theBox - Best practices

Preparing students for video assessment activities

Video assessment activities are often a new experience for many students, so we recommend spending additional time in the planning/preparation phase. The key goal is to allow students the ability to familiarise themselves with the process, and to attempt the process in a safe environment, ahead of time. Such an approach will minimise student (and staff) distress that would otherwise occur, were they to attempt video submission for the first time just before the deadline.

  1. Create your own course introduction video using software that is freely available and recommendable to students, so that you can better understand the challenges early on that students will need to overcome.
    • This will enable you to write instructions for students that meet their needs.
  2. Set up an activity for students to submit a test video to ahead of time, such as a simple 2 minute self introduction in the first week of semester.
    • Students will be able to test out the full process from their preferred device/location, with plenty of time to determine whether that meets their needs, prior to the assessment task.
  3. Remind students that they can use UNSW's high speed internet connection and computing facilities when it comes time to submit their assessment, to minimise issues associated with personal equipment or home internet connectivity.
     
  4. Suggest to students that they use the free and open-source Handbrake software, available on Windows and Mac, to convert their videos to a standard web-optimised format, using the default settings. This will help avoid the most common issues such as:
    • Potential Issue 1: Students occasionally create videos using an unusual video file type or non-standard resolution. This can occasionally lead to videos being frozen during processing.
    • Potential Issue 2: Students occasionally upload very high quality and large video files to theBox. This can take a very long time to upload, depending on their internet connection upload speed, and can cause the web browser to time out and the upload fail.
      Even if the upload is successful, theBox then has to process the quality down to a web-optimised size for viewers to have a good experience. This means the advantages of uploading a high quality video is lost, but also means the processing will take longer than normal.

Using Handbrake software to convert videos to a known standard

The free and open-source Handbrake software, available on Windows and Mac, can be used by staff and students to convert videos to a web-optimised standard. This is invaluable as it reduces the likelihood of technical failure and can significantly reduce the time required to upload and process a video file.

It is important to note that this software is not owned or directly supported by UNSW. To find out more about the software, look for community support and/or download it directly from the website, please see: https://handbrake.fr/

Instructions to use Handbrake

Once installed, using Handbrake is quite straightforward.

  1. Open Handbrake
  2. As the software opens, it will automatically ask you to select a source video file. Select the video file you wish to convert and click Open.
  3. The pre-selected settings should be fine, but we recommend double-checking:
    • Destination - This controls where the new file will be saved on your computer, change if needed.
    • Format - Select MP4 File.
    • Web optimized - Ensure this is ticked.
    • Video encoder - Ensure this is H.264 (x264).
  4. When ready, click the Start button

The file that is then created should be optimised and ready for upload to theBox.

 

Naming and Organisation Conventions

Collections

When creating collections using the Media Collection gallery it is important for you to use good names so that you can easily identify collections in the future.  Some tips include:

  • Start the collection name with full course code plus term code, e.g. ACCT1234_5154
  • When creating an assignment collection ensure you use the word assignment in the name so that you can easily identify which collections are storing student submissions
  • Don't name assignment collections Assignment 1Assignment 2, etc.  This will make it difficult to identify in the future.  Add course codes and term codes to identify which course the assignment belongs to.

Galleries

  • Start the gallery name with the full course code plus term code, e.g. ACCT1234_5154

Tags

Use tags to organise like material together.  If you are creating collections related to a specific course you may want to tag it with the full course code plus term code, e.g. ACCT1234_5154