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Welcome to the ATutor General User documentation. The information found here is applicable to both instructors and students. Also see the the Instructor Documentation for details of other tools that might be used to author content while in a group environment.


A user may login to the system with the Login Name or Email address, and the Password entered during registration. Logging in gives users access to Protected courses, lets them enroll, and lets them participate in courses.


In order for a user to login to the ATutor system, a unique system account needs to be created. Use the Register link in the main navigation to access the registration form. If email-confirmation has been enabled by the system administrator, a message will be sent to the email address entered, containing a link that must be followed to confirm the new account. Once this has been done, the login name or email address, and the password entered during registration can now be used on the Login screen.

Note that if a system administrator has specified users to be checked against a Master List of allowed Student IDs and PINs (for example), this information must also be entered during registration.

Browse Courses

The Browse Courses page lists all courses presently available on the ATutor system.

If a course is Public, it may be accessed without logging in first. Protected and Private courses require that you be logged in. Private courses are available only to those who have been approved and enrolled in the course.

Forgot Your Password

If you have forgotten your password, use the Forgot your password? link on the Login screen. The form will email the login name to you, along with a link you must follow to change your password.

My Start Page

My Start Page is a personal area displayed after logging in. The My Courses section lists the courses that the user either teaches, or is enrolled in. From here one can also create a new course, or browse through courses. There is also a Profile section for editing personal details (including changing a password or an email address), and a Preferences section for editing some system preferences such as the way information is displayed and the preferred theme.

My Courses

Courses that the user is in enrolled in, or courses that are pending enrollment, are listed on the My Courses page.

To enroll into a public or protected course, follow the Browse Courses link and locate it, then enter the course and use the Enroll Me link located beside the course title. If the course is private, enrollment must be requested first. Admission into the course will be allowed once the instructor has approved the request.

Create Course

Only Instructors may create courses, though if enabled, students can request instructor accounts by selecting the Create Course link. View the Instructor Documentation on creating courses.


This section allows a user to change elements of his/her personal profile.

Although the login name cannot be altered, password, email address, and other personal information may be edited. There is also an option to keep the email address hidden.

Preferences Wizard

At any time (except while viewing the Preferences screen) the Preferences Wizard can be opened by clicking the wand icon next to your login name to the upper right (location may vary across themes). Any of the settings you can set through the Preferences panels described below, can also be set using the wizard.


The following preferences allow a user to control how some features function, and how information is displayed.

ATutor Settings

Themes are used for changing the look and feel.
Time Zone Offset
Add or subtract hours from the times and dates displayed in ATutor, so they match your local time. Valid values range from -12 to 12. The positive sign is not required when adding hours. The minus sign is required when subtracting hours.
Inbox Notification
If enabled, an email notification message will be sent each time an Inbox message is received.
Topic Numbering
If enabled, content topics will be numbered.
Direct Jump
If enabled, using the Jump feature will redirect to the selected course and load the same section that was being viewed in the previous course (instead of the usual course Home page).
If enabled, users are automatically logged in when they open ATutor. You should only enable this if you are accessing ATutor from a private computer, otherwise others will be able to login with your account information.
Form Focus On Page Load
If enabled, the cursor will be placed at the first field of the form when a page loads.
Show Context Sensitive Handbook Pages
Once you are familiar with ATutor you may wish to hide the links included with various tools to their associated handbook page. You can always access the handbook using the link in the ATutor footer area.
Content Editor
This preference controls how content is entered. Choose between Plain Text for entering content text that will escape any HTML markup and will be formatted as entered; HTML for entering HTML content manually; and HTML - Visual Editor for entering HTML content using the visual (also known as a WYSIWYG) editor which represents the content as it will be displayed. It is also possible to change the editor manually for each item.

Text Settings

These settings are used to control the overall colours and fonts displayed.

Select from the various text formatting options to control how text and colours are displayed in ATutor.

Content Settings

These settings are used to control which versions of content are displayed, if for example the primary version is not accessible to you, or you prefer an alternate format. These settings will be ignored if the alternative versions you prefer are not available with the content you are viewing. Instructors and content authors should review Alternate Content for information on including alternate formats with ATutor content.

Alternatives to Text
If you are a person with a print related disability, or you prefer content in mutli-modal forms, select from these options to have alternate forms either replace text versions of the content, or have the alternate forms appended to the content.
Alternatives to Audio
If you are a person with an auditory disability, or if you prefer to read along with audio, or view visual alternatives to audio, select from these options to have alternatives replace or append where ever there is audio content.
Alternatives to Visual
If you are a person with a visual disability, of you prefer content without the usually larger, slow to load, visual information in content, select from these options to have alternatives to visual information either replace, or append to, visual information in the primary version of the content.

Learner Supports

These settings are used to control which learning tools are available to you in a side menu block.

Learner Supports
Select from the various tools, the ones you would like available to you when in your ATutor courses.


These settings are used to enable or disabled various ATutor navigation tools.

Choose to show a Table of Contents at the top of each content page that can be used to navigate to sub sections within the page. Note that a Table of Contents is generated based on the headings (i.e. HTML H1 to H6), so it is important for content authors to structure their content properly with appropriate headings and sub-headings.
Choose to show Next/Previous Navigation links to aid navigation through content in the order pages are intended to be viewed, or to provide quick access back to the content page you left off on, when you return to viewing content in a current or future session.
Choose to display Breadcrumb Navigation at the top of every page to provide up and down navigation through hierarchies of topics and sub-topics, or to keep a display of your current location within ATutor in view at all times.


The Inbox is used for privately messaging other users in your courses. Inbox messages appear in a table, with new messages flagged. Selecting a message will display its contents at the top of the screen.

In the sub-navigation there is a link to send a message. Choose the recipient, enter a subject and a message, and use the Send button.

Note: use the Inbox Notification preference to receive emails when a new Inbox message is received.

Course Features

After a student has entered into a course, he/she is presented with the course Home page. The Home page may contain a course banner, links to Student Tool, and course announcements.

A few of the course features are explained here, as they may be a little tricky for new users. Other features are fairly straight forward and should be intuitive to use. Look for the handbook link while using a tool, to open its help page directly.

Export Content

The Export Content feature creates a "Content Package" that can be downloaded and viewed offline in the viewer included with each package. If this feature is turned on for a course, it may be accessed through a Student Tool icon on the home page, and/or a link in the main navigation. Choose which section you wish to download as a content package the use the Export button. Export Content is also linked from top level content pages or all content pages (depending on what the instructor has set) in the Shortcuts box. Using this link will package the current page and all of its sub pages into a single "zip" file, and prompt the user to download the file.

The downloaded file can be unpacked with a common archiving application (e.g. WinZip, PKZip, Unzip). Unzip the file into an empty directory then open the index.html file into a Web browser.


If instructors have included SCORM compliant Sharable Content Objects (SCOs), they will be avilable for viewing using the Packages tool. Note that the SCORM Run Time Environment (RTE) requires the Java JRE 1.5 to function properly, as well as LiveConnect, which is enabled by default in the JRE 1.5. Download an install with latest Java JRE [] from the SUN site, if you need to upgrade your browser's java support.

TILE Repository Search

External content packages can be downloaded from the TILE repository by entering a search term and using the Search button. Use the Preview link next to a search result to open the TILE content browser, or use Download to retrieve the content package from the TILE repository. Once downloaded, the file can be unpacked with a common archiving application (e.g. WinZip, PKZip, Unzip). Unzip the file into an empty directory and browse the package's content.

Visit the TILE web site [] for more information about using the repository.

File Storage

Students, assistants, and instructors can access a personal file management tool using the File Storage area, if enabled for a course. Workspaces can be selected for storing files, their presence depending on one's access rights:

To move between workspaces, select them from the dropdown menu and use the Go! button. To view a file in the File Storage area, download and open it locally on your own computer.

Create Folders and Adding Files

To organize files, folders can be created using the Create Folder feature at the top right of the file area. To upload a new file, with an optional description of its contents, use the New File feature at the top left. The file will be uploaded to the currently opened directory.

Managing Files

It is also possible to Download files to your hard drive, Hand In a file for an assignment, Edit file details and rename folders, Move files around within a workspace, as well as Delete files and folders. Depending on the type of workspace, the buttons that appear will vary.

File Revisions

If enabled, file revisions can be kept, so a history of the document or file is available. Uploading a file of the same name as one that exists, will create a second version of the file, and so on. With each revision comments can be added, to summarize the changes from authors, and to perhaps collect feedback from reviewers.

My Network

ATutor Social is a social networking environment that allows ATutor users to develop a network of contacts, create and participate in social groups, and develop a social profile. It is based on the Google Open Social Standard. Many Open Social applications, or gadgets as they are called, are available around the Internet and can be linked into your social networking environment to customize it to your liking.

Basic Social Networking Features

Network Activity
This is an ongoing report of what others in your network are doing. When one of your contacts posts a message, joins a group, adds a gadget, or updates their profile for instance, you will know about it (if they have not turn this off in privacy settings).
My Contacts
This is a list of people in your social network. You can find others on the network by using the Search People tool, and you can request that you and they become contacts. When you find a person, click on the green plus sign (plus) to make your request. To remove a person in your Contacts, click on the red X ( ex). View a contact's profile from My Contacts by clicking on their thumbnail photo or their name.
Once people have been added to your contacts, other suggested contacts will be listed under People you Might Know,” those being people in your Contacts' Networks.
My Network Groups
These are social groups in ATutor Social that you belong to. You can create new groups, search for and join groups that interest you, and send requests to others to join a group.

My Contacts

My Contacts
This is a list of people in your social network. You can find others on the network by using the Search People tool, and you can request that you and they become contacts. When you find a person, click on the green plus sign (plus) to make your request. To remove a person in your Contacts, click on the red X ( ex). View a contact's profile from My Contacts by clicking on their thumbnail photo or their name.

Network Groups

Network Groups can be created by anyone, for any purpose. They are a place to post information and discuss common interests. You may search for groups and join them. Once you have created or joined a group, you can Invite others to join, and view a list of people in the group. If you created the group, you also have the option to disband it.

Network Profile

Your Network Profile contains information about you that others might like to know, such as your work experience, education, perhaps your personal interests, or maybe your personal Web site. Click on the edit icon (ex) while viewing your Network Profile to add and make changes to your personal information. Also see Settings for details about controlling what parts of your profile others can see.

Also view Activities for a list of things you have recently done in your social network.

View your Contacts' profiles while viewing your own.


Gadgets are applications you can add to your Social Networking environment that provide a whole range of potential networking functionality. They are much like Apps on an IPhone. You can find many gadgets by searching around the Internet, They can be added by copying the URL to the Gadget's XML file into the "Add gadget by URL" field on the Add Gadgets screen of ATutor Social.

You can use a search engine to search for variations of the terms "open social gadgets" to find many more. Once a gadget has been added to ATutor, it becomes available for everyone on that ATutor server to add to their own networking environement by following Show Available Gadgets

Use Find Gadgets to search through the Google gadget repository. When you find a gaadget you want to add, click on "Add to your webpage" then "Get the Code." In the code that gets generated, look for the URL of an XML file, then copy that URL into the "Add gadget by URL" field, then click the "Add Gadget" button.

Sample Gadgets

To install a gadget, copy the path to the gadget's XML file into the "Add gadget by URL" field:

Social Settings

Privacy Setting

Privacy settings are used to control who can see which parts of your profile:

Profile Visability

Basic Profile
Your basic ATutor Profile information. If hidden, it becomes unavailable to view through your network profile, but is still available for classmates in a course to view.
Detailed Profile
All other information in your social profile that is not part of your Basic Profile
Choose these settings to hide you network activity from others. This is the information that appears in the Network Activity area of your networking tools.
My Contacts
Choose from these settings to limit who can see people in your Contacts list.
Hide the education information you add to your detailed profile. You may turn on your Detailed Profile, then hide this section from it.
Hide the position information you add to your detailed profile. You may turn on your Detailed Profile, then hide this section from it.

Who sees your profile.

World Network
Allow anyone, using any ATutor Social system, to view (coming soon).
My Contacts
Any anyone in your contact list to view.
Contacts of Your Contacts
Allow contacts of anyone in your contacts list to view.
Local Network
Allow anyone on your local ATutor Social system to view.
Allow anyone who is a member of groups you belong to, to view.

Photo Gallery

A photo gallery is designed with accessibility in mind, allowing members to share course related photos and personal photos.

Basic Photo Album Features

Photo Gallery
This is where your personal albums can be found. Both Private Albums and Shared Albums will be listed here.
Profile Album
This is an album where you keep your profile pictures. Photos collected here can be linked into your ATutpr profile page, or into your ATutor Social profile.
Course Albums
This is where you keep all the course albums. Anyone enrolled in the course is allowed to upload photos to a course album; students are allowed to edit and delete the photos they have uploaded. Instructors have the privilege to edit and delete any photos within their course albums.
Shared Albums
Here all albums will be listed that have the "Shared" permission set. All users have permission to browse and comment on photos in shared albums, but are not allowed to upload or edit photos.
Create Album
To create an album, specify the album name and its permissions. Location (geographically), and description are optional. If you are an instructor, you will have an extra option of "Album Type", which allows you to create "My Album" or "Course Album". Under "Album Permission", "Private" means this album is not accessible by any other users except yourself, "Shared" means this album will be displayed under the "Shared Albums" tab, and will be accessible by ALL users.


An Album is a collection of photos. Clicking on an album thumbnail image will display the photos in that album.

Uploading a photo

To upload a photo, click on the "Open Upload Manager" button. A new section will appear below where you click "Browse" to upload any photos in the format of gif/jpg/png from your local hard drive. After selecting a photo from the File Upload, ATutor will automatically resize the image and append its details at the top of the pending list that appears after selecting an image. Details include file name, file size, a thumbnail of the image, and a delete button. The delete button allows you to remove the pending photos anytime during the upload process. At the right bottom of this section, you will see a "Memory Usage: x.xx/ 8 MB" message, which tells you how much memory you have used. Once the memory limit is reached, an error message will display in the pending list. Finally, click "Upload" to finish the upload process. The photos should now be listed in the album.


The search tab is displayed at the top left of the Photo Gallery home page. Type in any text to search for relevant albums and photos. The search will return matches found in the photo album's description or location; and photo's description or alternative text. Be sure when adding photos to your albums, to fill in this information so people can find you photos.

Edit Photos

Each photo can have a description and alternative text. Description (a.k.a. caption on some other sites) will be shown at the bottom of the photo, describing what this photo is. Alternative text acts as a replacement for the image, whenever the image does not load, or can not be seen for any reason. This information should summerize the essence of the image rather than describing ever detail. Alternative text should be used to comply the accessibility rules. Below each of the photo thumbnails, their is an option to select that photo as the album cover, or to remove it by checking the "delete" button. When you are done editing, click "Save".

Organize Photos

Photos can be rearranged within each album by simply dragging the photo with your mouse, or using [Ctrl] + [Up/Down/Left/Right] arrow keys on your keyboard. The rearranged order is saved automatically. Click on "Organize Photos" to rearrange them.

Also view Comments for details on posting comments.


This page display a photo and its description. You can click the "Previous" and "Next" arrows to move through the photos in the album you are viewing. Owners of a photo can also edit the description by simply clicking on the description itself, or via the "Edit Photo" link.

Also view Comments for details on posting comments.


Users can post comments to an album or a photo. The author of a comment can edit it by clicking on the comment itself, the comment will turn into an editable field. When done editing, press Enter to save the changes. Note: The owner of the album can edit and delete any comments within the album.