On May 13, Information Technology Services (ITS) upgraded Penn State's Course Management System, ANGEL (http://cms.psu.edu/), from version 6.2 to version 6.3. ANGEL allows instructors to post a syllabus, add course files, establish threaded discussions, administer quizzes, collect assignments, and manage grades from one online location without the need to know HTML.
The modifications within the new version are not sweeping changes; for the most part enhancements have been made to existing tools to give faculty more flexibility and streamline aspects of course development.Version 6.3 new features include:
According to Jeffrey Swain, ANGEL's new product specialist within ITS, two of the most important new features are the ability to view a course calendar in the grid view that people are used to seeing in most calendar systems, and the ability for an instructor to set a lesson content item as a course milestone when creating it, without taking the extra step of separately accessing the milestones tool on the "Tools" tab. "You can do it all in one spot," he said. Swain, also a doctoral candidate, commented, "From a student perspective that helps me a lot. It helps me focus on what's really important."
Another important new feature is that instructors can better control the type of submissions students can make to a drop box. Swain explained that in previous versions of ANGEL, both a message area and a utility to upload files were available to students, who could use either or both means to submit work. In version 6.3, the instructor can specify that students only see a message area or can only make a submission by uploading a file. While in previous versions, students could make an unlimited number of submissions to a drop box, an instructor can now impose a limit of one submission, if desired.
Previous to the May 13 release of version 6.3, the ITS ANGEL support team asked a group of faculty to preview and evaluate the new features. Referring to the new drop box settings options, one instructor remarked, "This is great. I've often struggled with how to limit student submissions."
Several of the faculty evaluators noted they particularly liked the new calendar features, as well as the new method of displaying the course map.
Free seminars on ANGEL 6.3, including a New Features seminar, will be offered by ITS Training Services (http://its.psu.edu/training/) beginning in August.
For a detailed description of the new features in ANGEL version 6.3, visit http://cmshelp.psu.edu/WhatNew.htm.