How do I get a course website?

Overview

Engineering IT offers several options for instructors who want to provide websites for their courses.

 

Types of Course Websites

Illinois Compass 2G

While not an Engineering IT service, Compass2G (http://compass.illinois.edu) is the campus provided course management software which is available to all faculty and instructors. Illinois Compass 2g simplifies the process of creating and editing courses, facilitates classroom collaboration, makes grading easier, streamlines the notification system of course updates, and allows you to customize the course to meet your needs. If you need the services of a full course management suite, use Compass.

Engineering Courses website

Engineering IT hosts course websites for instructors and course staff who want to use HTML and simple Active Server Pages or PHP scripts. Website directories along with term subdirectories are automatically created for each course being taught as soon as they appear in the course catalog. Each term subdirectory has a subfolder named "Private", that is accessible only by the course staff for that term. There is also a subfolder named "Secure" that is readable by currently enrolled students for that term, and is writable by the course staff for that term. The groups of currently enrolled students and current course staff are both capable of being augmented by the course staff. For example, the instructor for abc123 (as well as any identified course staff) is able to add students to the currently enrolled students group, abc-123-stu, as well as add her/his teaching assistants to the course staff group, abc-123-stf.

Engineering Wiki website

Engineering IT provides a wiki using Atlassian Confluence software integrated with the campus Active Directory for authentication. Instructors and course staff may choose to use wiki spaces for their class websites. Some choose to have a new space created for each semester and others use a single space they edit each semester. Access to the space can be restricted to just students in the class by granting the appropriate wiki permissions to the course AD group. Class staff have full administrative access to their space which allows them to add permissions for groups and individuals. Students can be granted write access to wiki spaces.

Redirected course website

Instructors may to choose to host their course websites on a server other than http://courses.engr.illinois.edu. Engineering IT does not recommend redirecting a course website to an off campus resource. There are issues with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, as well as potential support issues with hosting course data on resources not controlled by University of Illinois employees.

Requesting Access

Compass course website

Illinois Compass course websites can be requested from Technology Services using the Online Request Form at http://techservices.illinois.edu/services/illinois-compass-2g/details

Engineering Courses website

All Engineering courses being offered for a given term will have a corresponding directory created on courses.engr.illinois.edu within 2 business days of when the course is added to the course catalog. The course directory will have an associated URL created for it that takes the form of http://courses.engr.illinois.edu/XXX### where "XXX" is the course subject code and "###" is the course number. Previous semester courses can be accessed by adding the 2 letter semester (sp, su, fa) and 4 digit year to the URL. For example: cs173 Spring 2012 can be seen at http://courses.engr.illinois.edu/cs173/sp2012. If a course has been added to the course catalog, and a corresponding course directory does not exist on courses.engr.illinois.edu, Engineering IT should be notified by sending email to engrit-help [at] illinois [dot] edu (engrit-help [at] illinois [dot] edu) with the appropriate term, course name and instructor(s) (if known).

Engineering Wiki website

To request a wiki space for an Engineering course, please submit a ticket to Engineering IT by sending email to engrit-help [at] illinois [dot] edu (engrit-help [at] illinois [dot] edu) with the following information:

  • Instructor name(s)
  • Course name and number
  • Default content:
    • Blank space
    • Blank course template
    • Copy of previous semester (please specify which semester)
  • Default permissions wanted:
    • Instructor and course staff only
    • Registered students only
    • Anonymous

When the wiki space is created, Engineering IT staff will automatically set a redirect for that course and term from courses.engr.illinois.edu to the newly created wiki space.

Redirected course website

To redirect a course URL from http://courses.engr.illinois.edu/, a member of the course staff needs to use the tool at http://my.engr.illinois.edu/webedit to enter the location of the course website for that term. Engineering IT does not recommend redirecting a course website to an off campus resource. There are issues with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, as well as potential support issues with hosting course data on resources not controlled by University of Illinois employees.

If an instructor chooses to have a Compass course website for his/her class, then redirecting the courses.engr.illinois.edu website for that class and term to the Compass site is an appropriate use of the redirect feature. Similarly, when an Engineering Wiki space is requested, Engineering IT staff will place the redirect of the courses.engr.illinois.edu for the appropriate class and term to the wiki space.

Course Website Content

Course directory layout

Two additional folders are provided in the web folder for course staff to share materials with each other and with students.

  • The folder named "private" is restricted to course staff.
  • The folder named "secure" is restricted to course staff and students registered for the class.
    Access is controlled through AD groups, the staff group as mentioned above and the student course groups which are automatically populated with students registered for the class. Students have read-only access to the secure folder, and only via a web browser. Course staff have write access to both the private and secure folders.

Creating content

There are a variety of ways to add content to a course directory, once it has been created on courses.engr.illinois.edu:

  • CIFS (Windows) share (\\courses.engr.illinois.edu\courses.engr.illinois.edu)
  • Linux shell by connecting to ssh.courses.engr.illinois.edu with your NetID and Active Directory password and navigating to /courses and the appropriate course directory
  • SSH FTP (SFTP) to sftp.courses.engr.illinois.edu:/courses/ with your NetID and your Active Directory password
  • Using the WebEdit portal at http://my.engr.illinois.edu/webedit (you may substitute your departmental portal address in this URL as well – e.g. http://my.ece.illinois.edu/webedit)

Access for course staff is granted through the class staff AD groups which are named subj-###-stf where "subj" is the course subject code (e.g. cs, ece, info, me) and "###" is the course number. These groups are not automatically populated with course staff, but can be populated by the "Class Administration" portal tool at http://my.engr.illinois.edu/ (you may substitute your departmental portal address in this URL as well – e.g. http://my.cs.illinois.edu/)

Copying content from a previous semester

The WebEdit portal at http://my.engr.illinois.edu/webedit (you may substitute your departmental portal address in this URL as well – e.g. http://my.ece.illinois.edu/webedit) has a function to copy the content from a previous semester into the current semester. This function will not copy the contents of the "private" or "secure" directories of the previous semester.

Reading content

The content for each course will be readable by a web browser at a URL from courses.engr.illinois.edu.
The URL for courses will automatically default to the current semester and will be in the form http://courses.engr.illinois.edu/XXX### where "XXX" is the course subject code and "###" is the course number. Previous semester courses can be accessed by adding the 2 letter semester (sp, su, fa) and 4 digit year to the URL. For example: cs173 Spring 2012 can be seen at http://courses.engr.illinois.edu/cs173/sp2012.

The secure folder of the current course directory will prompt for a password viewing data. This password is the campus Active Directory password, and the content in the secure folder is restricted to the current staff group and current students taking the class that semester.

Updating content

Only the course staff for the current term may update content for a particular course. Content may be updated by editing files in the course directory (either via the CIFS (Windows) share, \\courses.engr.illinois.edu\courses.engr.illinois.edu, or via the Linux mount /courses on ssh.courses.engr.illinois.edu).

Removing or restricting content

For all terms of the course, the current course staff have the permission to remove or restrict the content of the course. If the current instructor wishes to remove or restrict content from previous semesters (e.g. quiz answers, homework hints, etc.), s/he may remove/restrict the content of data or delegate that task to a member of the course staff group. Previous instructors will not have rights to restrict content on the course websites, unless s/he is the current instructor for that course.

Private folder

The private folder under each term subdirectory of a course directory can only be read/modified by the current course staff group. This provides a mechanism to restrict content to only the course staff.

Secure folder

The secure folder under each term subdirectory of a course directory can only be modified by the current course staff group, and only read by the current student group for that course. This provides a mechanism to restrict content to the current students of the course. Sharing exam solutions, quiz statistics, homework hints, and similar course materials are appropriately stored in the secure folder.

Archived content

Course website materials for previous semesters will remain on the courses.engr.illinois.edu website. The most recent course staff (current course staff if that course is being offered in the current term) will have access to the content. Previous course staff will not have permissions to modify the content of the course website. Because access control will change from semester to semester, all current course instructors will be notified before the end of the term to remove any intellectual property or material that should not be shared with future course staff. This is particularly relevant for courses that have different instructors frequently.

Change Over of Course Directory Control

Before the end of every term, each current course instructor will be informed of a change to access control of the current course directory to the new instructors for that course. In the case where the instructor for a particular course does not change, this notice will be less important than the cases where the instructor of a particular course will be different the next time it is offered. It is possible that when the instructor for a particular course changes, the new instructor may be given access to the course directory to prepare website materials. Permission from the current instructor will be sought and recorded in these cases.

After the term for a particular course has ended, and before the next term in which that particular course is being offered begins, the course staff groups will be updated to remove all the former course staff, and the new instructor will be given access to the course directory. At that point, the course staff group members from the previous semester will no longer have access to the content in the course directory.

Problem Reporting

All problems with Engineering course websites should be reported to engrit-help [at] illinois [dot] edu (engrit-help [at] illinois [dot] edu) and should include the course staff member's name, NetID, the instructor's name, the course name, the applicable term, the access mechanism (CIFS (Windows) share, SSH, SFTP, or Webedit portal), along with the description of the problem.

Get Help

Questions about this topic? Don't see what you're looking for?

Email engrit-help [at] illinois [dot] edu, call the Help Desk at 217-333-1313, or contact your primary IT support professional.