Category Archives: Announcements

Why is my list of tutees displayed incorrectly at the start of the academic year?

At the start of the academic year, some staff members have reported that students are appearing in the wrong year, or across two years. Some images are set as graphics rather than the student photograph.

Previous tutees show in ePortfolio because of a ‘grace period’ for students from the previous academic year which we apply so that returning students don’t ‘disappear’ as they come to the end of their registration period. This is to support students if there is a delay in them registering (as is frequently the case) and also it enables returning students continuing access to various systems over the summer prior to the formal start of the academic year – especially important for the numerous programmes which start before the main start of the academic year.

Our practice has been developed over the years to address the short period where registration data is so fluid that it cannot be the sole basis for identifying current tutees.

This problem is compounded because it is common practice by Schools to assign tutees to tutors on SAP for an indefinite time, so we cannot reliably use the recorded end date. We have also include admissions data so that tutors can see new tutees prior to registration.

From the 2nd of October, the ePortfolio system will revert back to registration data as the vast majority of students will have had time to register.

Meeting slots are now available for use with any group of students

We are pleased to announce the release of new functionality that will allow you to create meeting slots with any group in the University. Meeting slots are a popular part of the tutoring functionality in ePortfolio that allows tutors to specify particular timeslots they are free, and tutees can then sign up to a slot.
In the version released today, you can use meeting slots with supervision groups, tutees, whole modules, and any other bespoke group of students or staff.
To access the new functionality, navigate to the Meetings section using the drop down menu at the top of the screen (9 dots icon). You will see a new section labelled “Slots”. By selecting this you will be taken through to the page where you set up the slots, but you will notice in the top right hand corner of the page the option to “Add people to Slot Group”.
Meeting slots button

Selecting this will bring up the a search tool that shows your tutees/supervisees on the right hand side, but also allows you to search for anyone in the University.

Search people in ePortfolio

You can search by programme or module code, username, and by first or surname. If you search by module or programme code, there is an “Add All” button at the bottom of your search. This will add all students from the module / programme to your set of slots, allowing you to offer contact to a cohort of students in an organised manner.
If you are a user of supervision groups, you will see a new button on the Supervision Group page. This will allow you to create meeting slots for your supervision group.
Meeting slots for supervision groups
Having selected the students that the slots are to be offered to, you will then pick the length of slot and times you’re available and the students selected will be sent a booking email.
If you would like some extra support with the use of meeting slots, please email ltds@newcastle.ac.uk.

New release of ePortfolio

We have launched an updated version of ePortfolio today. The main update made is the functionality that will allow administrators to record meetings on behalf of tutors. They can create individual and group meetings in advance, or retrospectively. They cannot create meeting slots. We are running training webinars on the administration interface.

It is still the responsibility of the tutor to ensure meetings are arranged. The decision to use the admin functionality is a local one to be taken within an academic unit, this email should not be taken as a presumption that your School Office is offering this support.

The full list of developments in the release are:

Admin recordings of meetings

  • Creation of new meetings admin role and a backend application to manage who has this role.
  • Administrators can create, edit and delete meetings.
  • Administrators can create group meetings.
  • Log files will be created with a list of changes by administrators
  • Administrator history for meetings so admins can review previous .
  • Backend administrator ability to view/edit/delete admin meeting logs.

Other developments

  • A new dropdown on the homepage to add students in stages to meeting/slot/emails.
  • Show programme and relevant stage for students in Find Person search results.
  • When viewing search results, show a popup when clicking ‘View’ rather than taking user away from search.
  • allow adding of new students to existing meeting slots
  • add ‘print’ button to blog post.
  • info tab on student profile showing current programme registrations.
  • show safety confirmation dialog box when clicking outside or closing blog post without saving. This will stop work being lost accidentally.

New release of ePortfolio

The new responsive version of ePortfolio has been launched today. Over 30% of users of ePortfolio are doing so from their mobile device, and the older version of ePortfolio did not function well on smaller mobile screens. With this new launch, we have made some major and many minor tweaks to the system. These are outlined below:

Changes to the front page

  • No icons on the front page, now in a drop down list

The icon set that was on the front page of ePortfolio has been transformed into a drop down menu. Select the symbol with 9 circles at the top of ePortfolio to access all the functionality. 10

  • Tutees have an ‘add meeting’ option on the homepage. Tutors can use this to quickly record / offer meetings with their tutees.
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  • Shortcuts to main tools (adding post, add meeting)
  • Find a person – new search tool added that allows you to search for any users in the ePortfolio system.
  • Tabbed layout
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 Your homepage is now set out in a tabbed form, allowing for several of the main areas of functionality that will

Changes to the blog tool

  •  Tiles instead of a list view.

The blog is now displayed in a fresher looking tile view. The tags are displayed in a nicer cloud at the side of the page. The filtering by tag functionality is the same as before, as is the ability to download filtered blog posts using tags.

  • Adding a blog post from several areas of ePortfolio, including the homepage.
  • Easier filtering of blog posts
The standard front page of the blog shows your posts, as well as all other posts shared with you, including those posted into communities that you are a member of. You can filter these using the filter panel on the left-hand side.
 Blog filtering image
  • Changes to the links between blog posts and skills

In the older version of ePortfolio, whenever a blog post was saved this took you through to the skills area to connect that post against a competency framework such as the Graduate Skills Framework. While this was useful for some, other may not wish to link their posts against a framework. There is now a skills option in the form, allowing you to add your post to the relevant skills. As previously, you can go into the skills area through the My Skills option in the menu, then add a blog post directly against a skill.

  • Images can be added directly to blog posts

Images can now be added into the blog posts, without having to attach them as files, and these do not count towards your file quota.

Changes to the My Skills area

  • Files and posts have been separated out. The is now sections for related posts, related files, and the framework component descriptor.
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  • Filter posts to see evidence shared with you.

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  • Different area to manage subscriptions and to add your own set

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Changes to my communities

You can add a blog post into a community straight from the My communities homepage. Use the Add Post button next to the relevant community.

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Other miscellaneous 

  • No ‘x’ in the bottom right-hand corner of boxes.
In the old version of ePortfolio, most of the pop-up boxes would require you to click the cross in the bottom right-hand corner of the box. This was not intuitive as people are used to options to close windows in the top right-hand corner. With the new pop-up boxes, you only need to click somewhere outside the box for the box to close. This helps it to be responsive.
  • New search tool
A new search tool has been added. This is used when adding people to share and supervision groups, and when adding others to meetings. When in the old ePortfolio system you would have to confirm the addition into a group/meeting with a response to “Are you sure Y/N” – this has now been removed. Click the tick button to add the user.
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Bootstrap and other developments in ePortfolio

 As ePortoflio is built in-house, it is regularly updated to meet the requirements of the staff and students in the University. The main developments to take part during the rest of the academic year are as follows:

Upgrading Django to version 1.8

EPortfolio is coded using Django programming language. We have been running on version 1.4 but this needs upgraded to ensure we are working with a supported codebase. You could compare this to the upgrading of windows from windows XP to Windows 7 to make sure the software receives security updates.

Continue reading Bootstrap and other developments in ePortfolio

ePortfolio updates to support the “offer” of a meeting

There have been some further developments in ePortfolio to support the next stage of the rollout for Personal Tutoring. From the start of the academic year, tutor / tutees interactions with Stage 1 & 2, and PGT students should be recorded. The minimum frequency of meetings should be in line with the personal tutoring framework which states, ‘Tutors will meet with their students at least twice during their first semester in the University and offer students at least one tutor meeting per semester after Semester 1. ‘
ePortfolio has been developed to allow for this ‘offer of tutorial contact’ to occur from the system. These changes are outlined below.
Record Meeting / Offer Meeting
On the tutee information pages, you now have the option to Record Meeting / Offer Meeting. This will take you through to a very similar form to the one previously existing in the system. The change will depend on the date you choose.
Retrospective recordings
If our have already had the meeting and are recording this, you can now set the status of the meeting from the initial setup form (took place in person, at a distance, or did not take place at all).
Offer of a meeting
By choosing a date in the future, you are making an offer of a meeting to the student. They will receive an email outlining the date, time, venue, etc, that will also include the option to decline the meeting. If they do not decline, they are automatically assumed to have accepted.
Meeting slots
One of the best ways to ensure you are meeting your requirement of the ‘offering of meeting’ is to use meeting slots. Meeting slots are the online equivalent of the sign-up sheet  tutors use that specify when the tutor is free. Find out more about meeting slots here.
There is a series of webinars and workshops to support you with your use of ePortfolio. Find out more about these here.

Change of meeting confirmation process for UG/PGT personal tutor meetings

We have changed the confirmation of meetings process for Personal Tutor meetings in ePortfolio so if the meeting is created by a member of staff and is a retrospective recording of a meeting, the status is automatically set to “Took place in person”. This status can still be changed if the meeting took place at a distance or did not take place at all. A “warning” banner is displayed once the meeting had been saved to ensure staff are aware of this automatic confirmation.

ePortfolio webinars

We are going to be running some short webinars about ePortfolio, and how it can be used to support the personal tutoring process.

What is a webinar?
A webinar is short for a web seminar. It is a scheduled interactive training session that takes place online. Participants will be sent a link that they follow to join an online virtual classroom. Within this online space, we will be able to demonstrate techniques by sharing our screens, delivering presentations and taking discussions amongst the participants.

When you sign up for a webinar, we will supply you with a headset and microphone if you need one. We will send you a test page that will check your computer is setup correctly for the webinar, including your audio set-up. Please run this set-up at least a day before the session.

We use Adobe Connect to deliver the sessions. You can view a short video by Adobe about this software below:

The first webinar sessions we are running will be 15 minutes long, and are titled “How to record a meeting with your tutee in ePortfolio”. To book on this webinar, please visit the LTDS workshop page.

New release of ePortfolio

The latest release of ePortfolio was launched on the 8th of September. This new release has functionality that has been developed following feedback from the University academic staff and students.

Admissions data

ePortfolio now receives the list of students from the admissions data feed. The impact on tutors is that the tutees can appear in ePortfolio before the student arrives at the University. Once the tutor / tutee relationship has been entered in SAP, the student will appear in ePortfolio. This is on an overnight batch run.

Supervision Groups

This is a major change to the way items can be shared in ePortfolio. Staff can create custom groups and add students individually or through a module code. These groups will allow easier sharing of evidence, recording of meetings, and collaboration between peers.

Grant access to tutor meetings

If a tutee changes tutor they will be able to grant the new tutor access to previous meeting notes.For more information on this, please refer to the helpsheet here.

Email

Staff can now send emails through ePortfolio to their tutees, or to students within a supervision group. The count of emails sent to students will appear on the Senior Tutor Report.

My Calendar

Students can now access their timetable, including any ePortfolio meetings. They can click on any spaces to arrange a meeting at that time.

ncl+ award

The new University award will be managed through ePortfolio. Students can take part in the award by committing to 70 hours of extra-curricular activities and following a programme though the Careers Service. For more information, please follow this link: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/students/nclplus/nclplus-award/