By now many of our customers have upgraded to the recently released 1.3.0 version of Synergy. Although we still have many features to add and improvements to make in Synergy, it is coming along rather well. Several substantial upgrades are included in 1.3.0, and although we include the changes in the release notes, they sometimes don’t make sense without further explanation. So I thought I would share some of the more essential changes in terms we can all understand.
One of the biggest improvements, but least noticeable (at least initially), is the enhanced way in which Synergy caches information. What this means for the student is dramatically improved load times for each page displayed in the Module.
In a nutshell, what happens is that once a page has been visited by any student, the audio, video, graphics, and so forth from that page are “cached” onto that local machine. Therefore, the next time this page is accessed, those files do not have to be streamed across the network. Synergy has always done this, but it just does it much better now. This is especially beneficial in large implementations where multitudes of students are all accessing Synergy simultaneously.
Speaking of load times, you should also find screens such as the Grade Book in the Faculty Portal load significantly faster than in previous versions of Synergy.
Several other changes are evident within the Faculty Portal. For instance, the Individual Assignment Grade report was added. This report provides information similar to that seen from the Student Portal and is accessible on the Reports menu.
All of these are welcome changes, but some of the most important changes took place in the Scheduler itself. For example, the Scheduler now supports multiple copies of the same Module. So, if you have multiple copies of Personal Finance, you can now adjust the number of seats available for that Module. Plus, you can now add content that you created to a Content Set, therefore allowing you to use the Scheduler to schedule students into non-Module lessons.
Another long-overdue feature is the ability for Synergy to schedule and communicate with 2.x.x versions of the Modules. Now you are able to add older Modules – what we refer to as Legacy Modules – into Synergy and allow Synergy to do the grading and scheduling, therefore eliminating the need for Colleague.
I’ve just touched on the major changes in Synergy 1.3.0, but the overall functionality has been remarkably improved. The load times of all the pages within the Student and Faculty Portals have been improved, the Scheduler is smarter and more efficient, many fail-safes have been implemented to prevent user error or data corruption, and we generally tried to make it more user friendly.
We continue to improve Synergy on a daily basis and we welcome comments and suggestions on how to make it a better product. Please feel free to send us any ideas you have, and we will see that they are considered.