Vocat 3.2 Launches with Robust Annotation Interface, Audio and Image Capability

The Baruch College Center for Teaching and Learning is pleased to announce the release of Vocat 3.2, which greatly broadens the capabilities of our homegrown multimedia assessment tool. Once known as the “Video Oral Communication Assessment Tool,” Vocat has expanded well beyond its original functionality. The tool now accepts video, audio and image files, and also allows multiple files and file types within a single project.

Vocat’s developers, Cast Iron Coding, have grounded this major advancement with a powerful and intuitive new media manager. Evaluators can now define which media types are allowed in each assignment, and either upload files themselves or allow students to upload their files directly.

With added media types also come new ways to assess those media. An overhauled annotation interface now allows users to format text and draw on videos and images, facilitating more precise feedback and more robust evaluations.

Media Manager
Media Manager
Drawn Annotations
Drawn Annotations
Audio Waveform
Audio Waveform

Clarity was a driving factor in this update. The new media manager interface includes instructions that state what can be uploaded where, a progress bar that displays the status of uploads, and editable file names for easier identification of assets. Annotations are now color-coded by user role to clearly differentiate feedback from Evaluators and peers, and comments and annotations can both be formatted with Markdown syntax.

Vocat 3.2 also gives Evaluators greater control over assignment settings. Options for Creator uploads, peer discussion, peer review, and self evaluation have been moved from the course level to the project level, and Evaluators can now enable anonymous peer reviews.

The new features make Vocat useful for departments and assignment types that were not previously viable: photography and art assignments, multimedia reporting projects that require images and videos, or audio-only assignments such as musical performances, speeches, and debates.

The possibilities for asynchronous assignments are also vastly expanded by version 3.2. Groups can now upload individual portions of a project to the same assignment space, instructors can offer more options for completing open-ended projects, and students can revise and upload multiple drafts of their projects in a single submission space.

This is just a sampling of the potential uses. The true power of the tool is fully realized by the ingenuity of those who use it in ways that we never could have imagined. On our end, we will continue to develop, full speed ahead. Vocat 3.3, scheduled for release in early summer, will integrate a mobile application to facilitate media submissions, a rebuilt rubric generator, and a revised and more intuitive navigational structure.

The CTL looks forward to seeing the inventive new ways that users engage with Vocat!

Below is a detailed list of enhancements in 3.2:

  • Allows image and audio uploads.
  • Allows multiple assets per submission.
  • New submission upload UI.
  • Adjusts upload placeholder text to be clear about what asset types are accepted.
  • Improves “add first asset” language on empty asset list.
  • Prevents user from closing asset management interface while uploading a file.
  • Prompts users to name YouTube and Vimeo assets.
  • Adds permanent URL for each asset on a submission and allows users to navigate to them directly.
  • Allows annotation drawing during video playback.
  • Adds audio annotation feature.
  • Adds functional scrubber to video progress bar.
  • During asset playback, users can jump back 10 seconds.
  • Makes asset playback UI responsive.
  • Adds basic markdown instructions.
  • Shows annotations on video when video is full screen.
  • Adds annotation selection and moving, and improves UX for annotation editing; general refactoring.
  • Adds role colors and shadows to annotation drawings.
  • Allows markdown in annotations, comments, course message, and project descriptions.
  • Shows avatar and annotation info in full screen mode.
  • Improves look and feel of move UI on asset management.
  • Adds visual active state to annotations; fine tuning various UI interactions.
  • Annotators should be able to submit an annotation with an enter keypress.
  • Revamped asset management and annotation views.
  • Adds link to modal markdown overview to discussion post input.
  • Migrates course settings to project model.
  • Adds “edit project” option to project list actions dropdown.
  • Users can see the whole rubric on the submission detail page.
  • Adds a date picker to replace multiple fields for project due date.
  • Allows refusal of media after project due date; shows project details to creator on submission detail view.
  • Shows the average in course map cell to evaluators, not to creators.
  • Improves layout and behavior of notifications.
  • Upgrades rails and other gems.
  • Adds polling for annotation processing.
  • Adds middleware that allows asset requests to bypass Rails.
  • Adds sidekiq for handling thumbnail generation; adds thumbnail worker and generator for handling image submissions.
  • Allows upload and transcoding of mkv files.
  • Breaks out seed data into sample data generator and creates proper seed script.
  • Changes deployment approach so that asset compilation is moved back to the server side.
  • Numerous improvements and bugfixes for new annotation canvas functionality.
  • Upgrades Rails to 4.1 and refactors configuration approach to safely store secrets.