for LDAP lookup or some external source).
    Privacy and defaults
    Opt-in or opt-out, private or visible.
    Cost and accounting model
    Who incurs costs for sending messages? Prepaid or postpaid? Default implementation supports a prepaid model, with credit allocation per site.
    11th Sakai Conference - June 15-17, 2010
  • 9. SMS: Privacy
    Our approach at UCT (Vula = our Sakai):
    Student, staff and third party cell numbers in Vula come from Peoplesoft, SAP HR, Third Party system
    Default My Workspace / Profile settings:
    Allow Vula users to send SMS messages to my cellphone: Yes
    Hide my cellphone number from other Vula users: Yes
    Users can opt out (0.5% so far)
    People sending messages see only the username, not the user’s cell number
    Use SMS wisely Otherwise people will opt out which makes it less useful for everyone.
  • 10. Q&A
    11th Sakai Conference - June 15-17, 2010
  • 11. Q&A Overview
    What is it?
    A tool which supports question-driven interaction (optionally anonymous) with web, email and SMS workflows (comparisons: Yahoo Answers, StackOverflow, Purdue Hotseat).
    Where do I find it?
    More information?
    “A question is worth a thousand answers” (Paris Sakai conference presentation):
    Ask questions on the sakai-dev list, or contact UCT.
    11th Sakai Conference - June 15-17, 2010
  • 12. Why questions?
    Many students ask the same question
    Students will ask a question online which they wouldn’t or couldn’t ask face-to-face
    Students may ask a question differently (or at all) if they can ask it anonymously
    Students answer each other’s questions
    The student questions and answers provide a window into student thought processes, their difficulties, confusions, misconceptions and successes.
    Questions and answers provide academic support, peer support, and diagnostic insights.
  • 13. Supported workflows
    Instructor-led: Student asks question > instructor responds privately (by email), and/or publicly (in the site)
    Collaborative: Student asks question > peers respond > (optional) instructor / TA provides or nominates a definitive answer
    Questions may be moderated, i.e. only become visible in the site once reviewed by an instructor / TA
    Site members may be allowed to ask questions anonymously
  • 14. Tool demo
    Set up tool “personality” and workflow through Options and Permissions
    View, ask and respond to questions
    Create and organise categories and reorganize questions across categories
  • 15.
  • 16. View questions and ask a new one
  • 17. Viewing responses
  • 18. Respond to a question (instructor)
  • 19. Add an answer (student)
  • 20. Organise questions
  • 21. SMS support
    Q&A is minimally SMS-enabled
    Supports asking questions by SMS, receiving answers and/or retrieving answers
    Not really exposed in UI yet (except for Options)
  • 22. Course Evaluation
    11th Sakai Conference - June 15-17, 2010
  • 23. Course Evaluation Overview
    What is it?
    A tool for delivering course evaluations or surveys.
    Where do I find it?
    More information?
    Ask on the mailing list.
    UCT screencast (instructor-managed evaluations)
    11th Sakai Conference - June 15-17, 2010
  • 24. Caveats
    How you might implement this depends heavily on institutional processes and policy.
    Evaluation System is a complex tool which has support for different institutional models of delivering evaluations.
    The information in Confluence is not up-to-date.
    No 2 sites run the tool in exactly the same way.
    Ask on the evaluations list!
    11th Sakai Conference - June 15-17, 2010
  • 25. Generic issues and concerns
    Response rates may be lower (dependent on lecturer involvement and feedback)
    … but students give more written feedback online than in paper-based evaluations
    Moving from paper to online does not lead to less favourable ratings (U. Michigan)
    The set of respondents is representative of the course cohort by race, gender, final course mark: lower response rates do not skew results (IPD, UCT)
    Online evaluation is popular with students and provides more opportunities for student feedback
    Different opinions and strategies about incentives
    What happens to the results?
  • 26. UCT self-service model
    Site Owners or Support Staff can create and assign evaluations to one or more of their Vula sites. The evaluation owner decides:
    • Who is evaluated (lecturers and tutors)
    • 27. The questions
    • 28. Start and end dates
    • 29. How to encourage students to respond
    • 30. What to do with the results
    (subject to Department or Faculty processes or guidelines)
  • 31. UCT possible teaching models
    One or more lecturers (aka instructors)
    • Every student evaluates all lecturers in the evaluation
    • 32. Students are taught in cohorts: each student chooses his/her lecturer to evaluate
    Tutors (aka TAs)
    • Tutors interact with students as a group: students evaluate the support of the tutors in general
    • 33. Every student evaluates all tutors individually
    • 34. Each student belongs to one or more tutor groups, and therefore chooses one or more tutors to evaluate
  • UCT: running an online evaluation
    Add the Course Evaluations tool to one or more existing Vula course sites
    Create a new evaluation:
    Choose a template to start from
    Choose start and end dates
    Choose reminder options
    Assign the evaluation to one or more Vula sites
    Identify Lecturers and Tutors to be included in the evaluation
    If necessary, edit the evaluation (add, remove or change questions)
    While the evaluation is open:
    Look at the response rates, and encourage students to complete the evaluation
    Optionally, extend the closing date if the response rate is insufficient
    When the evaluation has closed:
    View results (online, PDF, export to Excel)
    Provide feedback to students and/or class reps
    Provide a copy of results to HoD, other staff
  • 35. UCT evaluation structure
    About the course
    About you
    (About all lectures/tutors)
    Lecturer 1 questions
    Lecturer question a
    Lecturer question b, …
    Lecturer 2 questions
    Lecturer question a
    Lecturer question b, …
    Tutor 1 questions
    Tutor question a
    Tutor question b, …
    Tutor 2 questions
    Tutor question a
    Tutor question b, …
    General questions
    Lecturer questions
    repeated for each assigned lecturer
    [respond to all, select one, select many]
    Tutor questions
    repeated for each assigned tutor
    [respond to all, select one, select many]
  • 36. UCT: selecting the Lecturers to Evaluate
  • 37. UCT: The Student’s View