Video is complex – and in the past, this complexity has made it difficult for universities to use online video regularly as part of online and blended approaches to learning. But recent innovations have finally made it easy for educators to use video with total ease, whilst giving their students the best possible video playback experience, across any device – and in this post, I'll cover and explain my top three:
1. Content delivery networks
An online/distance learning student may be anywhere in the world – and it's important that they get a great streaming experience whichever country they're in. Content Delivery Networks work by mirroring video content on thousands of servers across the world – so that when the student hits play, their video is served from a server that's geographically close to their location, ensuring a great playback experience. MediaCore makes use of the best-of-breed Akamai CDN, the same network that Facebook uses to distribute its content globally.
2. Cloud video encoding
Video encoding is the process of converting video from its original format (of which there are hundreds) to a format that's suitable for online delivery to any device. It's a tricky business, with thousands of variables, and it requires lots of processing horsepower – and in the past, it's been one of the major barriers to universities sharing video online. MediaCore's highly-tuned cloud encoding engine handles all of this automatically – allowing an academic to upload video in any format, and any size up to 20GB, safe in the knowledge that it will be converted to 'just work' for the student, on any device. MediaCore even does multiple encodings of each video file, to ensure great playback at different resolutions and on different devices and connections.
3. Smart playback
It's essential that a video player 'just works' – no matter which browser or device the user is on. The latest HTML5 playback technology is great – but not all browsers (such as older versions of Internet Explorer) can support it, so a 'fallback' to Flash is essential. We've built our own video player from scratch, which gives super-fast performance on all browsers, and also incorporates HD/SD selection and playback speed, along with a bunch of other innovations under the hood.