Note: We encourage all staff to start using the ShareStream Streaming Server. This video streaming application eliminates the issues identified on this page and delivers video and audio content in a format that suits the viewers current device, at a quality that matches their current download speed.
A considerable proportion of the inquiries submitted to Blackboard Helpdesk relate to video content not working in learning modules.
There isn’t space here to detail every possible cause - given the variety of operating systems, browsers and personal settings. However, we’ve attempted to outline some of the more common causes and their solutions.
As always, Blackboard Helpdesk can help you diagnose and resolve any video issues.
Use the supported video formats
Blackboard Learn supplies module designers with tools for the embedding of:
- Quicktime (.MOV)
- Windows Media Video (.WMV)
- MPEG-4 (.MP4)
- Flash Video (. SWF or .FLV)
- RealMedia (.RM)
This is done via the Insert/Edit Embedded Media button in the content editor
Partially-supported video formats
While video formats such as WMV,ASF and RAM can be uploaded to Blackboard Learn and linked to in learning content, these formats may require the installation of additional codec software before the video can be watched.
Audio-Video Interleave (.AVI) isn't actually a video format, rather it is a container format for video and audio. This format may work, but is not recommended as it is not optimised for the web and can require the installation of codec software to view - such as the DivX codec and AC3 audio codec.
Certain newer video formats, such as MKV (.mkv) will almost always require the students to download a separate viewer program to watch.
Video file size
Before uploading video content, look at the file size of the videos. Remember that users on a slow Internet connection will need to download this file before they can view it. The file should be no larger than 100MB.
Consider uploading larger video files to a video sharing service like YouTube, Vimeo or the University’s Helix service and use the embed code these services provide to stream the video inside Blackboard Learn. This makes them appear to be contained in Blackboard, but they are actually streamed from the hosting site.
Just as with images, videos should not exceed 600px in width. Reducing the dimensions of the video file in your video authoring software should have the added benefit of reducing its overall file size.
Be careful of uploading HD quality video content, the file size and video dimensions may be excessively large.
Upload all supporting files
Techsmith’s Camtasia application has proven very popular with staff creating podcasts.
All folders and supporting files MUST be uploaded to Blackboard Learn’s Content Collection. However, when this has been done, you only need to create a link to the HTML file in your Blackboard learning content, not the associated files.
SWF is an Adobe Flash file format used for multimedia, vector graphics and ActionScript. Flash (.SWF) is intended for web delivery.
YouTube videos and some of the multimedia objects created by Lifelong Learning will only work if you have Flash Player installed on your machine.
QuickTime is developed by Apple Inc. and is capable of handling various formats of digital video.
Issues with Windows Media Player
Windows Media Player comes as standard with all versions of the Windows operating system. By default, Internet Explorer will attempt to play video content in Internet Explorer using Windows Media Player. Unfortunately, older versions of Windows Media Player - especially those supplied with Windows XP – cannot play some of the video formats supported by Blackboard Learn.
While the most up-to-date version of Windows Media Player is available to download here:
Windows XP users cannot upgrade to this version.
In order to play the supported video formats, Blackboard users will have to install additional software called “codecs”. The K-Lite Codec pack is available for download here:
Internet Explorer specific problems
A mixed content warning occurs when content references an “insecure” (http) resource within a secure (https) page. The way Internet Explorer (IE) 8 and 9 handles mixed content can cause problems with Youtube Mashups and some Flash and video objects.
- The majority of users will select the Yes button.
- Counter intuitively, by selecting Yes the page remains ‘secure’ and only displays the elements of the page that Internet Explorer perceives as being ‘safe ‘to show. This means Blackboard users may see the player controls but not the video.
Google Chrome specific problems
Much like the Internet Explorer mixed content issue above, the latest version of Google Chrome silently blocks what it thinks is 'insecure content'. For example, YouTube content will appear like this:
- When 'insecure content' is blocked, a shield icon will appear in Chrome’s address bar. Selecting this and choosing the Load Anyway option will allow the content to load. The page will refresh but you should be able to select the video again and play it.