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Compass is the IIME Learning Activity Management System - a web application for designing, managing and delivering online learning using learning activities. It provides teachers with a highly intuitive visual authoring environment for creating sequences of learning activities. Compass contains two major types of educational content:  Learning Activities which are online learning modules that contain assessments, video, and rich content; and Mixtapes which are collections of Learning Activities, links, ibooks, and online videos.

Compass is available to anyone - to NYU Langone users via CAS, to external users via Google OAuth and email-based local accounts.  Compass was launched in 2009.   As of November 2019, Compass has had 137,699 learning activity completions by 26,809 users.

Compass is written in Python/Django and uses a MySQL database.


Learning Activities:   Activities are the main content type of Compass.  Activities are sequences of learning pages arranged into sections, that make up a learning sequence.   Activities are similar to other online learning modules where you progress through content and assessments until you complete the activity.

Activity pages can contain the following content types:

Mixtapes:  Mixtapes are a newer content type of Compass and are meant to create single page collections of:

Table of Contents

Compass        1

Table of Contents        2

Signing in and User Accounts        3

Compass Features        6

Search        6

Quicklinks to resume in progress and view completions        6

Viewing Compass Activities        8

Navigating a Compass Activity        8

Viewing Mixtapes        10

Authoring Compass Activities        11

Creating Activities        11

Authoring Activities: Pages        11

Editing and creating Sections        12

Editing a Page        12

Page Content Element Types:        13

Rich Text        13

Video/Audio Player        15

Reflection Question        16

Quiz        17

Module Completion        22

Page Links        23

Authoring Activities: Description        24

Authoring Activities: Authors        24

Authoring Activities: Prerequisites        25

Authoring Activities: Publish / Category        26

Authoring Activities: Review Content        26

Authoring Activities: Revision History        27

Authoring Activities: Preview Activity        28

Authoring Mixtapes        29

Updating Mixtape options        30

Adding and Editing Mixtape Content        31

Reporting and Analytics        35

Calendar plot of daily Activity completions over the past 365 days        37

A histogram of user sources        38

A summary of feedback        38

Compliance reports        39

Quiz reports        39

Changes in Compass2        41

Signing in and User Accounts

Users can sign in via three potential ways:

To sign in, visit and use the widget on the home page to either register or sign in:

Clicking the NYU Langone health button above will launch the CAS SSO workflow.  Clicking the red Google button will launch the Google OAuth SSO workflow.

To use a Compass local account, enter the registered email address and password in the fields above.  To register for a Compass local account, click the Sign up link at the top of the widget.  This leads to a sign up form:

Note - the form above will not allow account creation when the email contains the following domains: '', '', '', '','', '', '', '', ''

Once a user has successfully signed in, they see a list of available Activities and Mixtapes and the navigational elements of Compass as a whole:

Compass Features


Search is available via the Navbar.  Search matches both Activities and Mixtapes against their label and descriptions.  Search only displays those activities that are published and not hidden from search (more on this below).

Quicklinks to resume in progress and view completions

If applicable, Compass shows two convenient buttons at the top of the home page:

The Resume in-progress activities button shows a list of Activities the current user has in progress:

Clicking any of the links on this page launches that Activity.

Clicking the Completion Certificates button shows that user’s Activity completions and allows them to download PDF certificates:

Users can customize how their name appears on the certificates, as their SSO may not accurately send their first and last names, by clicking the ‘Click here to change your displayed name’ link.

Users can also submit ratings and feedback on Activities from this screen - this button is only shown if the user has not previously given feedback on that Activity.

Viewing Compass Activities

Users can find Compass content by scrolling on the main page or using the search function.  Compass authors can also share direct links to Activities and Mixtapes.

An Activity listing looks like:

The listing shows the title and any special information relevant to that Activity.    To begin the Activity, click the Start button or the title.  Upon starting users will be shown a splash page:

The splash page includes a description and learning objectives, a listing of authors, and information about when it was created and when it was last reviewed.  If you were already working on the Activity (as in the example above) you have the choice to continue where you left off, or start anew.   If you are starting an Activity for the first time you will see a Begin Activity button:

Navigating a Compass Activity

While taking a Compass Activity you will see the main screen:

On the left side bar, users see the Sections and Pages of the activity.   This allows users to visually see their overall progress and click to Pages they have previously visited, or which authors allow direct navigation to (more on this below in the authoring section).  The Compass Home button at the top returns the user to the home page.

The right main part of the page will show the content of the given page in Compass.  This may include text, multimedia, quiz questions, etc.   The content may require scrolling to see in its entirety.  

At the bottom right corner is the ‘Next’ button which the user uses to progress through the Activity.   This button may be hidden until you complete required interactions on a given page - for example completing and submitting a quiz.  Clicking the Next button takes the user to the next page.

When you have reached the end of an Activity, you will see a message and several self-explanatory useful buttons:

Viewing Mixtapes

Similar to Activities, Mixtapes are listed on the home page, in search, or via direct links shared by authors.   Mixtapes can be accessed by their listing - clicking the open button or the title:

Mixtapes contain all of their content in a single page that the user can scroll and view.

Authoring Compass Activities

Creating Activities

Any user that has an email address and is an administrator or has authoring rights to existing Activities and Mixtapes can create new Activities and Mixtapes.  To do so:

Authors can edit any activities they create or for which they have been added as an author.  Authors can be added by administrators or existing authors to an activity.   In order to be granted authoring rights for a given activity, authors must have logged in at least once, and must have an email address for their Compass account.   To Author an Activity, click on the Author / Reports link in the Navbar and then click the ‘Edit’ button next to your Activity.

Authoring Activities: Pages

The authoring landing page for Activities has a series of sections, listed on the left of each page in that section.A page is each screen within an Activity.  Pages are organized into sections so you can logically group your content as the learner navigates through an Activity.  Sections are cosmetic and for grouping only - they have no impact on the navigation of the user through the Activity.  Newly created Activities start with an untitled section and a single blank page.

Editing and creating Sections

Editing a Page

Pages are where it all happens - these are where you will add the various content types (listed above) to your Activity.  Each page is displayed as a box on the Activity authoring page within its section:

Create a new page:  click the ‘Add a page’ link in the top right of each section.

Reorder pages: Click and drag the page box using the move icon in the upper right of each page box on the Activity authoring page.  You can drag pages within and among sections.

Delete a page:  Click the Delete link at the top of the page box on the Activity authoring page.

Copy a page:   Click the Copy link at the top of the page box to copy of the page within the same section.

Edit a page and its content: click the Edit link at the top of the page’s box on the Activity authoring page.  This will bring you to the

To add content to a page:  Use the ‘Add content to this page’ selector at the bottom of the page

Re-ordering page content: Use the up and down arrows in the upper right corner of each page content element.

Deleting page content:  Use the red trash icon in the upper right corner of each page content element.

Page Content Element Types:

Rich Text

An html widget that uses the TincyMCE WYSIWYG editor for authoring.  This can include formatted text, tables, images, lists, etc.

To edit the content:  Click anywhere in the content area to activate the TinyMCE Editor:

The content is autosaved anytime you click outside of the content area.

To add images to your content, click the image icon in the editor

This will bring up the image dialog where you can either link to an image on the web (the General tab) or upload your own image (the upload tab, shown here):

Once the image is in your content area, you can use the blue drag handles to resize it, and the other formatting tools to position it.   You can right click on the image to bring back the image dialog.

Video/Audio Player

The video/audio player is an HTML5 media element.  You can upload .mp4 video and .mp3 audio files with a maximum file size of 300mb each to be included in the page.  

To upload a media file, click the Upload/change video file link below the preview:

Choosing yes for autoplay will automatically start the media when the user visits that page.  Note that some browsers or browser extensions will prevent this autoplay behavior.

An optional Caption can be included, which is displayed below the video

An optional transcript can be included, and is important for accessibility.  If included, users can toggle and view the transcript.

Reflection Question

Reflection questions are short answer free-text questions to gather user input and give feedback.  You can have as many per page as you would like, but the user must submit each before they can proceed to the next page.  

To edit the reflection question, simply click in the content area just like the Rich Text element type.  Clicking outside of the area will auto-save the content.


The quiz tool is the most complex component of Compass.   It is a full-featured quiz tool that includes MCQ, Likert, and Free-text questions.  Feedback can be optionally included at each question level, including optionally showing a user’s score to them.   Quizzes can also be set to require a passing score - not allowing the user to proceed to the next page until they have successfully passed a quiz, leveraging multiple attempts.  To manage the complexity of a page’s UI, only one quiz is allowed per page.

Quiz Options: The quiz options tab includes several options:

Display score after submission:  This shows the users their score (correct MCQ / total MCQ) as a number and a percent.

Require a passing score: If this is set to yes, when a user gets a sufficient number of MCQs correct, they can proceed and optionally get feedback. If the user gets below the set score, they have to do the quiz again. When they try again, the quiz shows them what they put previously and if their prior answer was correct or incorrect. The repeat try does not display correct answer notes for the other choices that the user did not pick, nor does it show any feedback (if applicable) until the user passes. The user must keep trying until they pass - no limit to repeats. The data from each quiz attempt are saved separately.

Quiz Questions:

To add a new question to the quiz, use the select menu at the bottom of the quiz:

To reorder questions, use the up and down arrows next to each.

To copy a question within a quiz, use the clone icon to the left.  Copied questions will be added to the end of the current quiz.

To delete a question use the red trash icon

Question options: each question has two potential options - Show Feedback and Required:

Note that these options are only shown for those questions to which they apply.  For example, the Instruction Text type question has no feedback and has nothing to be required.

Show Feedback:  This shows question-level feedback after completion of a quiz.  When checking it, the author is presented with new rich text areas to author feedback.  In the case of MCQs, as shown here, you can author feedback for when the user is correct and incorrect in their response:

Required - checking this will force the user to enter a response for the given question in order to be able to submit the quiz.

Question Stem:  The text of the question itself.  Like the other Compass rich text elements, it uses the TinyMCE editor that auto-saves and supports uploading images.

Question Media:  Authors can add a single .mp4 video file or .mp3 audio file to each question.   Note that quiz question media files do not allow autoplay.   To add or change a file, click the “Add video or audio to this question” below the stem:

Question Types:

Instruction Text: This ‘question’ type allows authors to provide instruction or explanatory text within the quiz.

Likert Scale:  A standard Likert Scale.  Click the ‘Response Options’ tab to edit the number of scale choices (default 5, max 9) and the anchor labels:

Click Response Preview to see how the scale will appear to the quiz taker.

Short Answer:  A short answer, free-text, question.  

Multiple Choice:  MCQs have several options to define their type and content.   Compass supports three types of MCQs: Radio-button (single answer - the most common class MCQ),  Dropdown menu (single answer), Multiple answers (check boxes).  As you make changes to the MCQ options, you can click the Response Preview tab at any time to see what it will look like to the learner.

MCQ choices:  you can add, edit, reorder, and delete choices in the Choices section of the MCQ Response Options tab.  

Module Completion

A module completion element is necessary for an Activity to be ‘completed’ and for the user to get their certificate, provide feedback, etc.   You can choose whichever page you want to count as achieving completion (typically the last page).

There are no options to change after adding the completion element to a page:

Page Links

Each page automatically has a bottom "Next" link that leads to the next page. This link is shown automatically or after users complete required page tasks, such as submitting a quiz.  In addition to the Next link, you can optionally also add additional links to other pages, allowing the learner to jump around the Activity's content.  Note that by including such links, you may allow the learner to bypass content you view as important, so plan carefully.  

To add another link, click the “Links to other pages” when editing a page and use the ‘Add a Link’ form to add or delete links:

Direct Navigation:  Within the Page Links editing screen above, you also have the ability to turn on “direct navigation.” This allows users to navigate to a page from its link in the left sidebar of Compass at any time, not just when they have reached it as they progress in the Activity.  An example use includes a glossary or other reference that you want users to intermittently navigate to.

Authoring Activities: Description

Authors can enter free text as rich HTML, using the TinyMCE editor, for a description of the Activity and the learning objectives (preferably three).

Authoring Activities: Authors

Authors can use this section to add and remove others as authors.  Potential Authors must have an email address for their Compass account.

Authoring Activities: Prerequisites

This section allows you to add other Compass modules as prerequisites to the one you are editing.   If the user attempts to start this activity without completing the prerequisites, the system will notify them and not allow them to proceed.   Be intentional in this setting - if a prerequisite is unpublished or otherwise not available, users will not be able to complete your Activity.

Authoring Activities: Publish / Category

This screen controls if and how users can do your Activity.  There are four publication options:

You can also choose which category your Activity is listed under.

Authoring Activities: Review Content

This allows an author to record periodic peer-review of the content of an Activity and ensure that everything is up-to-date.  The most recent date of review is displayed in the summary page for each Activity.  Do this at least once per academic year.

Authoring Activities: Revision History

Lists an audits of major changes to this Activity and who made them.

Authoring Activities: Preview Activity

Clicking this link will open a new window in which you can preview the Activity as a learner, including progressing through the pages, all of the activity, etc.  Previews are not included in Activity reports or outcomes.

Authoring Mixtapes

Any user that is an existing administrator or author of any kind can create a Mixtape.   MIxtapes have a single author; authors can transfer editing rights to another Compass user by editing a Mixtape and transferring ownership from the ‘Details and Extras’ page.  As above, authors must have an email address for their Compass account.

To Author a Mixtape, click on the Author / Reports link in the Navbar and then click the ‘Edit Mixtape’ button next to your Mixtape.

The editing screen:

Changing the Mixtape title:  Edit the text in the title editor at the top of the Mixtape editing screen and click ‘Update Title’

Updating Mixtape options

To change the options of a Mixtape, click the ‘MIxtape Options’ tab while in editing mode of a given Mixtape:

Mixtape options:
Require NYU Langone Sign-in:
 Checking this will necessitate that the user has signed into Compass with an email account.  Unchecking this means users do not need to sign in, or can sign in with any account, to view the Mixtape.

Visible in list and search:  Checking this box will ensure that this Mixtape appears on the home page list of Compass content and when users search (title and description are searched).    Unchecking this box will mean the Mixtape can only be accessed by its link - which you would need to share with intended users.

Optional Alias:  An alias is a short word to have in place of the Mixtape's token in the link. For example, instead of you could add an alias so the link would be . Alias must start with a letter, have no spaces nor special characters, and can be a max of 20 characters.

Transfer ownership of this Mixtape to another Compass user:  You can select any user that has an email to be the new owner of the Mixtape.  Once you transfer, you no longer have access - Mixtapes can only have one author.

Category:  Choose which category this Mixtape is listed under (assuming the ‘visible in list’ checkbox is checked).

Adding and Editing Mixtape Content

Use the instructions above to edit a Mixtape.  On the editing screen you can edit/delete/add content of the following types:

Adding content to a Mixtape:

Use the select widget at the bottom of the Mixtape editing screen to add content:

The new content type you select will be inserted below any existing content.

Reordering content within a Mixtape:

Use the up and down arrows to the right of the content element to reorder it.

Deleting content within a Mixtape:

Use the red trash icon to delete a content element.  Deletion is permanent.

Editing specific content types:

        Click the pencil icon to edit a specific element within a Mixtape.

Notes on editing specific Mixtape content types:

Link to a Compass Activity: This content type lets you embed a link to a Compass Activity.

The editor consists of a single dropdown to pick the Activity:

After choosing the Activity, the preview shows you what the user will see:

Note that this is only a link to an Activity and therefore respects that Activitiy’s publication status and availability.    If you add a link in a Mixtape and unpublish the Activity, the user will not be able to do the Activity.

Link to a website:  Enables a link with title and description.  The editor allows you to enter a valid URL and optionally try and fetch information from that site to populate the Title and Description.   If those information are not available, you can enter them manually:

After entering the data, the preview shows you what the user will see:

Link to an iBook:  Allows users to enter a link to an iBook on the iTunes store and Compass pulls the  information, link and thumbnail to display.  The editor only requires a valid link to either the iTunes store or the Apple Book store:

Compass then pulls the data and shows you want the user will see when they view the Mixtape:

Text box: A rich HTML widget that uses the same TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor as the rest of Compass:

Embed a video or other content: This element allows users to enter embed codes from, Youtube, and  The editor is simply to enter the embed:

And the preview shows the successful embed as viewing users would see it:

PubMed Article/Abstract:  To use this element, you must know the PMID of the article you want to link to.   Enter that ID in the field and Compass will pull all the information and links:

And the preview shows the result after clicking save:


Reporting and Analytics

Learners: Learners can view a report listing their completed activities, and download certificates from their ‘transcript’ page.  This is accessed from the home page via the Completion Certificates button, and alternatively via the Completion Certificates menu item in the user menu.

The resulting screen shows the learner the timing of their completions and certificate links:

Administrators and Activity Authors: can view detailed reports for an Activity via the Learner Reports buttons in the Author / Reports section of Compass.  This report includes:

To view reports for Activities for which you have authoring rights:  Click the Author/Reports link in the navbar.  On the resulting screen, find your Activity and click the Learner Reports button next to it:

The resulting screen gives an overview of usage and outcomes for your activity:

Components of Activity dashboard:

Calendar plot of daily Activity completions over the past 365 days

This plot uses Google Charts to show you daily usage intensity over the past 365 days.   Mousing over any cell will show the number of Activity completions for that day.

A histogram of user sources

This uses the email address that users signed on with.  If a student uses a personal email, such as their gmail, this report will not reflect what school they were from.

A summary of feedback

Clicking the ‘View learner comments’ button here allows authors to see de-identified comments from users.

Compliance reports

Compliance (or adherence) reports allow authors to view who completed the Activity and when.   Clicking the web report lists all completions, with filters for a particular time period.

Clicking the CSV report in the original widget downloads all completions as a CSV file.

Quiz reports

Quiz reports support analysis of each user’s performance and simple item analysis of each question, if applicable. If a quiz permits multiple attempts, only the first attempt for each session is included in the report

Only data from users who have completed the activity are included

Download Quiz Data CSV:  Downloads all of the relevant quiz attempts for each user.

Quiz Codebook:  Shows a traditional codebook with correct choices:

Item Analysis:  Simple numerical histograms of responses to MCQ questions:

Changes in Compass2