Planned Maintenance 11/19

We will be performing some planned maintenance on the SL Platform today, November 19, from 11pm-12am Eastern Time. During this time, Straighterline.com will be offline and display branded maintenance pages.

We strive to offer a consistently high uptime and need to perform some updates to ensure a consistent and reliable experience. We also strive to keep maintenance windows to a minimum and schedule them for low-traffic hours.

If you have any questions please contact us.

Introducing Our New Mobile Friendly Course Site Theme

You probably noticed our new theme for the course site at StraighterLine. While it’s a total refresh aesthetically, it also brings some added benefits to our students by providing a responsive layout.

What is responsive?

In short, a responsive theme is flexible so that no matter what screen size you’re using to view a site, the page loads to look it’s best on that screen by moving page elements or resizing columns. This means that it will be a much more friendly experience for our users who are studying with a tablet or even a phone.

What are students saying?

In our demo to date here’s what students have had to say,

The screen condenses itself to the size you choose, making it a better experience.
I was not able to adjust the size of the screen on my laptop to make the screen smaller or larger. Very Simple looking.

I think it’s better organized…

Looks better.

responsiveness is great- will make much easier to use on my tablet or phone if I’m on the go

I loved how things have heading and i can click on it to access materials. It seems more organized as well before it looked bulky, and messy. I love this new update!

Loved it, love it, loved it! Can’t get here fast enough!

It was such a nice layout. Not as confusing. And it was easier to maneuver around in.

Will the theme now work on all devices? In short, yes. But the content that drives our courses has not changed. Through extensive testing we’ve identified a few devices and OS versions that might continue to have trouble viewing content specifically. We are working with our content partners over time to improve the mobile experience for all courses.

Known issues:

  • On many mobile devices lesson presentations do not autoplay, just click the little play button to start the audio on each slide.
  • iOS8: if you’re using iOS8 you may not have the best experience with the McGraw Hill content. Earlier versions of iOS may provide better experiences to students.
  • PE101: Flash content is not supported on Android or iOS
  • MAT250, MAT251, PHY250: Flash content is not supported on Android or iOS

Have a comment or suggestion? Don’t hesitate to contact us or comment below: http://www.thesladvisor.com/ask-anything/

Upcoming Outages: 10/11, 10/12 and 10/16

Over the next week aspects of StraighterLine services will be down temporarily for scheduled maintenance.

  • Turnitin: 10/11 10am – 2pm EST. This will affect any students in courses with qualitative submissions (labs, composition courses including Developmental Writing, Business Communications, Student Success, Spanish and others). Please note that the submission process may not be available Saturday morning. Service should return to normal early afternoon on Saturday.
  • NetTutor: 10/12 11pm – 10/13 9am EST. On Sunday night NetTutor, used generally in Social Sciences, Business and Humanities courses will be unavailable for maintenance. Any scheduled service hours may be disrupted as will overnight Q&A.
  • Moodle: 10/16 3am – 5am EST. Thursday’s outage will affect all courses and they will be unavailable in the early morning. Please note that all examinations, course resources and grades will be unavailable at this time.

We thank you for your cooperation and patience.

For all StraighterLine related events, holidays and service updates check out: http://www.thesladvisor.com/events/

Try our new course site theme: it’s better on every device

You’re invited to try out our new site design before it’s officially released on your desktop, laptop, netbook, Chromebook, tablet, phablet, phone, Glass or iWatch and let us know what you think. The feedback process is essential to ensuring that we’re doing our best to serve you so please fill out the brief survey once you’ve gone through the quick demo using the link below.

Try out the new site

(Note: autoplay of lesson presentations is disabled for mobile, to play the audio slides just click the play button.) And then don’t forget…

Complete the survey

We’re happy share that we’ve been hard at work creating a better and more mobile-friendly experience for our course site no matter what device you are using to access StraighterLine. Rather than create a device specific app that you need to download we’re releasing a “responsive” theme which will work no matter what screen size your looking at. Responsive design is a feature of many sites you’re familiar with and helps to reorganize elements of websites so that they can easily display on any device without showing just a miniature version of the webpage.

At the moment we’re testing all of the activities that you as students do on a daily basis on our site to make sure that we have maximum compatibility and we hope to update the experience for all students soon. We do know already that some content may not playback on all devices but navigating through the site, checking grades, assignment details, or just seeing what chapter to read from your textbook should be better than ever.

An editing tip form a Course Manager: Proofread out loud.

Whoa, what’s up with this title? It seems that someone neglected to proofread and wrote form instead of from, right? You may wonder, how could a good writer ever make such a mistake?

In fact, proofreading your own written work is typically much harder than proofreading work by other writers. As Nick Stockton of Wired magazine explains, this is because you already understand what your own writing is trying to convey. Therefore, if something is amiss due to a typo, you are likely to skip over that typo; as you read silently in your head, your brain will often say the correct word without realizing that a completely different word is on the actual page!

As a former English professor and now a Course Manager at StraighterLine, I have seen these kinds of typos frequently. I purposefully misused form in the title here because this is one of the most common typos I have seen over the years. Because the words form and from contain the exact same letters, it can be surprisingly easy to type one when you meant to type the other. Spellcheck will not inform you of this error because it isn’t smart enough to recognize the wrong word is being used.

So, how can you proofread more effectively and catch these pesky typos?

My number one tip is to always read your essays out loud as you proofread.                       If youproofreading read silently, your brain is likely to see what should be on the page instead of what is actually there. Thus, you will not recognize the typo. But if you read the essay out loud, you are much more likely to see what is actually on the page and catch many more mistakes than if you proofread silently.

The next time you are proofreading an essay, try this tip and see how many mistakes you can catch!

Yo, a free alternative for Word? Word.

Well, the lingo in this title might be totally 1990s, but the tips offered here are for 2014 and beyond.

If you’re attempting to complete your college courses without word processing software, things are bound to get frustrating. Microsoft Word is a great option. Unfortunately, a licensed copy of Microsoft Word can be expensive, with the most basic version running close to $100 even at a discount. So what is a cost-conscious student to do?

Look no further because an excellent open-source option is available! With Google Docs, youGoogle-Docs can create, share, edit, save, and access text-based documents, spreadsheets, and more. The files are compatible with your StraighterLine courses, so you can use Google Docs to upload assignments in variety of courses that require text-based submissions. Be sure to check out this resource, and here are some swell tips to get you started.

This software will be super helpful in any college course, but particularly in ones where writing is the focus. Speaking of that, we have a selection of awesome writing courses that you should check out, including English Comp and Business Communications! If you’re interested in improving your writing skills, these courses are a great place to start.

Turnitin Outage this Saturday

In courses using Turnitin, assignments will be unavailable for viewing or upload this Saturday July 26th from 12pm EST to 12am EST for scheduled maintenance by Turnitin.

During those times you may find both the assignment upload and assignment grade/view options for evaluated works to be unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Scheduled Maintenance on July 26th

Turnitin service will be unavailable during a scheduled maintenance period on Saturday, July 26th, 2014, from  9 AM to 9 PM U.S. Pacific Time (click for local time). We will be making significant upgrades to improve capacity and scalability as our service utilization grows. An announcement will appear for users within Turnitin in advance of when the system will be unavailable for this scheduled maintenance. This maintenance will affect all Turnitin users.

For more StraighterLine events please visit http://www.thesladvisor.com/events/

Ready for your 5k? Be wary of the heat this summer

If you’re in PE101 and gearing up for your 5k or fitness test be sure to use some commonsense to make sure you aren’t going to overexert yourself, that the temperature isn’t too hot, and that you have access to shade, water, a cool place to recover after all that movement and exertion.

Writing from Texas I know how hot and humid the midday can be (which is why I try to schedule any physical activity for the morning or inside at least a shady areas out of the sun), remember that the goal of the fitness test and 5k is to create a benchmark for your own fitness level (not to see if you can survive the heat and humidity of wherever you may be).

Use some commonsense and ensure that you are taking all the precautions required to stay safe and healthy when getting physical this summer. As a bonus, here’s a quick video from Ted Ed (a great source of educational content) that talks about heat stroke and how to prevent it and treat it.

“I could care less …”

Have you ever said this when you want to imply that you don’t care about something? If so, then you actually communicated the wrong message. What you should have said was, “I couldn’t care less,” which means you literally do not care at all.

Speaking of the word literally, some people have a habit of using this word inaccurately. Its meaning implies something that is real or actual. For example, you might say, “After the party, my house was destroyed.” Hopefully, you mean that your house is just really messy and not actually destroyed. Thus, you wouldn’t want to say, “After the party, my house was literally destroyed” (well, unless your guests actually burned the place down).

As you work toward completing your courses, try to be precise and accurate with your language choices, especially in courses such as English and Business Communication, which  require an element of writing.

If you’re interested in other “Word Crimes” like the two highlighted above, you should check out a new video from Weird Al Yankovic, titled–you guessed it!–”Word Crimes.” Using the popular song “Blurred Lines” as a base, Yankovic cleverly scolds those of us who are guilty of crimes against language. The thing is, he’s actually correct in all of his accusations, so while you’re listening to his satirical take on this pop song, you might consider taking notes.