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Jan
11
YuJa Recording Issues in IST Managed Classrooms
Posted by Chris Goetz on 11 January 2022 04:42 PM

Attention YuJa Users,

A known issue is currently impacting the ability to record videos in YuJa from centrally-managed classroom computers. IST analysts and YuJa support are currently investigating this issue and hope to find a resolution as soon as possible.

This issue has no impact on the regular functions of YuJa when working from non-classroom laptop or desktop computers.

Our apologies for this degradation in service, we will provide updates as soon as they become available.

Regards,

IST eClass Support


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Jan
5
eClass Updates for Winter 2022
Posted by Chris Goetz on 05 January 2022 02:08 PM

Attention eClass users,

Welcome back, we hope everyone had a restful break! Here are some important reminders for instructors as we start this term with remote  delivery:

  • As a part of the resolution of our recent performance issues, a number of system features that were creating a heavy performance load on the database have been removed from eClass. These changes include:
    • In the Collapsed Topics and Collapsed Labels course formats, the option to show activity summary statistics in the main course page has been removed.
    • Course logs older than August 31, 2020 have been removed. Instructors requiring access to any earlier course log data can contact eClass support.
    • The Level Up! Block has been disabled.
    • The eClass Mobile App has been disabled. Users accessing using the mobile app will encounter an error stating that 'Mobile access is not enabled on this site’. Users can still access eClass on their mobile device by using Chrome, Safari, or another browser.
    • ePoll scores cannot be pushed directly into the eClass gradebook; instead instructors must download scores in .csv format and upload them manually into their course gradebooks.
  • The YuJa Enterprise Media Platform is now available for full campus usage with the addition of SSO authentication. This new system is full-featured media storage, streaming, recording, and management suite which is easily embedded in eClass to deliver course lecture recordings, video quizzes, analytics, and more.
  • Edufide’s Assign2 workflow for creating In-Class Paper (PDF) Exams and then scoring them electronically through eClass has been expanded. Instructors can now include multiple choice questions in addition to long form questions that can be automatically graded by the system. Once exams are scanned and uploaded, resulting scores are also posted directly into the eClass gradebook.
  • We are still looking for open-beta users of ExamVis, a student-facing exam review tool. 
  • The graphics on the eClass banner repository page have been updated to reflect the new U of A logo and branding guidelines.

We recommend that all students taking courses with an online component review these guidelines.

As always, you can find a full range of helpful guides available on our support portal. If you have any questions about any of these updates, please contact us at eclass@ualberta.ca.

Regards,

IST eClass Support


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Jan
5
Final update on eClass Outages - January 5th, 2022
Posted by Dave Laurie on 05 January 2022 09:08 AM

We are pleased to report that we have now concluded our investigations into the eClass outages that occurred on December 20, 21 and 22. After rigorous testing, our teams were able to pinpoint, replicate, and resolve the root cause.

As a brief summary, there was a sequence of issues that combined to cause eClass to fail:

  • On December 20, in preparation for Winter term, an instructor copied the previous year’s instance of a course forward. That is standard practice, facilitates course creation tremendously, and is something we have never seen issues with in 12 years and over thousands of course sections. However, in this case, as part of the course, the instructor copied forward a broken calculation in a gradebook.
  • The broken calculation contained what is known as a “circular reference”. The consequence was that the gradebook error was repeated many times as each Winter term student was added to the course. This severely bogged down the process that pulls student enrollments from PeopleSoft into eClass.
  • The subsequent timeout filled a cache table in the database and resulted in a cascading failure that brought eClass down.

 

As a precautionary measure, the other changes and optimizations to eClass including the removal of resource intensive components such as the Level Up! block and mobile app will remain in place to maintain the integrity of the system during winter term and reviewed at a later date for future re-inclusion.

While we have resolved the root cause for this particular case, we will also be examining each of the steps in this sequence and applying corrections or monitoring to ensure that events of this nature cannot occur in future.

Thank you for your patience and best wishes for everyone in Winter term.

Regards,
IST eClass Support


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Jan
3
Update on eClass Outages - January 3rd, 2022
Posted by Dave Laurie on 03 January 2022 02:25 PM

Attention eClass Users,

Over the past several days our teams have been performing load tests on both the public and testing environments of eClass. Results of those tests have not been able to replicate the issues experienced during the exam period. This again suggests that multiple complex interactions between the moodle application, the database, and the infrastructure added up to create the outages.

Although we have not yet identified a root cause, we have identified several system features that create a heavy performance load on the database. As a preventative measure, these features will be disabled or removed from the site. These changes include:

  • In the Collapsed Topics and Collapsed Labels course formats, the option to show activity summary statistics in the main course page will be removed.
  • Course logs older than August 31, 2020 will be removed. Instructors requiring access to any earlier course log data can contact eClass support.
  • The Level Up! block will be disabled.
  • The eClass Branded Mobile App will be disabled. Note that eClass is responsively-themed and users can still access and use the site on mobile devices by logging in through a mobile browser (Chrome/Safari).

Along with this we may need to schedule regular maintenance windows throughout the Winter term in order to perform database maintenance and reindexing. Any new maintenance windows will be announced as soon as they are decided.

Thank you for your continued patience as our teams continue their investigations and are working to ensure a smooth start up and successful winter term.

Regards,
IST eClass Support

 


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Dec
30
Upcoming eClass Maintenance Schedule
Posted by Chris Goetz on 30 December 2021 03:31 PM

Attention eClass Users,

As per our latest update on recent eClass outages, there will be an additional series of overnight maintenance windows for eClass over the next few days to prepare eClass for the start of Winter term. These outages will be held in the following windows:

  • Friday Dec. 31st 12:00AM (Midnight) - 6:00AM
  • Saturday Jan. 1st 12:00AM (Midnight) - 6:00AM
  • Sunday Jan. 2nd 12:00AM (Midnight) - 6:00AM
  • Monday Jan. 3rd 12:00AM (Midnight) - 6:00AM

eClass may be unavailable for the duration of these maintenance windows. We strongly recommend that users complete any necessary or urgent work in eClass outside of these windows. Please also be aware that further overnight outages may be required as needed next week.

We understand that timelines are tight for many users who are preparing for a fully online term and we are doing our utmost to ensure that the system is available and reliable for the start of Winter term. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.

IST eClass Support


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Dec
30
Update on eClass Outages - Dec. 30th 2021
Posted by Chris Goetz on 30 December 2021 03:24 PM

Good afternoon everyone,

Since the end of Fall term, the IST infrastructure and eClass teams along with Amazon Web Services and external consultants have been working diligently to diagnose the issues experienced during the final exam period. However, a definitive root cause has not been identified. This suggests multiple issues added up to cause the outages. Over the last several days, work has concentrated on detailed reviews of all infrastructure configuration to check for any errors, and enhancing performance wherever possible.

We are now focusing on the data and database that makes up eClass. That database consists of over 500 tables (each table is like an Excel spreadsheet), with the 70 largest tables ranging in size from one million to 500 million rows. Yesterday the teams ran a process to clean and re-index all the tables in the database. This helped to remove stale data and reduced the size of the database by several hundred gigabytes. This also ensured that, if any indexes were corrupt, they have been rebuilt.

Over the next two to three days, we will be conducting load tests in our performance testing environment (not the public version of eClass) to simulate several thousand students accessing eClass quizzes. Our goal is to see whether this simulation can cause a failure in the test copy of eClass, and capture the detailed events leading to failure. In parallel, the teams are investigating further avenues to mitigate load and cascading interactions on the database for Winter term.

We know that instructors are preparing for the Winter term, creating courses and adding content. We understand that this week’s maintenance windows are disruptive to that preparation. But these windows are necessary and important for the teams to be able to update the public version of eClass with our tested changes. Due to the fact that the root cause has not yet been identified, we will need to schedule more maintenance windows leading up to the start of the term. These windows will be as much as possible in the late evening and early morning hours to minimize disruptions

Based on the work the teams complete and the findings of that work we will provide you with further updates over these next few days before the start of the term.

Regards,

IST eClass Support


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