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Maintaining Online Instructional Continuity During a Canvas or Collaborate Ultra Outage
This page details backup online teaching methods should there be a service outage during your scheduled online synchronous course sessions.
Blackboard’s contract to provide web conference services to the University of Wisconsin will expire on 6/30/2021. Access to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra web conference sessions, recordings, usage data, and all other services will end on that date. The UW System plans on negotiating a conferencing contract with Zoom before the start of the Fall 2021 semester. Alternative conferencing tools such as Microsoft Teams and WebEx will continue to be available during this transition. More information can be found here.
Preparing in Case of a Canvas Outage
If there is a Canvas outage during your scheduled online synchronous class period, the link to your course's Collaborate Ultra course room will still function properly even though you wouldn't be able to access it through Canvas. Because of this, it is recommended that you save copies of these links from each of your online synchronous courses at the start of the semester and distribute them to the corresponding students. This way both you and your students can directly access the Collaborate Ultra course room if the normal Canvas method is temporarily inaccessible.
- Open the Collaborate Ultra page in your course
- Click on the Course Room at the top of the page
- Switch the Guest Role menu to Presenter and click Save on the bottom of the screen to apply the setting. Copy the link to the right of the word Presenter and save that link for yourself and the students in that particular course. You may wish to distribute that link to the students at the beginning of the semester so they'll already have it on-hand in case of a Canvas outage during their scheduled class period.
Note: If you do not automatically see the dropdown menu and link textbox, make sure that the Guest Access checkbox is enabled.
Canvas Outage – Alternative Solutions
If Canvas experiences and outage during a scheduled synchronous class session and you don't have your Collaborate Ultra link saved, your best Canvas-independent options are to use WebEx for live streaming or to record that lecture with Kaltura and upload the recording for students to watch later.
Option 1 – Use WebEx to Live Stream
Since WebEx is independent from Canvas, you can create a WebEx room and share it with your students via email even if Canvas is down during your scheduled class. Your WebEx personal room link should be https://uwp.webex.com/meet/[your UWP username]. Alternatively, you can locate your personal WebEx room by logging in at https://uwp.webex.com.
Option 2 – Record & Upload Your Lecture with Kaltura Capture
Using Kaltura to record & upload your lecture means that you won't have to hope for students to check their UWP email to find the virtual meeting link, but the tradeoff is that your students won't be able to watch live or interact with you as you go through the lecture. You can find the steps to recording & uploading with Kaltura at this Knowledgebase entry. Even if Canvas is still down upon finishing your recording, your video can still be uploaded from the post-recording screen. Once your video is uploaded and Canvas service is restored, you would create a new page or announcement within your course to embed the video so students can watch it.
Collaborate Ultra Outage – Use Microsoft Teams
If Canvas is working but Collaborate Ultra is experiencing an outage, then you can use Microsoft Teams as a backup solution since it is also integrated into Canvas. Students would only need to click the provided link to join the room. Alternatively, you could use one of the previously listed methods to paste the WebEx link or embed a Kaltura recording on a new page or announcement within your course.
- Create a new Announcement in your Canvas course
- Select the More External Tools icon in the text editor
- Click Microsoft Teams Meetings and follow the prompts to add the session's title and scheduled time
Note: if it's your first time using this feature, then it will require you to sign-in and agree give MS Teams the permissions to run in Canvas.
- Click Copy to place the link once the meeting has been created
- Click Save at the bottom of the page to post this link for your students