In FITS we are big proponents of using the Checklist feature in D2L. Using Checklists gives students an opportunity for self-assessment and eases the pressure on the instructor to answer "when is XYZ due" questions.
But every tool has a cost, and the cost of using the Checklist feature (with dates) is that whenever you copy a past or current course Checklist into an upcoming course, the dates are all out of whack and need to be updated (since dates don’t automatically roll forward in D2L).
In this post I’ll cover:
- Modifying Large Numbers of Date-Specific Checklist Items Quickly (Part 1)
- Condensing Checklists from 10 Weeks to 5 Weeks (Part 2)
Part 1 – Modifying Large Numbers of Date-Specific Checklist Items Quickly
Now the big secret isn’t really a secret. This process is essentially using Excel to pre-format the dates, keyboard shortcuts to copy/paste, and CMD+Tab (OS X) or ALT+Tab (Win/*nix) to navigate between Excel and Firefox.
First thing you need to do is update the syllabus with the new assignment dates. I recommend to my professors that they update the information on their syllabus first so they have a master list of assignments and dates to pull from.
Now that the syllabus is updated (ha, wasn’t that easy?) open Excel and copy/paste all the tasks/checklist items into Column A and the dates they are due into Column B. Ensure the dates in Column B are formatted as MM/DD/YYYY (for example: Wednesday, July 4, 2012 would become 7/4/2012) since MM/DD/YYY is the format D2L uses. This part, converting the human-readable dates to dates D2L can use, is probably the most time-consuming part of the whole process of updating Checklists.
Now that you’ve got your prettily formatted tasks/checklist items and their dates, go into the Checklist area of the course (https://d2l.depaul.edu/d2l/lms/checklist/checklists.d2l?ou=<whatever the OU is>) and you should see all the Checklists.
- Click on the Checklist you’d like to edit.
- Check the box at the top of the list of Checklist items (Fig.1, 2).
- Click on the double pencil Icon (Fig.1, 3).
- You should see a page with the Checklist item information displayed nicely (Fig.2).
- Go to Excel and click on the cell in Column B that corresponds with the first Checklist Item.
- Press CMD+C or CTRL+C to copy the information in the cell.
- Press CMD+Tab or ALT+Tab to go back to Firefox.
- Click on the date for the checklist item and press CMD+A or CTRL+A to "Select All" the information in the cell and then press CMD+V or CTRL+V to paste the contents of your clipboard into the cell.
- Press CMD+Tab or ALT+Tab to go back to Excel.
- Press the down arrow to go to the next cell down in Excel.
- Repeat Steps 6-10 for all the Checklist items.
- Note: The key here is to make sure you are using the shortcuts. Think about the patterns your fingers are making as you CMD+Tab, Down-Arrow, CMD+C, CMD+Tab, Left-Mouse Click, CMD+A, CMD+V, CMD+Tab, etc. It’ll take a while but after 3-5 items your fingers will start to remember the pattern and you’ll get faster.
Congratulations, you are on your way to modifying your enormously long list of Checklist item dates in record time.
Now enjoy your repetitive stress injury.
Part 2 – Condensing Checklists from 10 Weeks to 5 Weeks
If you’re teaching a 10 week course in 5 weeks, instead of spending a considerable amount of effort on condensing two weeks of checklists into one, try renaming each of the weeks into A/B categories as follows:
- Week 1 becomes Week 1A
- Week 2 becomes Week 1B
- Week 3 becomes Week 2A
- Week 4 becomes Week 2B
- Week 5 becomes Week 3A
- Week 6 becomes Week 3B
- Week 7 becomes Week 4A
- Week 8 becomes Week 4B
- Week 9 becomes Week 5A
- Week 10 becomes Week 5B
Now you have 10 weeks of checklist content condensed down into 5 weeks. This also helps keep your "10 Week Professor" mental-model intact, so there is low or no cost having to re-learn where information is in the checklist (it’s in the same spot, but with a different name).
Now you can start removing or shuffling content from the checklists if necessary and the students have solid cognitive divisions between blocks of content (rather than jamming two weeks of probably-not-totally-related checklist content into one checklist).
You are now a Checklist master.