So I set up all my equipment ready for my tutorial at 11AM last Thursday. We started our Microsoft Teams meeting, I shared my Main Display (Display 1) with a blank DrawBoard PDF document open and copies (screenshots) of the tutorial questions open in a picture viewer. Then I attempted to start an Echo360 recording, and my tablet refused to cooperate!
[Note to self: make sure to restart the tablet in the morning. It sometimes helps!]
There was rather a lot running on my Windows Surface. I always make sure that it is running on mains power (which helps with the processing power), but it was still clearly struggling. The mouse pointer was starting to wander around randomly without me doing anything. When I did manage to get the mouse pointer over the Echo360 record button, it didn’t seem interested when I clicked. Eventually it did respond, and started a partially visible but fragmented visible countdown, before announcing that it was unable to start the recording. In fact I think it did start one recording, and also attempted to start a few other recordings unsuccessfully.
I started up Task Manager (which probably added a bit more to the tablet’s burden), and this confirmed that I had too much running. So I quit a few applications (Echo360, Adobe Acrobat and Chrome). One of my tutees then set a recording going in Microsoft Teams, and we got on with some maths.
I should probably have restarted the tablet, because it was still struggling. When I was writing or sketching curves/regions in the plane, I kept having to stop and wait for the inking to catch up with my pen. And additional random inking filaments were appearing. Nevertheless, we managed to cover some important stuff. And the recording uploaded to Microsoft Streams quickly and successfully at the end.
I should say that there are other reasons why my tablet sometimes has to stop and think about stuff. For example, if I right click and try to use “open with”, the tablet often hangs while it attempts to check all University of Nottingham applications in order to populate the list it (maybe) eventually offers. I am going to have to try to get out of the habit of right clicking.
I hit another problem when I installed PDF Annotator on the tablet. (This was because I wanted to be able to do a few things that the version of DrawBoard PDF I have can’t do. ) Suddenly I found that double-clicking on PDF files was having no effect! I tried quite a few documents. Their properties showed they were supposed to open with DrawBoard PDF. (I set that as my default on the tablet. That is also rather difficult to do at the moment, for similar reasons to the problems with “open with”!) I will admit that I probably overdid the double-clicking. I then uninstalled DrawBoard PDF and reinstalled it. This was almost certainly unnecessary. I had to find and re-enter the activation code DrawBoard had sent me, and then set up all my favourites again, etc..
At some point windows started to open up again and again (10 minutes or so after my spate of double-clicking) asking me whether I wanted to keep using DrawBoard PDF to open this file, or use a different app instead. (In fact the first few of these opened up during the time period when DrawBoard was still uninstalled!) That kept me busy for a while.
I think what happened was that, when I installed PDF Annotator, the tablet decided that I now had some new PDF software. So the next time I double-clicked on a PDF file, it thought it would be a good idea to ask me whether I wanted to continue using DrawBoard PDF to open the file, or another application. But it then had to try to populate the list of available applications, and this took several minutes at least. Anyway, maybe 20 minutes later the last of these windows had opened and closed and things were working again.
OK, so it looked as if recording meetings in Microsoft Teams was the way to go then! Admittedly my first attempt at recording a meeting on 11th March had not given me much confidence. But things appeared to have improved since then…
OK, so next was my 1PM online lecture for my Level 4 module. I set everything up the way I wanted, started the meeting, shared my main display, and started the recording in Teams. Everything seemed to work well, until I checked the recording later. See below!
Soon after my 1PM lecture finished (after grabbing a quick snack) I had an online dissertation supervision meeting with a 4th-year student. It isn’t obvious whether recording project/supervision meetings is necessary: after all, I never used to do that in my office! Still, the students agree that these recordings could be useful, so I’ll try to record them. I also generate PDF files with my annotations, and I make these available to the students too. For this particular meeting, somehow I forgot to start the recording until the middle, but it was still probably better than nothing.
OK, now I had some catching up to do! I distributed the various PDF files I had generated and made sure that the videos had processed on Microsoft Streams. The processing was pretty quick (a big contrast to the long delay I saw back on March 11th). I thought that the students might be more used to accessing videos on Echo360/Moodle, so I downloaded the videos from streams, uploaded them to Echo360.org, and shared them with the relevant students. (Or in the case of the Level 4 Module, I was able to make it available to the students via a link from the Module Moodle page.) However at some point I realised that there was something wrong with one of the recordings. The recordings of the tutorial and the (second half of the) dissertation meeting were both fine. But the recording of the Level 4 Module lecture had gone wrong. Instead of recording the audio and the shared screen where I was annotating a PDF file, Teams had recorded the audio and video of a static screen showing 4 discs containing the initials of the participants at the meeting. The audio may still be useful, in combination with the annotated slides. But the video/screencast showing the annotation happening would be much better!
I assumed that I had done something wrong, and that maybe I should attend a training session. But looking online I found that this was a known issue. See
The second page of that thread was unavailable (to me at least) yesterday, but it appears to be back today. See
I had another lecture at 12 noon yesterday (Friday March 27 2020). I thought it might help if a student started the recording instead of me, but unfortunately that made no difference.
This appears to be an ongoing issue (see continuing discussion and announcements in that thread). However, I have received advice locally that it is best to start the recording BEFORE you share your screen. I have examples showing that it sometimes works if you share the screen first, and some people in the thread above have had problems either way, but it could well be that your chances are improved if you do start the recording before the screen share.
It may also depend on your set-up. For example, I have dual displays: could that contribute to the problem? Does it help if you share a window rather than a display? (Because of my use of Pen Attention as a “digital pointer”, it is better for me to share the screen rather than just the DrawBoard window.)
Anyway, for now it isn’t obvious what I should do. If only everything worked smoothly, recording in Teams should be the way to go. But if the problem persists, I may have to try something else.