PolyLearn: Did You Know?

by Tonia Malone on January 4, 2016

BRAE-337 PolyLearn ShellWhat Students Want in Your PolyLearn Courses

Every quarter, we conduct student focus groups through a seminar in the Student Success workshops and we ask them what would help their learning improve. Without fail, students tell us that in addition to encouraging their professors to bring pizza to class (of course!), they would like to see more course content in PolyLearn. Here are some recent student quotes from the seminars:

  • “It’s great when professors upload their study guides to PolyLearn.”
  • “If you post your presentation on PolyLearn, I can review it after class to remind myself what you said.”
  • “I love it when my professor gives us a discussion area on PolyLearn so we can ask questions”
  • “Give us the syllabus, due dates and other important information on PolyLearn.”
  • “One of my teachers puts a study guide on PolyLearn, and that’s really helpful so I can focus my study sessions.”
  • “I need supplemental materials sometimes. It would be great to have links or suggested videos or websites on the PolyLearn site so I can study for the areas where I am weak.”
  • “Give me opportunities to practice what I have learned before the big exams.”

If you’d like to conduct your own feedback research, the PolyLearn Questionnaire tool can help tremendously. This tool allows you to give an anonymous survey to your students, and include any question that may help you improve your course and teaching. Students tend to be kind and incredibly helpful when asked. Don’t wait until the end of the quarter; try a mid-quarter Questionnaire while you still have time to make improvements!

Top Five Tools Used in PolyLearn

  1. File sharing
  2. URL sharing
  3. Assignments
  4. Forums (Discussion Boards)
  5. Quiz

The PolyLearn system has many types of activities and resources. These top five tools represent only 4% of the total tools available in your course shells. The Center for Teaching, Learning, & Technology (CTLT) has Instructional Designers who are highly qualified to support your teaching and learning needs, including helping you use these PolyLearn tools to support your learning objectives and improve student success. If you would like to discuss your teaching and learning needs with one of the Instructional Designers, you can email (polylearnsupport@calpoly.edu [Tonia Malone consult]) for Effective Use of PolyLearn or email Tonia Malone, Catherine Hillman, or Luanne Fose.

Top Five Questions Asked by Faculty at the Beginning of the Quarter

Here are the top five questions we receive at the start of the quarter, and each of these is linked to the answers we give:

  1. Where is my PolyLearn course shell?
  2. I turned on the course, but students say they can’t see it?
  3. How do I copy my past Winter course content into this Winter 2016?
  4. How do I merge my course sections?
  5. I just copied my old course content into Winter, but now there are “Orphaned” blocks and content missing in the course shell.

If you have any additional questions about PolyLearn, please email polylearnsupport@calpoly.edu. We are here to help you!

PolyLearn Growth

Since the beginning of PolyLearn in 2012 (after Blackboard was turned off), PolyLearn has grown tremendously. Here are some interesting statistics:

Fall 2012
Faculty           850 using PolyLearn
Courses        1,939
Students    18,568
Fall 2015
Faculty         1,092 using PolyLearn
Courses        5,502
Students    20,937

This Fall 2015, of the 1,429 instructors teaching courses,  1,092 (76%) chose to engage with students using their PolyLearn course shells.

The PolyLearn system has also been through some changes during the past three years. PolyLearn – Moodle has been upgraded through multiple versions, traversing version numbers 2,2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, and 2,7. (Click on the Moodle version numbers to see the additional tools and features were added along the way.)

Meet the PolyLearn Support Team

The PolyLearn Support Team is staffed by two employees. One front-end PolyLearn Administrator (Tonia Malone) who is assigned 45% to PolyLearn – Moodle, and one Server PolyLearn Administrator (Mike) who is assigned 30%. These two heroic staff members perform all the security patching (sometimes monthly), upgrades and user support to keep PolyLearn up and running for you!

User Support

The PolyLearn support system is set up into three “tiers”, or levels of support.

Tier One: Service Desk students are available by phone (756-6336) to answer basic PolyLearn questions. But these students have all the campus applications to support and are not able to know all there is to know about PolyLearn.

Tier Two: PolyLearn Support Team is available via email (polylearnsupport@calpoly.edu) and face-to-face consultations. These people (student assistants and CTLT staff) are trained and very knowledgeable about PolyLearn – Moodle and can address all your PolyLearn needs.

Tier Three: PolyLearn Servier Administrator who would be contacted by the Support Team if there are any bugs or back end modifications needed to address the issue.

The PolyLearn Support Site

The support site (http://polylearnsupport.calpoly.edu) has over 1,500 pages of detailed step-by-step instructions for using PolyLearn as a faculty or student user. The tutorials provide images and sometimes video guides. At any time if you need more information than what the support site provides, please email PolyLearn Support (polylearnsupport@calpoly.edu).

[Click to see a larger view of the course image]



Melinda Lynch

Thank you, love the idea to place a questionnaire on Poly Learn before the quarter is completed to help with the testing process.


Jamey Eason

This is really good stuff to know! I ask my student every once in a while about what they like or don’t like on PolyLearn pages, but it’s good to see some consensus on the things they find most helpful.

I would also love to see some samples of how other faculty set up/organize their PL pages.


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