Course Setup: Overview

When you set up a course, a schedule page (for the students) and a teacher desk get generated. Here are examples: schedule page and teacher desk (both open in a separate browser).The contents of those pages depend on which options you select. Once generated, you can still modify almost anything about your course.

Note: You can experiment with these schedule and teacher pages.

Basic Course Setup

You start using MONSTER by filling out the course-setup page. The top portion is for basic identifying information.

To see what should be entered, its format, and any restrictions, move your mouse pointer over the field label. You can change anything you enter later—so don't sweat it. If you want your course set up as both a classroom thing and an online thing, return to this page and click the other online/classroom radio button. (Remember that you can go "back" on web pages and retain your original entries.)

Options

You can choose from 21 options for additional functions for your course. Rather than read about them here, you can click Do it for me beneath the Automatic Setup heading and experiment with the options. When you decide which ones you don't want, you can modify your course setup from your teacher desk.[true?]

Now, here is a review of each of the options. For each option, the first paragraph is always a general description; what follows is specific details. You can see what these options look like on the schedule page or the teacher page (open in separate browser windows).

Powerpoint-style course tour You can upload a Powerpoint-style web-based tour of your course such as you see here course tour (opens in a separate browser window). The link for this tour is in the top left corner of the schedulev page.

You must create the slide show in a Powerpoint-type application that can convert to web pages. Then you must upload the all those files to a subdirectory called tour (which is automatically created) [sure?], making sure to name the starting file frame.htm.
Course calendar This is a calendar-style look (opens in a separate browser window) at the activities and due dates for your course. It acts as a quick-reference; its link is just after the course descripton (although perhaps it should be in the gray panel).

This is another item you need to create youself. I create the calendar in Word, screen capture it, then turn it into a GIF using Photoshop, and upload it. It must be named calendar_classroom.gif or calendar_online.gif and uploaded to the data/classroom subdirectory or the data/online subdirectory.
Announcements As you can see in the schedule page, Announcements is a link in the top left corner of the schedule page. You enter, edit or delete these announcements using a link on your teacher desk.[all 3 true?] The announcements are reverse-chronological order with the latest one at the top.

Frankly, I'm no fan of this option. I doubt students would monitor it. I prefer sending out announcements as class e-mail—much more in their faces!
Questionnaire Use the questionnaire to get whatever information you want from your students. This course requires that you get name, handle, and e-mail address. You can customize the rest of the questionnaire to get any information you wish, using fill-in-the-blank, radio-button and checkbox formats as you wish.This information is available in a nice table using a link on your teacher desk. If you choose to have student home-page areas, the questionnaire will create a subdirectory and home page for each student. (More about this below.) Also, student e-mails are added to a list that enables class e-mail. Go ahead and fill out a questionnaire as if you were a student and then see what the student information looks like using the link in the teacher desk.

You have to place a link to the questionnaire on your schedule web page. The link is set up for you on a notes-and-reminders page; all you have to do is copy it. You can specify questionnaire items that are required entry.[not yet]
Class-email With this option, you can send out e-mail to evrerybody in your class as well as yourself—and so can the students. This works automatically if you choose the questionnaire option: student e-mails are automatically added to the e-mail list. As you can see in the example schedule page, e-mail is archived and available for viewing. From your teacher desk, you can cut nasty e-mails and delete undesireable students. If you choose not to have a questionnaire, you can still manually enter student e-mail addresses using a link on your teacher desk.
Student home page and upload area If you choose, each student gets a subdirectory that functions as that student's "home" area. Here, the student can keep a journal that only you and the student can see, and the student can upload and download files. The upload/download function is particularly useful if you have lots of students sending lots of files. To use this system, students must name their files using their "handles." As teacher, you can download all files all at once. Then when you've reviewed them, you can upload them all at once, and the program distributes them to their respective student subdirectories. A nice record of uploads and downloads is maintained on the student's home page (opens in a separate browser).
Student journals If you have student home directories and if you have students keep journals, these journals are stored in those home directories. However, you can have journals without home directories. When a student makes a journal entry, you get notified by e-mail and you get a URL that takes you directly to a webpage where can comment on that entry. Students can edit or delete their journal entries; you can edit or delete your comments as well [true?].

Although a link to the journals is available in the schedule gray panel, you may want to put a link in the body of the schedule at each date you want students to make journal entries. That way, you can also request specific journal content.
Chatroom You can have a very simple low-overhead chatroom where messages are posted in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent message at the top. The chatroom link is located in the gray panel of the schedule page as well as on your teacher desk. Anybody can enter the chatroom and say anything. If nasty postings occur, you can delete them from using a link in your teacher desk. There is no function to control who gets to enter the chatroom, although it could easily be added.

Although a link to the chatroom is located in the gray schedule area, you may want to place a link to it in the body of the schedule at each date you want people to meet in the chatroom. That way, you can also specify anything you want people to be thinking about beforehand.
Resources page You can list resources that you want students to know about using a link in the gray area of the schedule page. You can create and maintain this resource page using a link in your teacher desk, or you can upload web pages directly.

The resources page must be named resources.html and reside in the data/classroom or data/online directory.
Teacher information page This is link under the teacher name in schedule page. You can set up a web page with images—whatever you wish—and upload it.

The file must be named teacher_info.html and reside in data/classroom or data/online.
Personal memo You can choose to have students write a memo introducing themselves to the rest of the class and have these memos stored in a password-protected area for the rest of the class to see. Students write their memos into a web page. See the notes on course security (opens in a separate browser).

You must manually put a link to the memos—both the entry and view pages—in your schedule page. Things like this are stored in the notes-and-reminders page, which includes the exact URL tagging you must use. The notes-and-reminders pages is available through a link on your teacher page.[not yet!]
Gradebook—teacher You can choose to use an online gradebook that functions like a spreadsheet within a web page. You can also choose to enable students have access to their individual grades in this gradeook using their handles. See this example (opens in a separate browser) which you can experiment with. In the initial setup, you specify the individual elements of the gradebook, their individual percentage points, and the "style" of the gradebook (letter grades, numeric grades (based on 100), pass-fail grades, or total-points grades. Notice that, later, you can change the names of the elements, their percentage points, and the style of grading. Notice that the gradebook automatically calculates each student's grade but that you can manually specify a "recorded" grade if you don't agree with the calculated one. If you do not use the questionnaire, you still enter student names, handles, and e-mail addresses manually [sure?].
Gradebook—student You can choose to enable students to access their individual grades through a link in the gray schedule area. Or not! Enter some grades using the link above then go to the schedule page and enter one of the handles.
Class notes You can write notes summarizing each class meeting, whether that meeting is in the classroom or in some forum online such as a chatroom. I find this option particularly useful in classroom-based courses. Not only does it help in case I get confused about what we've covered, but it's also a great record of what we actually did as opposed to what I had planned before the semester started. You can post class notes (which are added in reverse-chronological order) most recent first) as well as edit or delete class notes using a link on your teacher desk.
Course blogs This is more a bright idea than a reality. Right now, students can pick from a list of available free blogging sites, set up their blogs, then post a link to their blogs here.
Forum—open You can choose to have an open forum—that is, one in which anybody can start a top-level thread. You can edit or delete postings from your teacher desk. There is no function to control who gets to post to the open forum, although it could easily be added.

Although a link to the open forum is located in the gray schedule area, you may want to place a link to it in the body of the schedule at each date you want people to post. That way, you can also specify anything you want people to be thinking about beforehand.
Forum—teacher-led You can also choose to have a teacher-led forum, where you control the top-level thread. For example, you could post a general question or statement at the beginning of each week and expect everybody to chime in during the week at least once. Again, you can edit and delete postings as necessary. Again, here is no function to control who gets to post to this forum, although it could easily be added.

Although a link to this forum is located in the gray schedule area, you may want to place a link to it in the body of the schedule at each date you want people to post. That way, you can also specify anything you want people to be thinking about beforehand.
Solo project page/area You can choose to have students post planning notes about their projects as well as the projects themselves so that you can watch and comment on their progress. As teacher, you can specify what project items they are to post—for example, project description, outline, audience description, information sources, templates, drafts, etc. You can choose to make these project pages viewable (but not editable) by the rest of the class or just by you and the student only. Also, a link to this project area is made available on student home pages if you've selected that option.[not yet!]
Team project page/area You can also choose to enable students to work as teams. One student fills out an initial dialog to set the project up. A web page is created in a team subdirectory which contains labelled blanks that you the teacher specify: for example, team name (for fun), project description, team contact information, audience description, outline, project design notes, etc. Team members can upload their drafts to this page. The team page includes an e-mail link that team members can use to send e-mail to the rest of the team and a chatroom for team members only. The page also includes an optional timesheet that team members can use to indicate how much time they've spent on specific tasks. You can choose to make these team project pages viewable (but not editable) by the rest of the class or just by you and the team members only. Also, a link to these team project areas is made available on student home pages if you've selected that option.[not yet!]
Project peer comments You can choose to enable students to be able to view each other's projects. THis option is different from the predceding two because only the finished project is viewable, none of the planning detail. With this peer option, students can comment on each other's projects. As teacher, you can edit or delete these comments. As with some of the preceding options, you may want to put links to this option at the points in the body of the schedule, at dates where you want students to upload projects or comment on them.
Quick survey A fun option is to include a quick survey. In this one, you the teacher set up a question that can be answered using a fill-in-the-blank, radio-button, or checkbox format. Students can access it in the gray schedule area; everybody can watch as the results come in and accumulate. As teacher, you can view the raw details including IP addresses to ensure that no one is "stuffing the ballot box." [not yet!] Each survey is archived when you set up a new one.

Course Reset/Refresh

Available on your teacher desk is a link you can use to change details about a currently running course as well as another link you can use to reset the course for a new semester.

Course Schedule

One of the toughest options is a schedule generator. I have developed the setup form for a verbose one (opens in a separate browser window). The interface is tedious to use, but once set up, it is works nicely. You can use the same interface to edit an existing schedule. You can also save schedule templates: for example, schedule templates for fall, spring, and summer semesters. If your course is fairly stable, all you need to do is to change the dates!

I intend to develop the setup form for a simpler table-style schedule. You would be able to specify the column headings, the number of weeks, assignments, readings, activities, and due dates juat as in the verbose version.

Exercises and Quizzes

It is is a fairly easy task to provide an interface you can use to enter data for a variety of quiz and exercise formats—I just haven't done it yet. An intermediate solution would be to show how to set up the quiz or exercise data and show you what the URL should look like.

Minimal Web-Page Editing

In all this, you may have noted that you have to manually edit your schedule page. Well, not entirely manually. You can use the schedule builder for that purpose—but raather tediously I'm afraid. A better solution is needed here.