For our distance learning programmes (Catalyst), we have designed a database to allow the students and supervisors to track their progress for their Dissertation or Applied project. Using this system, they can upload meeting records, draft (sections of) their dissertation for feedback, monthly progress logs, notes and comments. The supervisors will be able to comment on each record or edit the record to add feedback in uploaded files.
The reason for this database is to keep all records regarding students’ Dissertations or Applied projects in one place. This database has been added to the same area as the Dissertation & Applied project guides and the portal for submitting their final Dissertation. Having this system means that supervisors and students don’t have to search through their email for records. In addition, if a supervisor goes off on long-term leave or resigns, a newly assigned supervisor will have access to all the information they need.
At the moment, supervisors do not get notified from the database when a student uploads something; students are asked to ping a quick email to their supervisor to let them know to have a look. In the future, we may look into whether Event monitoring may be an option to assist with this.
Some basic CSS and HTML table styling has been used in the Templates to organise and improve the look of the database records.
We have tried to keep the database as simple as possible. Let me run you through the system:
Above the database records, the students will be able to find instructions for how to use it, as well as download templates for any forms they may need to fill out and upload. In addition, we have added the supervisors’ email addresses to enable the students to plan meetings with them.
To access different areas, there are tabs at the top of the database:
- “View list” means showing all records’ basic information in a list
- “View single” means showing one full record at a time
- “Search” can be used to find certain records with extended search options
- “Add entry” is where students can add a new entry to their records.
Let’s run through each option:
List view and basic search
The main overview for the database is a list of records. Students will only be able to see their own records, which is achieved by requiring approval by a “Teacher” role and removing the “Approve” button. Records are sorted in order of “Time added” / “Descending”, meaning that the last added record will always be listed first. Supervisors can see all records from all students in the same order.
At the top, there is a basic search function, so supervisors can add their name to the search to list all their students or add a specific student’s name to the search function to find all records for one student. This search function can also be used to search for particular types of entries (i.e. meeting record forms, dissertation uploads etc.) or to search for a particular word in a comment.
The list view has an incomplete record view, showing only the student’s name, the supervisor’s name, the entry type and when it was last added or modified. There is a link to show the full entry.
Using the “Edit” cog on the right, students and supervisors can edit the corresponding record to update information or to add feedback within a form.
Using the selection box, they can delete an entry if they have uploaded incorrect information. To prevent mistakes, we removed the standard “Delete” button and made it a multi-step process of selecting a record, then clicking “Delete selected” at the bottom of the page. A confirmation box will also appear before a record is permanently deleted.
In the single view of a record, students and supervisors can find the full details of a record. They will see the basic information as displayed in the list view, as well as the full record including the uploaded file, notes and any comments as added by the student and/or the supervisor(s).
Using the search tab, students and supervisors can use extended options to search for records:
Add entry view
In the “Add entry” view, students can add new records. This has been designed as a simple form to fill in. The students are asked to:
- Select their supervisor from a drop-down menu
- Select their entry type from a drop-down menu:
- Upload a file; students can upload files such as meeting record forms, monthly progress logs as well as (parts of) their dissertation for feedback. As a standard in the Moodle Database system, only one file can be uploaded at a time, which is why the students are told to create a separate record for each file.
- Add any comments or notes in a text box.
- Click either “Save and view” or “Save and add another”, based on their needs.
Once the form has been saved, their completed details will be instantly saved to the “List view” and “Single view”, where it can be edited and commented on.
This concludes our tour of the Supervision database. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with RAU Learning Technologist Chantal Schipper.