Why isn’t my content working?

Written by Tom Buckley
Photo by Kurt Anderson on Unsplash

Content is great. It can enrich our face to face learning. What do I mean by content? Content could be: a video on Panopto; It could be an external report in PDF form; or It could be an interactive learning object made by an acadmic. It can be frustrating when content on our VLE doesn’t work. There are generally 5 reasons why your content on Blackboard might not work: 

There has been an error in the copying process.

Sometimes with the more enriched learning objects we have used at UWE (iSpring / Adobe Presenter) the issue comes down to the copying process itself. OBlackboard if you select the wrong options when copying you copy only a part of the learning object. This is usually the file that makes your content run which is usually the part that is linked to on Blackboard. Without actually copying across any of the assets / bits that the file needs to deliver the content. This will need to be rectified with the Blackboard support desk or with your local Digital Learning team.

Further details on successfully copying content can be found on the IT support pages.

Sometimes websites change how they manage content or where it is

Most websites have a rolling programme changing their website. Sometimes these changes are visible to the end user and sometimes its technicalities on the ‘back end’. This can mean things like URLs to specific PDF’s change in this processPDF’s and documents themselves change including being updated to have a slight change in the document name or title. For that reason the link no longer works. This is easily rectified by going to Google and searching the title of the document you need and find the new URL.

Flash is dead.

In 2021 we have a specific epoch changing reason why certain objects might not work. That reason is that Flash Player was decommissioned fully in December 2020. This has been about 10 years in the making. For those who don’t know, Adobe Flash was a way of making enriched learning objects that fell by the wayside as mobile friendly technology came to the fore. The issue will make itself known on a website by having a space where you would expect to see an interaction and having a message saying Flash Player is no longer working in this browser. This is not something we can change. 

If you need a Flash learning object to be remade then talk to your local TEL team. However, be mindful that without any of the original assets it is extremely difficult to do this and usually more time consuming than doing it from scratch. So please do think about if you are using objects that are this old. Maybe it’s time to relook at your entire content strategy.

Other systems die too but sometimes it takes a while to notice

The system you are trying to use might no longer exist. There have been many different media management systems around UWE in the last 10-15 years. We still find links to old content in use. Lots of services get decommissioned as they fall out of favour, but also out of step with legislationIf you have a piece of media that is so old that the service it was hosted on has been decommissioned then it no longer exists. It’s gone. That is actually a good thing. Technology moves on and using old content is risky and gives a really bad impression to our students.

Some of our CHSS content on older servers, such as LearnTech and uChoose, no longer comply with legislation. These websites are in the process of being decommissioned. If you are using content on these services and notice you can see something but student can’t it is likely that this service is in the process of being decommissioned. Access may be limited to a specific area such as only being accessible from a UWE device or campus. If this is the case then talk to Michael9.Harris@uwe.ac.uk at your earliest convenience.

Panopto content needs a particular approach to copying. 

Panopto is set up to manage video from events the cohort could have attended. Reusing content for different modules has to be planned as ths sytem is not really set up for this. Talk to Blackboard Support or your local Digital Learning Team for help.

Further details on this process can be found on the IT support pages.

There is something wrong about the device you are trying to consume the media on. 

UWE has had changing advice on its preferred browsers. There was a time when we could only use Internet Explorer and now we seem to be moving over to more things being on Google Chrome. Sometimes people need specific versions of browsersGenerally a browser needs to have been updated to a new(ish) version. This can be difficult for people who are using work machines.

Further details on browsers preferences can be found on the IT support pages.

Aside from browsers some content can struggle to run on machines that have to many restrictions on. Some work machines can have rules on their use that make innovative content or complicated content not workable. This will need to be sorted from the users end with specific changes made in conversation with the IT Help Desk.