InstructAssist

InstructAssist is a Course Management System that I have created for WPI course instruction. The system includes traditional components, such as tools for posting grades, submitting projects, obtaining slides, scheduling project demonstrations, and posting partner evaluations. It also provides the instructor with in-class components to help make courses more interactive.

Distinct Features

Some features make InstructAssist stand out as a powerful course management system:

  • In-Class Participation Features: InstructAssist helps instructors engage students by allowing automated, random selection for small group activities or "quiz show" styled question and answer by students.
     
  • Electronic In-Class Quizzes: InstructAssist creates an easily proctored quiz interface for closed-note, closed-book quizzes. The system includes auditing software to help instructors ensure academic integrity.
     
  • Integrated Forum and Bug Tracker: The course forum combines the traditional discussion board with bug tracker software that allows the teaching staff to easily identify whether a student's need has been met. The integrated email notification and response system allows staff to interact with the forum by email, if they prefer, rather than a Web page.
     
  • Easy-to-Use Grade Book: In addition to standard grade book features, InstructAssist provides support for bulk feedback. To return scanned quizzes to all the students in a class, an instructor need only upload a single .zip file containing the scanned quiz for each student. The system takes care of the rest.
     
  • Straightforward Assignment Submission: Students have an easy-to-use assignment submission system which keeps track of student revisions. If a student accidentally submits after a deadline, they can choose to revert to an earlier version without requiring staff support.
     
  • Peer Review System: Instructors can let students submit files, such as design documents, for anonymous peer review. The system automatically handles distribution to reviewers and aggregation of reviewer feedback. As the "journal editor," the teaching staff can review the original submission and reviewer feedback and provide feedback and assign grades for both the original author and the reviewers.
     
  • VM Management Console: InstructAssist integrates with the hypervisor running on the isolated network in the Fuller Zoo Laboratory, allowing instructors to give students access to their own virtual machines for arbitrary projects, such as Operating Systems or Networking projects.
     
  • Support for Custom Modules: Because the source code for InstructAssist is available to WPI Faculty, the system can be tailored to your needs.
     
  • Automated Course Roster Import Tool: The system interacts with WPI Registrar systems to allow automated downloading of student rosters. In doing so, the system will alert instructors to registration changes (such as student adds or drops), allowing them to make any appropriate adjustments.
     

Standard Features

Other features are less glamorous, but are important when relying on a system for a class:

  • Disaster Recovery Planning: InstructAssist runs on a server maintained by the WPI Computer Science Department. All active courses are backed up nightly to CS backup media.
     
  • Secure Connection: InstructAssist uses TLS secured connections to protect student records.
     
  • WPI Authentication: InstructAssist integrates with WPI's Single Sign-On (SSO) system, allowing students and staff to interact with the system without creating new usernames or passwords.