Students Staff
University of Essex

October 22, 2013

COR integration updates: displaying weights and ID’s

Filed under: Bug fix,System Development,System Update,Technical — Richy @ 11:37 am

Further to the remedial and improvement works that have been rolled out over the past three weeks to improve integration between COR and FASer, the following features have been released and are available for your use:

Some of the more visible updates include:

  • Weight of assignments displayed in the overview page


By displaying the weight in the overview page, we aim to reduce your workflow, as this will mean you can change weights in COR and view these changes on one page rather than having to go into each assignments’ page individually.

  • Matching COR entry now displayed in the assignment summary page


Some DA’s were concerned about not knowing if an assignment had a corresponding entry in COR. Having a matching COR entry displayed in the assignment summery page will address this.

As well as the changes mentioned above, there are additional changes that may not be so apparent, these include:

  • Submission date is cleared automatically if assignment is marked as “No online submission required”
  • Student page displays “No current assignments” rather than “No online assignments” when there are no assignments

October 15, 2013

Upcoming FASer training courses

Filed under: Event — Richy @ 12:53 pm

New FASer training courses are available from the Learning Technology Team on the following dates:

  • Introduction to FASer for Administrators, more information here
    • Thursday 17 October, 13:00 (Colchester campus)
    • Friday 18 October, 14:30 (Southend campus)
    • Friday 15 November, 13:00 (Colchester campus)
  • Introduction to FASer for Academics, more information here
    • Thursday 17 October, 14:30 (Colchester campus)
    • Friday 15 November, 14:30 (Colchester campus)

Southend staff should register interest with Suzanne Harrison.

For more information on the courses we run and general FASer information, please visit the FASer courses page or the MEFE Moodle news forum

October 14, 2013

Validation updates to the assignment creation/ edit page

Filed under: Bug fix,System Development,System Update,Technical — Richy @ 1:55 pm

A new update has been released in order to ease the creation process of new assignments, these new features include:

  • Submission deadline default time
    • By default, submission deadline is now 12 noon; which means you will no longer receive the “LTT out of office hours” message.
    • The system should no longer send emails out notifying of “past deadline” when creating assignments with no submission deadlines.
  • Save notifications
    • A more visible notification should now be displayed when saving to indicate if any errors were found with your input.
    • The save button is now disabled while the saving process is occurring, we found that some assignments were being duplicated as users were clicking save multiple times whilst the save process was occurring.
  • Search on input fields
    Some browsers were performing a search when hitting enter on an input box, this should now be resolved; however the best way of moving into the next input field when viewing a website is by pressing tab.
  • Lecturer Input
    A  message is now displayed to indicate the maximum of 1 lecturer per assignment has been reached, this was the previous limit in OCS and has been replicated in FASer. If an assignment requires more than 1 lecturer, these should be added as secondary markers/ notification emails.

If you have experienced any issues or bugs please email the Learning Technology Team at with full details of the issue.

October 9, 2013

Email notifications now accepting groups and aliases

Filed under: Bug fix,System Update — Richy @ 9:16 am

Previously the system would only allow users to enter valid email addresses that were linked to an individual user, this however meant that aliases and groups were not accepted as they weren’t linked to anyone.

Aliases are linked to another email, and groups behave essentially like an alias; pointing to a number of different emails.


The system has now been modified to allow for these unknown emails. The way it works is if any email address is entered that the system cannot look-up it will add to the end. This will require you to make sure the email you have entered is correct but should make it much easier to add people to your email lists.

If you have experienced any issues or bugs please email the Learning Technology Team at with full details of the issue.

New design for Submission details selection

Filed under: Bug fix,System Update — Richy @ 9:11 am

We have had some queries with the submission selection dialog that have made us rethink the way that this information should be displayed. It seemed the old design was somewhat confusing, we hope this new design is much more straight forward to use.

New deadline design

With the new design it should be much simpler to select whether your assignment has an electronic submission, a hard copy submission or no submission at all. If there is no submission at all, we have to add a deadline (1st January 1900) in the database, but you won’t see this in FASer and your students certainly won’t see this in their submission deadlines area. However you may see some email notifications withthis strange date, please let us know if that is the case.

If you have experienced any issues or bugs please email the Learning Technology Team at with full details of the issue.

October 7, 2013

Glow feature update

Filed under: Bug fix — Richy @ 2:30 pm

As you will have probably noticed, new features in FASer receive a green glow to highlight them.

You may have also noticed a small bug in that this glow seemed to reappear once you changed from one page to another, this issue should now have been resolved meaning you will only see this glow until you click on the item, after which it should no longer appear.

If you have experienced any issues or bugs please email the Learning Technology Team at with full details of the issue.

October 3, 2013

Start of new academic year 2013-14

Filed under: Technical — Richy @ 12:37 pm

As you will all know the new students started to arrive on Monday (Week 1) ready for the 2013-14 academic year. However, the official start date for the new academic year is today, Thursday 3 October. Some of you may have noticed, earlier in the week, that FASer defaulted to 2012/13 when viewing the overview page, you should now see it correctly defaulting to 2013/14 as of today.

Frontrunner plus software tester for MEFE project

Filed under: Project Report — Richy @ 9:05 am

Hi Everyone

My name’s Richy and I’m the new software tester Frontrunner Plus for the MEFE project.

I’m a third year Computer Science student here at the University of Essex and will have been involved with Frontrunners for two years now having previously been the Screencast Frontrunner also for the IT Training and Engagement Team.

My software tester Frontrunner Plus tasks will mainly involve:

  • Communicating upcoming changes on the MEFE Moodle page, along with getting opinions from users about any suggested changes. This will involve communicating with everyone that is signed up to the Moodle news forum, making inquiries about any issues that people might have with the system and gathering user feedback and suggestions.
  • Testing new features on the development environment to ensure everything works as expected on all supported browsers before these features roll into the live environment. This will involve me testing any new planned features to make sure as many bugs as possible are resolved before a feature is made live. Sadly bugs will always get through to the live environment. However, our aim is to resolve as many of these as possible before hand.
  • Assisting the development team with support and communication for any changes or bug fixes that might appear. This will mainly be a support role whereby I might be visiting users of the system in order to log any issues and relaying these back to the development team, as well as managing all communications from the time an issue is reported to once it’s resolved.

I will also be regularly updating this blog with any new features that might be coming to FASer along with any happenings that I might be involved in.

Richard Howard Bent-Marshall
Software Tester Frontrunner Plus
IT Training and Engagement Team
Information System Services

October 1, 2013

Technical Development: Page changes and glow features

Filed under: System Development,System Update,Technical — admin @ 11:00 am

Page changes

Overview page (for everyone)

  1. There is now a box in the centre panel which displays status alerts of the system to all users. This now reads directly from an RSS feed which is linked to our MEFE news blog. The System Alerts are displayed to all users.
  2. There is a further feed below the system alerts which display personalised FASer feed notifications for that individual, such as upcoming deadlines. As we add new features over time, we anticipate that there will be more notifications for both staff and students.

Assignment creation page/edit page (for staff only)

  1. You also now have the ability to save an assessment and set it to unpublished – which means it is hidden from student view until you tick “publish” from the Assignment overview page.
  2. You must now enter the campus for which this assignment is bound to or generated for.
  3. We must supply the broader assessment type for our KIS information responsibilities. However we have also added a more granular level of assignment type which may be useful for the department to collect. These fields are not displayed to the students.
  4. You can select that there is no deadline for this assignment, however if you do not select this, you must enter either a hardcopy or electronic submission deadline. You can select both.
  5. There is a “does not require electronic submission tick box” which you can use for assignments that used to be created on COR for activities like attendance marks.
  6. Notification email, lecturer email and second marker emails. You can now find and add users by their username only and then clicking add. You don’t need to supply their full name, we will find that for you. To remove a user, hover over their name and an “x” will appear.

Assignment overview page (for staff only)

  1. There is now a checkbox for publish/unpublish. This has replaced the notion of “deleting” the assessment in FASer. When you select or deselect this checkbox – your request is saved immediately.
  2. We have added headings at the top of columns.
  3. We have retained the ability to create a new assignment directly from the module section.
  4. There is a new filter at the top “Are not published” which will toggle displaying assignments that have been published and not published.

Glow features and tooltips

When we release a new button or field we will now be adopting a glow feature, highlighting the area to a user. When you click on this feature, you will see an explanation of what it does or requires from you to input; these descriptions are called tooltips. The feature glow will then disappear. This has been set to an accessible colour Green to begin with, but shortly we will be releasing the ability for you to change the colour by going to Help & support on the left hand side, and selecting “system settings”. We will post a new blog post when this is released.

All the tooltips for a page can be reactivated by selecting the “take a tour of this page” in the top right hand corner as previous versions of FASer had. We hope this helps with the transition of understanding lots of new features at once.

Some administrators have been working with the MEFE project team last week to look at the process end-to-end for a user and make sure it is straightforward, as well ensuring we are providing the correct instructions in support materials on screen. Please get in contact with us if you have any outstanding enquiries.

Technical Development: COR data rolled forward

Filed under: System Development,Technical — admin @ 9:13 am

As outlined to all administrators on 6 September by Carla Constable, the updating of assessment items process has now changed.

We have successfully migrated the 2012-13 assessment data from the Encore coursework system (COR) to the FASer database.

  • This process will mean an administrator will now log in to FASer instead of COR to accept the assessments for this 2013-14 year, amend or create new assessments. Any changes will then be written back to COR, removing duplication of entering this data in both systems.
  • Administrators will still need to assign rule weights where applicable in COR.
  • Administrators will also only be able to permanently delete an assessment item in COR. (but can unpublish an assignment which hides it from students view)

This change means that the Assignment Overview and Assignment Creation pages in FASer have both had some changes to reflect some of the fields in COR that have been merged into this system. The changes will be outlined in the “Page changes and Glow features” blog post today.

Please can Administrators be extra vigilant in checking if there are any duplications of assignments present, or the wrong entry for an assignment being displayed in  2013-14 assessment areas. This should be a seamless process for next academic year 2014-15, but this year we may see some erroneous assignments due to the transition. Assignments that have been rolled over will need submission dates re-added, and lecturer/ contact details re-added. But should have titles, and descriptions still visible.