Re/Play Service Update February 2022

This post summarises the current status of the Re/Play service giving details of what is working, what has been fixed and any open issues.

Open issues are listed below and provide details of any workarounds that can be used and when a fix will be applied.

Background on incident which occurred on the 7th February and current status

A problem with access to Re/Play recordings was identified around midday on Monday 7th February. The issue involved students losing access to Re/Play materials accessed via the left-hand menu in Blackboard. This was resolved on the morning of Tuesday 8 February and has been working without incident since that time.

Please note the following features of Re/Play are currently working normally and being used intensively:

  • lecture capture and automated recordings of teaching
  • creation and upload of new materials
  • streaming of live lectures
  • student access to video content through channels, the Re/Play course menu item and via URL links to content.

Open issue

  • Links to materials copied from old courses not working and students being returned to Homepage after clicking a link to old content

There have been a small number of reports of issues when re-using content from previous years courses.

Work to resolve this issue is substantially complete. A final review was due to take place in the week commencing 21 February 2022 but has been put back due to industrial action. 

Workaround: A simple fix has been used by DEO and school staff to resolve this issue.

Resolved issues

  • Staff access to some TB1 2021 materials removed – From Monday 31st January staff may have been unable to access some TB1 21/22 materials housed in Re/Play. No content has been lost or deleted and student access is unaffected. This issue was resolved by the 24th March.
  • No access to Re/Play materials added via the “Build Content” menu option – resolved
  • Student access to materials embedded using iframes – resolved

Current situation and support

Despite the issues listed above our use of RePlay continues to be very strong, for example between 20 September and 22 November 2021 almost 253,000 hours of materials were watched by our students. This data underline the potential impact of issues and the criticality of the Re/Play service and we sincerely apologies for any stress and disruption to colleagues and our students.

For help and advice please contact digital-education@bristol.ac.uk

 

 

[Update] Re/Play Service Status Update February 2022

This post summarises the current status of the Re/Play service giving details of what is working, what has been fixed and any open issues.

Open issues are listed below and provide details of any workarounds that can be used and when a fix will be applied.

Background on this week’s incident and current status

A problem with access to Re/Play recordings was identified around midday on Monday 7 February. The issue involved students losing access to Re/Play materials accessed via the left-hand menu in Blackboard. This was resolved on the morning of Tuesday 8 February and has been working without incident since that time.

Please note the following features of Re/Play are currently working normally and being used intensively:

  • lecture capture and automated recordings of teaching
  • creation and upload of new materials
  • streaming of live lectures
  • student access to video content through channels, the Re/Play course menu item and via URL links to content.

Outstanding issue: Now Resolved – see the update on 11 February

  • No access to Re/Play materials added via the “Build Content” menu option

Since 10.30 am on Tuesday 8th February materials uploaded to Blackboard using “Build Content” have not been usable. There are five common ways materials from Re/Play are added into Blackboard. ‘Build Content’ is one of the less frequently used methods.

*Update*: work to resolve this problem was completed on Friday 11 February.

Workaround: DEO has posted instructions on how to make materials available to students who need them urgently.

Other issues currently identified

  • Staff access to some TB1 2021 materials removed

From Monday 31st January staff may have been unable to access some TB1 21/22 materials housed in Re/Play. No content has been lost or deleted and student access is unaffected.

Work to resolve this problem is planned for the week commencing 14 February 2022.

Workaround: DEO can restore access to materials if they are needed urgently.

  • Links to materials copied from old courses not working

There have been a small number of reports of issues when re-using content from previous years courses.

Work to resolve this issue is substantially complete. A final review and institutional fix will be applied in week commencing 21 February 2022. We will also update guidance for staff on how to re-use materials.

Workaround: Simple instructions can been used by DEO and school staff to resolve this issue.

  • Student access to materials embedded using iframes – resolved

In the summer of 2021, there was a change to the way University systems authenticate users online. Following this change, videos embedded in Blackboard using an iframe need to be set to ‘Everyone can view’ in the Mediasite permissions in order to play.

Resolution: this was resolved in archived courses and for existing materials in 2021/22 Blackboard courses by DEO and IT Services work over the summer to replace embedded content.

For content added this year, updating permissions is a simple step which can be done by school staff. DEO have now resolved the issue for all new 21/22 content in Blackboard and will be running weekly reports to check that permission settings have not been changed.

Current situation and support

Despite the issues listed above, our use of Re/Play continues to be very strong; for example, between 20 September and 22 November 2021, almost 253,000 hours of materials were watched by our students. This data underlines the potential impact of issues and the criticality of the Re/Play service, and we sincerely apologise for any stress and disruption to colleagues and our students.

As you might expect, the DEO Helpdesk is very busy at the moment. To ensure we maintain good response times, the number of staff responding to inquiries to digital-education@bristol.ac.uk has been significantly increased while we work through the backlog of inquiries.

Updates and improvements to Digital Education tools

There have been updates and improvements to many of our services over the summer, including new tools and features.

New tools – Teams, Mentimeter, H5P

  • Mentimeter is online polling software that can be used for polls, quizzes and word clouds.
  • H5P provides additional options for online quizzes and learning materials.

Re/Play

Re/Play has undergone major change over the summer.

  • Record Now replaces the Ad Hoc Recorder to enable unscheduled recording in rooms with Re/Play boxes.
  • Automated streaming can now be enabled from rooms equipped with Re/Play recording boxes – see our live streaming FAQS for more information (including how students view the stream in Blackboard).
  • Mosaic is the new tool to record teaching (replacing the Desktop Recorder). Staff can download it onto their laptops. To request Mosaic in a teaching space (eg to record in a room without a Re/Play box), please contact the IT Service desk.
  • The way that students view Re/Play content has also changed to a more user-friendly interface with a ’tiled’ view.
  • Underpinning these software changes, there has been major work updating the architecture on which the service sits to improve service performance and better support new activities such as streaming.

Blackboard

  • Improved text editor – key features include better copy-and-paste, improved editing from mobile devices, improved accessibility, display of computer code snippets, easy text wrapping around images.
  • Reusable comments bank – a new feature will allow individual markers to maintain a bank of reusable comments.

Xerte

Xerte has also been upgraded to deliver accessibility improvements, enhancements to 12 existing page types, and new page types, including Interactive 360° images, hotspot questions, interactive videos and timelines.

full list of tools and essential links for the start of term are also available.

Re/Play – upgrade completed successfully

The upgrade of Re/Play completed successfully overnight.

Initial testing indicates that the service is performing well. Most materials are now available but some more recently added content will be moved across during Saturday 18th September. During Saturday the search function will also be patchy as the moved materials need to be re-indexed to make them searchable. Both the moving of new materials and search function should be complete by Monday 20th.

Please avoid uploading new materials to the Re/Play service on Saturday 18th September to allow the upgrade and maintenance work to complete fully.

Teams for teaching update

Teams will be part of our supported digital learning environment in 21/22. Teams offers tools for collaboration, discussion, teamwork and community building and will complement Blackboard. Blackboard remains the appropriate location for teaching materials, reading lists, learning activities, assessment activities and assessment-related information and data.

Through interviews, a short survey,focus group and our new project advisory group DEO and IT Services are establishing requirements for Teams in 21/22 and future years.

For 21/22 the project aims to create Teams:

  • for each taught unit, with students added from SITS. The spaces will be unavailable to students by default, with the option for Team owners to make them available.
  • with teaching staff added. Team owners will be able to add additional UoB staff as owners and guest users external to the University.
  • with a simple integration between Blackboard and Teams. We will work with schools to ensure this link aligns with their plans for Blackboard template and course development.

We are working with an advisory group made of of academic and professional services staff, to prioritise and deliver these requirements for Teaching Block 1, while also collating additional requirements to continue to develop and extend Teams for teaching. Examples of requests for longer-term development include functionality to:

  • enable staff to include students in addition to those enrolled from SITS (eg for co-taught units).
  • automatically create Teams for Programmes(for example for year group or all years on a programme).
  • better support activity groups (e.g. for a tutor group or other teaching activity).

As part of the project we will develop training and support materials for staff and students, as well as case studies and exemplars.

For further information, please see our project page  or email digital-education@bristol.ac.uk.

Teams for Teaching in 21/22

Microsoft Teams will be part of our core set of supported digital education tools in 21/22. Teams provides tools to better support collaboration and student group work, for sharing resources, running synchronous online teaching and for hybrid teachingTeams can also enable active learning activities which encourage student engagement with highly blended and online learning – and so address an issue reported by our students in the 2019 Pulse Survey and 2020 Jisc Student Digital Experience Survey.

The DEO are working with IT Services to scope and implement a simple way for Teams to be used in programmes and units with minimal administrative overheads. As part of the project a suite of support and guidance materials, including case studies and exemplars will be developed.

The project aims to deliver Teams for Teaching by the end of August. The DEO are currently collating requirements through a survey, interviews and focus groups. For more information or to get involved please contact digital-education@bristol.ac.uk.

Update for students re the Blackboard technical issues impacting exams

Shortly before 10 am this morning Blackboard had a technical problem. While some students could access Blackboard, for many it was either slow or unavailable for up to 45 minutes. We apologise for the inconvenience and upset caused by this and would like to reassure all students that no student will be disadvantaged by this morning’s events.

This morning’s issue has been resolved. You should expect all your remaining assessments to run to their scheduled dates and times

Tansy Jessop

PVC Education

[This message has also been emailed to UG and PGT, added to MyBristol Portal, internal comms screens and social media]

Re/Play connection issues – how to make video materials available to students

Due to technical problems, some Re/Play presentations that were added to Blackboard courses using Blackboard’s  “Link to Presentations” tool cannot currently be viewed by students.

If you need to give students access to materials which have become unavailable, you can share Quick Links (URLs) for important presentations. To get a Quick Link, follow the embedding guidance through to step 6, then copy the Quick Link. This can be emailed directly to students or added to your course content.

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