LodeStar Peer Support on Piazza

LodeStar has added built-in peer-to-peer support using the Piazza Platform.

Quick Sign In


How to Sign Up
  1. Click on link above.
  2. Type in ls101 for the class access code.
  3. Click on ‘Join as Student’.  This step is easy to miss!
  4. Click on ‘Join Classes’
  5. Enter in a valid email address.
  6. Submit email and then go to your email client to activate your Piazza account
  7. To find these instructions again or the link to the LodeStar Q&A site from within LodeStar, select Help > General LodeStar Help and search for ‘Piazza’


Steps in pictures:




What’s new in LodeStar 7.2 Build 36


Some of the features that we explore below are new to LodeStar. Others are features that appeared several builds ago, but instructors may still not be aware of them. There is no particular ordering to the new features.  Some of the features will be more significant to individual instructors than others.  The most powerful additions appear both at the beginning and at the end.

Activity Widgets


LodeStar HTML Editor with insert question widget button (?)

Click on the ? button in the HTML Editor on the Text Page and you’ll discover a new capability. Instructors can now inject an indefinite number of activity widgets into their text pages. To start, LodeStar offers the Multiple Choice and Short Answer widgets. In the future, the choices will multiply.

The ‘Multiple Choice widget’ offers unlimited number of distractors, custom feedback for each distractor, and partial credit — all integrated with LodeStar reporting.


LodeStar Activity Widget Dialog

The Short Answer widget offers the instructor not only the ability to identify correct answers to short answer questions, but alternative correct answers and anticipated wrong responses. In illustration of the latter point, a question might ask, for example, what any number to the power zero equates to. The right answer is 1. The anticipated wrong answer is 0. The widget offers instructors the ability to provide precise feedback for the anticipated wrong answer.

Activity Maker Mobile

This fairly new template enables instructors to create content that is responsive – playable on a variety of devices including desktops, tablets and smartphones. Whereas ActivityMaker makes adjustments for the tablet, ActivityMaker Mobile adapts to any device – while maintaining ease of navigation and readability.


LodeStar’s ActivityMaker Mobile Template

See full article and example


PBLMaker is a relatively new template, and continues to receive improvements. The template was initially developed at the University of Minnesota to help instructors around the world build learning objects that prepare health workers to prevent, detect, and respond to the threat of infectious diseases. The template is now widely available to any LodeStar author interested in a problem-based learning approach to online instruction.


Lodestar Learning’s Problem Based Learning Template

See full article and example

Student tools


Instructors select Tools > Project Settings to turn on and off student tools. Pictured above are a variety of tools that instructors can choose to enable for students. From left to right, they include a table of contents. (Instructors select a style of table of contents, type in a page title for each page and check off the Table of Contents check box.)


Adding a Table of Contents entry requires typing in a Page Id and checking Table of Contents

The next tool includes a student notepad that saves content to the student’s computer.

The print tool makes it easy for students to print off content, if the instructors permit.

The last tool pictured above launches a version of the content that is more easily read by screen readers. Faculty can override what content gets displayed by selecting the accessible/alternative text tool (see below – last icon on the right).


If alternative text is not desired due to the nature of the content, instructors can simply turn this feature off.  Again, this  control is available under Tools > Project Settings as pictured below:


Tools > Project Settings gives control to  instructors in ActivityMaker


Most LodeStar projects can be previewed with the click of the ‘Preview’ button. There are times, however, when instructors might want to preview in the Firefox browser. Firefox enables instructors to test the responsiveness of an ActivityMaker Mobile project and to test out the commands authored in LodeStar JetScript (next section).

Once an instructor clicks the ‘Preview’ button, LodeStar saves the local address of the project on the clipboard. Instructors simply need to right click on the URL address bar in Firefox, and select ‘Paste and Go’.

Execute commands (advanced)

LodeStar has added a scripting language call LodeStar JetScript. In some specialized cases, instructors might find the branching drop down menus too limiting. The Execute Command branch option allows instructors to script the actions that LodeStar should take when students select an answer or when students meet or fail to meet a performance threshold set in a gate.


Execute Command is a new branch option accessed from a question option, menu page, or gate.

Examples include, adding and removing resources, jumping to pages, resetting pages, suspending and retrieving data from the learning management system and more. Inside of LodeStar, the list of commands in the appendix below and can be accessed by clicking on the blue help button with the question mark.

Please Note: Use Firefox to preview projects that feature LodeStar JetScript (see previous section).


LodeStar Learning continually strives for functionality that helps instructors build higher order learning activities. In addition, LodeStar continually improves on the experience for mobile learners and for all students who benefit from accessible content. Many new developments are on the road map.  So stay tuned!


Scripted Commands





jumpToPage(‘Page ID’);

openUrl(‘insert url’);

addOverlay(‘Page ID’);

setValue(‘variable name’, value);

appendValue(‘variable name’, value);

getValue(‘variable name’);



removeFromFlowById(‘Page ID’);

addToResources(‘Page ID’);

removeFromResources(‘Page ID’);


updateProgressBar(value, max);











Publishing to Curriki

Curriki supports LodeStar projects.

Curriki is a terrific resource.  If you don’t have access to a learning management system and you are willing to share your resource with the educational community as well as your students, choose Curriki.

Curriki is an open education resource library. Curriki enables educators around the world to access and contribute free open educational resources.

At the conclusion of this post, you will find a short video that describes how to import a LodeStar project into Curriki.  But before you can import LodeStar, you must contact Curriki at http://www.curriki.org/about-curriki/contact-us/ and request to be a trusted user.

Once you are a trusted user, follow these steps.  The video is a little difficult to view, but these steps will help you.  Print them out.

In LodeStar

  1. Open a LodeStar project.
  2. Select Export.
  3. In the Export dialog, select the ‘Simple Zip’ option.
  4. Fill in the fields and click on the “Create Export’ button.
  5. Pay attention to where LodeStar saves your exported file!!

In Curriki

  1. Register as a Curriki user (free) and contact Curriki to become a trusted user (free).
  2. Log in to Curriki.
  3. Go to ‘My Dashboard’ if you are not already there.
  4. Click on ‘Contribute a Resource’.
  5. Fill in the ‘Title’ and ‘Abstract’ fields.
  6. In the Content area, click on the HTML Editor and select ‘Insert’ from the HTML editor toolbar.
  7. Select ‘Insert LodeStar Zip’.  This is the simple zip that you created earlier.  It is in your LodeStar/Exports folder.
  8. Follow the rest of the Curriki information collection process.
  9. Once you have completed all of the steps, you will be able to ‘Start’ the LodeStar activity.
  10. To find your project (resource), go to ‘My Dashboard’ and to ‘My library’.
  11. Click on the resource.  Click on the ‘Start’ button to launch.
  12. Share the resource website address with your students.  Test the address.


Screenshot of the Curriki HTML Editor with Insert LodeStar Zip.



Screenshot of the activity web page.  Notice the Website address near the top of the screen.  Notice the start button near the bottom of the screen.


Last Note:

Curriki supports Google Classroom.  If your school cannot afford a learning management system like Moodle, consider Google Classroom.  LodeStar objects added to the Curriki library can be easily shared with Google Classroom.





Linking to a PDF

There are two ways to link a PDF (or any other web friendly file) to a LodeStar ActivityMaker page.  The first way involves copying the PDF to the root directory of the project so that PDF always remains with the project.  The second way involves linking to a PDF located anywhere on the public internet.

Linking to a local PDF file

Open or start an ActivityMaker project.  Every project has its own directory under LodeStar > Projects.  Copy the PDF to the root of that directory.  In my example I have a project named Demo_PDF.  In the screenshot, you will see that I have copied the pdf to the Demo_PDF directory. My pdf file is called GuitarTab.pdf.  It is not obvious, but note that the pdf file sits inside my Demo_PDF project directory.



Next, I click on the link icon in the HTML Editor toolbar on the ‘Text’ page.


In the URL field, type in the name of the PDF file.  In my case, I typed GuitarTab.pdf.  Type in a text to display to your students, as pictured below:


Click Ok.  To preview your work, click on Preview.  This will copy the address of the project to the clipboard.  Preview will not show the popup with your PDF.  To see this in action, launch Firefox, and paste in the project URL from the clipboard.  (If you previewed, the project URL is on the clipboard.)  Once your project loads, you can click on your link and see it work.

Linking to a PDF on the Public Internet

Follow all of the steps above, but instead of a filename as a URL paste in the complete address of the PDF on the internet.

See below for how either scenario should appear:




Inserting a YouTube Video

  1. Launch LodeStar and choose a project based on the ActivityMaker template.
  2. Add a new page to your project.
  3. Select the page type ‘Video’  (not Video Scenario).
  4. Copy the URL (the address) from YouTube.  Notice the screen shot below.  Copy the address that is highlighted with blue.
  5. Paste the address into the first field (box) on the LodeStar Video Page.  Ignore everything else.
  6. Click Preview.  Your video wont show in the preview.  Now jump out to the Firefox browser.  Because you clicked on the LodeStar Preview button, the address of your project was saved to the clipboard.  Now paste it in the Firefox address field.  You should now see your project and be able to view your video, provided that YouTube hasn’t blocked it.

Please note:  You will need to manually pause your video, but once you publish your project to a learning management system, LodeStar will automatically pause the video when the student turns the page.


Exporting a Project to D2L BrightSpace 10.5 +

Inside of LodeStar 7.x, do the following:

  1. Open your project, if not already opened. You will find your most recently used project under ‘File’.
  2. Select the Export button. Pay attention to where your zip file will be saved.
  3. Keep the default ‘SCORM 1.3 (Recommended)’ selected .
  4. Fill in the Module, Topic and Author Fields.
  5. Click on ‘Create Export’ button.


Inside of D2L BrightSpace 10.5 or later, do the following:

  1. Go to your course.
  2. Select ‘Edit Course’
  3. Select ‘Import/Export/Copy Components’ (on the left hand side of the screen)
  4. In the ‘What would like to do? screen’, select the ‘Import Components’ radio button. Select the ‘from a course package’ radio button.
  5. In the ‘Import Course Package’’ screen, click on the ‘Import All Components’ button and browse to the lodestar zip file in the exports folder.
  6. Click on the ‘Start’ button.
  7. Once the process is completed, click on the ‘View Content’ button to navigate to the Content Tool.   D2L will always append your new module and topic to the end of your list of modules.