[LON-CAPA-users] Re: Notification address when accounts are created

Stuart Raeburn lon-capa-users@mail.lon-capa.org
Thu, 16 Oct 2008 21:08:24 -0400


This topic is probably more suitable for the lon-capa-admin list, but  
since the thread was started here I'll reply to the users list.

There has been no change to the existing behavior of LON-CAPA with  
regards to automatic setting of notification addresses for new users,  
although starting with version 2.7, a new mechanism for creation of  
new accounts (namely self-creation of accounts) was added.

The one mechanism which has (and continues to) automatically set  
notification/critical notification addresses for new users is  
automated enrollment (either via a nightly automated process, or  
interactively by a Course Coordinator via "Update Roster Now").  This  
mechanism is only available in domains where Automated Enrollment has  
been enabled by a Domain Coordinator.  The rationale for setting  
notifications was that the e-mail address provided from an  
institutional source was likely to be valid, so it was not  
unreasonable to set notification addresses automatically.

In other cases, i.e., classlist upload, or enrollment of a single user  
or student, there is less of a guarantee that the e-mail address is  
accurate. Historically, LON-CAPA has never automatically set  
notification addresses for users added via these mechanisms.  There  
was no change in this in 2.7, although the question might be revisited  
in the future, particularly since integration with campus directory  
services (possible since LON-CAPA version 2.5) can now provide  
validation against the same official data sources as are used for  
automated enrollment.

Self-creation of accounts follows the same approach as classlist  
upload and single user enrollment - namely notification addresses are  
not set automatically.  It would be a straightforward matter to modify  
the account self-creation interface to provide the user the option of  
also setting notification addresses when he/she creates a LON-CAPA  
account.  This functionality, however, was not a part of the original  
specifications for the  self-enrollment process for 2.7.

Reliance on notification e-mail as a way of contacting students in a  
course is problematic because users can modify notification addresses  
and also disable notifications, after they have initially been set.   
Course Management Systems typically provide a way to send e-mail to  
all students enrolled in a course.  In LON-CAPA the 'Permanent Email  
Address' which can be set for each user, but which cannot be changed  
by a user cannot unless he/she is also a Domain Coordinator (or a  
Course Coordinator or Author - depending on how the Domain has been  
configured) can provide this standard course management functionality.

Further to this, LON-CAPA's Auto-update process can be enabled in a  
domain so that user information (including permanent e-mail addresses)  
for all users in the domain can be kept in sync with an institutional  
directory source. Auto-update does not affect user preferences such as  
notification addresses.

In your specific case automatic setting of notification for new users  
used to "work" because you had combined a custom script for student  
course enrollment requests with the standard Auto-enrollment process  
(which would periodically process the file produced by your custom  
script).  Now you have replaced a custom mechanism with the  
generalized LON-CAPA account self-creation/self-enrollment mechanism  
the auto-enrollment process is no longer  employed so notification  
addresses are not automatically set for new users.

If you plan to use notification e-mails as a way of communicating with  
students, it seeme simplest at this point to ask the students to go to  
their own User Preferences and set Notification addresses there. Other  
alternatives can be examined for a future release.

Stuart Raeburn

> When new LON-CAPA accounts has been created  in the past (and if an
> e-mail address has been provided in the process of account creation),
> LON-CAPA used to automatically configure a notification address. The
> advantage for the users is that they are notified in their e-mail
> mailbox about new LON-CAPA internal messages.
> This seems to be dysfunctional for at least classlist upload and account
> self creation.
> So...
> 1) How can we get this to work again? Is there something I am missing or
> has there been a change with 2.7.X releases? Or is there a special
> constraint that I haven't been aware of?
> 2) Is there a possibility to configure the missing notification settings
> besides asking the users to set this on their own?
> Thanks,
> Stefan Bisitz