Guest Author: Trudy Hutzler
Welcome to part two of the School Site Overview.
In the last article I gave you some background about why we created the School Site, and I showed how we tracked classes. In this article we start to get into more of the fun stuff as I walk you through how we track homework and assignments.
The Home Page
Again starting on the Home Page, where we have used Easy Tabs version 5 to organize our data, I want to start with the “All Assignments” tab. Here is a list of all assignments that are due for the current quarter and their status.
This shows whether an assignment is submitted, late and by how many days, or how many days until it is due. To evaluate how many days till due, or late against the due date I used Christophe’s new Countdown/Countup formulas.
The priority of the assignment is indicated by the font color of the Assignment Title. I used the Color Coded Calendar tool from the SharePoint Users Toolkit for this piece and just tweaked it a little for my use.
The progress % is a visual indicator showing the percentage of the assignment that has been completed. It moves from Red to bright green as it moves across the bar. The actual color changes in 10% increments.
With online classes, it is not unusual to have classes with over 100 students, so as you can imagine it sometimes takes the teachers a while before they grade all those assignments and post the grades. Until they are all graded the assignment remains blank or at 0% making it hard to know if the assignment was submitted and being graded or was late. So we added the Submitted field so we as parents know if the assignment was submitted, and my daughter can be sure she didn’t forget to turn in the assignment after she completed her work, which if you have teenagers you know can happen a lot.
The Due Today and Due This Week tabs are pretty self-explanatory they are filter views of the Assignments list which list all assignments that are due. The image below shows the Due This Week tab.
The Late Assignments tab is another filtered view which gives us a list of all assignments that are past their due date, and have not been marked as submitted.
As I said in my last article the Lists are the real work horse of the School Site and the Assignments List is really the nerve center for the whole site, everything else is just for support of this one list. In this list all homework assignments for the current quarter are tracked, and the grades recorded. We even track how many days until it is due, or how many days an assignment is late. We also provide access to any links needed to complete the assignment, and scheduled time for completing the work. It all happens here, and it all gets integrated from here as well.
Keeping track of the assignments is only one part of process; you also need to manage your time so that you can actually get the work done and submitted. But as we all know clicking around between your to-do list and your calendar is a pain, even for the most disciplined of us, but especially for a teenager. I knew if it wasn’t easy to move between assignment list and calendar and somehow tie the two together it wouldn’t be long before my daughter gave up and went back to her old tried and failed methods of doing her work. So we needed to find a way to connect her Assignments list with the Schedule calendar. You may remember the Schedule calendar from the last article.
This calendar color codes the entries by changing the background color according to the category you choose. If you look at the figure above you will see some of the entries have a green background, another entry has a red background, and so on. When you create a calendar entry there is a Category field where you can choose a category like “Holidays-No School” which would give the entry a green background and “Report Periods” which would give the entry a red background. The category you choose will determine the background color of the calendar entry.
But that’s not all, if you call in and order in the next 30 minutes you will also receive the added feature of the Assignment List integration. You can link your calendar event with an item in your assignment list by using a hyperlink that when clicked will open up the view list item dialog box from the Assignments list.
Let’s say you are checking out your schedule in the calendar and see an assignment you are supposed to be working on, but can’t remember what it is you were supposed to do for the assignment. If you open the calendar event, it will look something like the figure below. You can now scroll down to the Assignment field and click on the hyperlink, which for this example is titled “Assignment 4”.
This will open the View list item dialog box for this homework assignment from the Assignments list, which you can see in the figure below. The Assignment List item will even open in a new window so you don’t have to navigate back to the Calendar page again.
But wait that’s still not all, did you notice the Assignment Page link at the top of the calendar page?
Click that link and go straight to the All Tasks view of the Assignments List, as shown in the figure below.
The All Task, as seen above, is the default view for this list. Notice that in this view we are using the Title field that is linked to the edit dialog box. This gives us quick access to edit the item and update its information. We can easily see how much progress has been made on the assignment by the progress bar. If you click on any of the links in the Scheduled column it will open the dialog box for the calendar item associated with this assignment.
So if you need to reschedule your time to work on the assignment or extend it to another day you can do so easily from the list item itself without having to navigate away from the page. But what if no work time has been scheduled for this item yet? No problem, to schedule time to work on this item, simply select the assignment in the list, hover your mouse over the title of the item then click on the down arrow to open the drop down list item menu. There we have added a new action called Schedule Work using SharePoint designer.
Click on Scheduled work and you will be redirected to the Schedule Calendar where you can schedule time to complete this assignment. Then simply hit the back button on your browser, or click on the Assignments Page link at the top of the page to return to the Assignment list. Finally notice the last column Late Status, this is our newest addition to the site and is based on the Countdown/Countup Formulas Christophe debuted in his blog not long ago. Once I saw them I just had to have them, and Christophe was kind enough to let me beta test them. I of course altered them just a tiny bit to better fit my purposes. The formula you are seeing in this view is the system time formula; I will show you the Internet Time formula in just a little bit. I have used both for demonstration purposes.
So basically that is the list, I have used views to change the way the list looks and functions based on what I needed to accomplish. For example, to track late assignment I created the Late Assignment view that you saw on the Late Assignment tab on the home page. Or I have created a calendar view to show when each assignment is due on a calendar. Some views have a few more visual indicators, like the Details view.
I wanted to be able to see which assignments were more heavily weighted and therefore, should have a higher priority, but I didn’t want to add another column when I was already struggling to keep all the information from running together in a hodge podge. So I made a dual purpose field that would display the Title of the assignment and then color code its priority level by changing the color of the font. May not be real fancy, but it is effective.
Remember when I told you we would be seeing the Internet Time based countdown/countup formula later, well here is in the IsLate column. If you need to create more visual impact this is the one for you, it combines the countdown/countup information with an icon image to really get your attention. I also tweaked this formula a tiny bit to make it more suitable for my needs, mainly by changing the text.
As I have said before replace classes with projects, assignments with milestones, and grades for progress or performance indicators and you can see how these same concepts can be adapted to the business world.
In my next post I will cover how we track grades, because in the end it’s all about the grades.