Winter BlueCast Upgrade


Howdy! We’ve had quite a busy year and have seen a tremendous amount of growth in BlueCasting with the addition of the new BlueLine integration this past summer. Our Learning Environments team has also been hard at work refreshing classroom and learning spaces and with this brings new capture technology to these areas. With the addition of 40 equipped spaces on campus to capture presentations, ideas, and lectures it has never been as easy to find a room nearby and hit record. With the release of the latest Panopto for iOS app on iPad and iPhone we’ve seen a tremendous growth in mobile access and usage as well. Comparing the last year and this year we’ve seen an increase of tablet usage by 160% and we attribute that BlueCast being much more accessible across all platforms.

With the added growth in usage we’ve experienced some additional growing pains, but these are the best kinds of pains to have! We’re continuing to scale the system as it grows in popularity and use. With our last update over the summer we brought on Apache Solr on top of our Lucene index to optimized our search and indexing services to make finding the information students need extremely fast. This update will include a few infrastructure updates including the migration of the primary BlueCast database to a new dedicated database server which will help with overall performance by speeding up bottlenecks we still face and also alleviating resources from other applications sharing the database server with BlueCast. We will also be increasing resources given to our encoding servers to allow for quicker turn-around times on heavy recording days.  Last, but never least we’ve also added new points of proactive monitoring so we’ll be notified quickly on more aspects of the system before something arises so we can take action.

For the other side of BlueCast we’re introducing quite a few new features and most notably a refreshed user interface and experience. Take a first glance at the new look!

A first look at the refreshed user interface of BlueCast for the Spring 2014 semester

So lets get into the details!

Headline Features

  • User experience improvements across the BlueCast web interface, including a new look and feel
  • New “Save As” editor workflow for creating multiple versions of the same session
  • The Session Library and BlueCast Viewer now support use with screen readers for greater accessibility and improved Section 508 compliance.
  • Site-wide HTTPS. The BlueCast Web Interface and Embedded recordings will now properly show inside of BlueLine and other secure websites.
  • Podcast analytics reporting. (Note: podcast views will show up as “Anonymous” in the reports)
  • Quick rewind button (10 seconds) in the BlueCast Viewer.

BlueCast Web Management Interface

  • User Experience improvements:
    • All list views have been redesigned.
    • All pop-up settings pages have been redesigned.
  • New “Create” button to centralize core content creation functions:
    • Record a new session
    • Create a placeholder session to record later
  • Session library interface and BlueCast Viewer now support screen readers and keyboard navigation.
  • Better web interface layout for non-English sites.
  • Fixed a bug where deleting multiple sessions would sometimes display an error.
  • Improved “Filter by Date” experience in sessions lists.
  • Added an “All Users” group, allowing for a course or session to be easily shared with any authenticated BLUE user on BlueCast.
  • Added analytics reporting for podcast views of BlueCast videos.
    • Podcast streaming (link from mobile browser, RSS, iTunes feed) & embedded content will track minutes viewed in statistics
    • Downloading podcasts will count as a single view with no minutes viewed.
    • NOTE: Views from the podcasts will show up in the reports as “Anonymous” these are not public views if your recording is still set to private.

BlueCast Editor

  • Improvements to the way the editor chooses what needs to be re-processed. Many changes that used to require a full re-process, such as changes to PowerPoint slide text or caption updates, will now only process the changed pieces.
  • Changed the “Manage Versions” workflow to “Save As.” If you’re working in the editor and want to make multiple versions of the same recording with unique web addresses (URLs), you can now use the convenient Save As functionality to do this. For example, you could split a single two hour recording with two presenters into Part 1 and Part 2, and each would have a unique web address.
  • PowerPoint files can now be uploaded and added to a session – this is especially useful for updating the slides that accompany a previously recorded session.

BlueCast Viewer

  • Viewing embedded podcasts now includes captions.
  • New “quick rewind” button to the transport controls (10 seconds).

Panopto Recorders (Coming soon to classrooms, but download now at bluecast.creighton.edu!)

  • Added an audio gain control to the Windows recorder.
  • Can now record in 720p (up to 1280×800) in any recording mode with Windows Recorder.
  • Secondary capture sources can now record 1920×1080 at 18fps (used to be 12fps) and 1500 Kbps.
  • Windows and Mac Recorders will now automatically detect when there is no audio or video input and alert the user

Over the next few days we will be updating our documentation here on the BlueCast Blog for some of the new features and update our screenshots so you can get a better feel for the new UI changes that are ahead.

 

 

P.S.: As a bonus we’re also formally announcing our BlueCast Statistics site. Navigate on over to bluecaststats.creighton.edu to take an insightful look at BlueCast and it’s usage!

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