Assignments, lessons, discussions, tests, and chat

Looking for your grades? Find out where they are here.


The Assignments tab shows you all of the Assignment Groups and Assignments for the course. 

Assignment Groups are types of assignments (Quizzes, Tests, Papers, etc.). Your instructor gives each group a certain overall grade-weight, which is a percentage of your final grade.

Each assignment group, in turn, contains individual assignments. It helps your instructor count points on one kind of assignment as worth more toward your final grade. Say Quizzes were worth 20% and Term Papers were worth 40%—your Term Paper would be worth twice as much a Quiz grade when your final grade is determined.

There are three types of Assignments: 

Grade-only: This is typically used for things like readings and other simple assignments that don't require a lot of interaction between you and your instructor.

File: This type lets you and your instructor interact over a particular file—things like essays, papers, etc. that benefit from feedback, revisions, and other interaction.

Test: These assignments correspond to one of the course's online tests.

Assignment pages

Assignment pages show your grade and basic information about the assignment.

File assignments

File-type assignments let you and your instructor interact via the submission feed. 

Simply type a comment and/or Attach a file and click Submit

When your instructor replies, you'll get an email and see an alert on the course dashboard.


Lessons lists all of the available online lessons for your course.

Click a Lesson name to go to its page where you can view its content. You can also find any particular assignments, discussions, links, and files associated with the lesson.


Discussions consist of a TitleTopicComments, and Replies. You can get to them via Discussion updates in the course Dashboard, the Discussions tab, the Lessons tab, or via individual Lessons.

Starting a Discussion

Click Start a New Discussion. Give the Discussion a Title, an optional Topic, and even an optional File.

Once you Save, you'll go to the Discussion and you can start commenting.

If you wish, you can also subscribe to get email notifications about new activity in the Discussion.

Comments and Replies

It's pretty straightforward: go into the Discussion, type your Comment, attach an optional file, and then click Leave a comment.

Reply to Comments by clicking Reply... you can guess the rest.

Properly-formatted URLs in Topics, Comments, and Replies automatically become live links!

Deleting Stuff

Anyone who starts a discussion can delete it. You can also delete your own comments and replies.

Course instructors and the registrar can delete any Discussion, comment, or reply. 


Tests shows you currently-available tests as well as any tests you've already taken. Each test is available for a certain time period, might have a time limit, and may allow retakes.

About Time Limits

Availability trumps the time limit. If you begin a test with no time limit ten minutes before the availability window ends, you have only ten minutes to finish the test.

If you run out of time, unanswered questions will be marked wrong.

If you get accidentally logged out in the middle of taking the test, you may resume the test where you left off with any unused time remaining (unless availability runs out).

Your instructor can reset the test's availability for you. Contact him or her about this and they can take care of it. Please don't contact Populi support about your tests! We can't help you!

Taking a Test

Click Take Now to start a test. Read the note under Ready to Start?—it describes the time limit and any remaining retakes. At this point, you may still back out of the test.

Once you Click here to start the test, the time limit clock (if any) is running, and you are committed to taking the test.

There are seven question types:

  • Multiple Choice: Click the radio button (round) to select the right answer. Don't get this confused with Multiple Answer!
  • Short Answer: Type or copy-and-paste your answer in the field.
  • Put in Order: Drag the text bars until they are all in the correct order.
  • Multiple Answer: Check the boxes (square) next to all appropriate answers. Don't get this confused with Multiple Choice!
  • Essay: Like Short Answer, in that you type or copy-and-paste your answer in the field. Unlike Short Answer in that there's no character limit.
  • True/False: Is the statement True or False? Choose whichever answer applies.
  • Matching: For each term in the left column, select the appropriate term from the drop-down.

Once you're done, click Submit Test.

Test Completed

After submitting your test, timing out, or transgressing the availability window, you'll see the Test Completed screen.

Certain question types (Multiple Choice/Answer, some Short Answer, Put-in-Order) are automatically graded. If all of the test questions are such, then you'll see your grade.

If not, you'll read that, "Some questions need to be graded by the professor, so your final score will not be assigned until then."

If retakes are permitted, you'll see how many retakes you have remaining. Retakes are optional!

If answers are visible after test completion, you'll see your answers, the correct answers, and how many points you received for each answer.

View History

If the Test's answers are visible after completion, you can return to the Tests tab and click View History to see your answers at any time.


Chats are scheduled real-time discussions. More informal than regular Discussions (which provide a more structured setting, better-suited to long-form compositions), chats are meant more for conversations, quick thoughts, real-time replies, and so on.

The lifecycle of a chat:

  1. The course's faculty or teaching assistant schedules the chat
  2. Once the chat's start time has arrived, everyone in the course—teachers, students, auditors—can participate in the conversation
  3. The chat ends when A) either a new chat begins or B) the instructor ends the chat session
  4. After the chat has ended, it becomes a transcript which anyone in the course can review

Get to a chat

Go to the course and click the Chat tab. You'll see a list of chat transcripts with the current chat at the top. Click the current chat to read the conversation and contribute to it. Click a transcript to read a past chat.

What can you do in a chat?

Obviously, you can write stuff and post it. Just type or copy-paste text and post it to the chat (either click Send Message or hit the Enter key on your keyboard). You can also...

  • Upload a file: Just choose a file from your computer and click upload. If someone else posts a file, just click the filename to download it to your computer.
  • Use emoji: Emoji are silly little cartoon-like characters. So of course we felt we had to include them in Populi. Use them to lighten up the chat.
  • Embed stuff: Embed a URL from YouTube, Vimeo, Scribd, Instagram, or any image URL to post it directly into the chat. 
Was this article helpful?
24 out of 26 found this helpful
Have more questions? Submit a request


Article is closed for comments.