Mixed Content and the ANGEL LMS

This post is related to browser issues where you may end up not seeing external links, or external web sites inside of your Angel courses.

This is called, “Mixed Content”, because Angel for WSU is a secure web site, but a lot of external web sites are not on a secured site, thus creating a, “mixed content” issue. Please see the article below, reposted from the Blackboard support portal to learn how to avoid this issue in your courses.

Mixed Content and the ANGEL LMS

Date Published: Sep 09,2013 Category: Product: ANGEL; Version:ANGEL_8_0,ANGEL_7_4 Article No.: 000034122

Product: ANGEL

Issue Description: An overview of mixed content and the impact of such content within the ANGEL LMS.

Symptoms: What is mixed content?
Mixed content is when a web site delivers both HTTP and HTTPS content on the same web page.  Most browsers distinguish between passive mixed content and active mixed content.  Active mixed content can be used to deliver malicious code or intercept sensitive data.  Examples of active mixed content include hyperlinks and script tags.  Passive mixed content is HTTP content that cannot be used to modify the behavior of other content on the page and carries a lower security risk.  An example of passive mixed content is an embedded image served over HTTP.

Why is mixed content a concern?
In a time where Internet users must be ever more careful of phishing schemes, identify theft, and other Internet scams, SSL certificates are serving an increasingly important role in Internet security.  SSL certificates allow for a web site to exchange secure, encrypted communication with users via HTTPS.  Additionally, SSL certificates from recognized certificate authorities help validate the identity of a web site.
Mixed content occurs when a website with an SSL certificate delivers a web page which in turn delivers content from a server without using SSL.  Often times it is transparent to the user that some of the page content is being delivered from another server.  This could allow malicious code to be delivered to the user.  The user could also be misled into thinking that all of their activity is being sent via secured communication.

Why should mixed content be a concern within ANGEL?
In addition to the security concerns noted above, modern browsers are increasingly taking mixed content seriously and implementing efforts to protect their users from these potential security risks.  The implementation of mixed content protection varies from browser to browser but may include blocking the delivery of HTTP content by default.

Rather than relying upon any browser’s current policy of blocking or allowing mixed content, clients are encouraged to review their own content and take steps toward eliminating the delivery of mixed content.

Resolution/Workaround: Below are the most common areas in which mixed content may occur within an ANGEL environment and recommendations on avoiding the use of mixed content.

Links within pages and other content items
The HTML editor can be used within most text fields to add hyperlinks to other web sites.  Common locations for links to external resources include nuggets, page content items, and instructions on content items such as discussion forums and drop boxes.

Determine the current target of a link
1. Open the settings of the content item or the editor for the nugget to access the HTML Editor.
2. Right-click on the link and select Edit Link.
3. On the Link Info tab, make note of the protocol in use (http:// or https://).
4. On the Target tab, make note of the target in use.

Avoiding mixed content
1. If the current protocol of the link is HTTP, check if HTTPS will work for the same link.  This can be done by opening a new browser tab and entering https:// followed by the URL.  If the HTTPS link works, simply change the protocol of the link to https://.
2. If the HTTPS link does not work, change the target of the link to New Window (_blank).  By default links created via the HTML Editor are opened within the ANGEL frame.  If the ANGEL web site is secured with an SSL certificate and the link uses the http:// protocol, the destination of the link will be treated as mixed content.  The New Window (_blank) target will open the link in a new browser tab outside of the ANGEL frame and thus will not be mixed content.

Link content items
Link content items are content items which load another web site within the ANGEL frame.

Determine the current target of a link content item
1. Click the settings link under the content item.
2. Check if the Link URL uses http:// or https://.

Avoiding mixed content
1. If the link is currently using http://, check if HTTPS will work for the same link.  This can be done by opening a new browser tab, copying and pasting the Link URL into the address bar, and changing the URL to use https://.  If the HTTPS link works, simply change the Link URL to use https://.
2. All of the Link Targets on a link content item, including New Window, will open the link URL within an ANGEL frame.   It is necessary to open the URL within an ANGEL frame to support features such as user tracking and agents.  If an HTTPS link is not available use the steps below to configure an agent on the content item which will redirect to the HTTP URL outside of the ANGEL frame.  By performing the redirect as an agent, the content item will be loaded first, allowing for user tracking and execution of any other agents applied to the content item.  The HTTP content is then loaded in an external frame so that it is not mixed content.

Redirecting HTTP link content items
1. Click settings for the link content item.
2. Set the Link Target to New Window.
3. Save.
4. Go to the course Automate tab.
5. Click Add New Agent.
6. Enter a name for the Agent.
7. Select Content Agent.
8. Click “Select content to monitor”.
9. Select Link from the Lesson Type drop-down menu and select the “Specific links” radio button.
10. Select the appropriate link content item and click the Add button.
11. Click the Close Window button.
12. Ensure that “viewed” is selected in the drop-down menu below the added content item.
13. Click Next.
14. Click Next on Step 2 of the Create Agent wizard to accept the default settings.
15. Select Redirect from the Choose Action Type drop-down menu.
16. Enter the URL, including http://.
17. Optionally add a delay on the redirect.  Ignore the Target setting as the Link Target setting applied to the content item in step 2 will ultimately determine where the web page is opened.
18. Click Next.
19. Click Save.
20. Test accessing the link content item.  The web page should be loaded in a new browser tab.

Google Rich Media Content
The Google Rich Media tool in the HTML editor allows users to embed YouTube videos and Picasa images or insert links to these resources.
Use of the YouTube and Picasa search features requires the ANGEL website to make requests to Google’s servers to retrieve the search results.  Currently these requests are sent via HTTP and will be viewed as mixed content on an ANGEL environment using an SSL certificate.  Additionally, using the Google Rich Media tool to embed or link to a YouTube video or embed a Picasa image adds HTML to the page which uses HTTP.

Avoiding mixed content
1. Blackboard has prepared a patch for these two issues which is compatible with ANGEL 8.0.  Blackboard Managed Hosting will be applying this patch to hosted environments.  Self-hosted clients may obtain the patch by entering a support case via https://behind.blackboard.com.  Changes made by the patch will be added to mainline code in ANGEL 8.0 Service Pack 9.
2. For existing embedded YouTube and Picasa content, open the HTML editor and click the Source button to toggle to the HTML source code.  Use the browser’s search feature (Ctrl+F) to locate all instances of http:// and change them to https://.  Save and retest the content.

Video Anywhere
Video Anywhere is a new feature added in ANGEL 8.0 Service Pack 8 which provides an integration within the ANGEL HTML editor to allow the user to record a video using their webcam, upload the video to YouTube, and embed the video into ANGEL content.
The integration requires authenticating against Google servers.  If using the default system setting to allow ANGEL to authenticate to YouTube (as opposed to an institution’s Google API key and client ID) the authentication process involves a request to a Blackboard server.  This request is currently made over HTTP and may be blocked as mixed content by some browsers.  In such browsers, users may still record and embed new videos without permitting mixed content but cannot browse their library of existing videos.  Blackboard is in the process of adding an SSL certificate to the server and will release a patch to start making the authentication request using HTTPS.  An update to this article will be posted when this fix is available.

Embedded images
Images can be embedded into nearly any text field including nuggets, page content items, and assessment questions.  Images which are uploaded via the HTML Editor are saved to the ANGEL file server and thus delivered from the same server as the rest of the page and cannot be mixed content.  However, if the embedded image is actually saved on a different server, it could be mixed content.

Determine the current location of the image
1. Open the settings of the content item or editor of the nugget to access the HTML Editor.
2. Right-click on the image and select Image Properties.
3. Review the value in the URL field.  If the URL includes “AngelUploads”, the image is saved on the ANGEL file server and no action is required.  If the URL is to another web site and starts with http://, the image will be mixed content.

Avoid mixed content
1. If the URL of the image is currently using http://, check if HTTPS will work for the same URL.  This can be done by opening a new browser tab, copying and pasting the URL into the address bar, and changing the URL to use https://.  If the HTTPS link works, simply change the URL to use https://.
2. If the HTTPS URL does not work, save a copy of the image locally and upload it to ANGEL via the Insert/Edit Image tool in the HTML editor.  Applicable copyright and rights of use policies should be observed when re-using images from other web sites.

 

Linking your dropbox, quiz, or any other content item containing grades to your gradebook.

  1. Go to the content item that you set up to be graded and click on, “Settings”, see screenshot below.

    assignment settings

  2. Click on the, “Assignment” tab.

    assignment tab
  3. Under Gradebook Settings, click on, “(New Assignment)”, if you did not create an assignment to associate with this item already in the gradebook. Click on the assignment name from the drop-down menu, if you already created the assignment in the gradebook earlier.
    assignment dropdown
  4. If you selected an existing assignment you already created earlier in the gradebook, then make sure you click on the, “Edit” button to the right of the selection. You should now get a pop-up window with specific assignment settings as shown in the screenshot below.assignment editor popup
  5. At this point, you can add the assignment to a gradebook Category, add or change the points possible, and change the display format.
  6. The important part here is to change the Calculation Type from, “Manual”, to “Maximum Score” for most cases. Because in the case of, “Manual” calculation, Angel assumes that you will “manually” enter grades again in the gradebook, even if you had already put the grades in the assignment itself. You could change it to, “First Submission” or “Last Submission” in cases where you want to only use the grade for the last student submission. But for most cases, you just want the score to pass through to the gradebook.
    calculation type

 

Tegrity Utilization for spring 2013

Tegrity Usage Report for the Spring 2013 semester (Jan 13 – May 9, 2013) for all of WSU

  • Total viewing time: 18,838 hours 33 minutes and 23 seconds (equals one person dedicated to 785 days of non-stop watching)
  • Total times viewed: 61,899 
  • Total recording duration: 1,889 hours, 55 minutes, and 59 seconds
    • Total number of recordings: 6,539
    • Total number of Podcast downloads: 665
    • Total number of MP3 downloads: 347
    • Total number of session downloads: 268

For a graph of usage over the last few semesters, see the Weekly and All-time Snapshot Report.

Total usage of Tegrity since Fall 2011:

  • Total number of viewers: 5664
  • Total views: 181,686
  • Total duration of views: 43,325 hours, 39 minutes, and 40 seconds
  • Total recordings: 22,034

WSU Angel LMS Metrics Spring 2013 semester

Here are the numbers for Angel LMS this past spring semester at a glance. If you’re interested in more detailed reports, see references below to the attached reports.

Angel during the spring semester (Jan 13 – May 9, 2013)

  • 3,872,372 visits (see LMS Audience Overview)
  • 39,092,262 page views
  • Angel usage graphically represented for one semester by week:
  • Image

How to embed a tegrity recording inside a page

If you wish to embed a Tegrity recording inside your Angel course, follow these steps.

  1. Navigate to your recording. You can get there either by directly logging into Tegrity, or by going into your Angel course, and then under your course home page, there should be the Tegrity icon. Click on it to go to your Tegrity recordings, and find the recording you wish to post, and put a checkmark in the box next to your recording title, see screenshot below.

    Finding the Tegrity video embed link

    Finding the Tegrity video embed link

  2. In the next Pop-up window, you will see one link. Un check the anonymous check box, and you will now see an embed link (see below). This does mean that now the video link can be shared publicly if you or someone with the link decided to do so. Click your cursor inside the embed link box, which will highlight the link. Now either do a Ctrl-C to copy with your keyboard shortcut, or right-click the mouse over the highlighted link, to copy the link. You can now paste this link inside Angel.

    copy embed link

    Copy embed link

  3. Go to Lessons within the course.
  4. Click on Add Content, and select the “Page” content item.
  5. Give it a good title, and then select the source icon on the formatting bar, see below.

    source code button

    source code button

  6. In the Page text window below this icon, paste the code you just copied from the Tegrity page, it should look something like this:
    <script type=”text/javascript” src=”https://tegr.it/y/zzfb”></script>
  7. Click Save. You should now see the Tegrity recording show inside the Angel page, with a “Full Screen” option if need be.

Posting a link, such as Youtube video into Angel

There are several ways you add external links, such as a link to a youtube video to your Angel course. Either add a link in your content, or embed the video directly into your page.
The advantage of embedding, is that you keep the student in your course, they watch the video right in the page, and are not distracted by surrounding youtube advertizing or other links. If the video is embedded, the students don’t leave Angel, and they don’t have to look at advertisements surrounding the video on the Youtube site.Here are the directions for both methods:
First method, adding a link:
  1. Find the link, highlight it with your cursor, and then copy it from the address bar, see screenshot below (keyboard shortcut Ctrl-C).

    youtube link

    Copy YouTube link in browser address bar

  2. Go to Lessons within the course.
  3. Click on Add Content, and select the “Page” content item

Second Method, Embedding the Youtube video directly into Angel

  • Click the “G” icon (see second arrow in screenshot above) where you want to embed the video, and then paste the last part of the youtube link, into the search box, so in this example case that would be this text string, for example: vN5KV2LUDLY and click save. You will then see the embedded video as shown in the following screenshot.

    example of embedded video clip

    example of embedded video clip

  • Alternately, you can type the exact words that helped you find the Youtube link, or the last unique part of the link in the search field, and retrieve the video that way.

How to record and retrieve a Blackboard Collaborate Session

Once you have created a virtual room with Collaborate, you can now enter the session.

  1. Click on the link that has the name of your session under the communicate tab.

    Click on your session name to initiate Collaborate

    Click on your session name to initiate Collaborate

  2. This will launch Blackboard Collaborate, click OK, as shown below, to allow the Java Start Web Launcher.

    Collaborate Java Start Dialog window

    Collaborate Java Start Dialog window

  3. Depending on whether you have ever used Collaborate before, it could take a minute to load the Collaborate window. When everything is loaded, you should see a window like the one shown below. Note you can maximize the window, and you can click the Start button to initiate the recording of your session.

    Collaborate window

    Collaborate window

  4. If you want a student to make the recording, you’ll either have to give the student moderator privileges in Collaborate, or you would need to request to have their account upgraded to instructor or TA with instructor privileges (the grade book can be removed from that student, if that is what you wanted.)
  5. To pause or stop the recording, click the recording button, as shown below:

    Stop or pause the recording

    Stop or pause the recording

  6. When everyone leaves this session, Collaborate will create the recording, and post it in the communicate area, under recordings, the same place where you go to enter the open forum (duration of posting the recording varies, depending on how long the session was). If you wish to view a past recording, click on recordings, and put the correct date range in there. So in this case, just make sure the “From” field has a date and time that is before you started the recording, see below:
    Access the recordings

    Access the recordings

    Now, all you do is click on the recording to open up the recording

More information about Blackboard Collaborate, both for instructors, moderators, and participants:

http://www.elluminate.com/Services/Training/?id=70

How to start a Blackboard Collaborate session from Angel

If you would like to start collaborating remotely, whether this is creating a virtual classroom, or hosting and participating in a virtual meeting, you can do so with Blackboard Collaborate. This tool will allow you to utilize video,  audio, text chat, whiteboard sharing, show a presentation, do a virtual tour, or allow screen sharing with students or colleagues. The Collaborate web conferencing application is easy to set up from within any of your Angel course sites. You can also record a session for those who can’t make it, or for use in future classes.

View these demos to learn more about Blackboard Collaborate.

Most users of Collaborate would like to meet multiple times during the semester, or the year using Collaborate, so it is easiest to create a session for the duration of a semester, or even the entire year. When you want to record, Collaborate will only record the session, and will stop recording when no one is logged into the virtual room.

  1. To create a virtual room in your Angel course, first log into one of your Angel courses where you wish to create the virtual room, and click on the Communicate tab. You will see the, “Collaborate Live” nugget likely a ways down the page. Hover your mouse over this box, until you see a pencil icon, click the icon to create a new session. (see screenshot below, click on image to enlarge)

    Creating a new Collaborate sesion

    Creating a new Collaborate session

  2. On the next screen, click, “Add Session” to create a new session.

    Add Session

    Add Session

  3. Add a descriptive title that will become the link, and then make sure you add three hours as Angel creates this session in Eastern time. So if your session starts right away, make sure it has 3 hours added to it for the starting time. You can leave the “Never Repeats” setting.

    Compensate for Eastern timezone

    Compensate for Eastern timezone

  4. You can now add any other session settings from the other tabs in this menu, such as how many simultaneous talkers (leave at 1 or two if you don’t want too much confusion in the audio). You can always change some of these attributes while in session, but this can be helpful if for example, you wish everyone to be a moderator in each session. By making it a default, everyone automatically is given the permissions to use whiteboard, chat, video etc.

    Add session attributes

    Add session attributes

  5. Once you’ve created the session, they will show up in the Session Editor as shown below. You can click on the Edit button to make further changes, or you can click on the session name to open the session.

    Collaborate session edits

    Session edit area

  6. You can now click on “Exit Session Editor” to go back to the main communicate area in your Angel course. The newly created session should be showing if you made it start that same day. If it is on a future date, you can adust the date fields, and click on “Go” to display the event or room, see example below.

    Change the dates

    Change the dates