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eLearning News
Updates, announcements, and other items of interest from eLearning, Teaching and Learning Facilities (ITS).

So Long, Classroom Capture

To record lectures through Otago Capture, we currently use two different systems in respective lecture theatres:

‘Classroom Capture’ is a software-based solution that is installed on the computer in the lecture theatre.  Under this system, the same computer that is running powerpoint slides and Youtube videos etc for the lecture, is also running an application in the background to record the audio and display output of the computer.

‘Capture+’ instead uses a separate piece of hardware that is installed in the lecture theatre alongside and independent of the computer.  If you’ve ever noticed a silver or black box near the computer in a lecture theatre that says “Echo360”, this is a Capture+ device.  This piece of hardware is responsible for recording whatever goes into the projector and speakers in the room.

While it may look suspiciously similar to a Transonic DVD player, this device offers a significant increase in reliability of lecture recording.

However, the Lecture Theatres team, along with eLearning, have begun replacing our Classroom Capture set-ups in Dunedin with Capture+ installations.  We have now completed the transition in several teaching spaces, and we plan to complete the remaining twelve before the start of Semester One.  This will mean that Classroom Capture is completely retired from all the lecture theatres managed by ITS Teaching and Learning Facilities.

We have been spurred to accelerate this upgrade because of certain glitches with Classroom Capture that were giving rise to reliability issues this year in our dual-boot lecture theatre environment.  However, even looking beyond the improved reliability that Capture+ offers, this is a significant upgrade that offers several advantages:

Firstly, this upgrade is good news for Capture users who wish to bring their own computer to class.  Because Classroom Capture is software based, and run from the lecture theatre computer, any inputs to the projector or speakers in the room that don’t go through the lecture theatre computer can not be recorded.  Capture+ is not limited in this way, and so allows lecturers to deliver a lecture using their personal laptops, while still having the results recorded. Edit: Please note that temporarily (as of March 2017) the ability to record screen from laptop is unavailable in several new Capture+ locations: CASTA, CASTB, CASTC, CASTD, SDAV1, SDAV2, BURN5.  We expect this functionality to be added by the 2018 teaching year.

Secondly, this upgrade is good news for Capture users who prefer to use a Mac.  Classroom Capture was only available at Otago in a Windows version.  So even while using the lecture theatre computer, Classroom Capture recording is only possible when the computer is booted as a PC.  Capture+ is not limited in this way, and the lecture theatre computer can be booted either as a Mac or as a PC.

Thirdly, this upgrade is good news for Capture users who may wish to record lectures with camera.  Classroom Capture lacked the functionality to receive a video input alongside the display input that is projected in the classroom.  Capture+ brings the ability (so long as the classroom is wired and set up for this function) to record actual footage of the lecturer delivering the class.

Fourthly and finally, this upgrade is good news for Capture users who might wish to livestream a class.  Classroom Capture lacked this functionality, but every Capture+ location is now capable of livestreaming.

For all these reasons, but especially the prospect of improved reliability, we are pleased to be moving ahead with this change.

So long and thanks for the cake…

As my eight-and-a-bit years in eLearning draws to a close I’ve had a chance to empty out my desk and rediscover a multitude of things. A few of these items have sparked a trip down memory lane and reminded me just how far ITS has come in terms of eLearning and everything else surrounding it.

Who remembers filling in paper request forms for podcasting sites? I found a decent stack of those hidden in a bottom drawer. Or perhaps you have fond memories of the lilac coloured Blackboard training pamphlet – oh to be able to fit all the information about Blackboard on an A4 piece of paper now. Ferreted away in another drawer I found all the instructions for using Otago Connect – a now retired service. I’ve also hidden some rather fetching marketing posters and flyers that probably should never see the light of day again.

When I started eLearning was a team of one (two once I worked out what was going on) and we proudly supported 3 services. Now as a team of four we’re looking after 7 services (and counting) as well as getting out and about as often as possible to show everyone what it is we do.

So, this is me signing off as an eLearning and eResearch consultant – thanks to everyone I’ve come in contact with along the way. It’s been a memorable eight years and I’m excited to see what the next eight years brings for the department – a team of 8 and perhaps 20 services?

Automate, automate, automate

eLearning is pleased (let’s be fair I’m pretty ecstatic) to announce that on Wednesday, 8 February 2017 a new version of the Blackboard Administration for Staff application is being released. We’re very excited about this release as it introduces a lot of new features designed to save everyone a lot of time and provide a better experience for users.

Did you know that our current rollover process goes a little something like this:

  1. Staff member requests a rollover by filling in a rollover form online.
  2. Rollover form details get sent by email to the ITS Service Desk.
  3. ITS Service Desk copy all the details from the email into an Ask IT call and double check things.
  4. The Blackboard Administration team get the Ask IT call and copy the details from there into their Blackboard Administration application, then they do lots of mouse clicks and a little bit of magic (70+ mouse clicks) and finally they let the requester know it’s finished.
  5. Then rinse and repeat at least 1500 times a year.

The new application automates a lot of this process – but don’t worry, if you need help there is still a real person you can call for help.

The new features include:

  • Request your own Blackboard rollovers – if they’re standard ones they’ll finish in 15 minutes rather than 5 days.
  • Register new Blackboard papers – again if it’s a standard request it’ll take 15 minutes.
  • Check the status of your Blackboard paper – easily see when your students are going to get access.
  • Find out how much space your paper takes up on Blackboard.
  • And much more…

Who wants a sneak peek at what things are going to look like? Go on…

Screenshot of the Blackboard Paper Administration Application home page.

On the home page you can see all the Blackboard papers you have access to as well as all your Blackboard requests. From here you can request rollovers, new papers and manage the staff in your papers.

Screenshot of the new paper request screen from the Blackboard Paper Administration application.

This screen shows you how easy it is to request a new Blackboard paper. Find your class lists and select the dates for when your students need access. Click submit and wait 15 minutes. Voila!

Screenshot of the rollover request page in the Blackboard Paper Administration application

This screen shows a rollover request. Simply select the class lists for the new paper and update any of the other details, click submit and off you go.

eLearning received a lot of help from end-users so we’ve been able to work closely with the application developer to make it user friendly and intuitive. Hopefully you’ll find it as easy as we hope you will.

You’ll be able to find information on how to use the new features on the Blackboard help site and within the application itself: Blackboard Help site – Blackboard Paper Administration Application .