Authoring 101

Overview

kuraCloud makes it easy to author beautiful and interactive lessons. 

Lessons are the smallest units of kuraCloud, and can be anything from a tutorial, lecture, presentation, lab, assessment, or even an exam. Each lesson is filled with different panel types which allow you to add in information, questions, and multimedia aids to get your students engaged in the material.  This section covers the basics of authoring lessons, with handy tips on how to use kuraCloud's features to enhance your instructional design. 

Creating a lesson

To create a lesson, select the course you want to create your lesson within. Then choose Lessons to open the Lessons card, and select New to create a new lesson.

You will be greeted by a blank page of infinite potential!

Your lesson header

The header of your lesson lets you edit your lesson's name and page names, navigate through your lesson pages, undo and redo any editing function, and holds links to take you back to your lists of courses and lessons.

Select  to rename your lesson, or your lesson pages. Change your mind on the name? You can edit these as many times as you'd like! 

Select the Home button or the picture of your Instance in the top left corner to return to your list of courses and lessons on the Administration pages. 

Explore your editing tools

In the footer, you will find a range of editing tools and menus to create and view your lesson (note: if you don't see the tools below, select the EDIT button to get into Edit Mode).

Selecting PAGES opens the Pages menu. Here, you can add, delete and reorder your lesson pages. The Pages menu is also the place to add Checkpoints, Report pages, and navigate to your Popup page menu

Selecting PANELS opens a choice of panel types, including text, images, interactive questions, and multimedia, for you to add to your lesson. For more information about panel types, click here

Selecting PREVIEW allows you to exit Edit Mode and see the lesson as a student would see it. Question panels become active and editable as a student, and your authoring tools disappear. To return to Editing mode, simply select EXIT PREVIEW.

Selecting CLOSE LESSON will return you to the Administration pages with your list of lessons and courses. Your lesson is automatically saved. In the Lessons card, you can select Open to return to the lesson and continue working on it. To return to Edit Mode, simply select EDIT.

Navigation

The arrows to the left and right of your pages allow you to navigate easily between pages of your lesson. Or you can use the Page dropdown menu in the header.

 

Editing an existing lesson

Select the course containing the lesson you want to edit. Then select Lessons in the course card and choose the lesson you want to edit. You can edit the details of the lesson right here on the lesson card. Just select Edit Details. You can change the name of your lesson, add keywords to make the lesson easily searchable, and also add an image that students will see when they log into their homepage. 

​Select Open to edit the content of the lesson. kuraCloud opens the lesson in Preview Mode, so it looks as a student would see it. To make changes, you can go into editing mode using the Edit button from the bottom of the page.

All panel types are edited in a similar way. Select the panel, then press Edit or select again to edit the panel's contents. The rest of the page will gray-out. You can edit other panels or view navigate to other areas of the lesson by first selecting outside of the panel currently being edited or by clicking Done.

Saving a Lesson

kuraCloud saves your work automatically, both during editing and after you exit a lesson. If you accidentally exit a lesson, don't worry! You can hop right back in where you left off. kuraCloud also saves Revisions, so that you can step backwards and revert to a previous version. To see your revisions, select Revisions from the bottom of the Lesson card. This opens the Revisions card where you can clearly see the history of that lesson. Select Restore to step backwards. You may also view or copy the lesson from the Revisions card.

Adding panels

A variety of different panels are available for you to add content to a page. Text, images, questions, multimedia, etc. all have a specific panels available kuraCloud. Multiple panels of any type can be placed onto a single page. 

The Panels Menu

Selecting PANELS opens the Panels menu. Here you have a wide choice of panel types, which you can drag onto your empty page.

Panels are grouped by category:

  • Basic (Text, Image, Whitespace, Minipages and Table)
  • Questions (many different types as shown in the photo above)
  • Multimedia (Video and Audio)

For more information about these panels click here.

The Panel properties menu

Once you have dragged a panel onto a page, the footer changes to reveal the name of the panel you have selected, for example "Text" if you have a Text panel selected. On some panels, a Panel properties menu appears which allows you to to further define your panel's style.


 

Rearranging panels and using whitespace

It is very easy to move panels around on a page – simply drag them to where you wish to position them, and a blue line will show you where your panel will fall into place. Release your mouse to reposition the panel to its new location.

To learn more about rearranging panels, watch our Rearranging panels video

Tips for creating a column layout with panels

You may wish to arrange text in columns alongside an image, or create blocks of text for easy reading on-screen. To do this, make sure you have two or more panels on your page.

  • Select one panel and drag it to, say, the far right of your screen.
  • A blue line will appear to the right of the other panel. That is when you should release you mouse. The second panel should snap into position.

Resize panels

  • You can resize a panel by selecting and dragging the handles that appear.
  • You have enormous flexibility with columns – this allows you to create beautiful layouts.
  • Remember the Undo (or Control + Z) and Redo buttons are your friends! 

 

Adjusting your lesson layout

You can organize your lesson with greater precision by adjusting the layout with Whitespace panels. Find them in the PANELS menu, under Basic Panels. 

The Whitespace panel can be freely adjusted, both horizontally and vertically. This allows you to create balanced layout for your desktop computer, but won’t affect the layout on a mobile phone.

 

Background page

All lessons have the option of including a Background page. Background pages can include prerequisite material, glossary terms, reading lists, anything you can think of!  This content is stored in an information button in the header, which students can access at any time.

Adding a Background page to your lesson

The Background page is accessed by clicking on the info button in the header. You can add any panel type you wish to the Background page from the PANELS menu in the footer.

Students can access the Background page at anytime during a lesson. See how they experience it by selecting PREVIEW in the footer, to jump into Preview Mode. Then select EXIT PREVIEW to return to Edit Mode. 

Ideas for Background pages

There are so many uses for the Background pages in your lessons!

Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Background learning
    • Pre-requisite learning material
  • Key terms and concepts
    • Glossary
    • Equations
  • Further learning
    • Reading lists
    • Extra study questions for practice
  • Reflection and integration
    • How this lesson or module fits into the scope of the entire course

Popups

Popups can be used to provide additional layers of depth or definitions to a lesson. The popup feature allows the author to link text to popups within the lesson. 

Types of Popups

Popups can be short summary popups like this example:

 

Or they can be fully functional fullscreen popups:

Popups can be created and edited by selecting text within a text panel, a question, or a table, then clicking the "Insert Popup"  button.  This takes you to the "Edit popups" menu. You can also reach the Edit popups menu from the PAGES menu in the footer.

The Edit Popups menu

On the left side of the menu, there is a list of all the popups in your lesson. Create a new popup by selecting New, or delete a popup by selecting Delete Popup.


The popup shown above is called "Enteric System". It has both Summary text and a fullscreen popup.

  • If you would like a short text bubble-like popup to appear when students click on the linked text, enter a small amount of text in the Summary area. There is a character limit of 200 characters in summary popups for optimal viewing on a mobile device. 
  • For a fullscreen popup, you can drag any panels you like into the popup area – just like a normal page.
  • You can choose to have either just a summary popup, just a fullscreen popup, or both. Students navigate from the summary popup to the fullscreen popup by clicking "More" from the summary popup.

If you no longer want text to link to a particular popup you've created, select the linked text and then the "Remove Link"  button. 

Choosing between the Table and Spreadsheet panels

The TableTable QuestionSpreadsheet and Spreadsheet Question panels all present a grid of text, and can be graphed, so this page is to help you choose which to use when authoring a lesson.

The best panel to use depends on the content you have in mind. The Table panel is designed to present tables of rich, textual information, whereas the Spreadsheet is ideal for presenting and calculating numbers.

The Table panel is the simpler and clearer of the two panels, so is recommended over the spreadsheet, unless:

  • your data has more than five columns, or
  • you expect to fill many rows, or
  • it's desirable for numbers to be right-aligned, or
  • it's desirable for the panel content to scroll
  • the student needs to be able to enter formulae

The image below shows a comparison of the Table (left) and Spreadsheet (right) panels.

Examples

The Table panel is ideal for tables of formatted text, such as this Table comparing major cities:

The Table Question panel has a simpler appearance than the Spreadsheet Question panel, so it's good for small interactive calculations, such as this interactive BMI utility:


Spreadsheet panels are typically helpful where there will be many rows of numeric data, such as this example, graphing a scatter plot of weight against height.

Table versus Spreadsheet

As you gain experience using both panels you will find it easier to decide which to use. Below is a table of the major differences between a Table and a Spreadsheet.

 

Table

Spreadsheet

Purpose For tables of formatted text For calculating and displaying numbers
Text formatting Yes, rich text, including paragraphs, lists, bold and italic formatting No: plain text only
Cell formatting Yes, colors and headings Headings only
Maximum columns 40 26 (A-Z)
Cell height Automatically grows with content of cell Fixed, extra cell content is hidden
Text align No text alignment Automatic right-alignment of numbers
Formulae Yes, for Table Question only Yes
Graphing Yes Yes
Student editing Yes, the Table Question panel allows students to edit. Yes, the Spreadsheet Question panel allows students to edit.
Student can enter formulae Yes, the Table Question panel allows student to enter formulae. Yes, the Spreadsheet Question panel allows students to enter formulae.
Panel scrolling None: the table is as tall as required by the content Panel content scrolls within height set by author.

Question commits

Each question panel provides you the option to allow students either single or multiple attempts at answering the question. In Edit Mode, select Answer for the question panel you wish to alter. The type of question panel selected (for instance Drag and Drop) and a “Allow multiple attempts” check box will appear in the footer.

Selecting this check box will allow students to attempt the question and check their answer as many times as they wish. Note: this is the default setting for all kuraCloud questions. If you deselect this check box, students will only be allowed a single attempt at answering the question. The students are made aware that they will not be able to edit their work after committing their answer.

Checkpoints

Checkpoints can be used if you require students to commit or "lock in" their answers before progressing through the lesson. After a student has committed their answers they won't be able to go back and edit these again, though they will be able to view the previous pages.

You can add a Checkpoint to any page by selecting New Checkpoint from the Pages menu of the footer.

If you change your mind, you can delete a Checkpoint by selecting Delete page from the Pages menu of the footer.

 

When a lesson contains a Checkpoint (or more than one), the student will only be able to view the pages up to the first checkpoint, although there is an indication of how many pages come after the checkpoint.


Report page

Report pages automatically copy all of the questions and student responses in your lesson onto one organized page for downloading or emailing to the course instructor for review. It makes keeping track of student work a breeze!

Adding a report page to your lesson

You can create a report page using the PAGES menu in the footer. A report page automatically copies all the questions (and all the answers a student has entered) and summarizes them on a single, downloadable page.

Creating a report page places an additional page on to the end of your lesson. Here, students are able to review and edit their answers (unless they had to "lock in" their answers via a Checkpoint) before downloading or submitting their report. 

As an author, you can remove or hide questions from the report page by clicking on a question panel and selecting Remove from report. This hides the panel in preview mode but it’s still visible in Edit Mode, so you’re able to restore this panel if you wish.

The entire report page can be easily deleted, like all other pages, by selecting Delete page from the PAGES menu of the footer.

Options are be available for the students to either Download a PDF version of their report or, if activated by the Instance Administrator, an automatic submit button will allow the students to instantly email their report to an email address of your choosing. For more information on configuring report pages, click here.

Publishing lessons and creating modules

Before students can see any lessons or modules, they must first be published from the Administration side. For more information on how to publish your lesson, click here.

If you want your students to go through a group of lessons as a single unit, you can group your lessons together into modules. The module will appear on your student's home page and students will click into it to see the lessons you have included. For more information on how to create a module, click here

Sometimes you may want to publish a lesson individually, and include the same lesson in a module that will be published separately. Each time the lesson is published a new revision is made. The details of your published revisions are listed on the Lesson card. The lesson itself is still a single lesson.  If you edit the lesson, you can choose which of the published revisions is updated, by selecting update from your chosen Lesson Revision Card.

If you plan to have two similar versions of one lesson that you continue to edit and publish, we suggest that you duplicate the lesson and give them individual names. This means you’ll be able to make changes to the different lessons and keep them both up to date.

Multiple authors

There can be multiple authors within a course, and even multiple authors on a single lesson. kuraCloud supports one author in edit mode of a lesson at a single time. If you attempt to edit a lesson that another author is working on, a "Lesson is locked" dialog will appear like the one shown below:

If you press Start Editing, it will lock the other author out of editing mode and they will no longer be able to make changes to the lesson. They will receive the following dialog showing them who has the current editing privileges:

This feature is very useful when an author forgets to close a lesson they are working on, so that no time is lost waiting for that author to return to their lesson and close it. Remember other authors can lock you out of editing mode as well, so be kind and use good judgment when taking over authoring privileges for a lesson.

Presentation Lesson

Presentation Lesson is an authoring option that helps enhance the ability to use kuraCloud lessons for presentations. It is currently a kuraCloud Prototype Feature.

Turning on Presentation Lesson

Presentation Lesson can be turned on or off inside the lesson Edit Details card. First select the lesson you wish to use, select Edit Details, then select the Presentation Lesson checkbox.

 

Changes applied to the lesson

  • Text is automatically optimized for presentation - Headings and text become larger.
  • Can still use all panels - Lesson is still editable in this mode and all panel types are able be used.
  • Keyboard navigation keys - Keyboard keys can be used to navigate between pages.
  • Compatible with presentation remotes.
  • Automatically navigates through Minipages.

Drag and Drop Authoring

Drag and Drop is a feature that enables authors to quickly add content to kuraCloud.  Authors can simply select the content out of a folder, document or webpage and then drag & drop it onto a kuraCloud lesson page.

Check out our one minute Drag and Drop Authoring video that features nearly everything you need to know.

How do I use Drag and Drop with text?

Firstly open your document or webpage, then using the cursor, make a text selection. While holding down the mouse click, drag and drop that selection onto a lesson page. Use the blue line as a guide as to where the new panel will be created.

Once dropped onto the lesson page, your text will be converted into a Text panel.

Can I create a different panel with my text?

Yes, you can use the selected text to create a different panel. For example, as the start of a Multi-Choice Question, or as the caption for an Image panel.

To choose a different panel type from the default, drag the content onto the lesson page and release your mouse-click on top of the cog icon that appears, or by holding shift as you drag and drop your content into the lesson. 

This menu will allow you to select from all available panel types that your content is compatible with.

The image below shows the different options for a selection of text that has been dropped onto the cog menu.

Note: If the content is appropriate for only one panel type (e.g. Video or Audio files), then the appropriate panel will always be created.

Creating Tables or Spreadsheets

Tables of text or numbers can easily be recreated in kuraCloud. Simply select all of the cells you wish to copy, drag and drop the selection into the cog menu, and then select Table, Table Question, Spreadsheet, or Spreadsheet Question.

A Table or Spreadsheet with the correct number of rows and columns will be created and the cells automatically populated. 

How do I drag in Tables or Spreadsheets with cell calculations?

Because Drag and Drop copies over the exact text in every cell, formulas and cell calculations can be copied across incorrectly. To copy these tables you will need to have 'Show Formulas" enabled inside Excel. This is easy to do by opening Excel, selecting the 'Formulas' menu then 'Show Formulas'.

Drag and Drop using Internet Explorer

A setting inside Internet Explorer can sometimes stop Drag and Drop from working correctly. If you are having trouble with Internet Explorer, check the following setting.

  1. Open Internet Explorer and click the Settings Menu.
  2. In Internet Options, Click Security.
  3. Click Custom level.
  4. Change the settings to enable the "allow dragging of content" options.

Referencing cells between panels

The cells inside a Table, Table Question, Spreadsheet and Spreadsheet Question panel can be referenced from outside of the panel using a simple formula.
You can reference between any combination of these different panels and they don't need to be on the same page.

Referencing using the panel name

Tables and Spreadsheets have automatically generated panel names, which are found in the panel footer while editing the panel.

Authors can use these names to reference cells from other panels. This is similar to the way Excel references between sheets.
Simply type =, then the Sheet or Panel name you wish to use, next type !, then the cell reference value.

An example of this would be "=Sheet1!A1" or "=Table2!B2".