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Introduction

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.

On this page

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

Info:
We recommend sticking to the supported formats.

Tip:
Camtasia and Captivate users should set their software to export to these formats.

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.

Note:
Using a 56K dial-up modem connection a student would spend about 30 minutes downloading a 10MB file.

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.

Tip:
Blackboard provides a YouTube Mashup tool to embed YouTube video files in item content.

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.

Note:
The University’s own streaming media servers are available at: http://hml.ulster.ac.uk/

Upload all supporting files

Techsmith’s Camtasia application has proven very popular with staff creating podcasts.

Typically, when you publish a Camtasia project it will create a HTML file with the same name as the project, a folder containing the video or .SWF file of your recording and associated collection of folders, JavaScript files and player software.

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.

Install Flash

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.

Note:
We recommend that all Blackboard users download and install Flash Player. Flash Player is available for download here:

http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/

Install QuickTime

QuickTime is developed by Apple Inc. and is capable of handling various formats of digital video.

Note:
We recommend that all Blackboard users download and install QuickTime. QuickTime is available for download here:

http://www.apple.com/uk/quicktime/download/

  • QuickTime Player is installed by default on modern Apple computers.

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:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/products/windows-media-player

Windows XP users cannot upgrade to this version.

Tip:
If you can, install QuickTime and use an alternative browser such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Safari.

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:

http://download.cnet.com/K-lite-Codec-Pack-Standard/3000-13632_4-157171.html

Note:
This codec pack should only be downloaded and installed by Blackboard users unable to watch videos in older versions of Internet Explorer. It should only be installed as a last resort.

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.

When IE users access content or a link on https://learning.ulster.ac.uk that references a http resource e.g. http://www.youtube.com they are presented with a pop-up message:

Mixed content pop-up

  • 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.

Tip:
To enable Mixed Content in Internet Explorer please see our Mixed Content Warning in IE8 page.

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:

Youtube player in Google Chrome

  • 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.

Note:
The following JING video demonstrates the issue and solution.

http://screencast.com/t/AC8oDuHckO

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