Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Interact2 (Blackboard) storage changes 2021

Our licence with Blackboard (Interact2) requires limits on the amount of storage that can be used. We are currently using 3 times our contracted storage quota. Two strategies will be implemented to help manage this:

1)     We will purchase additional storage; and

2)     We will reduce the amount of storage used through a combination of procedures and controls.

Change 1: Implement a subject site archiving procedure

What is happening:

Each November an archive of older subject sites will occur. The criteria that will be used in determining a site’s eligibility for archiving is the site’s end session + 2 years.

The first regular archive will occur in November 2021 and any subject sites where the ‘site end session’ is less than or equal to 201960 will be archived.

Given that November 2021 is still 11 months away, a one-off archive will be conducted in February 2020, for subject sites where the ‘site end session’ is less than or equal to 201875.

Note. Archived sites will be stored locally on CSU infrastructure for legal purposes.

Why is this change happening:

There are more than 21,000 subject sites active in Interact2 (Blackboard). The following table provides a year-by-year breakdown.

Year

Number of subject sites

2017

5611

2018

5659

2019

4913

2020

4806

Currently Interact2 (Blackboard) subject sites are available to students (from) two weeks before each session commences, until 12 months after the end of session. Interact2 sites are available to academics from creation until the site is archived / deleted.

Let’s look at some examples.

Example 1: AGR601_201530_OA_I

Multi-session: teaching pattern 30|60|90 and max duration 12

Site open date

02 Feb 2015 (available to students)

Session start

2 March 2015

Session end

19 Jun 2015

Site close date

31 Dec 2019 (not available to students)

Site end session

201890

Site end session + 2 years

202090

Example 2: ITC711_201960_W_D

Single session

Site open date

1 July 2019 (available to students)

Session start

15 July 2019

Session end

1 November 2019

Site close date

1 November 2020 (not available to students)

Site end session

201960

Site end session + 2 years

202160

When does this take effect:

  • Initial ‘once-off archive’ in February 2021
  • Annual November ‘regular archive’ - starting in November 2021

Note. One month prior to each archive, DIT communications will be broadcast, allowing time for staff to export and save content, where applicable. Communication channels will be WNN, Yammer and an email to the Sub Deans Learning and Teaching for distribution within  the faculties.

What you need to do:

If you wish to export content from your subject site prior to archival, please follow the Interact2 Site Backup Procedure

Change 2:  Implement an organisational site archiving procedure

What is happening:

To assist in reducing storage used, an annual archive will be implemented for organisational sites in Interact2 (‘Org sites’) that have not been accessed for 2 years.

Note. A report has been run identifying these sites as of December 16. Org site owners whose sites have not been accessed for 2 years will be contacted directly.

Why is this change happening:

As a general rule, org sites are created for purposes other than standard teaching activities (such as trialling tools / processes or as temporary storage locations for subject content). Since org sites do not have the same sessional association as subject sites, they are not included in the Subject Site archiving process (Change 1 above).

There are over 1,000 org sites that have not been accessed for over 2 years, including 627 sites not accessed since 2018 and 583 not accessed since 2017.

When does this take effect:

  • Initial ‘once-off archive’ of unaccessed org sites in February 2021
  • Annual November ‘regular archive’ of ‘unaccessed’ org sites - starting in November 2021

What you need to do:

  1. In the event you have an Org site that meets the above criteria for archiving, yet need to retain the site, please log a DIT Service Desk job and provide rationale on why this is needed
  2. If you wish to export content from your organisational site prior to archiving, please follow the Interact2 Site Backup Procedure

Change 3:  Adjust ‘auto-archive’ retention period

What is happening:

The university’s instance of Blackboard (Interact2) includes an automatic site backup process, otherwise known as ‘auto-archive’. An auto-archive is intended for short-term site recovery when users accidently delete content. Auto-archives are generated when:

  1. A course is deleted - a complete site auto-archive is created;
  2. Every 24 hours, when there has been activity on a site.

The ‘maximum age’ for auto-archive files will be changed from 10 years to 90 days. Once an auto-archive reaches its “maximum age” the content is moved to “Deleted Files”, where it remains retrievable for an additional 32 days before being fully removed from the system.

Why is this change happening:

Currently we are consuming 6 terabytes of storage in auto-archive files. The amount of storage used is informed by a “maximum age” configuration for how long to retain automatically archived content. Our configuration is currently set to 10 years, the default setting. This setting is typically between 30 and 100 days.

When does this take effect:

This configuration change will occur in January 2021.

What you need to do:

No action necessary. This information is for your reference only.

Change 4:  New video storage protocols

What is happening:

As a general rule, video files will no longer be able to be stored locally in Interact2 subject sites (Blackboard). Teaching staff will need to ensure that their video content is stored appropriately (e.g. in CSU Replay, DOMS or Zoom), based on their individual needs.

Additionally, pre-existing subject sites in Interact2 with excessive amounts of local video files will be identified and need to be ‘cleaned up’ - sustainable solutions for the storage of this video content will be necessary. Moving forward, regular reports will be run by DIT to identify any new / remaining Interact2 sites that have breached appropriate storage quotas.

Why is this change happening:

Video content is easily the most space consuming form of digital content. On average, a minute of high definition video content will require 20 megabytes of storage. The large individual file size makes the storage of video content in Blackboard prohibitively expensive at scale (i.e. across hundreds of subject sites per session).

Note. There are currently 182 subject sites each using more than 5 gigabytes of storage for video content alone.

When does this take effect:

  • Suggested procedures for more sustainable storage of video files are outlined below - these are based on current best practice and should be implemented as soon as possible (if not being used already).
  • Subject site auditing for excessive local video storage will commence in January 2021 - schools and subject coordinators / convenors affected will be communicated with directly by DIT and transitions to more sustainable video storage solutions will follow.

What you need to do:

There are 3 recommended options for video storage and reuse in Interact2. Please see the following workflow for deciding which option is best for your particular situation. Below the workflow are guides for using each option.

Workflow video

Zoom Meetings

Zoom Meetings is the university’s interactive video teaching (IVT) and video conferencing (VC) solution, however it is also increasingly being utilised as a tool for video resource creation (i.e. to be utilised beyond a live online meeting). As the workflow above outlines, staff using Zoom to record video have a choice to make with regards to how they want to share the video content:

i) Zoom cloud recording - by far the most common choice, a cloud-based recording in Zoom will provide the user with a hyperlink, which is then used in the Interact2 subject site. Students (and other users) click on the link and the recorded video opens (in Zoom) in a new browser tab. Videos stored in this fashion have no impact on our storage caps in Blackboard.

ii) Zoom local recording - some staff will want to have their video embedded (i.e. via an inline media player within subject site content areas). For this to occur, the video must firstly be downloaded locally from Zoom (leaving you with a potentially large .mp4 video file on your computer).

Details on how to access your cloud-based and local zoom recordings

Now that you have your local video file, you’ll need it to be stored appropriately so it can be embedded within the Interact2 subject site. Our recommended resources for doing so are either Panopto (CSU Replay) or the DOMS repository. Please see below for how each of these services can be utilised.

Panopto (CSU Replay)

The Blackboard integrated Panopto tool (CSU Replay) is available to teaching staff in all Interact2 subject sites. Panopto provides a quick and effective way to both create / upload and then embed video content into your subject sites. There are a number of useful resources available to staff to assist with using Panopto:

Note. The main point of difference for staff in choosing either Panopto or DOMS to embed video content relates to the (potential) intended reuse of the video content (i.e. in subsequent teaching sessions). As a general rule, staff wanting the same video content to be embedded and reused within various iterations of their subject sites are recommended to use DOMS to store video. Whilst Panopto is (arguably) much easier to use for embedding content into Interact2 (e.g. using the ‘mash up’ tool), video stored in Panopto is subject to an annual ‘purge’ or cleanup cycle, during which video content older than 12 months is deleted (nb. exceptions apply).

DOMS

Hosting and using videos in DOMS is a three step process.

Step 1: Hosting/uploading video

The university (and internet) standard for video files is mp4. All need to be in mp4 format.  Once you have a video in MP4 format you would like to host:

Once you have a video in MP4 format you would like to host:

  1. Navigate to the contribution page in DOMSand select the “Shared Learning and Teaching Resources” Collection.
  2. Complete all mandatory fields and upload your video(s).
  3. Click Save and then Publish.

Step 2: Copying embed code from DOMS

Each mp4 video hosted in DOMS provides a unique set of embed codes.

The 2 types of embed code that are pertinent to Interact2 are:

  1. Responsive Embed Code: This code can be used if you just need a player at full width within the website or Interact2. If you would like a shadow box and editable description (within the shadow box) use the Interact2 Featured Box Embed Code described below.
  2. Interact2 Featured Box Embed Code: This code can be used anywhere an Interact2 editor exists however it is best not to include as part of announcements as these may not be playable in the email the student receives.

Step 3: Including Embed code in the desired place in Interact2 Once you have copied the embed code to your clipboard you may now include the video anywhere that an editor is provided by Interact2. This can include on a homepage or any module.

1. Click on the source code button in the editor.

Source Code button image

2. Once clicked, navigate to the place in the source code in which you would like the video embedded.

source code image

3. Right Click > Paste the embed code and then click save.

Paste embed code image

4. Edit any of the text in the editor as per normal. If you include the featured box you just need to edit the details. See example below.

Edit text image

5. Repeat the process as many times as is needed.

Important to note that you may wish to contribute many videos at once to a single DOMS contribution. You will be presented with separate embed code for each video when saved/published.

Change 5:  Implement subject site storage quotas

What is happening:

A 1 gigabyte storage quota will be implemented for newly created subject sites. Once the quota is reached, no new content can be added until space is freed up via removal of existing content.

Why is this change happening:

Site quotas provide a hard limit as to the amount of storage allowed for any given site. Quotas were in place for several years after the initial implementation of Blackboard (Interact2) in 2014. The quotas were later removed.

When does this take effect:

202160 subject sites will be provisioned in late January 2021. A 1 gigabyte quota will take effect on 202160 and subsequent sessions subject sites.

What you need to do:

  1. If you require more than 1 gigabyte of storage on your subject sites from 202160 for special teaching circumstances, please raise a DIT Service Desk job and provide rationale on why this is needed.
  2. If you wish to export content from your subject site please follow the Interact2 Site Backup Procedure