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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Remote access

Will I be teaching to offshore students in 2021?

Semester One 2021

View a list of courses NOT available to offshore students. Note: If your Semester One course is NOT LISTED on this page, then it may include offshore students.​

How do I identify which students in my course are learning from overseas?

Please review this news item on the Canvas website, which shows you how to identify offshore students.

Can remote students participate in face-to-face classes by Zooming in?
If remote student/s have an internet connection, camera and microphone, and you have a similarly equipped device that can be used to connect with the remote participants, the short answer is yes. However, a positive Zoom experience requires:

  • A good camera and microphone set up (e.g. a mic can pick up student as well as teacher voices; choose whether to focus the camera on teacher/class/whole room).
  • A VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection (see also VPN access from China).
  • Someone to monitor Zoom (including chat) and check in with remote participants.


We do not recommend live streaming lectures for classes. Not all students have access to a consistent and fast internet service, and many have new obligations or restrictions that may prevent them from attending compulsory live lectures. Recorded presentations, or alternative means of delivering content need to be available to ensure equitable access to a quality learning experience.

Where activities which are usually delivered live are necessary to the learning experience, consider if they can be delivered asynchronously in some way (for example, in place of a class discussion, try having students contribute and respond to other students in a discussion forum post or creating video recordings). In some cases there will be live interactive elements that can be more difficult to deliver asynchronously. Consider how you can accommodate students who may not be in the position to take part in the same way due to their circumstances.

Do I have to record face-to-face classes for remote students?

It depends on the course, taking in to account a range of factors including the teacher, topic, suitability and practicality of recording classes. Check the information about recordings of lectures, tutorials and labs for students studying in China.

What equipment will be available to me to support remote students Zooming in?

Contact the Learning Environment Support Unit (LESU) for questions about teaching equipment and technical support.

What do I do if my students complain that some course materials are not accessible remotely?

Please review the page called accessing technologies through VPN.

What about government monitoring of activity?

For courses taught/supported in China, it is possible that Chinese governmental agents will have access to course material, including online discussions. Be aware that your activity may be monitored, particularly if you are from China, have family there, or plan to visit or do business in China in the future.

What about students returning from overseas or would like to study online for medical reasons?

If a student has moved overseas or has returned to NZ, staff can notify the REF team (Enrollments and Fees team) to update their location. Contact: recordsmaintenance@auckland.ac.nz. If a domestic student in NZ wishes to study online due to medical reasons, they should contact the Student Centre. Email studentinfo@auckland.ac.nz or phone 0800 61 62 63.


How do I get audio transcripts from Zoom and add them to Canvas?

Audio Transcript is a default setting in the Zoom recording settings (Zoom Pro licensed accounts)An automatic transcript is only created if you record your session on the Cloud – choose “record to the Cloud” when you begin recording. Transcription takes some time to complete and you will receive an email when the transcript is ready.

You can view and edit the transcript online to correct any transcription errors. The Audio Transcript will automatically appear to the side of the Zoom recording, or you can download them in a VTT file formatSee Zoom’s article on automatically transcribing Cloud recordings.

If you’d like to share the transcript file on Canvas, you can open the VTT file in Microsoft Word, save it as a Word or PDF document, then upload that file into Canvas.

Should I live stream my classes via Zoom?

Wdo not recommend live streaming for classes. Not all students have access to a consistent and fast internet serviceand many have new obligations or restrictions that may prevent them from attending compulsory live lectures. Recorded presentations, or alternative means of delivering content need to be available to ensure equitable access to a quality learning experience.

Can I host virtual office hours using Zoom?

If you wish to host one-to-one virtual office hours, Zoom would be a good option, especially for students within your time zone. If you have a small cohort, you might consider running them as a drop-in session. Otherwise, in order for students to show their commitment, you might ask them to book a session with you in advance. Please be aware that some students will be in different time zones and this would need to be accommodated, as opportunities of this nature should be available all students.

How do I access and download Zoom Cloud recordings?

When your recording is ready you will receive an email with a link to the Cloud recording. Sign into your Zoom account to access saved recordings; these are found under the ‘Recordings’ menu in your account. From there you can also download the Zoom Cloud recording to your computer.

How long will my Zoom recording last for on the Cloud?

The cloud recordings are available for 60 days. Downloading your recordings from the cloud, then upload to the Mediastore will ensure that they remain stored for longer. Mediastore adds the copyright information to your video and (normally) stores it for 12 months, then archives it for 6 months. You can still access archived recordings through Staff Service Centre.

How do I add my Zoom recording to Canvas?

We recommend you upload your recording to the University’s Mediastore. (the maximum file size is 1GB). We have prepared instructions for uploading videos to Mediastore, which includes how to embed the Mediastore video into a Canvas page.

Alternatively, for short videos, you might consider uploading it to Canvas’ Page Editor. This accepts files of up to 500MB.

Should I record to the Cloud or my local computer?

We recommend that you record to the Cloud for the following reasons

  • A transcript will be created that you can download and add to your Canvas course for accessibility.*
  • If the recording stops abruptly (e.g. a computer crash), your recording is more likely to be preserved.
  • The recording is shareable with others via a link in your Zoom account (recordings section).

When you stop recording, Zoom will send you a link to the Recording (this may take a few minutes).

Please note that Cloud recordings are only stored for 60 days. We encourage you to download the recording and upload it to Mediastore.

* Share the transcript in Canvas by using the Upload Document function and add the link to the transcript next to your video.


Can I make a PowerPoint with voice-over and upload it to Canvas?

Yes, please see this instruction on recording in PowerPoint.

Should I use Zoom or PowerPoint to do a recording?

This largely depends on what you are trying to achieve and your comfort level with different technologies. If you are comfortable using Zoom to create recordings, or you need to record your screen using more applications than just PowerPoint slides, then we would recommend using Zoom. PowerPoint is a good option if you are simply recording a voice-over for PowerPoint slides.

How do I add my PowerPoint recording to Canvas?

We recommend you upload your recording to the University’s Mediastore. (the maximum file size is 1GB). We have prepared instructions for uploading videos to Mediastore, which includes how to embed the Mediastore video into a Canvas page.

Alternatively, for short videos, you might consider uploading it to Canvas’ Page Editor. This accepts files of up to 500MB.

How do I make a transcript of my PowerPoint recording?

Please see this article on recording your PowerPoint presentation and using www.otter.ai to generate the transcript.


What is Mediastore?

Mediastore is the University’s own streaming video service. It’s the preferred way to offer pre-recorded video to students. It uses the same infrastructure as regular Lecture Theatre Recordings and ad hoc recordings in Canvas.

Upload video to Mediastore via: https://mediapublish.auckland.ac.nz

What can/can't I upload to Mediastore?

You can upload most types of video files, including:

  • Videos from phones and webcams
  • Videos recorded using Zoom, BBFlashback or Camtasia
  • Anything else that might be useful for your students (provided you’re not breaking copyright by ripping or otherwise copying a Hollywood film).


What can’t I upload to Mediastore?

  • Audio-only files
  • Files bigger than 1GB*

* If your video file is larger than 1GB, view the instructions for compressing your video using the VLC free app.

How do I edit Mediastore videos?

Unlike the Recordings tool in Canvas, Mediastore does not offer a review or editing function. This means you should edit BEFORE you upload.

We have provided some suggestions for video editing software on the Recordings page.

How do I upload successfully to Mediastore?

Upload to the Mediastore via: https://mediapublish.auckland.ac.nz

To protect your video content, make sure you:

  • Leave the Access setting as ‘private.’
  • Use the STUDYPLAN project category to ensure you get a copyright notice at the start of the video.

While uploading, if the blue progress bar finishes and then freezes, your video has not uploaded successfully. Check that the file is not too big – it should be no bigger then 1GB. If so, try compressing it with VLC Mediaplayer and uploading it again. If the upload fails a second time, report the issue to the Staff Service Centre.

After you’ve successfully uploaded your video, you’ll get an email with streaming video links in 1-24 hours. If it still hasn’t arrived after a day and you’re sure it uploaded successfully, contact the Staff Service Centre.

How do I get my Mediastore videos onto Canvas and make them downloadable?

This instruction is only if you want your students to download your video file, rather than watch it online. For example, this might be useful if you want your students to adapt the video to suit their own purposes using some sort of video editing software.

Once you have uploaded your video to Mediastore, you will have received an email with the URL to the video. This URL ends in ‘.preview’, e.g.


In order for your students to download the file, simply paste that URL into a Canvas page (as an external link) but change ‘.preview’ at the end to ‘.mp4’. Then instruct your students to right click the link and choose ‘Save link as…’ Or they might follow the link so that the video starts playing, then right click the video and select ‘Save video as…’  Try it yourself to make sure it works.

How can I add my Mediastore streaming videos to the Recordings section on Canvas?
  1. Create an Ad Hoc recording from the Recordings page.
  2. Paste the link to the recording that you received from Mediastore.

Virtual lectures

Should we stay with the timetabled lecture slots?

It’s a good idea to stick to regular schedule and make recorded lectures available around the time of the usual lectures.

Should we be holding live lectures?

Wdo not recommend live streaming for classes. Not all students have access to a consistent and fast internet serviceand many have new obligations or restrictions that may prevent them from attending compulsory live lectures. Recorded presentations, or alternative means of delivering content need to be available to ensure equitable access to a quality learning experience.


How do I produce transcripts from my recordings?

One option is available through Zoom Cloud recordings. See the FAQ in the Zoom recordings section on this page.

An alternative is through www.otter.ai. The free account auto-generates transcriptions for up to 600 minutes of recordings per month (this is extended in the premium account). You can log in using your University Google account (e.g. jblo007@aucklanduni.ac.nz) but the University does not have a site license so it will default to the free version. It does a pretty good job of auto-transcribing and you can edit the text in order to correct mistakes. Then download the text file and upload it as a separate file in Canvas; place the link to the transcript file alongside the video. Unfortunately it is not a tool for creating closed captions.

See this Otter.ai guide for generating transcripts from existing recordings.

During the mid-semester test

What if my students notice a problem with a test question?

It is best not to attempt to make corrections to questions while the test is in session. In the case of a Canvas Quiz, we suggest you wait until the test is finished, then either:

  • Regrade the quiz and select the “Give everyone full credit for this question” option (the simplest solution).
  • Create another Canvas Quiz with a single (corrected) question for students to complete at their earliest convenience. If the exam is part of an Assignment Group that has a % weighting for the overall course grade, add the new single-question Quiz to the same Assignment Group. You should update the scores on the original (incorrect) Quiz question to zero, using SpeedGrader, so that this does not interfere with the overall score.

Note, other students may be wasting precious time on the incorrect question so make sure you let students know as soon as possible how they are to proceed through a Canvas announcement

What if a student encounters a technical problem while taking the test?

Depending on the technical issue encountered, you may consider using the Moderate Quiz feature in Canvas to grant the student another attempt at the Quiz.* If the due date has expired, tick the ‘Manually unlock the Quiz for the next attempt‘ box. In this case, liaise with the student so they know what their new ‘due by’ date will be, then adjust the Quiz availability for the individual student for their second attempt.

* It is not normally appropriate or fair to ask a student to retake a test at another time. Exceptions and aegrotats should be handled on a case by case basis, in the usual way.

What about students who have been granted extra time?

Student Disability Services advise teaching staff of any students in their courses with approved special conditions. Please refer to the settings for managing the Canvas Quiz availability for individual students. The same method applies to Canvas Assignments.

What student support is available during the mid-semester test?
  • For mid-semester tests, examiners are expected to be available for the duration of the test in order to respond to issues that may arise.
  • In Semester Two 2020, additional technical support will be made available to students sitting online tests.
  • Support for final exams in Semester Two 2020 depends upon the COVID lockdown situation and is yet to be confirmed.

Preparing online exams

Where can I see FAQs about preparing online exams?


SpeedGrader is too slow to use for large classes, what can I do?

SpeedGrader pre-loads all assignment/quiz submissions, therefore large classes can be unwieldy.

We suggest splitting your class into smaller groups using the Groups feature in Canvas (you will find that under the People page). Create a Group Set and name it according to the Assignment or Quiz. When creating or editing the Assignment/Quiz, select the Group Set that you just created. This does not mean that students will work in groups to submit the Assignment/Quiz, it’s just to make SpeedGrader more manageable.

Then in SpeedGrader, filter the submissions Group by Group. This will load much smaller batches of Assignment/Quiz submissions and SpeedGrader should be much more responsive.

How do I suppress quiz responses when students submit the quiz in Canvas?

When setting up the Canvas Quiz, untick the box called “Let students see their quiz responses.” You can change this option later when you’re ready for the students to see the responses.

See the Canvas Instructor Guides for more details on quiz settings.

How do I prevent students from seeing their quiz and assignment grades until I'm ready to release them?

From your Canvas course, go to Grades, locate the assessment. Click the three dots beside the name of the assessment. 

Canvas screenshot showing the Gradebook settings

Click Grade Posting Policy and choose Manual, scroll to the bottom and click Save.

Canvas screenshot showing the grading policy set to manually

Can multiple markers use SpeedGrader at the same time?

Yes but with a caveat – if two or more markers use SpeedGrader to grade the same student’s script at the same time, it is possible that they may overwrite each other’s work. Therefore clear communication between markers is important.

SpeedGrader with Assignments
Consider creating a Final Assessment ‘Group Set‘ so you can divide the class into Groups. If you have three markers, you could create three Groups (make sure all students are assigned to a group, i.e. there are no unassigned students). In the Canvas course Settings, enable Launch SpeedGrader Filtered by Student Group.

The markers should select which group they are going to mark. Marker One can grade, say, questions 1-6 in Group One while Marker Two can grade questions 7-11 in Group Two etc. When they are done they can switch groups. Note: this has nothing to do with setting up the Assignment as Group Work (students working in groups), you’re only grouping students for the convenience of marking.

Screenshot of Canvas Group Selection box

SpeedGrader with Quizzes
If your markers are grading a Canvas Quiz, SpeedGrader allows for grading one Quiz question at a time, therefore you can allocate markers to certain questions.

See also
More options are described on the SpeedGrader page.

If a marker annotates a student's script in SpeedGrader, is the original script still available?

Yes, the original submissions are always available and can be downloaded.

In SpeedGrader, why does some content not display in a student's PDF assignment submission?

Note: Since this FAQ was written, Canvas has implemented a fix so that PDF submissions now display correctly in SpeedGrader. However, if staff see a document that looks incomplete, we recommend downloading and opening the PDF document in Adobe Acrobat*, to compare it with the uploaded version in SpeedGrader.

Sometimes a student’s PDF document contains layers—think of information written on stacked layers of glass—which will look fine when viewed with Adobe Acrobat. But when students submit their PDF to a Canvas Assignment, some layers may not display within SpeedGrader.

PDF document with three layers of information

To avoid this, instruct students on how to create their PDF file, e.g.,

As a marker, how will I know if they have not ‘flattened’ their PDF?
This may not be obvious but if you suspect the PDF contains layers that are not displayed, download it—SpeedGrader has a download button above the document window—and view it with Adobe Acrobat.* You can compare that with the view in SpeedGrader.

What if a student has submitted a PDF with layers?
We suggest that you mark the PDF submission ‘manually,’ using Adobe Reader. Transfer the marks to their assignment submission in SpeedGrader.

* Adobe Acrobat is available to download from the staff Software Centre, or the free Adobe Acrobat Reader is available from Adobe.com.

Image adapted from Sagibalter / CC BY-SA.


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