Skilling has a bunch of configuration options. They're set to sensible defaults, so you might not have to worry too much about them. Still, let's look at some basics.

Submission options

In the admin menu, go to Skilling | Configuration | Exercise submission settings. Here's what you'll see:

Configuring submission options

The first two change what students are allowed to submit for exercises. Just text, just file uploads, or both. I usually allow both.

If the third one is on, students must type in their initials when they submit their work, to verify that they followed course policies. There's some guidelines from the IRS that requiring people to add their initials improves compliance.

Note that they cannot type anything. They have to type their actual initials. Skilling guesses what student initials are from their first and last names, like WR for Willow Rosenberg. Students can customize their initials by editing their account.

The next one is about grading. Skilling is designed to offload grading from instructors, to reduce the cost of running courses. Graders have their own accounts, with a special "Grader" role.

Having student graders is common in higher ed, that is, more senior students who are graders for intro courses. For decades (centuries?), students have given homework to a student grader, who assess the work, records a grade in a grade book, and returns the work to students. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Of course, graders know which student submitted which homework. Their names are at the top. It's necessary, since graders have to record scores in the grade book. Again, we've done that for a long time.

However, Skilling is into extreme privacy (EP). Yes, that's a thing now. One way it does EP is to give you the option of showing or hiding student names from graders.



Suppose you have a large multisection course, where each instructor grades their own students. It makes sense for instructors to know who submits what work, since you want instructors and students to have some relationship.

However, you might hire piece-rate graders on Amazon Mechanical Turk, or a similar service. In that case, you expect no relationship between graders and students. Hiding student names make sense.

Here's that config screen again:

Configuring submission options

The last one is a message that's put on the submissions page. You can change the message to be anything you want. You can include links, like:

<p>Hey, fellow being! Make sure you read the <a href="/submission-policies">submission policies</a>.</p>

Use what makes sense to you.

Make a root lesson

This is from a Skilling course:

Lesson tree

It's a lesson tree. You can have as many levels as you want, but usually I have just chapters, and lessons within chapters. You can also have as many lesson trees per course as you want, though usually I have just one.

The top of the tree is the root lesson. There's one of them for each tree. Let's make one.

In the admin menu, go to Skilling | Content | Add lesson. Fill in the form like this, but don't save yet.

Creating a root lesson

It doesn't matter much what you put in the body field, since few (if any) people will ever see it. The lesson is just an anchor.

On the right of the page, tell Drupal that this is a new "book." A book is a Drupal construct. Skilling uses it to put lessons into a tree.

Creating a new book

Now save. Drupal will create a new book with the same page as your lesson, that is, Lessons. You'll see something like:

Lesson created

Make a real lesson

Let's add another lesson. It will be the first real lesson on the site. Here's a lesson tree again:

Lesson tree

The first lesson is this tree is "Getting set up." For my course, I'm going to make a lesson called "Welcome!"

Click the Add lesson button on the page, or go to Skilling | Content | Add lesson in the admin menu.

Here's what I did. Do your own thing. Don't click Save yet.

Creating a welcome lesson

Let's add the lesson to the tree. Check the right-hand part of the editing form.

Add a lesson to a book

The parent of the new lesson is the book's root, Lesson.

Go ahead and save.

To check what we have, go to Structure | Books, and click the edit button.

Structure | Books

You see a page that lets you change the order of lessons in the book. We can see that we have the layout we expect: one lesson, in a book called Lessons.

Show the lesson tree

Go back to the home page you made, and you'll see that the lesson tree doesn't show up.

No lesson tree

Let's add it. You can have lesson trees for each book.

Go to Structure | Block layout in the admin menu. Scroll down to Sidebar first. That's where we'll add the lesson tree. Click Place block.

Place block

In the block list, scroll down to Skilling book navigation. It's in the Skilling category. Click the Place block button.

Block list

Make the title of the block Lessons, and choose the Lessons book. Turn off Display title.

Setting up the lesson tree block

Save, and go beck to the home page. You should see the lesson tree.

Lesson tree created

Not much of one, but it'll grow automatically as you add more lessons.


Do you want the suggestion button above the lesson tree?

Doh! No, I want the lesson tree at the top. Thanks for pointing that out.

Go to Struture | Block layout. Scroll down to the Sidebar first.

Blocks are in the wrong order

Drag Lessons up one. Click Save blocks at the bottom of the page.

Leave Class selector at the top. If more than one class uses the same course, and a student is enrolled in more than one of them at the same time, the class selector lets them choose which one they want to work on.

File upload extensions

Authors can attach files to lessons and exercises, for students to download, and for reference solutions for graders. I tried that just now for the Learn the web course, and got:

File blocked

Skilling limits what kinds of files can be uploaded. Skilling has a reasonable default list, but you might need to change it. For example, suppose you are teaching a graphics design course. You want students to upload Photoshop files with the extension .PSD. That's not in Skilling's default list. You would need to add it.

You might want to give students files to download, like starter PSDs, and Excel workbooks. You need to tell Skilling that authors are allowed to attach PSD and XLSX files to lessons.

The lists of allowed files can be different for different fields. Authors are allowed to attach XLSX files to lessons, but students aren't allowed to upload XLSX files.

Let's change what authors are allowed to attach to lessons. In the admin menu, go to Structure | Content types | Lesson. Use the Fields tab. You'll see a list of the fields in lessons.

Lesson field list

Click theĀ Edit button for the Attachments field. Scroll down until you find the Allowed file extensions.

Allowed file extensions

Add extensions to the list, separated by commas. Then Save.

You need to configure each file field with the settings you want. Here are fields to check, in the form "Content type: field list." To change a field, go to Structure | Content types | [Content type], click the Fields tab, and Edit the field to change.

  • Exercise: Attachments, Hidden attachments

  • Lesson: Attachments, Hidden attachments

  • Model: Attachments

  • Pattern: Attachments

  • Principle: Attachments

  • Submission: Grader attachments, Submitted files

Section contents

Installing Skilling