PlusPortals Release: September 27, 2016

We are pleased to announce an update for the PlusPortals with some important feature fixes. In addition, we have made some exciting enhancements to the Google Calendar Feed feature and parents can now view and update their Contact Database information.

The PlusPortals were updated during the early morning (EDT) on September 27, 2016. Please review the full details below.

Features and Enhancements

In addition to this update, TeacherPlus Sync Engine version is now available. This new version provides the ability to receive parents’ Contact Database information changes into AdminPlus. Hosted schools have already been updated to these versions.

Showing Google Calendar events on the PlusPortals Home Page

Google Calendar events feeding from our Calendar Feed feature can now be shown on the PlusPortals Home Page. In addition, parent, student, and teacher visibility settings can now be set for each feeding calendar. This will allow schools to feed certain calendars to the whole school, while limiting the visibility of other calendars to teachers, for example.

Any existing feeds enabled at the time of this update will have the Show on Login Page unchecked and all Visibility options checked by default. To modify these settings on, go to Communications > Calendar > Calendar Feed, click the Edit button, check or uncheck the applicable boxes and click the Update button.

Enabling parents to update their Contact Database information

Parents can now be granted access to view and to edit their own demographic information within the PlusPortals. The information from any of the standard Contact Database fields can be viewed and edited except for the parent’s Primary E-Mail, as this is their PlusPortals username – parents must contact the school directly to change this. User-defined Global and Local fields of the Contact Database will not appear in the PlusPortals.

These changes can then be received into the Contact Database in AdminPlus in order to update the parents’ official records. To do this, AdminPlus version and Sync Engine version are required. Hosted schools have already been updated to Sync Engine version and will be updated to AdminPlus version by the morning of September 30th (EDT).

Please see the Contact Database Updates in the PlusPortals Overview section at the bottom of these notes for a detailed guide.

Creating folders for a unit’s Teacher Resources

The ability to create folders is now available in the Teacher Resources feature of the Unit Builder and the Lesson Planner. Folders can be created by clicking the button to add a new item, then clicking the New button next to the folder drop-down.

Adding files and links from a unit’s Teacher Resources to a lesson’s Homework and Digital Resources

In our September 6, 2016 update, the new Teacher Resources feature was added to the Lesson Planner as part of our new Unit Builder feature. Teachers can now copy files and links from Teacher Resources to the Homework/Assignments and Digital Resources of individual lessons, thereby using the Teacher Resources as a file and link repository.

The option to copy files from Teacher Resources will appear in the menus when adding or editing Homework/Assignments or Digital Resources:

When the Teacher Resources dialog-box appears, the teacher can select all applicable files, then click the Add button to copy the files.

All files or links across all units will be displayed on the screen by default. The Select Unit drop-down can be used to filter the list by unit.

New abilities for non-teaching staff members with PlusPortals user accounts

In our September 6, 2016 update, the ability to automatically create PlusPortals accounts for non-teaching staff members (APIDs ST301 to ST600) was introduced in the PlusPortals. At that time, these users did not have the ability to post events to the School Calendar, add files and links to School Resources, and send messages using the Messages feature. These abilities are now available to the non-teaching staff members.

There are no steps required to enable these abilities – all non-teaching staff accounts will have them automatically.

Feature Fixes

  • The display names for classes can now be edited by teachers and administrators. Due to recent javascript updates across multiple browsers, this functionality was temporarily interrupted.
  • The Google Calendar Feed will now display all events from the selected calendars. Previously, each calendar in the feed was limited to showing a maximum of 250 events due to an oversight in the Google API.
  • When a class is transferred from one teacher to another, the ownership of any existing Calendar events for the class will also be transferred to the new teacher. Prior to this update, while all content was transferred properly and students were able to see the events, the events for the class were still showing in the previous teacher’s Manage Events screen instead of that of the new teacher’s.
  • The parents’ opt-in/opt-out setting for the Directory will now always apply. Prior to this update, if a parent had opted-out in the previous year but decided to opt-in this year, the parent would still not appear in the Directory, as the option for the previous year was effective.
  • All students associated with a parent account will now appear in that parent’s Newsfeed. Previously, students that did not have a PlusPortals user account were not appearing.
  • The list of Group Members will now populate for Groups imported from the previous year which use dual-level criteria of Demographic Field to determine which students should be members. Prior to this update, when a Group was imported from the previous year the criteria was mistakenly saved with the second level of criteria, preventing the list of members from populating.
  • Admin user accounts can now be created in the PlusPortals using e-mail addresses with domain extensions longer than three characters.
  • The teachers’ Announcements tab will now show only the Announcements and Alerts for the selected class. Previously, all Announcements and Alerts across all of the teachers’ classes were displayed.
  • Homework/Assignments and Announcements will not be duplicated when adding to multiple classes. Prior to this update, if a Class Summary was copied to another class, when a Homework/Assignment or Announcement was then added to those classes, it was duplicated.

Important Information: Parent Passwords

Due to our commitment to privacy and security, and based on best practices for online accounts containing private information, we will be making parent passwords invisible on the PlusPortals in our next update. Parents typically use the same password for many online accounts. To avoid any liability issues, these passwords will be hidden. For now, the passwords for students, teachers, and admins will remain accessible.

The parents’ passwords were initially made accessible in the PlusPortals in order to provide you with access to their accounts for assistance. However, the Login As feature in the Manage Accounts > Parents area was added later, providing the same ability. You will still be able to gain access to the parents’ accounts by using this feature.

This change will not remove your ability to reset the parents’ passwords and e-mail their credentials to them, and parents will still be able to reset their own passwords by using the Can’t access your account? button on the PlusPortals login screen (unless you have disabled this ability in the Permissions > Summary area). In addition, temporary passwords for parents will still be visible to you.

Contact Database Updates in the PlusPortals

Enabling parents to view and edit their Contact Database information in the PlusPortals

In the PlusPortal Admin Site and go to Permissions > Parents, then scroll down to the Demographics section. Check the Allow parents to edit their demographic data box if you would like to enable editing, then check the applicable boxes in the View and Editcolumns. Note that view and edit permissions for individual fields can be set separately, allowing you to provide view-only access to some fields while also allowing edit access for others.

Viewing and editing the Contact Database information in the PlusPortals

Based on the permissions set, a parent will be able to view and edit their information by clicking the Edit Demographics option in the drop-down menu on the parent’s name:

On this screen, the fields that have been made viewable will appear in the Parent Demographics box:

When the Edit button is clicked, only the fields that have been made editable will appear. The parent can click in the text boxes to make changes. Once all changes have been made, the parent can click the Save button.

These changes will not be shown to other PlusPortals users until the information has been received into AdminPlus.

Receiving parents’ Contact Database information updates into AdminPlus

In AdminPlus, go to Home > Demographics and click the Holding Bins icon, then click the Yes button to check the server for new changes.

In the holding bin, click the Contacts option, select any changes you wish to receive, then click the Save All Selected Changes button. Once the changes have been received, click the Exit or Done button. A brief sync will occur, sending the updated information up to the PlusPortals.

If you have any questions related to this update please e-mail or call Tech Support at 800-882-2994.

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