The Baruch College Center for Teaching and Learning is happy to announce the release of Vocat 3.1, which features a total stylistic overhaul of our homegrown video assessment tool. We are also releasing a website that will publish news about the project as well as its evolving documentation: Vocat.io.
Over the past ten months we’ve worked closely with Vocat’s developers, Cast Iron Coding, to pilot and release a stable version of Vocat 3.0. In response to significant feedback from instructors and students who’ve been using the tool, we’ve reviewed and redesigned every page in Vocat for maximum clarity and intuitiveness. In addition to the new design, we’ve added new features and enhanced existing ones to streamline course creation, strengthen roster management, and improve the project assessment experience.
When you log into the new version of Vocat, the first thing you’ll notice is a reorganized dashboard with a tighter layout that makes relevant course information more clearly visible. The crisp and colorful new design also makes course data easier to read on both the dashboard and evaluation pages. Most noticeably, instructor, self, and peer evaluations are easily distinguishable in the bright new color scheme.
Several new features also give instructors greater control over their courses. Instructors can now request that a course be added to the system by filling out a simple form with the most basic course information (course number, section, semester). Once approved, they can manage their own rosters rather than relying on administrators to handle enrollment changes. The rubric creator has also been improved, with clearer wording and a layout that more closely resembles the rubrics we see most frequently when working with instructors.
We’ve revised wording and added descriptions for greater clarity on pages throughout Vocat, and we’ve also posted extensive instructions for students and instructors. This help documentation is available at docs.Vocat.io and provides step-by-step guidance for most processes within Vocat. Over the coming weeks will be expanding and enhancing the documentation with video tutorials and model use cases.
Finally, we’ve created Puppet Manifests that enable automated provisioning of Vocat. This will allow us to smoothly migrate Vocat to new server environments, and also lays the groundwork for the future launch of additional Vocat instances in the cloud.
Thanks to the generosity of Baruch College alumnus Walter Barandiaran, Vocat will remain under continuous development into 2015, with upcoming features including a mobile app that allows for recording and submission of videos directly from hand-held devices, a rebuilt video player and annotation interface, connections with Learning Management Systems like Blackboard and Canvas, support for multiple document types, and WordPress/BuddyPress integration. Stay tuned!
For more information about what Vocat is and what it can do, or to take it for a test drive on the demo installation, please visit Vocat.io. The demo installation can be accessed with the username email@example.com and password testtest123.
Below is a full list of updated features, courtesy of Zach Davis, Managing Director of Cast Iron Coding and Lead Developer of Vocat:
- New look and feel; every page reviewed and redesigned with an eye toward improved user experience.
- Redesigned evaluation detail on submission shows peer, self, and instructor score summary and score detail; all scores are now visible and properly categorized.
- Significantly improved tablet (iPad) support, paving the way for full responsive design in v3.2.
- Users can now click on group names in coursemap detail views to see group members.
- Refactored publish/unpublish functionality in course map; added dropdowns to column headers for easier access to project details.
- Student dashboard now shows a list of courses, course landing page shows list of all submissions.
- Better indications of whether a project is a group or individual project.
- Improvements to messaging when courses don’t have any students, groups, or projects setup.
- Allows instructors to invite and enroll students in their courses.
- Admins can now change course settings in Admin UI.
- Removed little-used “glossary” feature and replaced with less intrusive score detail placards.
- Allows users to delete their own annotations on a submission.
- Restructure top-level navigation; make it easier to get to group and individual course maps.
- Improvements to group setup and group assignment.
- Updated underlying libraries: Rails, Marionette, Backbone, VideoJS.
- Many fixes to permissions and ACLs.
- Improved auto-scroll effect on annotation box.
- Redesigned submission summary boxes and added more relevant statistical detail.
- Redesigned alert and messaging system for less intrusive error messages and notifications.
- Admin course search criteria now does fuzzy matching.
- Improvements to navigation between coursemap and detail pages.
- Many small language improvements.
- Restructured Sass stylesheets for vastly improved loading time in development contexts.
- Adds course request feature that allows instructors to request Vocat courses and admins to approve or deny.
- Improved error pages.
- Project count added to admin course list.
- Fixed many, many small bugs.
- Parallel launch of new Vocat.io informational site.
- Parallel launch of new docs.Vocat.io documentation site.