Thursday, January 8, 2009

Getting Started with Video, Videocasting, and services from the "Cloud"

A colleague recently asked me what she should do to get started with videocasting her lectures for her online students. She has the appropriate equipment and software, so I focused on providing a list of free cloud-based resources she could investigate to host her videos. This is a summary of my response. All of the recommendations are free services.

YouTube (owned by Google) is limited to 10 minute uploads - so you would need to edit your files into segments. It is a high traffic, but stable and reliable resource with limited features.

Google Video was to be discontinued by Google after they purchased YouTube. The service is still running. As far as I can tell, they do not have upload limits. Since the service is lower traffic and farmed on Google servers, it is probably the most reliable, low featured, option.

Viddler is a resource that I experimented with during the summer. I liked the fact that you could embed notes and have student comments at specific points in the video timeline. According to the site, there are no limitations to file size, number of files, or time duration. You can upload files or record live using a webcam.

TeacherTube is a resource I took note of in the Spring Semester 2008. At that time, the servers were very slow and had many time-out issues on access and small video uploads. They are not restricted on video length, however. Due to limited server speed and bandwidth capacity they may not be as reliable as YouTube or Google Video.

Viddix : There is another service that is free and behaves somewhat like MediaSite (an expensive proprietary service). I haven't had a chance to explore its function or reliability, but I like the advertised features. Viddix -

Finally, You could convert your videos to .FLV format and upload them to a host site (our CMS, for instance). Since you claim your videos will be 30 minutes long, I don't recommend this since we have very limited space on the servers. You will need to speak with the IT Director about server capacity if you consider this option.

I have toyed with videocasting and chose podcasting instead. That's not to say that I am not going to videocast - I just haven't had time to deal with the production overhead. Podcasting is simple using any recorder that saves a file as .mp3 (podcast ready, small filesize, upload as shared files into our CMS). Some recorders save as other formats and you have to convert them to .mp3. I use a RCA Model hand-held recorder - no file conversion necessary.

Hope this helps!

Update: @lisabettany recommends Viddler and Vimeo for reliable videocasting with more control/filtering viewer comments.

Live Videocasting:

You can videocast live with chat with USTREAM.TV all you need is a video camera/webcam and broadband connection.

Screen Capture and Recording:

Screen Toaster “Free Online Screen Recorder” is a browser-based screen recorder and comparable with JING, without the need for download and install.

Viewer comments are welcomed! You can join me at Friendfeed or Twitter.