Information For IT Staff
The following technical information is for IT staff wishing to use Schoolshape products in their schools. To learn more about Schoolshape products, please return to the Home Page.
- Broadband internet connection: at least 100kb/s per user of upload and download capacity is recommended. See Firewalls and Proxies for more information about operating Schoolshape on secured networks.
- A modern internet browser: We recommend Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, but any modern browser should work well. Please note that audio/video recording is not supported by Safari or any browser on iOS, though we will be soon releasing an app for iOS to work around this problem. Microsoft Edge is due to support recording from 2020 onward. For detailed RAM/CPU system requirements, please refer to the documentation for your browser.
- Audio / video equipment: We recommend provision of microphone headsets for situations where many students will use the software in the same room.
Installation and Set-Up
Schoolshape requires no installation, and can be used by opening schoolshape.com in your browser.
How does recording work?
Schoolshape uses the Mediastream Recorder API present in modern browsers to access hardware microphones and accelerated media encoding. As the audio is recorded, the compressed data chunks are written simultaneously to memory and to the hard disk using the browser IndexedDB API. You can verify that these chunks are being written by opening the IndexedDB tab in the developer tools of your browser.
When recording is complete, the compressed data chunks are reconstituted into a complete media file and verified via a checksum. The file is then directly uploaded to Schoolshape cloud storage, but to do so securely, a single-use access certificate must first by obtained from our server. In the browser network tab, you will see a GET request (to /api/opi/media/unlock-upload), followed by a longer POST to media.schoolshape.com as the file is uploaded. The interface will show a grey pulsating bar as the upload proceeds, fading to blue on completion. When the upload is confirmed as successfully complete, the local IndexedDB data is cleared, but the file is kept in memory to avoid re-downloading the file if the user wishes to play it back immediately. Recordings are made using the opus codec and webm container format as this currently offers the best quality available on all browsers that support the Mediastream Recorder API.
If the recording is instead provided via the upload button, it will be in a different format (such as mp3). Again, an access certificate is generated and the upload to cloud storage takes place as before. However, once uploaded the file will be immediately transcoded to the opus/webm format before playback. This process can take up to 10 seconds for every minute of audio uploaded, but it is not neccessary to wait for it to complete before continuing to use the software.
If the internet connection is lost during recording, the recording cannot be uploaded immediately, and the user will be notified. When the software next loads with an active internet connection, it immediately checks IndexedDB for recorded data. If it finds any, and a user with the correct access rights is logged in, then the upload will begin immediately, fully restoring the recording. In this way, loss of internet connection by itself should not result in a lost recording. However there are circumstances beyond our control that could result in the loss of recording. These include users failing to click the record button, browser or computer crashes that occur before the recording is complete or loss of internet connection combined with administrative policies or browser configuration which prevents use of IndexedDB (for example, using an incognito tab in Chrome silently deletes all IndexedDB data and therefore all recording backups). Therefore we recommend that you use a physically separate recording device to make a backup of critical recordings such as examinations.
Login page appears correctly, but logging in fails.
If you find that the login page is loading correctly but that logging in fails, it's probably because https connections are being blocked by your firewall. Please ensure your firewall allows all connections to *.schoolshape.com.
Logging in appears to work, but Offline - connection failed message appears
This is caused by a failed websocket connection to wss://schoolshape.com/ws. Some firewalls and webfilters attempt to buffer https responses into memory before passing to the client, breaking websocket connections. We have had reports that disabling https support for connections to schoolshape.com can solve this issue.
All features work with the exception of video and sound recording
Please see Firewalls and Proxies.
Schoolshape frequently crashes the browser
If you are using Internet Explorer, please upgrade to a newer browser. We recommend Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome for best security and performance.