[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.

How to share a direct link to a video in Re/Play

With recent issues in Re/Play, we have had questions about sharing Re/Play videos using a direct link, and so thought it would be useful to run through the steps you need to take in order to do this.

  1. Log in to Blackboard and select My Re/Play
  2. Click on the title of the presentation you wish to share 
  3. Make sure the Who Can View setting is set to My Organisation. 
  4. Click the “Share Presentation” button 
  5. Copy the Quick Link URL 
  6. Share this link by pasting it in an email, announcement, Padlet, or wherever best for your students.

When students follow this link, they will need to select the ‘authenticate’ option when prompted. After authenticating, they should be able to view the video in a new browser window. This link will work for anyone authenticated via the University of Bristol’s Single Sign On. 

If you are experiencing problems accessing your recordings via My Re/Play and need to share them urgently, please contact digital-education@bristol.ac.uk so that we can assist further.

[Update] Access to RePlay from Blackboard Menu

This post is a further update to the issue first identified on 07 February, where the Re/Play link in the Blackboard left-hand menu was displaying an error message, and students could not access materials.

As reported earlier today, all students should now be able to access Re/Play materials shared via left-hand menu links in Blackboard. Automated recordings of teaching have not been affected by the technical bug and will still be available after 48 hours or when published by the academic staff member.

However, we are still applying fixes to some pre-existing problems with Re/Play which might affect the ability of some students to view some videos in Blackboard.

We have Blackboard and Sonic Foundry engineers working to resolve these issues and plan to apply another fix tomorrow. If your students are being affected and you urgently need them to be able to access a recording, please email digital-education@bristol.ac.uk so that we can assist.

 

[Update] Access to RePlay from Blackboard Menu

This is an update to the issue reported on 07 February, where access to Re/Play from the Blackboard menu was not working.

As of 11.00am on 08 February, we believe that access has now been restored, and students should be able to view recordings as normal via the Re/Play menu link in Blackboard courses. We are now in the process of thoroughly testing this fix, so please let us know if students are still experiencing issues viewing recordings via the Re/Play course link.

If you have questions please email digital-education@bristol.ac.uk

 

Check permissions for Re/Play video embedded in Blackboard using HTML

Since August 2021, the recommended ways to embed Re/Play videos in Blackboard courses changed to reflect security updates in the University systems. Following this change, any Re/Play video which is embedded using an iframe code must have the permissions set to ‘Everyone’ for students to be able to view this content. 

The recent issue with Re/Play permissions removed the ‘Everyone’ permissions for iframe video content from the 2021/22 academic year, resulting in students being unable to play embedded video between Friday 28th January and Wednesday 2nd February 2022. Students would still have been able to access any Re/Play content associated with their units via the Re/Play menu item, which links directly to the unit catalogue. 

The Digital Education Office have restored these videos to a functional state by resetting the permissions to ‘Everyone’. If prior to this issue there had been embedded video without this universal setting, it would not have been viewable to students. However, the ‘Everyone’ setting means that the content would be viewable by anyone within or outside the University if a link was shared. If you have embedded video content which should not be set to ‘Everyone’, you will need to change the permission level via My Re/Play.  

As this content would not have previously been viewable to students, we recommend that you re-add the content using one of the methods, as outlined in this guide ‘Uploading, enhancing and adding videos to your course’ 

We apologise again for any inconvenience. 

[Update] Ownership permissions of Re/Play Recordings

This is an update to the issue first identified on the 28 January, where some staff were unable to view their recordings in Re/Play.

Access to recordings has now been restored for staff with units in Teaching Block 2 and staff should now be able to view their recordings as normal in their My Re/Play areas. Please note that there may be some instances where permission is not correct – for example where someone who is not the default owner was previously given access – as the permissions have been restored based on the data we have centrally.

If you find that the permissions for recordings are not correct, please contact the DEO. We thank you again for your help with ensuring permissions are as they need to be for your individual situation.

Access for staff who taught units in TB1 is not yet fully restored, so we continue to ask for your patience with access to edit recordings from TB1. Students are able to access playback of all recordings, as normal, and no recordings have been lost. Access for staff will be restored as soon as possible, but if you urgently need to edit a recording from TB1 please contact the DEO with details so that we can assist you.

We thank you again for your understanding regarding this issue; we are receiving a high number of queries related to this and the team are working hard to reply to everyone as soon as possible.

 

 

[Update] Ownership permissions of Re/Play Recordings

There is a further update on this issue, which can be found from this blog post from 01 February.

Following investigations, we can confirm that no recordings have been lost, and all are in the system as usual. Students are able to access published recordings as normal, and have not lost access to playback.

We are currently working to restore staff access to their folders as soon as possible, ensuring that current teaching is prioritised.

We understand that some recordings need to be edited prior to being made available, which is why we have the 48-hour delay in publishing recordings. If you need to access your recordings to edit them during this window and currently cannot access them, please email digital-education@bristol.ac.uk. Please provide the unit code, your username, and the details of the lecture you need access to most urgently, so that we can help as quickly as possible. Thank you for your help with this.

Permissions will be reset using the data we have available via timetabling and unit information in the University systems. If we have previously granted permissions to those who are not unit directors or owners in the system, we may need to do this again.

We again apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.

Automatic captions in Re/Play are now active

From January 2022, captions will be automatically added to all new content in Re/Play. Note that these captions are not designed to meet the requirement for accessibility for students who need them to study – students in this situation should always talk to Disability Services in the first instance as there is separate support in place for them. 

For recorded lectures, captions will be added to content once they are published, which is usually 48 hours after recording. This 48-hour window allows for any minor edits to the video to be made, before captions are timestamped. This will prevent them being out of synch with the content. Content manually uploaded to Re/Play will have captions added automatically once uploaded. They should be available a short time after upload, almost always within 24 hours. 

This video from the DEO explains the process in under 3 minutes.

Editing captions 

No automatically generated captions will be perfect, however. It is very common to see errors in automatically generated captions, but in the main they will be understandable. Setting expectations for how students should use captions is important: captions should enhance the learning experience rather than provide an alternative to the lecture. Students should always be using handouts, readings, and other course materials to check important terminology.  

Because the AI software ‘learns’ over time, however, editing errors can really help to improve accuracy in the long run. If you want to check and edit your captions, it’s easy to do so. Look for the ‘Edit Captions’ button in Re/Play under the recording you want to work on.  

Screenshot identifying the edit caption option in Mediasite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, select any text in the captions in the left-hand editing bar to change it. Notice the ‘find’ and ‘replace’ buttons too, which should help you check any key terminology quickly. Remember to ‘save’ regularly, and always before you leave the editor.  

Screenshot showing the captioning editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to do if you need more help 

If you find that your captions are so inaccurate they are unusable, or that it would take a long time to edit them, please contact the DEO so that we can help. We will soon have a small team of student caption editors who will be able to help edit captions when needed. They will be allocated on a first come basis, but also taking into account urgency and impact (eg, lectures which are critical for an exam, or recordings that will be used again by a large number of students).   

We have also set up a university-wide task and finish group to review process and support for the use of auto-generated captions, exploring approaches to improve captions where quality is low and assessing impact on roles and workload. Your faculty education director will be able to raise issues to this group, so please contact them with any feedback or concerns.