Month: August 2016

Common Video Playback Issues and Solutions

Modern computers simultaneously download, decode and stream media. This process requires capable hardware, updated/compatible software and a strong internet connection.

In this post, we’ll review some common video playback issues experienced by HuskyCT users and how to resolve them.  The most likely culprits are often your browser/device settings or network connection.

Before we dive into specific issues and resolutions, let’s take a look at a few quick-fix solutions when time is of the essence (when is not, right?)

Try these quick fix solutions!

  1. Try a different browser.  Many times the culprit is a setting or cache issue in your preferred web browser.  While this fix doesn’t resolve the issue in your primary browser, it might solve the more immediate issue – finishing your assignment!
  2. Clear your browser cache, close and restart the browser.  Most video playback issues are resolved by refreshing your browser cache.  Step by step instructions for clearing your browser cache can be found at http://www.refreshyourcache.com/en/home/
  3. Restart your computer.  This is the “Hail Mary” of solutions!  If the underlying issue is caused by a runaway or malfunctioning system process, memory or other system issue, a restart can be surprisingly effective.
  4. Verify your browser security hasn’t blocked the video due to “mixed content” (does not apply to Safari).  This blog post has hints and solutions for identifying and resolving “mixed content” blocking!

If none of the above solutions work, check with classmates to see if they experiencing similar playback issues.  If they are, notify your instructor and provide detailed feedback.  Alternatively, you can seek assistance from the UITS Help Center.

Common issues and solutions

Issue:

Poor video quality (e.g. choppy video, frequent buffering, etc.)

Solutions:

  1. Check the quality of your internet connection at http://www.speedtest.net/.  If the test indicates a download speed less than 1-2 MB/sec, connect your device to a faster network.  If you’re connected to a UConn network, contact the UITS Help Center for assistance.
  2. Disable hardware acceleration (only applies to Flash)
    1. Right-click on the flash video
    2. Choose “Settings” from the menu
    3. Select the first tab (along the bottom) and uncheck the box “Enable hardware acceleration”

Issue:

Video stops during playback

Solutions:

  1. Clear your browser cache, close and restart the browser
    http://www.refreshyourcache.com/en/home/
  2. Try an alternate browser
  3. Restart your computer

Issue:

A plugin is needed to display this content

Flash player not found

Solution:

  1. Download Java on your device at https://java.com/en/download/
  2. If necessary, click on the downloaded file to install Java
  3. On the download page, click the button to verify Java has been successfully installed
  4. Restart your web browser
  5. Go to the page where the video appears and click the link to activate Java (if not already active)

Issue:

Flash video is not playing

Solution:

  1. Download and install Adobe Flash Player at https://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/
    *** Be sure to uncheck “optional offers” prior to clicking download ***

Issue:

Embedded video is missing

Solution:

  1. Allow mixed content in your browser.  For instructions, see our recent blog post about mixed content!

Issue:

Not Found – The specified resource was not found, or you do not have permission to access it.

not-found

Solution:

  1. Contact your instructor for guidance.  The video may have been removed, or permissions are set incorrectly in the content collection folder.

Please contact the Help Center if you’re experiencing a different video playback issue, or the suggested solutions are not resolving the problem.

Other Resources

YouTube: https://support.google.com/youtube/checklist/3480866?hl=en

Chrome: https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/6138475?hl=en

Firefox: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/fix-common-audio-and-video-issues

Safari:

Combining HuskyCT Course Sections

HuskyCT course sites are created for each course section activated in the Student Administration System (PeopleSoft).  When instructors teach more than one section of the same course, or it’s cross-listed, it may be desirable to combine them into one HuskyCT course site.

There are several advantages to combining sections:

  • Course content is published and maintained in one HuskyCT course site
  • Students in all combined sections access the same HuskyCT course materials
  • All students enrolled in the combined section appear in one Grade Center

There are also some potential disadvantages to consider:

  • Students have visibility to all students enrolled in the combined section
  • Courses with a high number of enrolled students (>100) can be difficult to manage in Grade Center

Groups and Smart Views can be used to mitigate the potential disadvantages.  We’ll review these in more detail at the end of this post.

Requesting combined courses

Course combine requests are processed by the HuskyCT team (UITS).  When a request is received, the team will create a new HuskyCT site to serve as the “parent” course.  Existing sections (included in the request) become “child” sections of the new “parent” site.

Once a section has been merged into a “parent”, the “child” section and all of its contents become unavailable.

Caution:  Course content, grades, student-submitted assignments, discussion board posts, group work, tests, and surveys do not transfer to the parent.  As such, it’s important that requests to combine courses be completed before adding content or allowing students to submit data.

Requests be facilitated in two ways:

Scenario #1:  Course content is not being copied/restored from a previously offered HuskyCT section.  In this case, instructors should email their request directly to huskyct@uconn.edu.  The email must include the section numbers to be combined.

Scenario #2: Course content will be copied/restore from a previously offered HuskyCT section.  In this case, instructors should use the online form.  Doing so, addresses both activities in a single, comprehensive request.

Accessing combined courses

Instructors

When course sections are merged, the instructor sees both the parent and child sections (example below).  All activity should be administered from the parent section.  To reduce the possibility of publishing content to the wrong section, child sections are listed as unavailable.

combined-section-display

Instructors have the option to hide the child sections from their view using these step-by-step instructions: http://abouthuskyct.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/1715/2016/05/HideChildSections.pdf

Students

Students only see the section for which they are officially enrolled (i.e. one “child” section, matching the section they registered for in Student Admin).  To avoid confusion, they do not see the combined section listed under “My HuskyCT Courses”.

In the example pictured above, students registered in SEC001 see the following.

combine-section-student-display

When students click on their course link, they’re automatically taken to the “parent” section.

Using Groups and Smart Views

The Group tool allows instructors to organize students into various groups (or teams).  These groups can then be associated with specific assignments, assessments, blogs, journals, wikis, etc.  Groups can also be created to facilitate communication (email) with a specific section of the course.  Detailed information is available via Blackboard Help.

Grade Center includes three default views: Full Grade Center, Assignments and Tests.  Smart Views allow instructors to create additional views using custom filters.  For example, an instructor could easily create a custom view of students for each child section.

child-sections-smart-view

Detailed information for creating Smart Views is available from Blackboard Help.  Additional assistance is available by contacting either CETL Educational Technologies or Blackboard Direct.

Respondus Introduces “Help Center” for LockDown Browser

Respondus, Inc. recently introduced a new “Help Center” feature for LockDown Browser.  The tool is integrated with the LockDown Browser.  Its features are comprehensive, easy to use and well documented.

Students can find the “Help Center” tool in the browser toolbar, after logging in to HuskyCT (see screenshot).

LDB-help-center-toolbar

Let’s take a look at two important features included in Help Center.

  • Run System Check
  • Access Student Knowledgebase

The “Run System Check” feature allows students to quickly test their local environment for compatibility with LockDown Browser.  The tool runs a series of tests, including, but not limited to bandwidth, latency and open ports.

After the test completes, summary results will be displayed at the top of page (see screenshot).

helpcenter-tests

If the device passed a particular test, it will be noted with a green check mark (as shown above).  Failures are reported with a red x symbol.

Diagnostic information related to the test is displayed in the bottom section of the page.

Students have several options after the test completes – Return to Course, Email Results, Knowledge Base.  If all tests are passed, simply click on the “Return to Course” button.

LDB-help-center-options

If any tests failed, students can search the new LockDown Browser knowledge base for potential solutions.  This view of the knowledge base is only accessible from within the Help Center tool.  An alternate knowledge base can be found on the Respondus website and is accessible from a standard web browser.

Some issues may require assistance from the UITS Help Center or HuskyCT team.  To expedite a technical review, students can email system check results to their mailbox, then forward to helpcenter@uconn.edu.  Doing so, will automatically generate a service request and associate it to the student’s NetID.

While there is an option to copy a secondary email address when sending results, this is discouraged, as the ticket would not be associated with the student’s NetID.  

If you’re enrolled in a HuskyCT course this semester and the instructor plans to use LockDown Browser, we highly recommend running the system check tool in advance of your first exam.  Be sure to also check out our HuskyCT Test Taking Tips!