Product Updates: June to November 2020

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Here are the latest updates we've made across the Code.org website and platform! Updates from previous months can be found at the bottom of this article!

Platform

Get a link to a lesson that reminds students to sign in: Some Code.org activities (CSF Courses, Hour of Code, etc.) do not require students to have an account to work on them, but if teachers want to track their students' work, students need to sign in with an account before they start working.

In response to feedback that some students were forgetting to sign in (and not saving their work), we've added the ability for teachers to get a link to a lesson that will remind students to sign in before they start working. To find this special link, look for the new "Send to Students" button on the right-hand side of lessons, and then tap 'Copy lesson link to your clipboard' in the dialog that appears. This link can then be sent to students via email or posted in your LMS.

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Post lessons directly to Google Classroom: Teachers can now post a lesson directly to Google Classroom from Code.org so that their students can see them there. Before posting to Google Classroom, teachers can…

  • Customize the instructional message their students see in Google Classroom and the title of the assignment. By default, the title of the assignment will be the name of the Lesson on Code.org.
  • Choose which of their Google Classroom sections and which students in that section will see the assignment in Google Classroom.
  • Update the points, due date, and topic associated with the assignment in Google Classroom

To find this feature, look for the new "Send to Students" button on the right-hand side of lessons, and then tap 'Share to Google Classroom' in the dialog that appears.

Read more about this feature here

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FAQ for virtual / socially-distanced classrooms: we compiled a collection of our new and existing resources for virtual, hybrid, and socially-distanced classrooms as a set of FAQs on the new https://code.org/alternative-classrooms page.

Support for emojis in feedback! Teachers will be able to include emojis in feedback they give to students, and teachers can see if and when a student viewed the feedback they left for them.

Enabled hint prompts in CS Fundamentals courses A-F courses to help remind students to use hints if they get stuck: 

Teacher-only instructions for CSD and CSP courses are now on their own separate "for teachers only" tab. Previously, this blue “For Teachers Only” box appeared below the student-facing instructions in the Instructions on programming levels. This made it difficult to see the teacher-only info existed for the level, if you hadn't scrolled down in the Instructions pane. We’ve moved these instructions to their own tab and now display CSF, CSD, and CSP teacher-only instructions in the same manner for programming levels!

 

Students must now change code in order to ‘complete’ most Game Lab, App Lab, and Web Lab levels. In the past, students could just hit ‘finish’ on most of these levels without doing any work, and get those levels to show up as completed. Teachers referred to this as the ‘green bubble problem.’ Now, students must change code on a level to see it marked as ‘completed.’ If they don’t, they’ll get a warning and the level will stay marked as ‘in progress.’ This will hopefully prevent students from racing through levels without doing anything!

We now limit students to pairing with up to 4 other students. In the past, students could pair with ‘unlimited’ students which wreaked havoc on classroom progress when students chose to pair with their entire class at once.

 

More improvements to pair programming: We addressed two bugs that were affecting pair programming: (1) students were remaining paired after the teacher turned off pairing for their section and (2) pair programmers were getting locked out of surveys. We're also working on new updates to prevent situations where students were accidentally pairing with the entire class and preventing other students in the class from doing work.

Enable teachers to export student login information to csv: Some teachers need ways to send home student login information since many students are attending school from home now. The CSV export allows them to more easily copy and paste student login information into emails sent home, or do a mail merge!

Mobile Improvements & Accessibility

Improved scaling/layout for a variety of screen sizes when using AI for Oceans:

Before:

After:

 

Launched Immersive Reader: this is a new text-to-speech feature for lesson's instructions, to provide additional support for students with disabilities. You can read more about Immersive Reader here! This can be found by clicking on the Book-esque icon in the instructions, next to the usual text-to-speech "Play" button:

Once clicked, the Immersive Reader widget takes users to a new page, eliminating distractions, and allows users to change font size, text spacing, and background colour; split up words into syllables; highlight verbs, nouns, adjectives and sub-clauses; choose between two fonts optimised to help with reading; read out text aloud, and change the speed of reading; and translate text.

Added a screen-reader filter: to https://hourofcode.com/learn to show only activities that are screen reader-compatible:

 

App Lab, Game Lab, Web Lab, and Sprite Lab

Added option to link to an image hosted on the web, instead of needing to download a file to your computer first!  And yes, your app can include your favorite GIF!


Added link to Web Lab documentation to the Help menu (we already had this for App Lab, Game Lab, Sprite Lab):

Added ability to pop out documentation in a separate window so you can go back and forth between your code and the block documentation:

Added a search function to the datasets tab in App Lab:

Added more theme options to App Lab: 

Added an informational warning when the students edits code that is currently running, so that they know they need to restart the program to see those changes:

Lab documentation from the Help menu now opens in a new tab, instead of navigating away from the screen that you’re in:

Keyboard arrowing through App Lab text mode used to trap the cursor or get you stuck in the auto-complete dropdown, this is no longer the case!

 

Added “mini-toolbox” functionality to Sprite Lab, which allows students to handle events for a single instance of a sprite with a given costume. For example, now you can add events to the “when clicked purple bunny” box, rather than add blocks for all purple bunnies. 

Made sprite lab costume categories translatable and enabled searching in non-English languages by making search metadata translatable:

 

Miscellaneous improvements: 

  • Added support for previously disallowed characters in AppLab dataset titles

  • Fix some vertical alignment of key arrows in Minecraft courses

  • Allow data table error messages to scroll with the header so they don’t get lost when scrolling

  • Aligned text formatting between workspace & debug console

  • Improved infinite scroll for the Animation Library in SpriteLab/GameLab so that images display in the dialog after they have been downloaded, rather than displaying empty placeholders while the images are loading

  • To prevent missing progress issues, we’ve made improvements to how we’re store and represent signed out progress so it’s less likely to confuse users who start working while signed out and then sign in

  • We fixed the "Last progress at" pop-up on the Progress tab, so it will refresh when the teacher switches tabs on the teacher dashboard.

  • We fixed two bugs where finishing Courses D, E, and F did not previously provide a certificate option

  • Dropdown menus that list out section names now all list section names in the same order

  • Fixed a bug that allowed teachers to switch account types for active sections

  • Disambiguated two identically named courses in the course dropdown

  • Fixed a bug in the Assessment tab so teachers can see survey questions when they’re looking at students’ survey answers

  • Fixed a bug where the example solutions button on some CSF levels was incorrectly being hidden for unverified teachers

  • Fixed an issue that prevented more than 50 students from loading on the progress tab

Previous product updates can be found here: https://support.code.org/hc/en-us/sections/360001984712-Product-Updates . If you have any questions, email us at support@code.org

 

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