Setting the Default Schedule of a Course

To set the default schedule of a course, use the course menu:

Select "set default schedule..." and the Course Schedule Dialog appears:

Which allows you to set the default schedule of your course.  This is used to auto populate the schedule of a repeating lesson, or to set the schedule of a non-repeating lesson.  This schedule is then later used to decide where to bump a lesson to.

Happy Planning

Upgrade Results

The infrastructure upgrade is now complete.  Some minor issues were found and fixed.

For now, you should see a faster Scholaric - due to these changes:

  1. Ruby 2, an upgrade from ruby 1.9 with many speed improvements
  2. Cedar, my host's latest application platform
  3. Rails 3, which has many speed improvements over rails 2
  4. Unicorn, a faster web server
  5. Javascript and stylesheet minimization, and combination into a single file per request

This should make the platform generally run faster for you.

Happy Planning


Scholaric Infrastructure Upgrade

I am planning on a major infrastructure upgrade - the planned date is Saturday, November 23rd at 9:30 PM Central Time.

Due to the complexity of this upgrade, Scholaric will be offline for at least an hour.

I will be backing up the database and restoring it to a new one, doing configuration changes, rolling out new code, and pointing the domain names (DNS) to the new servers.  Good times.

Please be aware that the DNS changes can take hours to roll out.  During this time, the old Scholaric will produce a maintenance message, even while the new one is up - so it's possible for your browser to be pointing to the maintenance-mode Scholaric even while the new one is available.

New with this upgrade - the leading www. in the URL will now be required.  If you drop the www, it will redirect for you (that is, if I configure it correctly :).

When complete, a new, faster Scholaric will be in place, and it will be time to start improving the service again.

Happy Planning

jeff

Finishing one Year and Starting a New One

Finishing up a year and starting a new one is a tricking thing for a planner to handle.  Some families like to plan ahead and get that next year entered, while they are in the current year.  Others like to finish this year, close it out, and plan over break.  Still others don't want to even think about next year now.  Just take that break, and plan year just-in-time.

However you want to handle it, it's important to understand how Scholaric works, and what not to do.

First, what not to do.  Do not delete last year's lessons.  Do not delete last year's courses. Do not delete last year's period.  Do not change the dates of your current period.

These are all destructive actions, and prevent you from seeing the prior year's data.  This is bad, you need to preserve your records over time.

As for what you should do - there are five steps:

Add new courses

This is done by clicking on the courses label.  When a course is added, it appears every week in the grid, whether you have lessons in it or not.  This means the new course will be visible in your grid for the rest of this year.

Plan the new year

Create your lessons in the new courses as you would for this year.  Don't forget the powerful lesson sequence syntax.  The new lessons won't show up in your current year's goals, report cards, or grade book.

Add a new period

Create a new period for your new school year.  When you do this, Scholaric copies your current period's goals, and grading settings, to try and save you time.

Set new Goals

Should you desire new goals for the new year, you can create them.  Goals are tied to the current period, so they won't show up in the current period.

Hide old courses

When you are done planning on the old period, you can hide the courses from it.  The courses then only show up in the planning grid for weeks in which they have lessons - meaning that you can always come back to see the grid in all it's glory for years to come. 

Change the current period

Finally, when you are truly finished, change the current period.  Then your goals, report cards, and grade books will reflect the new year.  To view yesteryear's goals, report cards, and grade books, just change the period back, and they are back.

Happy Planning

Bump All Lessons

Some days, it just doesn't happen, and everything needs to be bumped later.

When this is the case, rather than bumping each cell individually, use the daily menu.

The bump all incomplete later option is the equivalent of selecting the bump schedule later option for each course with incomplete lessons on that day.  Complete lessons are not affected.

Happy Planning

Scholaric Pricing Change

I have announced a price change to Scholaric.  

This has come after great thought, anguish, and discussion, because the current pricing scheme wasn't working.  Costs have gone up for Scholaric, and in some cases, by a great amount.  Also, I believe by charging somewhat more, it brings in the date at which I can work on Scholaric full time.

Prices are now starting at $3 per user, instead of the original $1 per user.  The maximum charge is now $7 per user.  Effectively, everyone will pay $2 more per month.

These changes are effective immediately for new users.  As a thank you to existing users, your current plan stays in effect until May 2014 (a year), and then, only effects you when you renew your subscription.

So you may keep the current plan and pricing, potentially for years.  

Thanks for your loyalty, and please keep spreading the word!

Happy Planning


Released: Private Subjects

I have released the latest version of Scholaric, with an update to Subjects.

Subjects just weren't right in Scholaric.  There has always been on list of subjects, common to all users.  When you added a course, helping you with the autocomplete matched all subjects, not just yours.  This made me cringe, because a list like this would pop up:

This caused more problems than it solved, especially as the number of subjects grew, and we would see several misspellings, and capitalization schemes of the same subject.

The next problem came when users asked "Can I change a course's subject?"  I had to point them to a video of how to do it.  It took too many steps, and it could go wrong if you had multiple students using that course.

The matching of courses was not helpful either.  Scholaric has grown to the point that there are simply too many matches.

Released today are the following changes:

Private Subjects

You have your own list of subjects.  You can rename them, and even delete them (if they have no courses assigned to them).  Any existing subjects you have referenced have been automatically copied into your private subject list.

Subjects Tab on the Dashboard

To help manage your subject list, there is a subjects tab on the dashboard.  The list applies to all students, so it is found in the dashboard, rather than the planning grid.

Edit a Subject Name in the Planning Grid

The subject name is also editable in the planning grid.  Just click on the name and edit.

Menu Item: Change a Course's Subject

Sometimes, instead of renaming a subject, you can also change a single course's subject to another one.  There is a menu item for that in the course menu.

Note there is also to change a course's subject to a new subject, which can then be renamed.

Happy Planning!

The Scholaric Challenge

At the Midwest Parent Educators Conference, Scholaric was put to the test.  A new user signed up, set up a course and wanted help entering a complex repeating lesson.  It is a useful case study to explain what Scholaric can do, and how to go about analyzing.

The facts have been changed to protect the innocent...

"My Math program has 25 lessons, each of which are divided into 6 parts, a, through f..."

Okay, no problem Scholaric handles that.

"...but we do 2 parts per day..."

Sure, Scholaric does that too.

"...AND we are on lesson 7, and have already done parts a and b of it..."

That's a lot to consume, but we want to generate

Lesson 7 parts c-d
Lesson 7 parts e-f
Lesson 8 parts a-b
Lesson 8 parts c-d
Lesson 8 parts e-f
Lesson 9 parts a-b
Lesson 9 parts c-d
Lesson 9 parts e-f
...

and so on.  

Breaking this down, it first is a nested sequence, an outer numeric sequence {7-25} and an inner alphabetic sequence {a-f}:

Lesson {7-25} parts {a-f}

But that would be one part per day.  To do 2 parts per day, we need to use the group operator * (increment it two times per day):

Lesson {7-25} parts {a-f*2}

The only problem is that the first lesson must be Lesson 7 parts c-d, not Lesson 7 parts a-b.  I can't just change the inner sequence to parts {c-f*2}, because Lesson 8 must start with parts a-b.  This is accomplished through seeding, using the colon:

Lesson {7-25} parts {a-f*2:c}

This way, the inner sequence is a-f, but starts with c-f.

Happy Planning

Back from Midwest Parent Educators Conference

My son and I just attended the Midwest Parent Educators Conference in Kansas City, MO.  This was a GREAT conference and Scholaric got a great deal of attention.  I loved this conference for so many reasons, like:

  • meeting Amy of raisingarrows.net and Betty of peacecreekontheprarie.com in person, two great bloggers (and great people) who use and promote Scholaric
  • meeting Russ of CxFriends - a social network of Christian families
  • attending a Home School Technology panel and hearing the panelists great ideas on technology
In the vendor hall, there was a seemingly unending flow of families.  We gave dozens and dozens of demos of Scholaric with a great response.  Families were really impressed with Scholaric's easy creation and maintenance of lessons, and tracking of Missouri's Homeschool requirements.

In addition to the demos, we got about 30 additions to our mailing list, and gave away 250 filers.  No homeschool conference I have attended has even come close.

When we got home, late Saturday, we were greeted by 5 different Welcome Home signs, including one in Canadian (Welcome Home, Eh) and one in Canadian Pig Latin (Elcom-wei Omehei, eh-hey), and a platefull of chocolate chip cookies.

Nice weekend.