What's New on vhlcentral for Academic Year 2019-2020


Accessible Accent Bar

The Accent Bar will now appear within the answer/text form for most activity types that require student input, for increased accessibility and ease of use. When the write-in field is chosen for text input, an icon will appear that can be expanded to access the accent bar. The accent bar can be clicked on via the cursor and is also keyboard navigable.

When using a mobile phone in portrait (vertical) orientation, the Accent Bar will not appear. Support for these characters is available using Android and iOS keyboards, typically by holding the associated letter and waiting for a pop-up to appear.



Additional notes:

  • The new Accent Bar will not be in place for Composition activities or Instructor input fields.
  • For activities that display the new accent bar, the previous accent bar has been removed from the footer of the page.
  • This change will take effect for all languages and across all programs, regardless of edition.


Create New Assessment

Instructors are now able to create, from scratch, multi-part assessments. The new “Add content” feature for Assessments gives instructors a blank canvas upon which to create their own multi-part assessment. Instructors can use all the standard ‘section’ types for creating new assessments: Multiple Choice, True/False, and Free Response (writing). Once created, the Assessment will have all the standard options specific to the Assessment area such as: Time limits, Password protection, Randomization, etc.



Manual Advance Mode for Virtual Chat and Video Virtual Chat Activities

Students now have the ability to select Manual Advance mode for Virtual Chat and Video Virtual Chat activities, which allows them to replay prompts and re-record answers. Students can select this option before beginning the chat activity. Once Manual Advance is selected, a Next button is introduced within the activity, so that the student can advance to the next prompt when ready. Students still complete the prompts in order, and cannot navigate back to prompts they’ve already finished. However, they still have the option to attempt the entire activity again.

 Selecting the mode and navigating the chat activity can all be done using assistive devices, making these activities accessible.

 Auto-advance mode is still available as the default setting.





To improve both the accessibility and responsiveness of vhlcentral, an updated look and design has been implemented in several instructor areas including Content>Activities, Resources, Single-student Gradebook view, and Forums, as well as some student-only pages (Student Dashboard). These pages now re-size for viewing on a variety of devices, such as mobile phones or tablets, and have improved compatibility with Screen-readers for low-vision students.


Adding a Section: Copy Exact Assignments

This feature allows instructors to copy exactly the same assignments, due dates and assessment details as an existing Section in the same Course.

This will simplify the creation of assignments in multiple Course Sections when:

  • Using assignments copied from a previous term’s Course to populate multiple Sections of a Course, including when some Sections will be taught by members of an instructional team.
  • An instructor wishes to create assignments and due dates before knowing exactly how many course sections he or she will teach.
  • Larger-than-expected enrollments, a staffing change on an instructional team, or a shift in teaching workloads necessitates adding a new Section to a Course after the initial start date.

For all of these scenarios, the initial steps are:

  1. Add a Course.
  2. Add one Section.
  3. Populate that Section with all the desired assignments and their due dates, as well as assessment details. These assignments may be brought in from a previously taught section via the Assignment Wizard, or created new in the Table of Contents/Assignment Calendar.
  4. Add new Sections that have the exact same assignments, due dates and assessment settings by copying those in the populated Section in the same Course. The "Copy assignments and due dates from section" when there is at least one other Section with assignments in the same Course.


  5. From the Instructor Dashboard, repeat the “Add section” steps until all the required Sections have been successfully created.


Assessment Improvements

Printing Assessments

This new feature is perfect for instructors who want to utilize the Custom Assessment feature to edit an assessment, but prefer to give an assessment in class (paper tests). Instructors may now print directly from the preview page of any quiz, test or exam in the Content>Assessment area of vhlcentral including an assessment provided by vhlcentral, or a custom assessment created by the instructor. Use the Print control at the top of the page to choose saving as a PDF to print/edit later, or printing directly from the screen.


 Shuffling/Randomizing Assessment Content

To combat cheating and the sharing of answers by students between classes/terms, instructors can create multiple assessment versions that feature randomized test sections and questions. When an instructor creates a copy of an assessment in Content>Assessment, they now have the option to shuffle the order of the test-sections, and the order of the questions within a specific section, at the click of a button.


Gradebook Analytics

In the Gradebook, instructors have a new tool to track student progress and identify students that may need help The Analytics tab in the Gradebook offers both an Overview and a Progress view to interact with and visualize student performance data. Overview shows both Recent and Cumulative statistics of grades and submission types (late, on-time, missing). It also provides a list of students in that section that can be filtered on a number of key metrics including score trend, time-spent, % missing work, average score, etc. Progress allows instructors to visually compare scores and time-spent figures across lessons, weeks, or strands within a lesson. Instructors can also choose to see how a specific student compares to the class average in any of these areas.


Record and Compare Activities Update (July 2019)

The default point value for Record and Compare activities has changed to 2 points per question, from 10 points per question. This improvement is in response to feedback from customers that some Record and Compare activities were worth too many points, and were having a disproportional effect on students’ grades.

For example, a Record and Compare activity with 8 questions, previously worth 80 points (8 X 10 points), is now worth 16 points (8 X 2 points), making these activities more in-line, proportionally, with other program activities (multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank).

Recording activities with only one question, for which a longer response is expected, are still worth 10 points total.

Virtual Chat, Video Virtual Chat and Partner Chat activities are still worth 10 points total.

For the classes that will begin later in Summer 2019 or in Fall 2019, please note that if your course has the same set of assignments as a previous academic term's course, you may see a ‘total points possible’ value that reflects the change in default point values for Record and Compare activities.


Point Value Changes Are Not Retroactive For Work Submitted Before the Update

For classes/courses that were active as this change was made (July 3rd), instructors may notice that a score for a 10-question activity submitted before that date was scored as 80/100 points, while the score for the same activity submitted by a different student after the change is scored as 16/20 points. The percentage score for both students is the same (80%) even though the points earned and points possible values are different for the two students. As a result, these two students will have different TOTAL points earned/possible for the course/class, but their grades will be calculated correctly based on the version of the activity completed.


Scheduled Release

Using this new feature, instructors can confidently create assignments for an entire semester/term without the added worry of students working ahead and encountering new topics before they are prepared. Scheduled Release allows an instructor to determine for each course section, when assignment due dates will become visible to students (between 1-30 days) prior to a due date. The assigned content is not removed from Content-Activities, but any indication that an activity has been assigned is not visible via the Student Dashboard, Student Calendar, Content>Activities or Gradebook. Please note this setting does not apply to Assessments, which have their own, specific hide/release functionality.