[clug] ANU Lecture Recordings

Grant Baldwin Grant.Baldwin at anu.edu.au
Thu Mar 13 02:00:29 GMT 2008

> > #1 daughter is in her first year at ANU this year. She missed
> lectures
> >  yesterday and tried to download them from the ANU's site, without
> >  success, so called to Dad for help. The system is an abomination.
> The
> >  recordings are only available as streaming Real Audio - they can't
> be
> >  downloaded, the system doesn't recognose Firefox as a browser, and
> what
> >  should be a simple HTML page is so thoroughly java-infested that I
> >  couldn't but shake my head in bewilderment.
> Oh - *that* system... I remember wasting at least 3 or 4 hours to
> listen to a 1 hour lecture.  (Engineering law about 3 1/2 years ago...
> the lecturer couldn't be at some of the actual lectures, and so
> pre-recorded something instead.)
> From what I remember, it works better when nobody else is trying to
> use it, and it works better if you are trying to use it from somewhere
> inside the ANU network.  If the server is under too much load, then
> your connection has a tendency to drop out, and you have to start
> listening right from the start all over again...  (and once people
> start having to do this, the congestion escalates)
> I am astonished that this system is still in use.


a) It's implemented as a component of WebCT. The complaints about
java/javascript relate to WebCT and not the digital delivery system. WebCT
is primarily off-the-shelf with minor customizations for style.

b) As far as the learning support IT section (whatever they are calling
themselves now) are concerned, it only matters that the system works from
ANU computer labs with the software installed therein. Usual reasons being
to not have to support myriad configurations etc.

c) Realplayer is a format which lets the lecturers add visual information.
In the case of the pre-recorded law lectures Iain referred to, this amounted
to power point slide automatically changing at the right points. Clearly,
this is difficult with MP3. At the time the system was planned/implemented,
about 5-7 years ago (?), realplayer was still occasionally used.

I could be wrong, but doing anything other than bitching is akin to pushing
water uphill. 

There is however a related system with related functionality that, to my
understanding, is/was being considered as part of an eventual replacement.
The related system, Sakai, is OSS, so you can hack the upstream with
functionality you want integrated. Of course, AFAIK, it doesn't include any
digital lecture delivery backend support. Yet.

Grant Baldwin

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