Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Accessing That Old List of Classmates in Your Course(s) at the University of Saskatchewan Through PAWS

Effective June 27, 2013, the University of Saskatchewan has made an update to Blackboard Learn. The update also comes with a decision to make a change in privacy restrictions. Students will be able to see the names and emails of other students within Course Tools (Blackboard Learn). However, students will be able to prevent their name from being displayed. This effectively makes this guide useless... to an extent. Furthermore, the user interface of PAWS has changed dramatically as of August 2013, but some of these steps remain relevant.

Before every new semester/term of classes begin at the University of Saskatchewan, students at the Saskatoon-based school often like to log into PAWS (Personalized Access to Web Services) approximately one month before classes begin.

Then, they like to click on the "Academics" tab before clicking on "Course Tools." Oh yeah... you can now access Course Tools by clicking on the shortcut icon to Course Tools near the top right-hand corner of your screen when logged into PAWS, as pictured below...
Course Tools Shortcut

But more than often, the first thing they like to do when checking out each individual course page is by clicking on "Members," as pictured below, so they can find out which other suckers are taking the same class as them...
Members - Circled
There are a variety of reasons for this, which include, but are not limited to the following:
  • Do they know someone in the class?
  • Is there someone in there that they despise enough to drop the class?
  • Perhaps they'd like to scope out the class list for people with funny names.
  • Maybe they like to see if their friends are on the list so they can send their friends text messages in this manner: "OMG! I HAVE A CLASS WITH YOU! YAY!"
But whatever the reason, that possibility is gone as of Term 1 of the 2011-2012 school year... or so I thought.

This past summer, the University of Saskatchewan switched from the older PAWS Course Tools software to something new: Blackboard Learn, which offers a new slate of features that I don't really care for, as I haven't used a single new feature (except downloading documents from class pages). However, what appears to be missing from Blackboard Learn is the ability to see a list of your fellow classmates within the specific class that you are taking.

This past summer, on a hunch, I tried something, and it turned out to work, even if it required a bit of work on my part.

Today, I would like to share that idea with you. At least a few others know about this already (probably because they think the same way as I do), but I thought it'd be important to publish this useless article.

When you access your list of classes, classes you took prior to Term 1 of the 2011-2012 school year link to a web address similar to this, and contains important information, as described in the diagram below:
URL - Old Courses
With that in mind, here are the steps you need to go through in order to access the list of classmates, old school style...
  1. Log into Blackboard Learn at http://bblearn.usask.ca.
  2. Once you've logged into Blackboard Learn, take a look at your U of S Course List, as pictured below.
    U of S Course List
    Once you've logged in, make note of the numbers in brackets/parentheses, as it'll become important.
  3. Make a note of this old, but still-important web address... you'll need it: http://paws.usask.ca/jsp/grouptools/group/GroupRedirect.jsp?courseID=
  4. Log into PAWS (http://paws.usask.ca) in a different tab or browser window.
  5. Once you've logged in, go back to your U of S Course List in Blackboard Learn.
  6. Make a note of the class you'd like to check out (the one where you want to see the list of classmates) and copy the odd numbers in brackets, then add that to the end of the "old, but still-important" address above.

    So, for example, I want to find out which fellow suckers are in my POLS 306 (01) class (29153.201201).

    I would copy the above "old, but still-important" address and paste into a word processor or similar application, such as Notepad on Windows. Then, I would add 29153.201201 to the end of that address, which would make the newly-genereated web address look something like this:

    http://paws.usask.ca/jsp/grouptools/group/GroupRedirect.jsp?courseID=29153.201201
  7. Once you've completed step #6, go back to the tab or window in which you are logged into PAWS.
  8. Take the newly-generated-by-you web address and paste it into the address bar, like so...
    Paste URL
    Once you've pasted that web address, hit the Enter or Return button (depending on whether you use a PC or Mac). Please note that value you added will change, as well as the address of the page it takes you to.
  9. Once you've hit "Enter" or "Return," you will see something similar to this:
    Success
  10. Then, if you'd like to see who else is in your class, click on "Members," as circled in the above image. Once you've clicked on "Members," you will be taken to a page that I'm sure us older students are familiar with...
    Course List
To check out the list of classmates in your other numerous classes, you'll unfortunately have to repeat the steps I've typed up.

I hope this makes my fellow University of Saskatchewan students a little happier with having to use Blackboard Learn, as there is a way back. However, just to let you know... this article is only useful for the purpose of finding out who else are in your class. All attachments or files that professors may post that are related to your course(s) are only visible through Blackboard Learn.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Earn Some Pocket Cash by Taking Surveys!

SurveysAre you a university student? Usually, university students are assumed to be broke, unless their parents are paying for their tuition. I, on the other hand, have been fortunate enough to receive some free money, but not from my parents.

So, the annoying thing about universities is that there are terms in which you will find yourself with a few hours where you have nothing to do, and more than often, you can't really squeeze much studying into that timeframe. So, you find yourself wanting to go downtown for lunch or something, but there's not much time for that either. So, naturally, you may decide to find a friend, or hang out at the library, use your laptop or find a computer lab and surf the Internets.

Well, why not use that time to make some money? Yes, take surveys.

By taking surveys, you'll be shaping how the world turns out, by voicing your opinion on political issues, new products, etc. Plus, you can earn points for... gift certificates, or "cold hard cash."

Why not start today? I've made a good amount of money taking surveys with my spare time, even if it seemed like forever to get any money. Of course, not all websites offer money. Some will offer Air Miles or Aeroplan miles!

Here is a list of research panels that I am a part of. You should join too. So, join the websites listed above and start earning some "mad cheddar!"