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Welcome to the ATutor Instructor Documentation!

Most of the course management tools are found in the Manage section and are available to instructors and students with assigned privileges (assistants).

Creating Courses

After logging in, use the Create Course link from My Start Page. Properties set here can be modified through Manage > Properties

Some course properties include:

Enter a meaningful but brief paragraph describing the course, to be displayed under the course name in Browse Courses.
Export Content
Choose the availability of the "Export Content" link on course content pages.
Syndicate Announcements
Enable this setting if you wish to make an RSS feed of the course announcements available for display on another website.
Determines who can have access to the course content - any user, only logged in users, or logged in and enrolled users.
Release Date
An optional date from when the course can be accessed by non-privileged students.
End Date
An optional date from when the course can no longer be accessed by non-privileged students.
HTML that forms a custom banner or splash screen for the course home page. Appears above the course announcements, if there are any.
Initial Content
Initialise the course content to be either empty, basic place-holder content, or a restored backup from other courses you own.

Enter the necessary information and use the Save button to proceed into the newly created course.

Course Tools Setup

Once the course has been created, the Course Tools can be configured. Course Tools is a collection of course features that may be useful for various types of learning activities. It is found under the instructor's Manage tab. Tools include: Forums, Glossary, Site-map, Links, Polls, TILE Repository Search, Tests & Surveys, My Tracker, Export Content, Chat, Directory, Inbox, and Packages. Instructors can decide where these tools will be accessed from - the Main Navigation, and/or Course Home. Instructors can also set the Course Tools to display as just tool icons, or as tool icons plus details from each tool, by clicking the toggle image ( ). Various additional information is included with the detailed view, such as links to the latest posts for forums, random words and phrases from the glossary, or the latest links added to the link database, for example. Also see Student Tools for details on moving tools to their own separate screen, removing them from the course home page.

Main Navigation
In the default Atutor theme, the Main Navigation appears as tabs below the title of the course. Course Tools specified to appear here will each have their own tab. Note that other themes may choose to display the Main Navigation differently.
Course Home
Course Home is the first page viewed when a student enters a course. Course Tools that are selected to appear on the Home page will be displayed with an icon and a label above the course announcements.

If neither Main Navigation or Course Home options are selected, then that Course Tool be "turned off", or not accessible to students. An instructor might choose to turn on Course Tools as they are needed, for example turning on the Tests & Surveys tool when a test is available, or turning on the Chat when an online meeting is going to take place.

Using the arrows in the Order column will change the ordering of the student tool as it appears in the Main Navigation and on the Course Home page.

It is also possible to install the Course Tools Module [], and use it as a place to locate links to the various ATutor tools, leaving the course home page as a splash screen, or as a place to display course announcments.

Student Tools Setup

Tools that might be added through the Course Tools utility, can be added to a separate tools page, potentially removing tools from the course home page. Select from the available tools those that you want to appear on the Student Tools page. To enable the separate student tools page add it when configuring Course Tools, either as a home page icon, or a main navigation tab.

Side Menu

Some of the course tools can be accessed through the side menu. Which side menu boxes, and the order in which they will appear, can be controlled by selecting the tool name from the dropdowns, and arrange them in order of preference. Those more likely to be used can be placed at the top of the menu. To remove a menu box, choose the blank option from the selection menus in the side menu editor


Announcements added through the Manage section will appear on the course Home page, sorted by date in descending order.

If the Syndicate Announcements options is enabled in course Properties, it is possible to subscribe to the feed using a RSS reader.


The assignment manager works alongside the File Storage area by letting instructors create virtual assignment drop-boxes within it. A student can submit files to the assignment workspace, and the instructor can view and download the submissions through the assignment manager or the file storage area directly.

Add & Manage Assignments

To add a new assignment submission area, follow the Add Assignment link and specify the assignment title, who to assign it to (everyone or a specific Group Type), the due date if there is one, and how to handle late submissions. Be sure to enable File Storage for groups assignments are assigned to. Using the Save button will create a special folder named with the assignment title within the Assignment Submissions area of the File Storage area. Within each assignment folder, additional folders will be created for each student or group (depending on the "Assign to" setting). These folders are read-only and cannot be changed.

It is possible to Edit an assignment's properties after it has been created, though not the "Assign to" element. Also note that if you Delete an assignment, all of its submissions will be deleted. Therefore, it is advised that the instructor first download the submissions to her/his harddrive for safe keeping before deleting an assignment entry.

Downloading Submissions

Only instructors and assistants with Assignment privileges may access assignment folders. Students and groups will not be able to access any submitted files. To download submitted assignments, select an assignment and use the Submissions button. This will redirect to the File Storage area where an instructor can download submissions. Alternatively, this area can be accessed directly by going to the File Storage area, and selecting the name of the assignment from the Workspace dropdown.


ATutor offers the facility to create backups of your course and restore the contents of those backups at any time. This is useful for duplicating a course or saving the entire course content for safe keeping in the case of accidental loss.

The Backups utility is found under the Manage section and is available to Instructors and System Administrators.

Each course can store only a finite number of backups (default 5). That limit can be altered by the Administrator using the System Preferences option.

Creating & Restoring Backups

To create a backup of the current course, use the Create link found on the Backups page. All created backups are stored securely on the ATutor server. The space required for the backups does not affect the course's size quota. Once a backup is created, it will be listed on the main Backups page where it can be managed.

Backups can be restored by selecting a backup and using the Restore button. The restoration process will present details on what is stored in the backup and allow instructors to select which course material they wish to restore.

Downloading & Uploading Backups

Backups can be downloaded and stored locally by selecting from the list of backups created and using the Download button. Locally stored backups can be uploaded back into the original course, into a new course, or into another installation of ATutor.

The backup file itself is a compressed archive in a format specific to ATutor. Backups cannot be used by any other system other than ATutor (see Import/Export Content for information about reuseable content). Extracting the backup archive to view and change its contents is strongly discouraged as it may currupt the backup, making it impossible to restore.

Backups are forwards compatible, but not backwards compatible with older versions of ATutor. That is, backups can be used with all future versions of ATutor, but cannot be used with versions of ATutor older than the version originally used in the backup's creation.

Editing & Deleting Backups

Selecting a backup and using the Delete button will delete that backup.

Use the Edit button to edit the description of a selected backup. This will not change the backup's contents.


The chat section is used for managing chat transcripts. An active transcript will record all of the chat messages as they are posted. There can be only one active transcript at a time.

A transcript is started by using the Start Transcript link. A unique name must be given to a new transcript when it is started.


Content in ATutor can be managed in many ways and can be imported and created from many different sources. Content can be entered manually, created from HTML files, standards compliant content packages, or from a learning objects content repository. Content that already exists in ATutor can also be exported into any of the mentioned formats. Only instructors, and assistants who are given content privileges, can manage course content.

Existing content pages can be managed using the Shortcuts links available when viewing a content page, or through the Content section under the Manage tab.

Creating and Editing Content

Using the Tabs in the Content Manager, content can be created, its location, keywords, and date properties set, and glossary terms defined. It can also be previewed and have its accessibility checked. While creating content, save often. Unsaved information is indicated by a red bullet in the corresponding Content Manager tab. When content editing is complete, choose the Close after saving option, then press Save.

Create/Edit Content Folders

A folder can be created to group related content. A release date can be set to automatically make content in the folder available to students at a certain date and time. Prerequisite test(s) can be set from those available in course, to grant access based on taking or passing a test. Tests are first setup using the Tests and Surveys Manager.


Arrange Content

Both folders and content pages can be arranged in any order. After selecting the Arrange Content tab, select the radio button for the content you want to move. The press a downward pointing arrow next to another page or folder to move the selected page or folder after that item. Or, use the upward pointing arrow to move it before that item. Use the plus sign (+) to make the selected folder or page a child or sub-topic of the item.


Adding/Editing Content

Content can be created in either 'plain text' or 'HTML' mode. Plain text mode is useful for quickly writing up text content. HTML mode allows for extra features like text formatting and layout, but is a little more complex to use.


The main heading that will appear at the top of the page when viewed.

Formatting: Plain Text

If using plain text mode, just type the content in the Body window. Note that any extra spaces between characters will be removed (i.e. two or more spaces), but any blank lines will be saved with the text.

Formatting: HTML

If using HTML mode, you can type HTML tags in the Body window along with your text. If you are unfamiliar with HTML, you can use the visual editor by clicking the Switch to visual editor button.

Formatting: Web Link

Selecting Web Link replaces the content editor window with a text field into which a URL to an external Web site can be entered. When a student views a content page formatted as a Web Link, the content of the external site becomes the content of the ATutor page.

Content Editor Toolbar


Click on the Preview icon to open the content you are currently editing in a popup window to see how it will appear.


Clicking on the Accessibility icon will gather the HTML of the page you are editing, send it off to the AChecker accessibility checker, which will return a report outlining any potential barriers that might be present (note that AChecker only works through ATutor using an IP address or qualified domain name, and not when using localhost). Review the details of the potential barriers listed, make adjustments to your content to correct them, then run the accessibility checker again.


HTML that normally appears in the head area of a Web page can be entered here. This can include things like links to stylesheets, or the actual stylesheet markup, or you may insert links to scripts, or the scripts themselves. Additional metadata can also be entered here. HTML content created in an external editor will have its head information displayed here when Pasting from a file (see below) after which you can upload the additional files like stylesheets or scripts, and adjust the links to point to the files in the course File Manager. Note that when importing eXe content, the stylesheet supplied with its content is replaced to avoid conflicts between eXe styles and ATutor styles.


Rather than typing out content, it can be uploaded from a text or HTML file on your local file system. Once uploaded, the content of that file will be displayed in the Body window. Keep in mind that uploading in this manner will replace any existing content in the Body window.


The File Manager can be opened by clicking the Files icons in the content editor tool bar. It allows you to upload files from your local system to be used in your course. The popup File Manager can be open alongside the Content Editor then clicking the Insert button beside files to insert them into your content.

See the File Manager section for details.


Click on the Forums button to open a list of the available forums for the current course, then select a forum to associate it with the content you are editing as a learning activity. Forums are exported with Common Cartridges, and are setup automatically when a Common Cartidge is imported into a course. In future versions of ATutor, any tool available in a course can be used to add activities to content, based on the IMS Learning Tool Interoperability (LTI) standard.

Content Body

TinyMCE Editor

The Body area of the content editor by default includes a version of the TinyMCE WYSIWYG Javascript HTML editor. It includes a simple mode, and an advanced mode, which can be toggled on or off by clicking the arrow icon at the top left of the editor. The HTML editor in the body area can be replaced with a plain text editor, or with a simple text input field where a link to an external Web site can be added. Click on the Formatting options above to switch editor modes.

Formatting Codes

A variety of formatting codes are available that can be used for various purposes in your content. These are described below:


In either plain text or HTML formatting mode, you can insert terms to tell the ATutor system which words you wish to mark as glossary terms. In advanced mode in TinyMCE, click on the question mark icon to insert a glossary term.

Or, type [?][/?] into your content, and any text you put after [?] and before [/?] will specify the term you want to define. Alternatively, you can manually type [?][/?] into your text without having to use the Add Term link.

Once you have specified the terms you would like to define, you can go to the Glossary Terms tab to write the definitions. Once this is done, the terms and their definitions will appear in the glossary and in the content.


In either plain text or HTML formatting mode, you can insert code which is useful for differentiating blocks of text (like math equations, program code, or quotations) from the rest of the text content.

Using the Add Code link will add [code][/code] into your content, and any text you put after [code] and before [/code] will specify the text you want to differentiate. Alternatively, you can manually type [code][/code] into your text without having to use the Add Code link.


Links can be generated by inserting the [pid] and the [nid] codes in your ATutor content. When the page is displayed these codes get converted to the URL/Link for the previous or next pages in the sequence of content pages. For example

<a href="[pid]">previous</a> <a href="[nid]">Next</a>

Or, pasted the [pid] and [nid] tags into the Link URL field in the visual editor.


Like code and terms, colour may be added to text content in the same way. Use the appropriate colour icon to insert colour tags into the content. Valid colour options are blue, red, green, orange, purple, and gray. Also, colour codes can be typed in manually by using the following tags: [blue][/blue], [red][/red], [green][/green], [orange][/orange], [purple][/purple], and [gray][/gray].


Type in [tex][/tex] to embed LaTeX equations into your content. In the TinyMCE editor while in advanced mode, click on the TEX icon to insert the LaTeX tags.


Type the [media][/media] tags, along with a URL to an external media file, or a relative URL for a media file in the course File Manager (e.g. movies/mymovie.flv), to embed multimedia into your content. Supported formats currently include: mpeg, mov, wmv, swf, mp3, wav, ogg, mid, flv, mp4 and YouTube or Vimeo hosted videos. The media tag can take two parameters to define the width and height of the player when it displays [media|640|480][/media] or perhaps [media|960|680][/media]. If the parameters are not defined, the player size will default to 425x350. While in TinyMCE click on the film slides icon in the advanced editor to insert the media tags.

By default Flowplayer, the media player included with ATutor, plays .flv, .mp3, . mp4, and .mov files. For Flowplayer to function, users need to have a Flash plugin installed with their browser. Other multimedia formats will use the media player plugin associated with various file types setup in a browser's addon or plugin or helper application configuration.

Save and Close

While editing or creating content, it is wise to frequently Save your content. When you are finished, use Close to close the content editor. Note that this does not save your content first so any unsaved content will be lost.


In the properties tab, you can move the content page, select a Release Date, enter keywords for easier searching, and specify its related topics.

In the left column of the Properties screen in the Content Editor choose the 'up arrow' to move the current content Before another item. Choose the 'down arrow' to move the content After that item. Choose the 'plus sign' to make the current content a Child of, or sub-topic, for that item.
Release Date
The release date specifies when the content page will be visible to students. Content can be scheduled for release by specifying date in the future. Specifying a release date that has past will release the content immediately. The release date of a page affects all of its sub-pages as well, such that a sub-page is released only when the most distant release date of all its parent pages has passed. By default, the Release Date is set as the current date and time.
Words entered into the Keywords area are given greater emphasis during searching. Therefore they will be placed higher in a list of search results than if there were no keywords. Keywords are also used as Learning Object Metadata when a content package is generated.
Related Topics

For each content page in the course, it is possible to specify other content pages as being related. Related topics can appear in the side menu, allowing students to quickly jump to a topic. Related topics are cross-refrenced meaning the content page chosen to be related will also be related to the current page.

Glossary Terms

If Terms were specified in the Content tab, they may be defined under the Glossary tab. Enter the definition or explanation for each term specified in the Content. See the Terms section in Entering Content for details on how to add glossary terms to your content.

It is also possible to relate terms to one another within the glossary by specifying a related term. This will add a link to the related term beside the glossary item.

Previewing Content

The Preview tab displays the content page as it looks with the formatting given. This is how the content page will appear to a user, with custom HTML, Glossary Terms, Code, and colours.

Adapted Content

Based on the IMS AccessForAll and ISO 24751 standards, the Adapted Content utility allows authors to enhance their content with alternative formats. Alternative formats can be used to replace or supplement content for people with disabilities who may not be able to access the original version, or it can be used to supplement the original content by including the same content in multi-modal forms, allowing learners to experience the content through multiple senses.

Define Alternatives for Original Content

Down the left of the Adapted Content screen is displayed a list of files found in the original content, such as audio files, videos, images, documents etc. for which adapted forms can be defined. To the right alternatives can be defined.

Original Resources
Along the left side of the Adapted Content panel in the content editor will appear a list of files linked into the original content, referred to as Original Resources. For each, define the Resource Type by selecting the appropriate check box(es) (Auditory, Textual, or Visual). To add an alternate format for a particular original resource, click the Add buttons next to each listed resource, then press the Use As Alternative button next to available files in the popup File Manager to associate the file as an alternative resource.
To remove an adapted resource, click the Delete icon next to the filename of the adapted resource. This removes the association between the original and alternative resources, but does not delete the actual files. Click on the Alter icon next to an alternative to make changes. Click on a filename to preview a resource.

Remote Content

It is also possible to use remote content, such as YouTube videos, and to associate either local content, present in the course's File Manager, or remote content, such as another YouTube video, as alternatives. Local and remote content can be mixed, such as a local original resource, and remote alternatives, or visa versa.

See the Edit Content for information about using the content editor.

See Import/Export Content for information about including adapted content in exported content packages or common cartridges.

See Preferences for information about user content preference settings.


Clicking the Accessibility icon performs an analysis of the content for accessibility problems. Recommendations are given and you are given the option to implement or reverse corrections.

After opening the Accessibility checker, review the report, and notice the number of known and potential problems

Correct the known problems by reviewing the report, then modify the HTML in the window below. Re-run the accessibility checker again when the known problems are corrected to see a Conditional Pass. Select from the choices available in the potential problems listed, then press Make Decisions to update the report. When all known problems are corrected, and decisions have been made on all potential problems, a Full Pass will be displayed, after which you can be sure the content will be accessible to all your students.

Content Editor Accessiblity

The Content Editor includes a number of added features to help make it accessible to assistive technology users, The accesskeys listed below allow navigation through the editor by keyboard. In addition to the accessibility checker in the ATutor content editor, the visual editor includes its own accessibility checker, as well as prompts while authoring, that prevent making accessibility mistakes.

Content Editor AccessKeys

Visual Editor AccessKeys

Associating Tests with Content

Under the Tests & Surveys tab of the content editor is a list of tests available for the current course. One or more tests can be associated with a content page, allowing students to test their knowledge immediately after reviewing the content. Associating a test with a content page inserts a link at the bottom of the page, and inserts a link in the content navigation menu as a sub-menu item for the associated page.

In addition to choosing a test to associate with a content page by selecting the appropriate checkbox(es), enter a Custom Test Message that will appear along with the link to the test.

Also see Import/Export Content for details on importing and exporting tests with content packages.

Import/Export Content

ATutor provides importing and exporting of course content as IMS Content Packages, or as IMS Common Cartridges.

Exported content packages can be viewed offline, and transferred to other systems that will import IMS conformant content. If enabled, students can also export content for offline viewing. See course Properties to learn how to enable content exporting for students.

Exporting Content

An entire course, a chapter, or a single page of content can be exported as an IMS Content Package. Exported packages are archived into a single ZIP file.

Similarly, an entire course, a chapter, or a page can be exported as an IMS Common Cartridge. Cartridges can include content, tests, and activity tools (forum discussions currently) as a single unit of content.

To export content, select the scope by choosing an option from the What to export menu. Select the checkbox to export AccessForAll adapted content as an IMS Access4All integrated content package or common cartridge, if adaptations exist for the content being exported. Then, using Export will generate a downloadable ZIP file through your browser.

Viewing Exported Content Packages

To view a content package offline that has been exported from ATutor, you will need an IMS or SCORM 1.2 viewer, or a web browser, and an application to unzip the package. To view the content in a web browser, first extract the contents of the ZIP file into an empty folder on your computer, and then open the file index.html in your browser. Note that tests and adapted content are not currently viewable with the content package viewer, nor is content in a common cartridge.

Importing Content

To import content into ATutor, it must conform to IMS or SCORM 1.2 content package specifications, or to IMS Common Cartridge 1.0 specifications.

Before importing, specify where in the course structure the new content is to be placed by using the Import into menu.

Select the content to upload by choosing the ZIP file from your local file system, either by typing the path into the Upload a Content Package or Common Cartridge text field, or by using the Browse button. You can also import a cartridge or package over the Web by entering a URL.

Select the checkboxes to Import available Tests, or to Import available AccessForAll content, if they are included with the package being imported. QTI test packages should be imported through Tests & Surveys if they are not part of a content package.

Using Import will upload the zipped content into the course, and unpack it into the specified location in the course.

Content Usage

Instructors can view Content Usage statistics, or Student Specific Usage data. Content Usage will list the overall number of Visits to each content page, the number of Unique Visits, the Average Duration of each visit, the Total Duration of all visits to each page, as well as the Details of all visits to each page. If enabled, students can also view their own content usage using My Tracker.

Use the Reset link to empty the Content Usage data.

AContent Repository

Content created in ATutor can be exported to the AContent Repository using the Export tool on the Import/Export Content screen. Content can also be imported from the AContent repository by entering a search term into the AContent Search, then using Import feature next to a listing in the search results. Click on a content's title to Preview the content in AContent, or use Download to retrieve the content package from the AContent repository. Once downloaded, the retrieved package can be imported into ATutor using the Import/Export Content import tool, or imported into another system that supports the IMS Content Packaging standard. AContent can also be added to a course as a course tool, that students can use to search the repository for information.

Visit the AContent web site [] for more information about using the repository, and to set up an account on the system.

SCORM Packages

The Packages tool, when enabled, allows instructors to include SCORM 1.2 Sharable Content Objects (SCOs) as part of their courses. SCOs remain separated from the course content as complete learning units. SCOs should not be confused with content packages which are loaded into ATutor using the Import/Export tool in the Content Manager.

Note: The ATutor SCORM Run-Time Environment (RTE) that plays SCOs requires users to have Java 1.5 (i.e. JRE 1.5) installed on their computer.

Use the Packages link from the Manage area to access the following:

Import Package

Upload a SCO from your computer, or enter the URL to a SCO located on the Web to import it into your course.

Delete Package

Removes a SCO from a course, and deletes all associated files.


Credit Mode sets the package to credit or no credit.

Lesson Mode is set to browse if the package is to be available for evaluation, or set to normal as a lesson..

Course Email

Using the Course Email option, you can send an email to all assistants (students with privileges), enrolled, un-enrolled, and /or alumni students in your current course. A copy of the email is also sent to your registered email address.

The following tags can be added to course emails to customize the message to the recipients. They are replaced with their personal information.


The Enrollment list for a particular course determines which of your students have access to the course content and course management tools. Instructors can create, import and export student lists.

To administer members of a course, log in as the instructor and select the Enrollment option from the Manage screen.


Students who are enrolled in a course can be assigned course administrative privileges. This allows your students to perform actions like managing content, creating and marking tests, managing groups, or moderating forums or the chat. This tool is useful for creating teaching assistants, or for creating multiple instructors for a course. Select the users you wish to give privileges to, and use the Privileges button. Then choose which tools you want each student to have access to and use the Save button.


Instructors can mark students who have completed the course as alumni. Alumni have access to all course content with the exception of tests and surveys. They can particpate in activities to help new students master the content of the course, such as contributing to the forums. Select students from the Enrolled list, then use Mark Alumni to add the students to the Alumni list. Re-enrolling or removing alumni can be done from the Alumni tab.

Course Lists

It is possible to enter or import a course enrollment list into your ATutor course. Those on the list can be added to the Enrolled list immediately, or added to the Not Enrolled list and later moved to the Enrolled list when the time comes to give students access to the course. When users are added or moved to the Enrolled list, they are sent an email with instructions on how to access the course.

Creating a Course List

You have the option of manually generating the student list by selecting the Create Course List option. This option is useful if there is only a small number of users to be added to the course. With many students, the Import feature may be a more efficient option.

Creating a Course Enrollment List for Import

To import a class list from your local system into ATutor, create a plain text file with the format "firstname", "lastname", "email", with one student per line. This file can be generated from a spreadsheet application, a database, or created manually in a plain text editor.

Importing Course Enrollment Lists

To import a course list (in the file format mentioned above), use the Import Course List link. Choose the course list file on your system by using the Browse button, and then use the Import Course List button.

When importing an enrollment list, ATutor will automatically generate login names for each new user based on their first and last names. There is an option to choose a format for this - either separating the username with an underscore or a period. (i.e. J_Smith, or J.Smith).

Exporting Course Enrollment Lists

A course enrollment list can easily be exported from ATutor and is useful for creating a backup or for importing the list into other courses. Choose which subsets of users to export (enrolled students, not enrolled students, and alumni) and use Export to download the list. The exported list is in the same comma-separated format as that described in Creating a Course Enrollment List for Import above.

File Manager

ATutor has a file system used for storing course content resource files, and it is managed with the File Manager. The File Manager allows instructors to include files associated with course content into content pages. The File Manager also allows you to create, edit, move, and delete files. The File Manager should not be confuse with the File Storage area.

The File Manager can be found in the Manage area, linked from the Content Editor so it can be opened while authoring content pages, or linked throughout the Test Question authoring screens so files can be managed while assembling tests.

Creating Folders

Using the Create Folder button creates a folder for better organizing uploaded files. It is possible to create folders and move files into folders at any time.

Uploading Files

Uploading files using the File Manager is one way of adding content to your course. After uploading a file, it can be added to a course by using the popup File Manager linked form the Content Editor and the Insert button that appears next to each file. This will either create a link to a file, or insert an image into a content page. For various types of mutli media, the insert button will insert the [media] tag.

Browse... opens a local file browser window in which to choose the file for upload.

Upload will upload the specified file to the ATutor system. Specify a file by either typing the path and filename in the text field or by using the Browse... button.

Multi File Upload will upload more than one file at a time using the Fluid Multi-File Uploader utility. Click the checkbox to turn it on, then choose Upload Files, followed by Browse Files to select the files to upload. If the browser you are using does not have a Flash plugin, required by the Fluid Uploader, only the single file uploader will be available to you.

Creating New Files

The Create a New File area allows for quick creation of a new text or HTML file. If using Text mode, any blank lines will be saved with the file. If using HTML mode, HTML tags will be permitted. Selecting Save will save a new file with the entered information (filename and content) into the ATutor system and return to the File Manager. Cancel will discard the file and return to the File Manager.

Editing Files

Text or HTML files created using the File Manager, or uploaded from another source, can be edited by selecting the Edit icon next to the file name listed in the File Manager.

Previewing Files

Use the link on the filename in the File Manager to preview that file. Files that can be viewed online, such as images, text, or html files, will open in a preview window. Files that can not be displayed online, or require a plugin, will prompt you with a download confirmation message.

Managing Files & Folders

It is possible to Rename, Delete, and Move files and folders within the File Manager. Choose a file (or files if mass-deleting or moving to one location) from the File Manager list, then use the appropriate button for the action.

Renaming a file will change the name of the file.

Deleting a file deletes all selected files and folders from the ATutor system. If a folder is being deleted, the files within it will also be deleted. Once the deletion is confirmed, the files can not be undeleted.

To Move files to a different location, choose a new location from the File Manager tree and use the Move button. Once the move is confirmed, all selected files will be found in the new directory.

Extracting Zip Archives

After uploading a ZIP file to the File Manager, select the Extract Archive icon next to the file name. This will display the contents of the zip file and suggest a directory name in which to unzip the archive. Use the Extract button in the ZIP file viewer to unzip the file into the specified directory.

Illegal file types will not be extracted, and file names containing illegal characters will be renamed. The viewer will show illegal file types crossed out, and files with illegal characters pointing ( => ) to the renamed file that will be extracted.


A Forum is an area that allows course members to communicate in a structured manner through messages. The forums can be enabled or disabled and linked from the main navigation, the course home page, or displayed as a menu module. These preferences can be specified in the Course Tools section of the Manage area.

Course instructors and students with forum privileges can manage and mediate the forums by deleting, locking, and sticking threads and messages.

Creating Forums

To create a new forum, use the Create Forum link in the Forums section of the Manage area and enter a title and optional description. New forums will be accessible to all course students, instructors, and alumni. Forums can also be created for access by Groups only.

Editing & Deleting Forums

To edit an existing forum, select the forum in the Forums manager and use the Edit button. Make the necessary changes and then use Save to return to the Forum Manager, or Cancel to return to the Forum Manager without saving any changes.

To delete an existing forum, select the forum in the Forums manager and use the Delete button. The forum and all threads and messages within it will be deleted.

Shared Forums

Shared forums are special forums where members of different courses can engage in discussions with one another. The instructors, and students with forum privileges, of each participating course can manage and moderate the shared forum. Shared forums can only be created by an administrator.

8.4 Managing Threads

As an instructor, it is wise to become familiar with the forum management tools. To access these tools, browse a forum while logged in as an instructor or as an assistant with forum management privileges.

For each thread in a forum, the following actions are available:

Stick Thread

Use the exclamation point icon next to a thread to stick it. This keeps the specified thread at the top of the forum's thread list and is useful for keeping important information visible to forum users.

To unstick a thread, just use the Sticky Thread icon again.

Some possible uses of a sticky thread include: course dates, forum rules, contact information, or important course material.

Lock Thread

Use the Lock icon next to the thread title to lock a thread. There are two options for locking a thread - lock posting and reading, and lock posting only. Lock posting and reading closes the thread so that no one can read the contents or post replies. But note that the title of the thread will remain listed in the forum. Lock posting only will let users read the entire thread but not post any replies to it.

To change the lock preferences or unlock a thread, use the Unlock Thread icon.

Move Thread
To move a thread, use the Move Thread icon next to the thread title. This will move all posts within the thread to the target forum.
Delete Thread
To delete a thread, use the Delete Thread icon next to the thread title. This will delete all posts within the thread and cannot be undeleted.

8.4.1 Managing Posts

The course instructor and assistants with forum privileges can edit and delete posts. Access to these tools are available when viewing a thread message.

Use the Edit link to edit the title and the body of a post.
Use the Delete link to delete a post. Deleting the first post from a thread will delete the entire thread including all replies. A confirmation will be asked prior to each deletion.

Export Forums

This utility can be used to take a static copy of a course forum as a standalone archive of messages contained in the forum exported. An exported forum might be uploaded into the File Manager, unzipped there, and linked from a content page in ATutor to make past discussions available to current students. Or, an exported forum might be uploaded to an external Web site to make it available as an archive outside of ATutor.


The Glossary lists all course terms, their definitions and related terms. Terms can be added to the glossary by using the Add Glossary Term link in the Glossary Manager, or by adding terms directly into content while it is being created using the Content Editor.

The Glossary is a Course Tool and can therefore be enabled or disabled, linked from the main menu, linked from the home page, or displayed as a module in the side menu.


The group area allows an instructor or assistant with Group privileges to create and manage groups of enrolled students within various projects. This may be useful for assigning group-specific tests or assignments, brainstorming, collaborative projects, online discussions and case studies, peer editing or responses, and so on.

There are two ways to create groups: manually or by using automated tools to generate the groups. To facilitate the creation of multiple sets of groups, groups are collected together by type. An example of a group type may be "Tutorials" or "Project A". This feature lets students belong to different groups across multiple projects.

Create multiple groups automatically

Creating groups automatically allows an instructor to specify the number of groups to create, or the number of students per group, and populate groups accordingly.

Enter the group type, group prefix (such as "Tutorial" - the groups will then be named "Tutorial 1", "Tutorial 2",...), and a default description that will be applied to each group. To determine the number of groups that will be created, enter the number of students per group, or the number of groups. Groups will automatically be created accordingly. Check the box beside "Fill groups randomly upon creation" to populate groups evenly at random. Uncheck this box to create the groups, but populate them manually at a later time. Finally, choose which tools will be made avialable to this groups (File Storage, Forum, Blog, Links, etc.) then use the Create button.

Create a single group manually

It is also possible to create groups manually, one by one. This is a good way of creating groups if you have particular needs in terms of which students work together, and a relatively small class. This method is also good for adding groups to existing projects or types of groups. For example, if groups were created and populated automatically, and then several new students enroll, it's possible to manually add the new students to a new group within an existing project or type. A single group might be created to which students who missed a quiz could be assigned, so they could take a makeup test. A single group might be created with the blog tool enabled, so all students in the class can post to the same blog.

Enter the type of project, title, and description. Also choose which tools will be made avialable to this groups (File Storage, Forums, Blog, etc.) and use the Create button.

Managing Groups

From the groups page, it is possible to Edit a group's title, description and tools, or Delete a group entirely.

To manage the members of a group, select the group and use the Members button. The group members screen displays the course list. All unassigned students can automatically be added to the group by using the Assign Unassigned button, or picked manually and saved using the drop down menus, and then the using Save button.


Links to external websites can be added to the course Links area, allowing course members to visit course related information elsewhere on the Web. Both students and instructors can add links by using Suggest Link. Student-submitted links must be approved by the instructor in the Links Manager. Instructors can also add links by using Add Link in the Links Manager.

The Links section is a Course Tool and can therefore be enabled or disabled, linked from the main menu or linked from the home page, and assigned as student privilege.

The Links section can be selected for Groups. Groups members can add links, without them having to be approved by the Instructor, and either keep them private to the group, and only its members, or make them public, so others not in the group can browse through them.

Link Categories

It is necessary to create at least one category before adding any links. Use Create Category in the Links Manager to create categories for organising course links. To edit or delete existing categories use the Categories link in the Links Manager. Note that categories that have links associated with them may not be deleted until those links are removed from the category.


Polls are useful for quickly gathering course member opinions. Instructors and students with poll privileges can post a question with up to seven choices for answers. Unlike Tests and Surveys, Polls are not graded. Because Polls is a Course Tool, it can be enabled, disabled, and positioned according to the Course Tools preferences.


The Properties Manager allows instructors to adjust the visual, functional, and technical details of a course. Properties set during installation can be changed with the Properties Manager. The Properties Manager is also where you delete a course. Additional properties are managed by the ATutor system administrator, including upload file size limitations and space limitations for a course. Contact an ATutor administrator if these properties need to be changed.

The course name.
Primary Language
If a user has not yet chosen a preferred language, ATutor will display in the language selected here.
An short text description of the course, to display in the Browse Course listing for the course.
Course Directory
If the ATutor administrator has enabled the "Pretty URL" feature, instructors will see a field to enter a name for the course directory, which gets added to a url while in a course. The course directory may contain numbers, letters, underscores, or dashes. No spaces are allowed. If no course directory is defined, the course ID is used in its place. The Pretty URL feature is enabled to turn conventional URL variables an there values (e.g course=21&user=13) into something more readable (e.g. course/21/user/13)
Export Content
If enabled, students can export course materials as content packages that can be viewed offline. If set to be available only for top level pages, exporting a top level page also exports all its sub-pages.
Syndicated Announcements
If enabled, the course's announcements become available as an RSS feed.
Whether students need to login, and/or enroll, to gain access to a course .
Release Date
The date the course can be accessed by students.
HTML formatted content that appears at the top of the course home page. Create splash screen, or a customized course front page. It is also possible to create a file called banner.txt, and place it in the top directory of a course file manager, that contains HTML to modify the top header area.
Copyright Notice
Appears in addition to the ATutor copyright notice, to signify the copyright of the content being displayed. Use & copy; (without the space) to create a copyright symbol
An 80 pixel by 80 pixel icon displayed with the course listing in MyCourses.

Authenticated Access

Since version 1.5.4, instructors may enable this feature to generate a unique URI that may be distributed to authenticate guest access to the protected or private course.

Delete Course

An instructor can delete a course using the Properties manager. Once a course has been deleted from the system, it can not be restored (unless there is a backup). There will be prompts to confirm the action before actual deletion occurs.

Reading List

The reading list area allows instructors and assistants with Reading List privileges to list course resources and schedule when they should be read.

Managing Reading List

A new reading list entry can be added by selecting book, URL, handout, AV, or file from the "Type of Reading" dropdown at the top and using the Create button. If a resource of that type does not already exist, the instructor is prompted to add one. After this is complete, or if resources of that type do exist, the add reading list entry page is displayed. Choose the name of the resource from the dropdown, or follow the Create New link to add a new one. Specify if it is required or optional reading, and add a comment if necessary. It is also possible to specify a "read by" date by entering the start and end reading dates. Use the Save button to create the entry.

Managing Resources

To manage resources, follow the Resources link. Create a new resource by selecting its type from the dropdown at the top and using the Create button. Enter the title, author, year, publisher, ISBN, and comment and use the Save button. To Edit or Delete an entry, choose it from the list and use the appropriate button.


The statistics page displays the number of Members (registered users) and Guests (unregistered users) who have logged into the course. Use the Properties manager to control guest access to the course.

Tests and Surveys

The instructor, and assistants with test privileges, can create tests and surveys to be administered to enrolled students. There are a variety of options for defining tests like setting the release date, and using randomized questions or group-specific tests. Once a test or survey has been created, add questions to the Question Bank, and then add these questions to the new test.

Import Tests & Surveys
Complete tests including the test definition, as well as their questions, or just the questions without their test definition, can be imported from IMS QTI 1.2 test packages using the Import Test feature at the top of the Tests & Surveys Manager. Note that if the test is included as part of a content package, then it should be imported using the Content Import/Export utility.
Export Tests & Surveys
Choose a test from the Tests & Survey Manager, then click on the Export button to package that test in an IMS QTI 1.2 test package. These packages can be imported back into ATutor, or into other QTI conformant systems. See the Question Banke for information about exporting questions without the associated test definition.

Creating/Editing Tests & Surveys

To begin creating a test, use the Create Test/Survey link. Filling out the information on the Create Test/Survey page will address all the administrative options for a test. Actual questions are added to the test in a separate step.

Test properties include:

Title (Mandatory field)
Test title
Test description
Attempts Allowed
Tests used for evaluation could be set to 1 attempt, while self=tests may be set to Unlimited attempts
Link from My Courses
Will display a link to the test on the My Courses page, in the course listing. Students will be made aware that the current test is available before they enter the course. This may be useful for creating a pretest to determine students' level of knowledge before taking a course.
Set this to No in most cases, or set it to Yes if you are creating a survey or poll.
Note: Please be aware that the instructor can not modify the anonymous option when submissions have been made on a test.
Allow Guest
Set this if you wish to allow users who are not logged into a course to take the test. In Release Results, set to "Once quiz has been submitted" to allow guest users to see the results of the test after they have completed it. Also see Authenticated Access for information about guest access to protected and private courses.
Controls how test questions are displayed: Either all on one page, or one at a time.
Pass Score
Define the pass score by points or percentage or no pass score. If the pass score/percentage is define, the pass/fail feedback is displayed on student's test result page and instructor can filter by passed/failed students in test submission statistics page.
Pass feedback
Displayed in test result page for passed student.
Fail feedback
Displayed in test result page for failed student.
Release Results
Defines the availability of test results to students, either once the test has been submitted, once submitted and completely marked, or not at all. In the latter case, the Release Results property can later be changed to Once quiz has been submitted to make results available to students once all submissions have been marked.
Randomized Questions
Will display the number of questions specified, chosen randomly from the pool of available questions for that test. It is important that either all questions be assigned the same point value, or that those questions with different point values from the others be included as required questions, otherwise tests' "out scores" will differ from student to student. If including Likert questions in a randomized test, they must be included as required questions.
Start & End Dates
Define the window of time in which the test will be available to students. It is possible to define the start date to be in the future, meaning the test will not be available until that date is reached.
Assign to Groups
Specifies the groups (Created in the Group Manager) permitted to take this test. By default, tests are available to Everyone in the course if no group is selected..
Notes that will appear at the top of the test, which might include instructions for taking the test, or include other information relevant to the test.
Specifies the groups (created using the Group Manager) permitted to take this test. By default, tests are available to Everyone in the course.

Surveys are created in the same way as regular tests, with the exception that no marks are assigned to questions and no results are released, and in some cases it might be preferable to treat submissions as Anonymous. This can be done by choosing Yes from the Anonymous property setting.

Once the initial properties have been saved, the test or survey will be listed in the Test/Survey Manager. From here, one can Edit the test properties, add Questions to a test, Preview the test questions, view the Submissions received so far, view the test Statistics, or Delete the test.

Question Bank

The Question Bank is where course test and survey questions are stored. Questions are created separately so that they may be reused in different tests and surveys.

Import Questions
Individual questions, or collections of questions that are not yet part of a test, can be imported from IMS QTI 1.2 packages using the Import Questions feature at the top of the Question Bank. Also see Tests & Surveys for details on importing complete tests.
Export Questions
Select the checkboxes next to the questions you wish to export, then select the format for the questions (IMS QTI 1.2.1, or IMS QTI 2.1) from the menu below, then click on the Export button to package the questions in an IMS QTI 1.2 question package. These packages can be imported back into ATutor, or into other QTI conformant systems. See Test & Surveys for information about exporting questions with their associated test definition as complete tests. Note that the IMS QTI 2.1 export is experimental only, since there are no tools yet that support QTI 2.1 import. Unless you are a developer, you probably want to export as a QTI 1.2 package.

Creating Test Questions

Test questions are created in the Question Bank. Options differ depending on the type of question being created. All questions are saved to the Question Database where they can then be added to Tests or Surveys. The following questions are supported:

Likert questions require the respondent to specify their choice based on the scale provided. Keep in mind that Likert questions are not assigned a point value, so if they are included in a randomized test with other questions that do have a point value, they must be included as required question, otherwise test statistics will not be accurate.
Matching (Graphical)
Matching questions require the respondent to match value pairs. The graphical version creates coloured lines when pairs are created and allows for drag-and-drop interaction.
Matching (Simple)
Matching questions require the respondent to match value paris. The simple version does not create coloured lines and does not support drag-and-drop interaction.
Multiple Answer
Multiple answer questions require the respondent to answer a question by selecting two or more correct answers.
Multiple Choice
Multiple choice questions require the respondent to answer a question by selecting only one correct answer.
Open Ended
Open ended questions require the respondent to enter text in the specified text area.
Ordering questions require the respondent to correctly assign given items in a particular logical order or rank.
True or False
True or false questions require the respondent to specify whether or not a given statement is true or false.

Question Categories

Question categories are useful for organizing questions by topic, but also to make it easier to add questions into tests. When adding questions, it is possible to simply check the box beside the category name which will add all of the questions within it, instead of having to check each question separately. Use the Create Category link to create a category. It will then appear in the Question Categories manager where it can be Edited and Deleted.

Editing & Deleting Tests

In the Test/Survey Manager, choose the test who's properties you wish to change and use the Edit button. This will display a screen like the one for Creating Tests & Surveys, where the test's properties can be altered and saved.

To delete a Test or Survey, choose it from the Test/Survey Manager and use the Delete button. Aftering confirming the delete action, the test will be removed. Note that the questions within the test will not be deleted as they are stored in the Question Bank.

Previewing Tests

To preview the questions of a test or survey, choose the test from the Tests/Survey Manager and use the Preview button. The screen displayed shows what the student will see when he/she takes a test. Though the exception is previewing randomized tests, which displays all of the questions assigned to that test rather than showing a random number of them (what the student will see).

Test Questions

To manage the questions in a test, choose the test from the Test/Surveys Manager and then use the Questions button. Questions in the Question Bank can be added to your test by using the Add Questions link. Check the questions and/or categories of questions to be added to the test and use the Add to Test/Survey button. After confirming this action, the added questions will appear in the Question Manager. Beside each question is a box in which to enter a weight or mark for that question. If this is for a survey, leave the weight box empty. Note that Likert questions do not get marked and therefore do not require a weight. Reorder questions by changing the numbers in the Order column.

It is also possible to Edit or Remove questions by using the links beside each question. Editing a question will alter it in the Question Bank, and thus affect all tests and surveys using that question. Removing the question only removes it from the test and will not delete the question from the Question Bank.

Test Submissions

To view the submissions of a test, choose a test from the Test/Survey Manager and use the Submissions button. The list of student submissions will be listed, and can be filtered to show all, marked or unmarked tests.

Unmarked tests are those requiring instructor input, or those with open-ended questions. Multiple-choice and true-false questions are automatically marked by the Atutor system and Likert questions do not require marking.

To view and/or mark test submissions, choose a submission from the list and use the View & Mark Test button. The test will be displayed with a box beside each question for entering or editing the mark. Multiple-choice and true-false answers show a red "X" icon beside an answer if the student answered incorrectly, or a green checkmark if he/she was right. If an answer is incorrect, the correct answer will be shown with a green checkmark after it in brackets. Use Save to enter the marks into the system and return to the submission manager.

Test Statistics

To view a test's statistics, choose the test from the Test/Survey Manager and use the Statistics button. There are two sets of statistics available for tests. The first is Question Statistics which shows each question of the test and the number/percentage of students who chose each of the answers. Submission Statistics shows each submission's overall mark and marks given for each test question. The overall test average is also calculated.

Submission Statistics shows each submission's overall mark and marks given for each test question. The overall test average is also calculated. The statistics data can be filtered by test's date of taken, all or passed or failed students. The filtered data can be downloaded as CSV file.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If an instructor would like to compile a list of frequently asked questions (and answers) for course members, they may do so by going to the FAQ section of the Manage area. Topics must first be created, and then questions can be created and associated with a particular topic.

Since version 1.5.2., the FAQ is a Course Tool and can therefore be enabled or disabled, and linked from the main menu or from the home page.

Syndicated Feeds

Since version 1.5.2, System Administrators are able to add syndicated news feeds to the system, making them available to instructors to use in their courses. When available, instructors can display the news feeds in the side menu of their courses by using the Side Menu editor of Student Tools, under Manage section, and selecting a feed from the dropdowns.

Web Search

Since version 1.5.2, course members can use Google to search the web from within an ATutor course.

The Web Search is a Course Tool and can therefore be enabled or disabled, linked from the main menu, linked from the home page, or displayed as a side menu box.


The Gradebook can be used to manage students' marks from ATutor generated tests, from ATutor assignments, or from external tests and assignments. Multiple Tests can be combined into a single Gradebook entry. Custom scales can be defined and used across courses. Gradebook data can be exported for reporting and data analysis.

Add ATutor Test/Assignment to Gradebook

Add ATutor Assignment
Assignments that have been created using the ATutor Assignment Manager can be added to the gradebook. Select the Title of the assignment from those available, then select the scale to be used. Once an assignment has been added to the gradebook, marks are entered as External Marks. Marks may be entered either as a percentage mark or a scale mark. If percentage is used, the gradebook will attempt to convert those percentage marks to a scale mark
Add ATutor Test
Tests that are created using the ATutor Test & Survey Manager can be added to the gradebook if the test's Attempts Allowed property has been set to 1 attempt. Select the test Title from those available, then select the Grade Scale to be used for the test. Additional scales can be created by using the Grade Scales tool. Note that Surveys will not be available to add to the Gradebook. Surveys are technically tests in the Test & Survey Manager that do not have any "weight" or mark assigned to questions.

Update ATutor Marks

Update ATutor Marks
Marks are imported from ATutor tests, rather than displaying them live from the Test & Surveys Manager. Therefore, when marks are updated in the Test & Surveys Manager, the Gradebook needs to be updated to reimport the modified marks. You may choose to update all ATutor tests at once, or choose only to update a single test at a time. Or, you may choose to update only marks for a single student, on all test or a single test. Note that instructors' grades, produced when an instructor takes a test, are not included when marks are updated.
Combine ATutor Tests
Different ATutor generated tests can be combined into a single gradebook entry, if for instance you needed to combine marks from a term test, and marks from a make up test for students who happened to miss the term test. As many tests as required can be combined into a single parent test listed in the Combine Into menu. Select the test to be combined from the Combined From select menu, then press the Combine button to import the marks from that test. Be sure to run Update ATutor Marks on the Combined Into test at least once before combining marks from other tests. When combining marks from multiple tests, should you encounter a conflict such as a mark that already exists for a particular student, you will be given the option to overwrite the old mark with the new one, use the old mark, use the higher mark, or use the lower mark.

External Marks

The Export tool is used to export a course list in a CSV form into which marks can be entered manually, then reimported back into the Gradebook. It can also be used to export marks from the Gradebook to import those marks back into another application such as a spreadsheet, or another database.
Marks from an external assignment or test can be imported in a Comma Separated Values (CSV) file in the form "firstname", "lastname", "email", "grade" with one student per line. The mark can either be a scale mark such "A" or "Pass", or a percentage mark such as 78%. Select the test or assignment previously defined through Add Tests/Assignment The first line of the imported file should contain the field names "First Name, Last Name, Email, Grade" If it is not included the first line will be removed when the marks are imported.

Edit Marks

Use the Search feature to narrow the data displayed in the table below. The table below can be printed as a report, or the data displayed in it can be exported as a CSV file to be reimported into a spreadsheet or database for archiving or for additional analysis. External marks displayed in the table can be edited directly from within the table by choosing the appropriate edit link, editing either marks for a single student, or editing marks for a single test. To edit marks from ATutor based tests, use the Test & Surveys Manager. When editing ATutor based marks, be sure to run Update ATutor Marks to have the changes take affect in the Gradebook..

Gradebook Scales

ATutor includes a number of predefined, commonly used grade scales, used to convert number grades into some other form, such as a letter grade, or a Pass/Fail grade. In the Grade Scales submenu choose Add Grade Scale to create your own custom scale(s). You may choose to populate the Grade Scale form with an existing scale, then edit the scale to create a new one. Or, you may create a brand new scale. Once created, new scales become available to you in any of the course you own.