In this series of posts I’m going to describe my opinion on the best ways to organise your class sites for SharePoint Learning Kit (SLK). This will generally be from a secondary school perspective, but most of the ideas can be applied to primaries and other organisations as well. Originally it was going to be one post, but it rapidly became obvious that it was going to get pretty big, so I’ve split it into several posts.
I last wrote about this topic 3 years ago before I had a blog so it’s about time for an update. You can find my original articles at How to organise class sites in Microsoft Learning Gateway and How to Handle Rollover with SharePoint Learning Kit
The posts are:
- The Basics (this post)
- Using a Single Site, Don’t do it
- Use a Site Per Class or Teaching Group
- Hierarchy of the Class Sites
A typical secondary school will have between 500 and 2000 students and a similar number of teaching groups/classes. So you definitely need a plan about how to organise your sites for SLK, unless of course you only have a couple of users trialling it. You will need to consider how you are creating the sites, how you will maintain them, what happens at year end and how they fit within your overall hierarchy.
An additional consideration over any technical ones, is the fact that it needs to be as easy for your teachers to use as possible. The more work they have to do setting up, the less likely it will be used effectively. Plus if you are rolling it out across the school, it’s something that they will be using every day, so needs to be as frictionless as possible.
The Assignment Process
It is important to understand the assignment process before deciding on the structure. As this is how the teachers are going to interact with SLK, it’s about making this as simple as possible.
To start the process of assigning a piece of work the teacher has 2 options:
- Navigate to the document library containing the electronic document to assign. This is either a SCORM package, Class Server package or any other electronic document. Then use the E-Learning Actions item on the drop down menu. Note this can be localised to a more descriptive string, in the screen shot below I’ve changed it to Assign Work.
- Use the Quick Assignment web part to create an assignment which is not based on a document, just a title and description.
Once the teacher has decided what to assign, they are presented with the actions page which displays list of sites to assign to – the user web list. This contains all the sites they have assigned to before and an option to add sites to the list.
The teacher selects a site from the list, adding it to the list if necessary, and then progresses to the assignment properties page, where they choose metadata about the assignment and who they are going to assign the work to.
The list of instructors/teachers and learners/students is governed by the SharePoint permissions on the site being assigned to. When you configure SLK, you choose 2 permission levels which will indicate if a user is a teacher and/or a student. By default these are called ‘SLK Instructor’ and ‘SLK Learner’, but during configuration you can name these to whatever you want. At this point it’s obvious that you need to choose the site which contains the students you want to assign to.
You can use SharePoint and Active Directory groups to give the permissions to as well as individual users. SLK will then enumerate all the members with a couple of exceptions – Authenticated Users and Domain Users cannot be used.
The structure of your class sites and permissions for SLK needs planning in advance, both for administrative and ease of use reasons. In my next post I will discuss using a single site to assign work to.