DS106 Assignment Bank

A collection of "things" ... just like the one that made DS106 famous

 

About the DS106 Assignment Bank

The DS106 Assignment Bank Wordpress Theme that allows you to create and customize a site that has all of the functionality of the DS106 Open Assignment Bank. How big can you go? As of Oct 4, 2016 the original assignment bank includes 1022 ds106 assignments and 12032 examples created in response to them.

With this template you can build a site to house any collection of assignments, tasks, challenges etc, that you want to offer, then organize them by type, and then like ds106 allow your community to add their own to the collection.

To be general, we call what is inside the bank as generic "things" but if it helps you to understand, you can call them "assignments" -- for the one below used for the UDG Agora project the "things" are "challenges".

Within one type of Challenge (e.g. above challenges related to Active Learning or ones that are Creating with Media), a visitor has many options on how to view the "things" to they can pick one they are most interested in trying. Each one has information to help you decided if it is worth doing- a one to five star popularity setting (one can vote on this at any time -- once). It has a 1-5 difficulty rating as defined by the person who created it. You can see how many times it has been viewed, how many response to it have been done, and how many extra resources have been added to it.

Each "thing" has descriptive information, detailed instructions, and a link to an example of a possible response to it. Let's look more closely at a Challenge / Thing:

You see all the descriptive information that was on the index page, but also any tags or categories that it is classified under. If the linked example is a URL to a YouTube, vimeo, Animoto video, SoundCloud audio, tweet, that media will be embedded in place of a link.

When you create your own bank you have options on how your site visitors can respond to one. In some cases, you might want to run a Feed Wordpress aggregator on the site (or from another aggregator hub site, maybe you built one?) so they can do their work in their own blog (like the way the original DS106 one works). In this mode, each response must use tags as specified by the "thing"

Or you can have all responses entered into the site like a blog post, housed in the bank. The way it was used for the UDG Agora Challenge Bank shown above responses could be tracked by a person's twitter name, so we can collect all the examples by a single contributor without requiring any logins.

And you can do both! Which ever way, the responses are listed below a thing, as well as an optional feature for visitors to add a tutorial or resource to help others completed the same thing.

By being an "open bank" your site visitors can also contribute their own things to the bank:

Examples in the Real World

Explore some different examples where the DS106 Assignment Bank has been used:

Try Before You Buy Build

We have a demo site that was created the same way here on StateU as you can or will do. The Thing Bank is set up so you can explore it's structure and functionality, Wel, it has only two things in it. But you could... add one! This is exactly the site you will see when you install it as a version in your own StateU space.

And you will get the same sample "thing" that includes the instructions below on configuration options.

Plus a sample thing that you can respond to.

 

How to Build Your Own

Now you can build a bank of your own.

The instructions below are available (at least for now) only via the StateU site. Anyone can create an account there to try this pre-built Assignment Bank site. If you want to try this on your own domain, you can get the theme and instructions from GitHub. It will take a few more steps there.

Like you did when setting up your first Wordpress blog, start at your StateU dashboardand under Applications click Wordpress.

Click the Install This Application button. This time we will set up the Location settings to put this Wordpress site in a subdirectory of your own site. Because we already have a Wordpress sitting at the root of our domain, we will put this in a subdirectory. You can name it whatever you like, it will become the URL for your site too.

So in this case the site creator wants a blog at the url http://rebeg.statu.org/assignments so assignments is what this person named "Rebeg" entered for Directory (feel free to name it whatever you like, just use lower case.):

The next section is called Versions. Under the Content heading you will see a few options for the template to use; choose DS106 Assignment Bank to install a version of Wordpress with all of this functionality built in.

Now scroll past a few sections until you get to Wordpress Settings. You can edit your own admin user name and password, but it's not necessary-- you can log into your directly from this interface later. So you can leave the random generated values for now.

The only fields you might want to change Website Title and Website Tagline to something that better represents your new site (you can also edit this later in the Wordpress settings).

That's it! Now click the Install button in the bottom right, and just watch the progress bar dance along the screen.

When it's done, you can try the first link to see your site. You will find there, just like the demo, under the "Cool Things" a sample entry with the instructions you also will see below.

For further customization steps and instructions, view your site, and follow the link for Assembling the SPLOT Writer-- this explains the other customizations.

WordPress Settings

If you left the site title with the default My Blog on the installer, you can change that in Settings -> General. The majority of changes you need to consider are available from the Assignment Bank Options link at the top black admin menubar.

There are many many options to set! Check the documentation tab for help and the more detailed explanation on the GitHub site. Below we summarize the more important settings to consider for your own bank site.

Assignment Bank Options: Things

The first option defines across the site the name for items in your collection- What are the "Things"? The entry should be singular. In the demo site you will get, we were very clever and each one is a... "Thing" (in the screen shot above, each is a "Challenge"). It could be "Assignment" or "Recipe" or "Task" or ???

The rest of the options give you flexibility on how they are displayed on an index page.

Twitter Options

The use of twitter names on the entry forms was an idea introduced for the UDG Agora Challenge Bank as a way to track contributions without requiring a login. Since twitter names are unique, we use them to identify contributions to the site. This can be turned off (not even used), made optional, or required. If you do use twitter names, it enables the use of the Leaderboard of activity. You can also add a hashtag or any other string you want used when someone tweets a "thing" from the button on each thing page.

Default Image and Icon Size

The default thumbnail image is used if a person creating a new "thing" does not include an image to represent it. So find an image that best represents the items in your site. When you click Edit/Save Thumbnail you will see an interface where you can drag and drop and image file or select it from a file chooser. Just make sure your image is larger than the sizes shown- Wordpress will crop and resize it to fit.

Responses, Tutorials, Both or None?

The original kind of assignment bank site provided a way for users to add either their response to an assignment or a tutorial on how to complete it. By request of people using the bank site in a we never envisioned, a selection was added to so can do both of these (each has a button link to a submission form and a list of all other form responses). Maybe tutorials are not part of your collection site. Or maybe you do not want to have any user response. So you can turn both of these sections on or off.

Submitting Responses or Syndicating

Also, in the original DS106 Assignment Bank, the way people added their response was writing a blog post with appropriate tags, and using RSS syndication to find them and associate responses with the assignment. The site can still work that way by using the Feed Wordpress plugin (see below).

But if you enable the Allow visitors to submit examples via web form option, uses can add their response via a built in web form. And with that option set, this can be done with the Link to Form Submitted Examples option:

  • A brief description and a link to a web site where there is a full explanation (set option to No, links go to example URL)
  • A full detailed entry using a rich text editor (see below). This is more like writing the blog post right in your site (set option to Yes, links go to entry on the bank site).

Either way you can choose to let the responses be published immediately, or set to draft so you can moderate.

The entry for Name for Support Things gives you the option to name what we originally called "Tutorials".

A bank site can also be set up to use a blog syndication model. The explanation of Feed Wordpress is beyond this documentation (but ahem you might find some useful information elsewhere in this workshop), but you can use an aggregator hub right on this site (feeds will have to be entered directly into the Feed Wordpress interface). When a thing is published, it will provide a tag that a user must include in their post for it to be associated with an assignment./

The syndication hub can be on another site, as it was with ds106. In this case you need to name the site and provide it's URL. Users in that model need to include a second tag (defined in the options as Required Tag) in addition to the assignment tag to indicate that it is a bank response.

Captcha

This feature has not been used much, but if spam becomes a problem you can add a graphical "prove you are a human" gate to your site.

Thing Types

These are the high level organizers for your items. The first field is a place to create new "types" of things:

Then after the next save, you will see forms to edit each type:

Each has a title, a description, and a thumbnail. You can edit the ones used in this demo, or use the check box to delete them. Below we are changing one set up first as "Boogers" (not a great name) to be "Cooking".

When you click Edit/Save Thumbnail, you will see an interface where you can drag and drop and image file or select it from a file chooser. Just make sure your image is larger than the sizes shown- Wordpress will crop and resize it to fit.

Creating Things

Always always use the front end "Add Thing" form (you can rename it by editing its page) to add items to your collection. Each one requires several specific meta data fields that are nearly impossible to set correctly if you create your things in the Dashboard (it is fine to edit them, you can see much of the meta data is in custom fields).

That's All Folks

This seems like a lot of settings, but that has evolved to make the site as flexible as possible. Remember there is more documentation on GitHub and if you encounter problems or bugs, please report them there via GitHub Issues.

Now go experiment with your own bank. Build a bank!


Animated GIF created with Giphy GIF Maker from the YouTube video of How The West Was One (1962 movie trailer)