We’ve been looking at all things Canvas for a number of weeks now. This includes:

Today, we want to look at best practices of embedding video into your module and why.

Why use video?

Video is a great teaching resource. It can be watched. Re-watched. Stopped and notes made. Users can playback at normal or quicker speed, etc. Recording a lecture and showing students processes of how to do things is a great way of learning. For example, if creating a mechanical structure, the instructor can talk about the sequence of doing this, the tensions required when tightening elements of the machine and about expectations and if things go wrong.

If this was taught using still images, it wouldn’t flow as well. The content would be ‘dry’. Getting a camera to record in those tight and detailed areas of the machine whilst working on it and talking through the process is invaluable. We are total fans of using video in education and there are a few caveats to consider:

  • Make videos bite-sized
  • Videos should be planned and structured
  • Accessibility considerations
  • Universal formats
  • Where hosted
  • Video viewing permissions

Making videos shorter will encourage students to watch them. If you have two x1 hour videos or ten x10 minute videos, students will be more motivated to view the shorter videos and they will also feel they have watched and learned more. Students have more control over their learning with the shorter videos and their attention span fits the length of the video. Videos should be 10-15 minutes long.

Whilst longer videos may contain everything the student needs to know, people only have a 10-15 minute attention span and then lose interest. Also, if videos need amended, it’s quicker and easier to alter a few shorter videos than longer ones.

In the planning phase, videos should have a beginning, middle and end, just the same as a taught session. It helps to have a script to stay on point. Accessibility will be covered underneath. When it comes to creating video, the universal format that can be read by all platforms and devices is MP4. Other formats may be read but this is the standard.

Where the video is hosted can affect student learning. At Queen’s, our video hosting platforms are MS Stream and Mediasite. MS Stream is only viewable to staff/students internal to QUB (with permissions added) whilst Mediasite can offer more open permissions internal/external to QUB but it depends on the context and purpose of the video.

Why embed video?

In Queen’s, we have the Canvas Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Some department also have adhoc VLEs and then there’s the outward public facing Queen’s website. Regardless of where you intend your video to be, it should live on a video hosting service and then be embedded to a VLE, digital space or website.

Here, we’ll use Canvas as the example. If a video is uploaded to the File store of Canvas, it takes up a lot of space. The longer the video, the bigger the file size as well. Modules are only allocated 750MB – 1GB storage and that wouldn’t hold many videos. Hence, videos are uploaded to MS Stream or Mediasite and embedded to Canvas.

How to embed video to Canvas

In this section, we’ll concentrate on MS Stream embeds to Canvas (the process is the same for Mediasite). Go to MS Stream, find the video you want to share on the relevant module. Click Share:

MS Stream - sharing a video
MS Stream – sharing a vide

In the Share Dialogue box, we can grab embed code or the video link. We’ll start with embed code.

Go to the Embed tab. Click Responsive on (this looks at the device asking for the video and MS Stream outputs the relevant size). Then Copy the code from the dialogue box:

MS Stream - copy embed code
MS Stream – copy embed code

When the code is copied, go to Canvas, locate and edit the relevant page the video is to sit within. When the Canvas page is being edited, the rich content editor will show. Look for the Embed icon (it looks like a cloud on the right hand side). Click the Embed icon and paste the code into the Embed Code container. Click Submit. The video will appear visually.

Canvas - pasting the embed code
Canvas – pasting the embed code

Once the video is embedded, remember to also include a direct link to the video (from which ever hosting service it is on) and save / publish the Canvas page.

To insert the direct video link, go back to MS Stream and the Share Dialogue box. Click the Share tab. Copy the web address and Close the Dialogue box:

MS Stream - copying video web address
MS Stream – copying video web address

Then go back to the Canvas page which is currently in Edit mode. Type in “Direct link to video:” and include the video title. Highlight the video title, then click the Chain Link icon above, choose External Links, paste the content in and press return / enter on the keyboard:

Canvas - creating a direct video link underneath embedded video
Canvas – creating a direct video link underneath embedded video

The text will highlight yellow to show a link has been applied to the text. Save the Canvas page. The embedded video and direct video link should look similar to this:

Canvas - embedding and direct links to video content (MS Stream)
Canvas – embedding and direct links to video content (MS Stream)
What about accessibility?

Both MS Stream and Mediasite offer subtitling/captions and these are automatically generated. Neither service is 100% accurate and it does require someone going through the text to check spellings, etc. Regardless of subtitles or captions being available, transcripts are now also in the mix. We have to provide those as well as per Accessibility legislation.

Much of the accessibility within the video can be planned for before recording the content. Aim for good lighting. If text is present, consider it’s amount, colour and size within the frame. Think about colour and contrast generally and do you have any control over background or environmental noise? These are all things to consider when making a recording.

What IT Issues might there be?

One would imagine when video is embedded to an online service (Canvas) that it might work for everyone. Unfortunately, we do not know the breakdown of all our audiences’ devices and which audience members are using Chrome / Edge / Firefox browsers, which are using mobile Apps and with what smart devices.

Whilst it is good practice to embed video as it’s aesthetic. Embedded video will NOT work for all viewers. With this in mind, it’s good practice to also give a direct link to the video as this allows users whom cannot view the embed to go directly to the MS Stream / Mediasite service.

Next time

Tomorrow, we look at Canvas’s New Analytics. We’ve had access to this for a while and it would be nice to view some sort of metrics regards teaching content, assessment and grades.

We hope you have a pleasant weekend. Please do join us then to learn more and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @MDBSelearn.


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