New Message Notifications, UI Refresh & Dashboard

March 4, 2012

Message Notifications

Earlier this morning, we deployed internal message notifications, which will streamline communication.

Better notifications was one of the top feature requests, so it was a priority for us to have this in place. ManageBac now sends 330,000+ e-mails a month, and message notifications will support daily summary updates and reduce e-mail volume. It will also enable us to better communicate important changes and feature updates to all users. Under the My Account > Notifications tab, you will have the option to enable or disable the types of notifications you’d like to receive.

User Interface Refresh

On March 9, we will be refreshing the user interface and deploying the new Dashboard. We hope that you like the cleaner “look and feel” for ManageBac.

The navigation flow will remain largely the same, but this is a major step towards fully harmonizing the interface across all three programmes, so that there is consistency in the way information is presented and in the styling & placement of Add, Edit and Delete buttons.

Dashboard

The Dashboard is one of the first things you’ll see in ManageBac. Our goal was to simplify the process for getting things done.

Instead of having to first navigate into your classes or IB year groups, you will be able to post messages & deadlines, add CAS activities, create assessment tasks, start a unit plan, etc. directly from the first page after signing in.

Depending on your role as an IB Coordinator, Teacher or Student, you will see a slightly different version, but the general principle is the same: less navigation, so you can get more done with fewer clicks.

You will also notice the latest activity feed, which shows activity updates across IB year groups, classes and CAS and C&S groups. If you use Facebook, this will be instantly recognizable.

Feature Request Progress Report

Since launching our feature requests forum with UserVoice in October 2011, we have received over 200 feature requests. Thank you for your suggestions and feedback.

Over the past four months, we have been working through the top 20 requests, which have received over 10 votes. The balance of ~180 requests have < 4 votes.

These are a summary of the major updates that have been completed over the past six months:

  • Resource Duplication: Being able to easily add deadlines, tasks, files and messages to multiple IB groups and classes.
  • Gradebook: Implementing auto-save, one-click per criterion, harmonizing the interface of the Gradebook with the rest of ManageBac in a spreadsheet style, and simplifying the grading process with the least number of clicks.
  • Whole-school Curriculum Map: Making the units drag’n'drop for easy re-ordering and information hovers.
  • MYP Student Learning Expectations: Allowing schools to easily customize and track their SLEs.
  • Updated PDF Report Card Templates: Improving the presentation, style and typography.
  • New E-mail Templates: The new styles provide a much cleaner presentation.
  • PYP Curriculum Planning: Ability to track PYP Attitudes, Learner Profile characteristics and the Transdisciplinary Skills across the UoI.
  • PYP Programme of Inquiry: New layout and corresponding PDF export.
  • TurnItIn Integration: Updated for the new API to eliminate the need to login separately.
  • IBIS DP Exam Registrations: The registration process was redesigned from scratch to support the new interface provided by the IB.

Decision Framework

If you have submitted a feature request that we have not gotten to, we would like to explain our decision framework, so that you can understand even though we like you, why it is not feasible for us implement all requests, and why it is not an instant process where we can have a few espressos and deploy a feature in a weekend:

  • ManageBac is standardized, and all schools operate off of the same common system. This allows us to make changes for everyone uniformly and instantly. This standardization supports essential economies of scale – without which ManageBac would be untenable to operate or maintain.
  • Prioritization: we continuously prioritize the requests that we receive. Some requests are more time-sensitive because of IB deadlines or reporting requirements, so these are implemented with greater urgency. We do our best to meet your internal deadlines whenever feasible.
  • Certain feature requests are more complex, require extensive testing, and can only be phased in during the summer. For example, curriculum changes (e.g. MYP Humanities) cannot be implemented in the middle of a school year because assessment & reporting is still being done on the current (old) guide.
  • School-specific adjustments, which are only applicable to an individual school, are difficult. It would not be reasonable for us to add a function that is relevant for one school only, which then confuses or clutters the system for the majority. This is always a difficult judgment, but this is our responsibility to make decisions carefully, which are in the interest of the general community.


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