We are super excited to share a preview of the free ManageBac iOS app for IB Diploma students. We expect it to be available on the App Store before the end of the month.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Stay organized. View your IB deadlines and assignments on the go.
2. Creativity, Action & Service. Add CAS activities and post reflections.
3. IB Pocket Reference. Comprehensive guide to IB subjects with sample handbooks.
And a few more preview screens:
Don’t worry – we haven’t forgotten about the Coordinator and Teacher versions! Those are next together with MYP and PYP. Stay tuned!
We apologize for the downtime on Tuesday, April 9 starting at 12:29 pm HKT. There was a slow process involving compression of a 360 mb ZIP file that triggered 4 downtime incidents totaling 37 min.
We have optimized this process to reduce its memory consumption and we do not expect this to re-occur. The response times on ManageBac are back to normal now. We are sorry again for the inconvenience.
You can also always check our system status at: http://status.managebac.com
For our November session schools, the newly released TOK titles have now been updated. Students are automatically given access, and can select their paper topic from the list of prescribed titles.
Good luck to all our students as they start planning for their TOK essays!
ManageBac will be unavailable as we perform server maintenance this Saturday, March 16, from 5PM to 5:30 PM HKT (GMT+8). We apologize for any inconvenience caused.
This week we deployed some new improvements to our Attendance features.
1) For Teachers – Absent in Homeroom Notification
If a student is marked absent in Homeroom, teachers later in the day will see an icon next to the student name when they take attendance. Hovering over the icon will provide an ‘Absent in Homeroom’ message.
2) For Parents – Automatic emails when children are absent from homeroom
Schools can now automatically send notification emails to parents if their child is marked absent in homeroom.
3) For Administrators – Daily Attendance Digests
Administrators can also receive a daily attendance digest listing all students that were absent in homeroom. They will also receive notification if all students are marked present.
Automatic emails for parents and administrators can be enabled or disabled in a school’s attendance settings.
Today we deployed the refreshed Attendance manager with support for lesson-based attendance in classes. This update also included several key usability and interface updates.
Class Lessons: You can now configure lesson periods by programme for the DP, MYP and PYP via your Settings > Attendance.
Daily, Weekly and Monthly Views: Allow for easy administration and provide at-a-glance summaries for both Homerooms and Classes.
Category Filters: Allow one-click filtering to see all Absences on a particular day across an entire grade or programme.
Improved Student Search & Editing: You can more easily search for individual students and bulk edit attendance for an individual student, class or homeroom.
Excel Exports for Daily, Weekly and Monthly Cumulative Attendance.
Next Steps and Required Configuration
As an Administrator, you will want to update your Settings > Attendance to ensure that the number of periods are set correctly for each programme.
As a Teacher, you will want to update your Edit Class Settings to ensure that your class’ lesson periods are set correctly. You can use the dropdown menus to adjust your lesson periods. All of your historical attendance records will carry over.
If you have a multi-period class (e.g. with double or triple class lesson periods), then you can click the button to add a lesson period. In this case, if you have previously entered in attendance, it will be copied over to the two or more lesson periods.
Earlier today (Sunday) our hosting provider, Rackspace Cloud, had a redundant power cycle failure, which caused ~2 hours of downtime for ManageBac users. We sincerely apologize and we are very unhappy when there is any period of time when you cannot access ManageBac.
We have a duty to ensure high-availability. We had switched to a new server on Saturday without any issues, but a day later, there was a power failure with our new server at Rackspace. Both our backups and our database server were functioning normally throughout this period.
The server upgrade on Saturday was completed in order to expand storage limits and to improve the application response times. Our application response times are stable and normal at ~184 ms.
This is a timeline of what caused the downtime on Sunday morning:
- The host that our server was on went down at 9:04 am CST. We immediately contacted Rackspace and their operations team tried to do a remote power cycling (i.e. to restart power to the server).
- The remote power cycling did not work, so the Rackspace Data Center Team tried to manually restore power to the host.
- This was not effective, so a chassis swap process was initiated, where the hard disks were removed from one server and replaced into a new healthy host.
- The host and servers came back up successfully at 11:05 am.
Again we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience, and we expect the new servers to operate smoothly going forward.
Thank you for your patience, we have completed the new interface update for ManageBac.
You are probably wondering why we keep changing things, given that this is the second time in less than six months.
The short answer is we were not happy with the old design.
The full answer is that the March update did not address the nuances that existed between the three programmes – in particular for PYP, where curriculum planning by teachers was the main focus area versus the DP and MYP, where students were more engaged in the system.
The structure that worked for DP & MYP did not support PYP well, and it was a mistake for us to make that assumption (e.g. to require e-mails for PYP student users among many other tiny things).
We learned our lesson and this update is a reflection of that together with an improved design that we have borrowed from our admissions & enrollment system OpenApply, which was built earlier this summer.
In summary, these are some of the key design and functional changes:
- Streamlined navigation between the three programmes (DP, MYP, PYP).
- New and improved blank slate screens (i.e. what you see when you first login prior to setup).
- Focused the PYP system on two core areas: (1) planning the Units of Inquiry and (2) Assessment & Reporting.
- Simplified PYP navigation by eliminating unnecessary and infrequently used tabs (e.g. IB Manager, Groups, Messages, Files).
- All information in the PYP system is now centered on the Units of Inquiry.
- Improved the report card template manager with helpful hints and a smoother PDF report generation process.
- Greater flexibility in PYP reporting to allow for assessment of learning outcomes within each subject, more than one criteria (e.g. Achievement vs. Effort) and optional comments.
- Allowed the Scope & Sequence to be defined by Grade (or Year) levels, rather than only via Phases 1-5.
- Allowed for the bulk CSV import of Scope & Sequence data to enable you to easily build in your standards & benchmarks.
- Added custom and criterion options & rubrics in the MYP and DP settings, which allow you to define custom fields or criteria for your term grades submission (e.g. if you want to add a specific assessment criterion for Language A in DP only).
That’s all for today folks, but we will keep you posted on new changes as they are released. There is still a lot of work in-progress that is not on this deploy, so we will be posting updates here and on Twitter with higher frequency over the next few weeks.
Help tutorials and QuickStart guides will be updated by the end of the day Wednesday. If you notice anything funny, please submit a support request in the lower right hand corner and we will look into it straight away.
The new MYP curriculum in Language B and Humanities will go into effect in September and January for May and November-session schools.
On ManageBac, the new subject guides are effective August 1 for May-session schools. For November-session schools, these changes will be effective from December 1.
Please find below a summary of the changes, which we encourage you to share with your colleagues.
In summary, as a teacher:
- In both Language B and Humanities, you will need to archive your old classes and create new ones for the 2012-2013 academic year. For Language B, you will want to define the phases taught within your class and the current phases of your students via the Students tab. It is important that you define phases prior to beginning assessment because the criterion descriptors will vary by phase – just as they did with Foundation, Standard, and Advanced levels.
- Your unit plans have been automatically transitioned to the new curriculum. All historical MYP objectives and criteria are retained for easy reference, so that you can update your unit plans for the new objectives and criteria.
- Your old assessment tasks and marks remain as-is with the old criteria; however, when using Add Resources to import old assessment tasks into your class, you will need to select the new criteria from scratch. Any prior task-specific rubrics will also have to be adapted to the new assessment criteria.
As a Coordinator:
- You will want to ensure that your Subject settings are updated and accurate.
- In particular for Language B, you will need to define the specific phases being taught. The phases, which range from 1 to 6, have replaced the levels Foundation, Standard and Advanced.
- We have migrated your existing levels in the Settings. For example, if you had a Foundation level class, this is now set to Phase 1, Standard is set to Phase 3 and Advanced is set to Phase 5, but you should adjust these together with your Group 2 and 3 subject heads based on your internal plans.
- It is important that you work with your teachers to ensure that they have evaluated and set the appropriate phases of your students. This will affect the criterion descriptors your students see and it will affect the descriptors shown on the reports.
- Lastly, if you plan to adapt the criterion descriptors to make them age-appropriate or specific to your school, you can do this under the Criterion settings. The IB has done this for all five years, so we have updated Years 1 and 3 for Humanities and all six phases for Language B.
This is our first MYP curriculum review change on ManageBac, so if there’s anything you folks think we should work on, please contact us by clicking Submit Support Request.
Our general approach has been to transition over as much of your information as possible, but there are still several key areas (mentioned above) that require your judgment as an MYP Coordinator and as a Group 2 or 3 teacher.
ManageBac now has a new “look and feel”. You will notice many changes, which we are pleased to have released after several months of work, internal debates, feedback from friendly coordinators, and browser testing. This update also includes improvements to PYP, which are described in more detail below.
For the best experience possible, we recommend using Safari 5, Chrome or Firefox. If you are required to use Internet Explorer (IE) because of internal policy, we would recommend version 9 or higher. If you have the choice, don’t use IE.
Why do we keep making changes?
ManageBac’s old interface would turn five years old in September 2012. While many incremental changes have been made, we felt that it was the right time to address many usability issues and to improve the layout & styling across the system.
What has been changed?
These are the usability & design changes on this deploy:
- Usability & Consistency of Actions: On many of the worksheets, there was inconsistent navigation (e.g. to Edit/Delete a CAS Activity or Edit an EE Proposal, you had to first hover over the activity or proposal). This was confusing, and we have eliminated this convention. Whenever you have permissions to Edit or Delete, you will see the buttons in red underlined text in the top right corner.
- Approval & Completion: On the CAS, EE, ToK Paper, C &S and Personal Project worksheets, we have moved the status buttons to the top right menu and placed them together with icons to make it clearer. The approval is now visible on the tabs, so if you’re reviewing CAS reflections, you can mark completion without having to navigate back to the Summary tab.
- Top navigation menu: We have added icons on the top-nav buttons to symbolize each tab’s purpose and to make the distinction between the second nav-menu more clear.
- Space Optimization: The student & advisor info sections were taking up a significant amount of vertical space, we have compressed the photos to minimize the need for scrolling. Under the Student Info, you will also see a simpler navigation with green arrows for switching between students.
- Buttons, Tables & Forms: The styles have been updated to reflect a more subtle tone. The focus of ManageBac is on helping you get your work done – the system is not meant to be “flashy or bright”, so we have tried for reduce the variation in color schemes.
- Sign In: The new sign in page is simpler with a timeless style.
Key functional changes:
- Auto-Save: This keeps a local copy of your work whenever you are writing a message, working on a unit, CAS reflection, etc. so that if your browser suddenly crashes, your work is still saved when you re-open the page. Please note this only works if you are using Safari 5, Firefox 3.5 or IE 9 and higher.
- Interviews: We have consolidated the interviews for CAS, C&S, the Personal Project and EE onto the bottom section of the worksheet under the Message Board (now referred to as Notes & Interviews). This will enable us to eliminate a redundant set of Interview pages, and it will allow you to more easily record your Interview notes without having to navigate to a separate page.
- MYP Gradebook: If you hover over the criteria headers, you will see the full set of descriptors corresponding to each level. On the right menu, you will also find the grade boundaries from the MYP Coordinator’s Handbook (e.g. to convert to IB 1-7 grades). We have also adjusted the progress chart to show the full cumulative year-to-date progress. This was a request we received from many MYP Coordinators.
Key PYP changes:
- Stand-alone Units of Inquiry: Improved organization of stand-alone units, which will not show up within the Programme of Inquiry display. When the stand-alone unit option is selected, it will disable the Transdisciplinary Theme dropdown menu.
- Programme of Inquiry: The new layout and PDF export are more consistent with IB requirements.
- Making PYP Happen: The bubbles have been included in the Units of Inquiry editor to provide additional reference for teachers.
- Key Concepts Tab: Improved navigation by consolidating the Save buttons across the Key Concepts, Subject Focus, Lines of Inquiry, Teacher Questions and Provocations.
That’s all for this update folks.
We will be posting a weekly bulletin with the completed changes at the end of every week.