University of Minnesota Office of Classroom Management
Office of Undergraduate Education

Click on any of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below to see the answer and additional troubleshooting tips regarding common classroom questions.

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What is the VCR and DVD Retirement Plan?

The Office of Classroom Management (OCM) will implement a phased retirement plan of VCR and DVD players in all general purpose classrooms. More detailed information about this plan is available along with a lifecycle review schedule.

If you have any questions about this phased retirement plan, contact the Classroom Support Hotline for help or consult the video player retirement plan FAQs.

Why didn't my disc work in the DVD player in the classroom?

All DVD players in general purpose classrooms will play all pre-manufactured (not burned) DVDs and CDs labeled "Region 1" or "All Regions". Depending on the model of the DVD player, they can also play the following types of burned or homemade discs:

Type of Disc DVD/VCR Combo Units Sony or Pioneer DVD Toshiba DVD
DVD-R Yes Yes Yes
DVD-RW Yes Yes No
DVD+R Yes No No
DVD+RW Yes No No
VCD Yes Yes Yes
CD-R Yes Yes Yes
CD-RW Yes Yes Yes

Due to the recording quality, legal limitations, or physical condition of the disc, these DVD players will not play:

  • A disc that has not been correctly finalized
  • A disc with copyright protection (if it contains a copy protection signal)
  • A DVD with a region code other than "Region 1" or "All"
  • A disc not recorded in NTSC mode
  • A disc that has a non-standard shape (eg, a heart)
  • A disc with paper or stickers on it
  • A disc that has adhesive or cellophane tape on it
  • Also, if the source material for a DVD or CD was recorded too high, the copy will sound distorted or may not play at all.

Why won't my international DVD play in the classroom DVD player?

If you purchase an international DVD, you may find that you are unable to play this DVD using the installed equipment in general purpose classrooms. This is due to the international DVD region-coding system, which requires many manufactured DVDs to contain regional codes based on the DVD’s country of release. These codes ensure that the DVD can only be played in a DVD player coded for that region.

  • DVDs released in the United States are programmed as “region 1”, and they can only play in DVD players that play region 1 DVDs.
  • Since region 1 DVD players are not capable of playing DVDs coded for other regions, a DVD released in China (region 6), for example, cannot be played in a DVD player that was purchased in the United States (region 1).

The Office of Classroom Management (OCM) investigated the possibility of procuring and supporting DVD players from other regions, but found the following issues to be problematic:

  1. Because these DVD players are not meant for the US market, the manufacturers do not support or warranty the product.
  2. It would not be possible to supply and support players for all 8 international regions on the scale required by faculty using general purpose classrooms.

OCM also reviewed procurement of players in which the region coding restriction has been by-passed or modified to allow multi-region playback. We again find this to be problematic, as these players are available from third party resellers and have been altered (which voids the manufacturer warranty). We recommend purchasing DVD materials with a region 1 or region-free code designation (whenever possible).

Playing a non-region 1 DVD in OCM classrooms

There are two ways to play a non-region 1 DVD using the equipment installed in general purpose classrooms:

  1. Connect an external DVD player (matching the region from which the disc was purchased) to the classroom projection system. For information on hooking up external players, utilize our Auxiliary Video Instructions, available on the Office of Classroom Management Web site.
  2. Use a laptop (with DVD capabilities) which has been set to play another region. Note: setting the laptop for region-specific DVD playback may restrict the laptop from playing other regions. We recommend contacting your department computer support unit for more information on laptop settings.

If you have questions about using auxiliary equipment like an external (non-region 1) DVD player, or have further questions about the international DVD region-coding system, please call the Classroom Support Hotline at 612-625-1086.

Why won't my tape work in the VCR in my classroom?

There are a number of possible reasons for why a tape may not work in a VCR:

  • Tape may be damaged. A wrinkled or torn tape can jam a VCR as well as produce a very bad video signal.
  • Tape may be of poor quality. If you are recording on, or have recorded on, very inexpensive tape, you can expect to have more problems than if you use a widely-known brand tape. Off-brand and store-brand tapes may use tape stock that is rejected by name brand manufacturers for poor quality, and poor quality tape can damage a VCR. We recommend Maxell, TDK, and Fuji.
  • Not all tapes will play in all machines. There can be differences in the mechanical tolerances of different machines that cause tapes recorded on one not to play on the other. While most VCRs can compensate for this, at times the differences are simply too great for the adjustments to correct.
  • Tape may be a special format. SVHS is a special tape format and most standard VCRs cannot playback SVHS tapes. For more information about playing SVHS tapes in classroom VCRs, please call the Classroom Support Hotline at 612-625-0186.
    • Multi-standard VHS players are available in select classrooms. Use the Room Inventory Search to locate included classrooms.

To get the best possible play results, we recommend placing the tape in the VCR and then fast-forwarding to the end of the tape. Then, rewind the tape back to the beginning. Be sure the VCR is in "stop" mode before pressing the rewind button.

How can I get a remote for the DVD player or VCR in my classroom?

The DVD and VCR models selected for use in Projection Capable Classrooms are operable without the use of a remote control, as most functions are accessible through the front panel of the player or using touchscreen transparent controls.

Please note the following exception:
If you plan to use the DVD player to scan within a chapter on a DVD, you will need to use a remote control. Depending on the model of the DVD player, the remote may be provided in the classroom. For classrooms that do not have a remote control, you may check one out by contacting the Classroom Support Hotline.

For more information, please contact the Classroom Support Hotline at 612-625-1086 or