Author Archives: Milan Gupta

Free LMS plugins for online course

The Definitive Guide to Free LMS Plugins for WordPress

Are you overwhelmed by the vast range of paid and free LMS plugins available on WordPress? You’ve just started with creating your online course, and do not quite know which LMS plugin – paid or free – to get started with.

Free LMS Plugins are Ideal to Create Your First Online Course

When you are a first time online course creator you are much more likely to want to test your content with a free LMS plugin. Whether it is to cut costs or to simply test the viability of your content in the form of a course, free LMS plugins offer a great opportunity to get started with selling your online course. Whatever the hype around the Senseis and LearnDashs of the world, oftentimes a simple free LMS plugin could do a good enough job of hosting your online course.

The LMS have either a paid pro version, or if not then paid integration to other wordpress plugins.  Because this post is about setting up your website through free tools, I will only be discussing the features that the free LMS and the free integrations offer.

LifterLMS (Paid Pro Version)

LifterLMS has a wizard to guide new users on using the LMS. If you are new to the WordPress ecosystem, a user wizard can be extremely helpful in helping you navigate the tools you’re going to be using. A user wizard signifies that the developers are careful enough about user experience.

Free LMS Plugin - LifterLMS

Beyond the welcome page the LMS wizard tells you about the custom pages that the LMS adds. These include a course catalog, a single archive page for all your courses, a membership catalog wherein all your memberships are listed, a checkout page for integration with a payment gateway, and a student dashboard for students to manage their profiles.

Once you get past the wizard, the LMS welcomes you with a ready-made course on building a Learning Management system with this free LMS plugin. I mean what is a better way to guide your users than through a course built on your LMS plugin. Obvious, right, but LifterLMS are the only ones who have had the ingenuity to come up with the obvious.
The free LMS plugin LifterLMS has a wizard to guide you through the course creation process.

Each Course is broken down into multiple sections, each of which in its place hosts lessons. Within the main page you can manage the entire course structure, manage students and enrollments, and define content access according to membership roles.

Lifter LMS offers everything you can reasonably expect from a free plugin. If you are short on time, LifterLMS is definitely the plugin to help you ease through the learning curve that operating an LMS requires.

Namaste! LMS

Where LifterLMS tops in usability and ease-of-use, Namaste! LMS comes out top in the features department. The interface of this free LMS plugin is pretty straightforward, and does not require much effort. The plugin button on the admin menu directs you to the course, lesson and assignments pages. There is a ‘To Do’ button for administrators to manage pending student enrollments, lesson completion and homework assignment solution approval.

Free LMS Plugin Namaste! LMS

Course Certificates can be created from the same drop down menu. The vast majority of customizations are enabled through the options page. This LMS creates multiple user roles, and lets you decide which student roles are allowed access to content. So for example you may wish to restrict access to content to only enrolled students, in which case this is the plugin for you. Likewise there are WordPress roles for who is allowed to administrate the LMS.

Namaste! LMS creates its own custom post type – the Namaste_Courses. It is however great to find that users can edit this. So if you’ve previously tried other LMS, you can carry on with this plugin quite conveniently by changing the course type to the course type used by the previous LMS used.

I was a little disappointed not to find the option to make quizzes. Namaste! LMS does however support the free Watu plugin, using which you can create quizzes. Both Namaste! LMS and Watu come with Pro versions – the Watu Pro plugin allows creating of question banks and randomizing quizzes. However, for most requirements the integration of the free Namaste! LMS and Watu plugins works out fine for course requirements.

All in all the Namaste! LMS plugin packs a great number of features. There is also a vast number of shortcodes to customize your course pages, all of which makes this one of the most feature-packed free LMS.

CoursePress by WPMUDev 

CoursePress by WPMU DEV offers a free LMS with free integration to eCommerce tool MarketPress. Using MarketPress you can package your course as a product and sell it on the MarketPress platform.

Free LMS Plugin CoursePress

CoursePress is a no-frills LMS plugin. With this free LMS plugin you have  options to create the course, add units and to manage users in one tab. Their seven step course creation process also allows you to manage course details, instructors, classes and enrollments, besides generating certificates on course completion. All these settings are accessible from one page, which does make the process of customizing the course seem convenient.

WordPress Admin Panel for free LMS plugin CoursePress

The User Interface that comes with CoursePress is comfortable, and gets the job done for most requirements. The MarketPress integration however feels a bit bloated – the pages for you to configure the sale prices, discounts seem feature rich, but seem glitchy when you try to implement it.

All in all, CoursePress comes out as a basic plugin to create your course. It provides a basic interface for creating your course. Although most functionality is bare-boned, it can be integrated with any WordPress themes to give a good look to your online course.

LearnPress by ThimPress

All LMS plugins create a new post type. For example CoursePress creates the “Course” post type. If most LMS use the “Course” post type for their courses, the same course can be edited using any of the supporting LMS. While this increases interoperability, this does have the possibility of muddying up content when the LMS plugins are not completely compatible. LearnPress does things right here, as the course category created here is “LP_Course”.

Free LMS plugin LearnPress

The LearnPress interface takes a little getting used to. Using this free LMS plugin you have the option to create courses, lessons and pages directly. It is better to create the course, lesson and quizzes separately, and to then assign quizzes to lessons and lessons to courses. You’ll have a much easier time that way. This is because although course creation, lesson creation and quiz creation happens on different pages, all of them are brought together in the main course page.

LearnPress does not support question banks – you can only use a question once in a quiz, and the quiz only once in a course.

Outside of the Course-Lesson-Quiz structure, LearnPress does not quite offer administrators and instructors much options to communicate with learners. Free integrations to BuddyPress and bbPress are available to enable the creation of a social network and forum around your course. For online course creators looking to sell the course for a one-time-payment, to try a Udemy style-model, LearnPress works out pretty much ok.

 

StudyPress

This is a barebones plugin, and it does not have a pro-version. It enables course, lesson and quiz creation. Quiz only allows for multi-choice or single-choice answers. StudyPress is a free LMS plugin that barely offers any features beyond the mandatory course pages necessary. The few customizations that this LMS offers are adding a ratings page at the end of the course and integration with buddypress.

Free LMS plugin StudyPress

Payment Gateway Options to Sell Online Course

Setting up a payment gateway is essential to sell online courses successfully. You need to setup a solution so that you can receive payments from across the globe. The bottomline to the success of your online video course is your ability to monetize your content. From our conversations with E-Learning video course creators, it is this process of setting up a payment gateway that counts as one of the most stressful aspects of selling online courses.

In this blog we lay out how a payment gateway works, what options to consider when opting for a payment gateway to your site, and what how to actually apply for it.

The Parties to a Financial Transaction

There are essentially four parties to an online financial transaction:

  • The merchant
  • The customer
  • The acquiring bank whose services the merchant uses
  • The issuing bank whose credit card the customer uses

Parties to payment gateway and payment processing to sell online course

Payment Process

The workflow in the payment process works like this:

  1. Payment Gateway receives the card details securely from the customer
  2. Payment Gateway forwards the transaction information to the card agency
  3. Card agency then forwards the request to the Issuing bank
  4. Issuing bank verifies validity of transaction for credit/ debit card (checking card details, balance, expiry dates), and responds with approve/ deny response
  5. The approve/deny response is forwarded by the payment gateway to the merchant website
  6. The merchant then fulfills the order. The issuing bank clears the order only when the transaction is fulfilled
  7. Acquiring bank communicates with the credit card issuer to settle accounts
  8. Credit card issuer makes payment to acquiring bank
  9. Acquiring bank deposits funds to merchant’s approved account

Flow of information in payment processing - payment gateway for e-learning video sellers

Integrating a Payment Gateway to your Page: Options

  1. Hosting payment process on your site: To make the customer experience smoother the merchant hosts the credit card details on their own servers, and transfers it to the payment gateway/ processor which communicates with the relevant financial institutions. You would need to implement security mechanisms to ensure that card details are secure.
  2. iFrame of Payment Gateway on Website – In this method of integration a frame of the payment gateway is included on your website, through which you can then integrate a payment gateway directly to the website. The customer remains on your website, but the data is added to the payment gateway directly, minimizing your data liabilities.
  3. Payment form on another site – This is the simplest process, in which the user is directed to the payment gateway site to enter the card details. The customer is redirected to the merchant’s website after the transaction is completed.
  4. Hosted Tokenization – The customer adds card data on the merchant’s website, but this data is sent directly to the servers of the payment gateways. The merchant website only records a unique token of the transaction, so that merchant website is not liable to possessing the confidential data.

Difference between Payment Gateway, Payment Processor and Merchant Account

Payment Gateway

A payment gateway acts as intermediary between your website and the payment processor, helping to securely transfer information. Payment gateways have to be compliant to PCI-DSS standards (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), to ensure that details of your financial transactions are secure.

The payment gateway’s main role is to securely transfer transaction details to the payment processor. Whereas payment gateway’s responsibility is to provide a user interface and communication channel between customer and merchant, it is the payment processor which deals with the various financial institutions to validate the transactions.

Payment Processors and Merchant Accounts

The boundary lines between payment gateway and payment processor are often blurred, and most vendors function as both. Payment Gateways in India combine with banks to provide the payment processor and merchant account services. It is the payment processor which handles transaction data, and communicates with the banks. The bank handles the merchant account activities.

The stage of merchant account creation requires a lot of paperwork efforts. Banks are averse to accept merchants with high-risk business models. For this reason they will ask you for explanations of your business model. The requirements for a merchant account are:

  • Functional website
  • Company identity proof
  • Promoter’s identity proof
  • Company address proof
  • Business model presentation

For an example of merchant requirements, online payment processor ZaakPay provides the details for availing their ZaakPay merchant services.

International Payment Processors

PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.Net and Payline are the most popular international payment processors. WooCommerce offers integration with all of these payment processors. Their unique offerings are

  • PayPal is one of the most widely trusted payment processors. PayPal charges a monthly fees for Pro and Advanced Users. Its ease-of-use and customer support and service sets it apart from competition.

Use PayPal as payment gateway to sell online course

  • Stripe offers an international payment gateway plus processor service similar to PayPal. Through its APIs developers can integrate the payment gateway to their website for free. Its rates are also overall cheaper than PayPal.

Use Stripe as Payment Gateway to sell online course

Merchant Maverick here gives a very detailed explanation on how to choose a payment processor.

Indian Payment Gateways

The most popular indian payment gateways are:

  • PayUBiz – Offers variety of customizations for medium-to-large businesses. One of the mosted trusted brands, their merchant on-boarding process is fast, and the user experience is their highest priority
  • EBS – The first Indian Payment gateway to be PCI-DSS compliant
  • CCAvenue – CCAvenue is one of the longest-serving payment gateways, and is widely trusted and considered reliable. Customer trust is a very important quality in the payment processor industry.
  • InstaMojo – Instamojo offers the cheapest option amongst payment gateway. There are no installation costs, and it is recommended mostly for small-to-medium businesses offering physical goods. Their transaction discount rate is 1.9% for physical goods sale and 5% for digital goods. Their integrations leave much to be desired however, as the service does not offer support for retail payment processors.
  • RazorPay – This option offers netbanking, all cards, and wallets. This is one of the fastest growing payment gateway services.

E-Learning Video Production – Selecting a Camera

One of the first step to executing an E-Learning video production is to select a suitable camera. With the multitude of cameras available in the market and the diverse range of features they offer, it is very easy to get confused. In this blog I explore various features and functionalities that different kinds of cameras offer. In this analysis I discuss DSLRs, Camcorders, WebCams and Digital Cameras. Each of these cameras come at different prices, and whether they are right for you depends on what features and functionalities you are looking for. I’ll begin with a discussion of the technical concepts necessary to understand the specs that cameras offer. An understanding of these concepts will help you navigate much of the jargon that goes around regarding cameras for E-Learning Video Production.

Price of the camera often becomes the driving filter when selecting a camera for E-Learning video production. Along with the camera type I have added the price range to expect for the camera.

Camera Features

  1. Lens Quality
  2. Light Sensitivity of Image Sensor
  3. Aperture Size
  4. Camera Shutter Speed
  5. Size of Image Sensor
  6. Resolution
  7. Depth of Field
  8. Autofocus
  9. Monitor Screen
  10. Frames Per Second

Different Cameras

  1. DSLRS
  2. Camcorders
  3. WebCams
  4. Digital Cameras

10 features in a camera for E-Learning Video Production

Quality of image is determined by:

1. Lens Quality

There are three qualities of lenses to consider: Range of focal Length, Material (Glass/Plastic), and angle of capture and Optical Zoom.

Optical Zoom is defined, for cameras with variable focal lengths as the ratio of maximum focal length to the minimum focal length. Basically a high focal length corresponds to higher magnification and narrower angle of view, whereas low focal length is used by wide angle lenses at lower magnifications. Wide Angle Lens have a range between 35 to 24mm focal length, covering angular range of between 64 Degree to 84 Degree.

What kind of focal length to use for your E-Learning Video Production depends on the camera positioning. If your camera is placed at the opposite end of a big classroom you would need a large focal length lens – high optical zoom cameras would come in handy here. On the other hand if the camera is placed close to the teacher, then a wide-angle lens with low focal length is appropriate, to take in the entirety of the blackboard. High optical zoom gives you much more options about where to place the camera to get the desired look.

Wide angle lenses tend to magnify the distance between the foreground and the background. This is not very desirable for E-Learning Videos. For this reason it is recommended that you record your E-Learning videos at high optical zoom.

It is important to note that digital zoom is different from optical zoom, and in fact only causes blurring of the video in exchange for a narrower final image.

2. Light Sensitivity of Image Sensor

The light entering through the lens and the aperture is captured and processed by the image sensor. ISO is a measure of how sensitive the image sensor is to the incoming light. A high ISO number means high sensitivity, meaning that a low exposure time is required for shooting the picture. A high ISO is not always desirable, as it adds noise to the image.

ISO numbers range from 64 to 12800 (with multiples of 2 beginning from 100, as in 100, 200, 400…) A light sensor with ISO 400 has twice the light sensitivity of ISO 200. Along with the aperture size and camera shutter speed, light sensitivity determines that a photo is properly exposed.

3. Aperture Size

Light enters the sensor through the aperture. The greater the aperture size the more light is allowed. High ISO sensors can work with small aperture sizes as well. The f-number is a ratio of the focal length to the aperture size – the lower the f-number the higher the aperture size.

4. Camera Shutter Speed

The camera shutter speed determines the time of exposure of the image sensor. A greater shutter speed means less exposure of sensor to light. High ISO sensors can work with faster shutter speeds.

5. Size of Image Sensor

The size of the image sensor determines how much light is used to form an image. Full Frame Image Sensor size is 35mm, and is used in high-end DSLRs. A higher image sensor requires a high focal length lens, making the camera + lens setup bulky. Most DSLRs and high-end digital cameras use the APS sensor size, in which the size of the image sensor is around 24 X 18mm. APS is less than half the size of the 35mm image sensor, for which reason it is cheaper to manufacture, and considerably less bulky. Most smartphone cameras on the other hand have much smaller image sensors. Along with the Megapixel resolution, the image sensor size determines the quality of images.

Comparison of sensor size for cameras

6. Resolution

This Number of pixels that the image sensor captures. For point and shoot smartphone cameras the number of megapixels is marketed as the most important aspect of the camera required to produce a quality image. However, if the image sensor is small, then higher resolutions means that the image is very noisy.

7. Depth of field

This is the depth of the object that the camera can capture clearly. A shallow Depth of Field means that the subject is in high focus, and stands out from the background. High Depth of Field on the other hand means that a large area of the image is in focus, and for this reason it is great for landscape shooting. is directly proportional to the distance of camera from object. DOF is inversely proportional to size of aperture. DOF is inversely proportional to focal length. For E-Learning videos a shallow depth of field is desirable.

8. Autofocus 

This is the number of points on the viewfinder of the camera that the camera can focus on. The more the number of autofocus points the better is the ability of the camera to focus on a desired object to get an image.

Read more on Autofocus here: https://photographylife.com/dslr-autofocus-modes-explained

9. Monitor Screen

Although a secondary feature, a large monitor screen helps you get a better sense of the video being taken, allowing you to edit settings in real time to get the desired image.

10. Frames Per Second

FPS is the number of frames included in one second of video. Basically, the maths works as follows:

  • The greater the framerate the more continuous does the video feel, and therefore a better resolution is achieved
  • Greater framerate means greater video file size, causing demands on bandwidth
  • Framerate works ideally when the screen refresh rate is proportional to frame rate. US and Canada receive 60Hz power supply. For this reason 30FPS is naturally better for video streaming in these countries. In Europe, India and much of the rest of the world power frequency is 50Hz, for which reason 25fps is ideal in these countries.

Different FPS

  • 15fps – This was the frame rate used by early films
  • 24fps – This is the framerate used by the movie industry. This number was a compromise to strike a balance between minimizing cost of using film while retaining the continuity necessary for the video.
  • 25fps – European and Indian video – It is possible to convert 30fps video to 25fps video
  • 30fps – still some jerky motion, but mostly optimal
  • 60fps – very little jerkiness, but higher frames per second means greater video file size, requiring greater bandwidth

A frame rate in the range of 25-30 fps is optimal for E-Learning video productions, ensuring the quality of video and also not causing the file size to be too big.

Further reading – Video Frame Rates, Steve’s Digicam

Cameras for E-Learning Video Production

DSLRs – Price Range $400-500

DSLR for E-Learning Video Production

Digital Single-Reflex Cameras use a combination of mirrors and lenses to shoot high quality photos and videos. Along with the highest range of quality features, DSLR offers a great ability to control the image. To get the best results for your E-Learning video production from a DSLR, you really need know your camera so that you can control individual settings manually.

An important thing to note is that videos are shot on DSLRs in the RAW format. This makes them very big in size – for example you will need a 32GB card to just shoot 15 minutes of video.

Image sensor in a DSLR is bigger than in point and shoot cameras or camcorders – meaning that even if a camcorder and a DSLR have the same number of megapixels, there would still be a great deal of noise in the camcorder. This is because in smaller sensor the adjacent pixels can communicate, causing noise.

With DSLR you have much greater options to change the depth of field as per your wishes

For E-Learning videos a shallow depth of field is desirable, as the main focus is on the speaker and the blackboard/ whiteboard.

Among lenses, the 70-200mm lens is one of the most popular DSLR lenses. Wide angle lens (24-35mm) are on the other hand used for landscape photography. To cover entire width of the whiteboard from a short distance it may be more desirable.

Most Popular DSLRs

Nikon D5200 24.1MP Digital SLR Camera (Black) – $510

  • This camera boasts an ISO range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400
  • 18-55mm and 18-140mm lens are available with this DSLR
  • 24.1 MP optical sensor resolution

Canon EOS 700D 18MP Digital SLR Camera (Black) – $390

  • Optical Sensor Resolution – 18MP
  • CMOS Optical Sensor Technology
  • 9-point AutoFocus system

Camcorders – Price Range – $150-200

Camcorder is ideal for E-Learning video production

Camcorders are designed specifically for video shooting. Most camcorders support containers such as MPEG-4 and the codec H.264, meaning that you do not need to spend time and computing power encoding the video to a usable format. Sony uses the XAVC format, which supports the H.264 codec. Video editing is a very processor-intensive process, and shooting on a camcorder makes the video editing much more convenient. Some of the key qualities of a good camcorder are:

  • Zoom Lenses – for example optical zooms of 30X can be expected from good camcorders. Glass lens have much better quality than plastic lens.
  • Image stabilization – Because they are designed for video shooting, the processor and lens system can be designed to enhance image stabilization. Additionally face detection features can be incorporated in the software for the camera, enabling ability to better focus the camera. Optical Image Stabilization is better as lenses adjust to movements to steady the image, whereas Electronic Image Stabilization uses algorithms that may degrade picture quality.
  • CMOS Sensors – Most camcorders currently use the CMOS sensor. For example Canon uses EXMOR R sensor, which is about half the size of the APS-C used in DSLRs. The image sensors used by camcorders are much bigger than sensors in the camera phones.

A useful guide to all camcorder features can be found on Lifewire

Some of the most popular camcorders are:

Sony HD Video Recording HDRCX405 Handycam Camcorder

  • 30X Optical Zoom
  • 26.88mm wide angle lens
  • Uses Sony’s XAVC video format supporting H.264 codec
  • Maximum Bitrate: 50Mbps, Frame Rate: 60p
  • Image stabilization
  • Exmor CMOS sensor

Panasonic HC-VX981K Ultra HD Camcorder with Wi-Fi Twin Camera and 4K Photo Features (Black)

  • 20X Optical Zoom
  • Leica Decoma Lens
  • 5-axis Hybrid Optical Image Stabilization
  • 4K Shooting

WebCams – $60-100

Webcam for E-Learning video production

Webcams are a cheap option, and besides being of use for your E-Learning video production, can also be used for conference calls. Some selling points of webcams include a high megapixel resolution, Auto Focus, glass lens, ability to control brightness exposure, and face tracking. 

Lifewire has a good guide on webcam features to look out for. 

Microsoft Q2F-00013 USB 2.0 LifeCam Webcam

  • 1080p HD sensor
  • Glass element lens
  • Auto focus
  • Wide angle lens

Logitech C920 HD Pro Webcam (Black)

  • 1080p HD sensor
  • Glass element lens
  • H.264 video compression
  • Face tracking and motion detection using logitech software for windows

Digital Cameras – $80-100

Digital Camera for E-Learning Video Production

Digital cameras are, along with webcams, the cheapest option for your E-Learning video production. Good high-end digital cameras such as Nikon Coolpix have image sensors much bigger than those of lower end cameras, and are almost comparable to camcorders. In comparison to camcorders, digital cameras may have a smaller range of optical zoom, meaning that your options regarding camera placement for your E-Learning video production are quite limited. On the other hand the image quality, given an optimal camera placement, is comparable to camcorders. When working on a budget, a quality digital camera is a good idea given that you have an understanding of its limitations.

Recommended Cameras:

Sony DSCW800/B 20.1 MP Digital Camera (Black)

Nikon Coolpix S2800 20.1 MP Digital Camera

 

Secure Hosting for Flipped Classroom Videos

Secure Video Hosting for Flipped Classroom

The model of flipped learning has the potential to revolutionize classroom teaching. In this methodology learners are assigned videos to watch before a class. By delivering basic instructions through a flipped classroom video, students are much more informed about the subject before class begins. This makes for a much more engaging classroom discussion, ensuring that the passive learning in the traditional classroom is now replaced by a much more active model of learning.

In this blog post, I seek to explain factors you should consider when hosting Flipped Classroom videos. Designing flipped classroom videos is not straightforward. Prior to flipping you need to map out how you are going to be using your video resources, and how the videos would inform your classroom. You would also need to develop a system to ensure that teachers and parents are able to monitor how students follow the video lessons. Tracking how learners interact with the videos is important in making sure that learning from your flipped classroom videos is effective. A custom secure video hosting solution would enable you to tailor your videos and the technical platform for maximum learner engagement.

Free Resources to Use

There are a large number of free videos that teachers can recommend to students for viewing in Flipped Learning. Some of the most popular resources are KhanAcademy.org and MIT OpenCourseWare. There are a large number of channels on YouTube offering quality videos for education.

Creating Your Own Flipped Classroom Videos – Security

You may wish to create your content for students to watch as part of flipped classroom videos. These videos may be of previous classes, or they may be specially made for the flipped classroom. There are many reasons to consider video security seriously when hosting your flipped classroom video content

    • Information security – When making flipped classroom videos, you need to protect details of learners participating in courses, or special details that you may mention in the course. For videos classes made for a specific audience the information security concern is very much relevant
    • Protection of Intellectual Property
    • Controlling access – You may wish to control access to only the students enrolled in a particular class.
    • Protecting Privacy – You can get students to make videos as part of Project-Based Learning. This encourages an entrepreneurial spirit, as such a project would require them to work collectively and collaboratively through the different stages of video creation. It is necessary to protect the privacy of students making the video.

Stages of security in Secure video hosting

Different parts of secure video hosting for flipped classroom video

Different parts of secure video hosting unpacked

  • Video Storage in Cloud – If the file is not encrypted, anybody with a publicly shareable URL to the file on the cloud can download without requiring authorized access.
  • Encrypted Transmission – Ensuring that while streaming the videos cannot be downloaded and viewed by unauthorized entities, such as during man-in-the-middle attacks.
  • Authentication & Whitelisting – The authentication process involves a key being exchanged between the streaming server and the video player (on the viewer’s computer). This key is used by the video player to decrypt the encrypted stream. Private key transfer is necessary to ensure that only learners logged into your system can access the content. Backend Authentication is one implementation of private key transfer
  • Watermarking – The final stage of video delivery is video playback on the video player. Any analog screen recorder can record this stream, and there is no effective way for a DRM (Digital Rights Management) technology to stop this. Viewer Specific Watermarking is a strong deterrent to screen recording videos, as viewers would be deterred from sharing content that has their IP address or contact details on it.

There are numerous paid solutions in the market currently offering security for education providers. When evaluating DRMs for hosting your videos you should consider the above factors, and how the features offered by Online Video Platforms (OVPs) succeed in providing a complete solution. For example RTMP streaming is used by many companies for securing content, RTMP does not involve local storage of video data, and can be encrypted. However the process of backend authentication iUse Learner Analytics in Flipped Classroom Videos not completely secure, as toolkits such as RTMPDump can be used to give access to third-party applications. Here is a guide to implement variety of secure video hosting technologies for your site/app.

Learner Analytics

Research done by T.Lucke et al is inconclusive about how effective flipped classroom method is in contributing to better performance. Flipped classroom videos need to be assisted by developing learner analytics, to better understand the effectiveness of the technique and what further steps may be taken for more effective and engaging learning.

Interactive Video – In-video quiz and surveys

You can add video quizzes to learn how students engage with video. Results from student performance in the quizzes will be a good indication of how effective the videos are in communicating concepts to learners. Participating in quizzes in the flipped classroom video also contributes to knowledge retention. Students who have an understanding of a concept before class would engage more in the classroom, making for active classroom learning. Besides, teachers can incorporate surveys in the video, for feedback from students and also feedback from school administrators. Interactivity features can be implemented by adding an HTML5 pages within the video – most OVP (Online Video Platform) s can offer this functionality.

Use In-video Quiz for effective learning using Flipped Classroom Video

Use In-video Quiz for effective learning using Flipped Classroom Video

Tracking Offline Learning Using Tin Can API

In Project-Based Learning students engage in activities outside the classroom. It is important to be able to track student learning outside of classroom. The emerging paradigm of Tin Can API links up a learning record store (LRS), in which students are able to record their activity. The syntax in which an activity is represented is:

Person A Did Activity

Noun – Person A (Name of student)

Verb – Did (or any verb, such as watched in case of video, or read for lecture)

Activity – Details of video, or text

Analytics on students watching videos can be measured by integrating video player with Tin Can API.

Support for Secure Hosting for Your Flipped Classroom Videos

For custom video hosting solutions, support services are very important in ensuring smooth transition to using video hosting and in integrating with current IT systems. It is important to evaluate the support services that your OVP offers.

Louis Deslauriers et al published findings from 850 Physics Undergrads at University of British Columbia, in which learners in the traditional classroom technology had an average score of 41%, whereas learners in the flipped classroom program had an average score of 74%. Videos are becoming increasingly important in aiding classroom teaching, and it is very important that you get your flipped classroom videos right!

Streaming Video Hosting to Improve Market Reach

Streaming video hosting is a great way for you to communicate with your clients. Videos offer a way to increase the interactivity of your content, besides helping you develop a personal connection with your customers. Authentically presenting yourself and your product to the customer helps develop customer trust. Customer trust is one of the most important elements of ensuring customer retention.

When should you consider Streaming Video Hosting?

For starters, you should try to understand how effective the combination of visual, audio and narrative is in delivering your message. Does a video send across a better message qualitatively than just text? You can also explore whether if the combination of static visuals and texts in infographics can communicate your message. Understanding the value addition that video offers will help you use videos more effectively. You can then put a much more directed effort towards creating your videos. You can start with storyboarding to conceptualize how the visual, audio and narrative elements of your video come together. When used strategically, Streaming video hosting offers a great way to add value to your message.

Streaming Video Hosting for Storytelling increases engagement with users

Streaming Video Hosting for Storytelling increases user engagement

How to Increase the Interactivity of your Streaming Videos?

You can embed tests and in-video quizzes to increase the interactivity of your course streaming video content. Embedding scripts in your streaming videos can enable you to enhance your message. You can include e-mail capture forms within the video, through which videos can complement your e-mail marketing campaigns.

When considering what content to create through video, a suggestion is to create content that directly answers your audience questions. Try to get audience feedback, and use it to directly answer Frequently-asked questions through videos. When you directly answer audience queries through video it helps you build a better connection with the audience, helping you build customer trust with your brand.

How-to videos are one of the most effective uses of streaming video medium. These videos can be used to explain complex concepts to your audiences. You can use features such as screencasting and whiteboard animation to create great how-to videos.

Streaming video hosting allows for great interactivity

Increase the interactivity of your streaming video content

Factors to consider when deciding which streaming video hosting provider is right for you

  • The first criteria is to understand how the Online Video Platform help you communicate your brand values. How well does the streaming video hosting option reach your customers? YouTube is currently the most popular video hosting site. However, there are many negatives to using YouTube. Because YouTube’s first priority is to keep viewers on its own platform, for which reason it can make other videos available to your viewers. There are considerable distractions to watching videos on YouTube, which can dilute your brand message. For this reason most professional streaming video providers look for custom solutions. VdoCipher offers completely secure and private video hosting, which ensures that you can communicate directly with your audiences.
  • Security – Considering the costs that go towards great videos, opting for security in video hosting is very important. Whether you create content for marketing or for paying subscribers, you would want full control over who can access your control. With VdoCipher’s DRM technology you have full security for your video content, right from the point of streaming video hosting to the time of viewer playback.
  • Customizability – Does the video player allow customization? This comprises of integrating video player theme with your website. VdoCipher offers integrating of custom player skins, to match your website theme.
VdoCipher feature set for Streaming video hosting

VdoCipher feature set for Streaming video hosting

Which Streaming Video Hosting Provider has maximum reach?

  • Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are networks of storage points, which cache your video content. Video caching locations enable fast delivery of streaming video for all geographical locations. VdoCipher uses Amazon AWS + Akamai CDNs, ensuring that both localized and global populations are served.
  • Devices – Does your video player optimize encoding for mobiles and for desktop. VdoCipher encodes separately for mobile and desktop streaming video, ensuring smooth and seamless experience across both.

How to get Actionable Insights from Streaming Videos?

Streaming video hosting for actionable insights

Get actionable insights from streaming video hosting

Streaming video analytics help you to understand viewer response to your video content. You can learn which videos are more viewed, and also what is the most effective length of videos to maximize customer engagement. Actionable insights from video analytics will help you fine-tune your video message, and to target it more effectively to your customers.

VdoCipher offers streaming video hosting for the case of video on demand. We have a wide range of clients interested in streaming video as part of their services. This includes education and corporate training, marketers, and independent creators. As explained, we offer customized solutions, according to the requirements of our clients.

Signup on VdoCipher for a free full version free trial.

Import Videos From Vimeo Pro, Google Drive and Dropbox

VdoCipher’s secure video hosting platform enables educators, publishers and marketers to host their video content online for business use. Our award-winning DRM creates multiple layers of security. These include secure video storage, encrypted video streaming, backend authentication and dynamic watermark, ensuring that your videos are completely secure from illegal downloading.

A large number of our customers have shifted from other video hosting sites. This is mostly because the feature-set of many other online video platforms does not completely satisfy customers’ requirements. We are committed to ensuring that your transition from another OVP to VdoCipher is smooth and seamless. For this we have set up direct import from online video platforms Wistia and Vimeo Pro. You can also import videos from cloud hosting solutions including Google Drive and Dropbox.

Also here we guide you how to easily import videos from your S3 bucket to your VdoCipher account.

Import Video from Vimeo Pro

  1. Go to the VdoCipher dashboard
  2. Click on the “Import from …” button. In the drop-down menu click on “Import from Vimeo”
  3. Click on the “Connect Vimeo” button in the new page
  4. In the next page you can give your VdoCipher account permission to import video from Vimeo
  5. The dashboard will then give you the link to import the videos that you have hosted on Vimeo
Import Video directly from Vimeo Pro for completely secure video hosting

Import Videos directly from Vimeo Pro for completely secure video hosting

Import Video from Wistia

  1. Go to the Import from Wistia page in VdoCipher dashboard
  2. Login to Wistia and go to Account Settings
  3. Click on API access in the right panel
  4. Click the “New token link”
  5. Mark the checkbox “Read all project and video data”
  6. Copy the newly generated token
  7. Enter the Wistia API token at the top right of the page to import video from Wistia
Import video directly from Wistia for secure video hosting

Import videos directly from Wistia for secure video hosting

Import Video from Google Drive

  1. Go to the VdoCipher dashboard
  2. Click on the “Import” button. In the drop-down menu click on “Add from Google Drive”
  3. Give your VdoCipher account access to the contents of your Google Drive
  4. Select the video for import.
  5. You’re done!
Import video directly from Google Drive for secure video hosting

Import videos directly from Google Drive for secure video hosting

Import Video from Dropbox

  1. Go to the VdoCipher dashboard
  2. Click on the “Import from …” button. In the drop-down menu click on “Import from Dropbox”
  3. Sign in to Dropbox from the Pop-up window
  4. Select the videos to be imported to VdoCipher
  5. You’re done!
Import video directly from Dropbox for Secure video hosting

VdoCipher interface to import videos directly from Dropbox for secure video streaming

Please feel free to communicate video hosting requirements to our customer support team.

 

Using Tin Can API in video: Complete Documentation

Tin Can API is a specification for learning technologies that enables Learning Management Systems to collect data from various learning activities that a student may undertake. Tin Can API has succeeded SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) as the new standard for learner analytics.

tin can api in video

Requirements for Tin Can API

In Tin Can API any learner activity on the web may be integrated and logged to the LMS. This includes activities such as reading a blog and watching a video online. For Tin Can API to succeed, all learning activities that a learner performs should be able to transmit learning data to the LMS.

Statements in the Tin Can API are rendered in the form Noun Verb Activity. For example if Learner A has completed watching a video on “Machine Learning: Supervised Learning Part 1”, the corresponding Tin Can API statement would be:

  • Learner A completed Machine Learning: Supervised Learning Part 1

Tin Can API with videos

The motive of Tin Can API is to have maximum feedback for user experience and act on to improve the key metrics. As in case with video, fetching in side video data becomes quite tricky owing to the variety and scale of actions performed by viewers on a video.

VdoCipher as a part of its secure video hosting service,  currently provides viewer data points on all the relevant analytics requirement for Tin Can API

Below are some of the prominent actions of viewers on video (start, pause, end, seek, progress, repeat, load, buffer, view) which are a part of Tin Can API and VdoCipher provides direct JavaScript codes for them.

It is interesting to note that there is always a debate amongst content creators and marketers on what should be taken as a view for the video ? Should just clicking on the play button be considered sufficient to be counted as a view ? Some times it is decided to take say 10 seconds of playback or 2 mins of playback as a view. With the information collected by VdoCipher’s start and progress event trackers you can easily collect viewer information for your particular definition of a video view.

Start, End, Pause, Mute, Unmute events on video player

Please check this javascript code to capture the play and pause events from the embedded video player:
<script>		
function onVdoCipherAPIReady(){
    console.log("VdoCipher API init");
    var videoObjects = vdo.getObjects();
    var video_ = videoObjects[videoObjects - 1];
    video_.addEventListener("resume", function(){
        console.log("ready event called" , video_.time);
    });
    video_.addEventListener("pause", function(data){
        // document.getElementById('totalPlayed').value = video_.totalPlayed;
    });
    }
</script>
You can similarly listen for “start”, “end” and “mute”, “unmute”.

Time Calculation per video playback

<div id="vdo<?= $OTP ?>" style="height: 300px; width: 520px;"></div>
<input type="text" id="totalPlayed" value="" />

/// this is the embed code

<script>
    (function(v,i,d,e,o){v[o]={}; v[o].a = v[o].a || function V(a){ (v[o].d=v[o].d||[]).push(a);};
    if(!v[o].l) { v[o].l=1*new Date(); a=i.createElement(d), m=i.getElementsByTagName(d)[0];
    a.async=1; a.src=e; m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m);}
    })(window,document,'script','//de122v0opjemw.cloudfront.net/vdo.js','vdo');
    vdo.a({
        o: "<?= $OTP ?>",
    });
</script>

/// this is the script

<script>		
function onVdoCipherAPIReady(){
    console.log("VdoCipher API init");
    var videoObjects = vdo.getObjects();
    var video_ = videoObjects[0];
    video_.addEventListener("ready", function(data){
        console.log("ready event called" , data);
    });
    video_.addEventListener("progress", function(data){
        document.getElementById('totalPlayed').value = data.totalPlayed;
    });
    }
</script>
 
Note: The function wrapper with onVdoCipherAPIReady is needed only when it is part of the document load. If this script is to be run after document load, you can run it directly.
Let us know for any custom tracking functionality you require. Most of them are possible with a combination of the above scripts.

Complete Guide to Creating Your Online Video Course

You feel you have a unique understanding of a subject domain. You also feel that you can effectively communicate your expert knowledge through an online video course. But, however, you do not quite know how and where to get started.

Here at VdoCipher we assist E-learning video providers to securely host their online video course. We bring for you a step-by-step guideline on how to conceptualize and produce your E-learning course.

Pre-Production

Production

Pre-Production in Online Video Course

The steps in the pre-production process are:

  • Identifying the course goal – are the videos the sole educational material, or are they part of a Flipped Classroom
  • Gathering content – At this stage of storyboarding, you consult Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to create basic content
  • Defining objectives – This step involves creating a course outline, specifically to decide how you are going to present the content towards achieving the course goal.
  • Creating assessment criteria – How does the course align with the different targets that an e-learning course must satisfy. Learner assessment criteria include knowledge retention, attitude towards newer material in the discipline, and problem-solving skills. Understanding the importance of each of these three targets is critical to design of your online video course. For example if the course objective is to enhance workplace collaboration, the assessment criteria should be target based.
  • Using Storyboard template – At this stage organize your content into chunks using a storyboarding template
  • Picking design model – Choose which e-learning theory to prioritize. Some of the widely prevalent design models currently in use are: ADDIE, Knirk and Gustafson, SAM, Action Mapping Process, Gagne’s 9 Principles
  • Choosing design elements – Images, videos, interactions, quizzes
  • Selecting an authoring tool – Articulate Storyline, Lectora, Adobe Captivate, Moodle, Claro, Udutu

1. Online Video Course Outline

It is very important to first develop a course outline before beginning production on your online video course. The course outline is very important in bringing all stakeholders involved in the course production on the same level. This ensures that all the scripting and production efforts go smoothly subsequently. The course outline may get updated multiple times, as more feedback is received from people involved in your course. The process of storyboarding involves considerable time and effort, and sketching an outline is necessary to ensure that this process goes smoothly.

Course Outline for Online Video Course

Communicate your Course Outline to your colleagues to ensure agreement in course outline

2. Storyboarding

Storyboarding is the process of graphically organizing your video content for the purpose of pre-visualizing the e-learning video. Storyboarding is a great way to organize ideas, and to ensure that the visual and audio forms you use will be effective in communicating your course in a logical manner.

The term storyboard comes from movie production, and the process was most prominently used by Walt Disney in the 1930s. It is a great way for you to organize your ideas, and to make sure that your ideas are communicated to your audience in a logical manner. For this reason having a carefully designed is crucial to making a quality online course video.

Storyboarding for Online Video Course

Use storyboarding to sketch your online video course.

Storyboarding is distinct from a script in that it is a graphic sketch of the course progression. During the storyboarding stage you decide the visuals for your online course video, and accordingly write your final script to correspond to the visual sequence designed. Storyboarding is essential for scriptwriting in that it decides the visual sequence that the script has to be in sync with.

Using storyboarding, as a course designer you can evaluate multiple scenarios for creating your online course video. Through this means they can understand better at what points during their content creation they should be adding interactive features for a more active response from learners. Storyboarding is the first step in creating a simulation of your course, so that everybody in the development team can come together on board. You can sequence instructions, and document changes conveniently using this method.

One tip when you start your course creation with storyboarding is that you should show the most engaging part of your video course first to the learner. This is useful in hooking their attention. This may be an illustration of the course objective, or could as well be interesting applications of the course. Showing the learners highly relevant and interesting content at the outset is a great way to ensure active learning on the part of learners.

3. Authoring Tools

Online Authoring Tools enable you to integrate different media to bring together content for training and education. A good authoring tool would give you a means for creating your online video course, ensuring that you succeed in making engaging and interactive e-learning content. Authoring tools provide a comprehensive solution for the different stages of online video course creation. These stages of course creation include storyboarding, making video block diagrams, and in editing of video content. Authoring tools also offer a variety of templates to follow in the course creation, using which you can better organize your multimedia content.

Use Authoring Tools such as Articulate Storyline for your Online Video Course. Opt for VdoCipher secure video hosting.

Articulate Storyline is a popular authoring tool for online video courses

A major utility of authoring tools is that they enable custom design of the online video course. Creation of increasingly complex training solutions is facilitated by authoring tools such as Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate and Elucidat. Rapid E-Learning is the process of high-speed deployment of training content in response to fast-evolving training requirements. Courses produced in the Rapid E-Learning paradigm are relevant for a short period of time, and speed of course creation is therefore very important. For this particular requirement of rapid course deployment a good E-learning tool is very important.

Production in Online Video Course

1. Lighting

Lighting is the most critical element of the E-learning course creation process. Three-point lighting is the most commonly used method for shooting of E-learning videos. This lighting system comprises of a bright light on one side, and another more gentle light on the other side, with less brightness. This creates a more three-dimensional effect. The third light shining on the backdrop helps make you stand out from the backdrop, and to eliminate shadow.

Use Three-point lighting effectively for uniform illumination

Key Light – This is the main light, placed to the side of the camera. This light is usually the strongest and influences the look of the stage the most. One side is more well lit whereas the second side has some shadow.

Fill Light – Secondary light, placed on the opposite side of the key light. Used to fill shadows created by the key light. This light is necessarily softer and more distant than the fill light. A reflector can be also be used in place of fill light to achieve the same softer, subtle effect.

Back Light – This light is placed behind the subject, and lights the subject from the rear. Its purpose it to provide definition and highlight the subject’s outlines. This provides depth to the video, separating the subject from the background, and providing a three-dimensional look.

In a four-point lighting system, a fourth light is used to lit up the background. This eliminates any shadows from the background, and also adds depth to the video. The three-dimensional effect more significantly separates the subject from the background.

2. White Balance

Achieve right white balance

Credit: Klara Plicanic, Peachpit.com

Every different light setting indoors or outdoors has an associated light temperature. Achieving white balance is the process of identifying the appropriate light temperature at which to do the filming in a particular location. This is useful in designing of lighting systems for shooting indoors, when you are using different indoor locations for your course video. Essentially it is the process of removing color casts, so that an object that appears white in person appears white in camera. Digital Cameras in indoor lighting can create blue, orange or green color casts, giving a white colored object these shades. White Balancing ensures that in the process of post-production they are appropriately edited out. A slate with color chart can be very useful in this.

3. Video Block Diagram

This is the process of making block diagrams of your video shooting space. Shot Designer is a a very good software used for drawing video blocks.

Video Block Diagram, using Shot Designer

Credit: Shot Designer

Blocking is a concept derived from theatre, and is used to figure out the positioning of actors and props on the stage, so that the performance is never obstructed. Block diagrams enable video producers to map potential obstructions on set, camera and actor movement, and lighting, to ensure that placement of all elements on the production stage is optimal.

4. Slate and Clapboard

Video slates are used during the production process to help in editing video shots being taken. During production, scenes are shot incoherently. The production slate is used to help make sense of all the shooting using a visual cue. The production slate includes details for:

  • Roll Number (or SD Card Number)
  • Scene Name
  • Scene Take number
  • Production Working Title
  • Director
  • Camera
  • Camera Number (for multi-camera production)
  • FPS (Frames Per Second)
  • Date of shooting
Use Production Slate for your Online Video Course

Production slate, with a clapboard on top

Because these details are immediately visible when the slate is placed before the video film, any shot can be uniquely identified, even when fast forwarding the video. Essentially when the video is ready for editing, editors can conveniently refer to the information recorded on the slate for easy sorting. In the absence of a production slate you may use other visual cues to identify a successful take, for example covering the camera with your hand at the end of a successful take.

The production slate and the clapboard are often combined. The clapboard is used primarily to sync the audio and video. This is particularly useful in the case wherein the audio mic does not feed directly to the camera, and the two streams are out of sync. During the stage of video editing, there is a large spike in audio at the point when the clapboard is shut, which can be matched to the same point in the video where the clapboard can be seen to be shut. Matching the two becomes very easy once the two time points in audio and video recording are matched. Even when the audio mic feeds directly to the camera, editing using clapboard can be used to eliminate any lag in either audio or video.

Another addition to the production slates is a set of colored stripes. This is used for color grading. Using this it can be ensured that the video is color-correct, so that white, black and all other colors come out in the same color in the video as on the slate.

5. Microphones

A lapel mic placed on the inside of the shirt can be used for recording audio. For higher quality, boom mics may be used. This mic is placed on a boom pole, which can be wired to the camera. This microphone is mostly placed over the speaker, but mostly out of frame of the shot. The microphone may be above or below the frame, but should always be placed in front of the speaker.

Boom mic for audio in online video course

Credit: George Black, https://goo.gl/gUk3Tw

Headphones should be connected to the microphone as well, so that the audio recorded can be monitored live, as the recording actually takes place. This is necessary for ensuring that no ambient noises sneak into the audio. Finding noises in the recording during the stage of editing and post-production is a very nasty surprise, as background noises considerably decrease the overall video quality.

You can also opt for audio recording in a studio for sections of video over a screencast, or in cases of long monologues that do not require a visual performance from the presenter. There is a shift in sound quality between stage audio and studio-recorded sound, but this is not a major problem, as the gains in audio quality during audio-important sections offsets the discontinuity. Better voiceover quality in certain sections will definitely improve the overall quality of your video course.

Headset vs mounted mics – Headset are better when the speaker is moving within the recording. Otherwise mounted mics offer much better quality.

6. Background Audio

It is recommended that light background music is played. This is because only using voiceover narration becomes monotonic after a while, leading to audio fatigue in learners. To modulate the background music so that it does not interfere with the narration you may opt for the following techniques:

Ducking is a technique offered by video editing software Camtasia. This is the process of lowering volume of background track when narration is happening, and raising the volume it when there is no narration.

Use Camtasia for audio editing

Notching is a technique offered by the (free) audio editor Audacity. The frequencies in the background music may overlap with the those of the narrator’s voice. It is important to remove the frequencies from background music that match the majority frequencies in the voice of the narrator. This means that when narrating those frequencies are used exclusively by the narrator, and the brain does not confuse the two. Background music is mainly used to avoid audio fatigue.

7. Using Screencasting

Screencasting is the process of recording a video of your desktop or mobile screen. The recorded video can be edited for using in your online video course. Screencasting is very useful in e-Learning courses that explain use of software tools and coding. Custom screencasting softwares such as Screenflow and Camtasia let you add voiceovers, text and animations. This makes screencasting a very powerful tool in your online video course. Screencasts are combined with subject narrating to offer variety within the video. This makes the video more engaging, and prevents it from becoming monotonous. Articulate Replay works well for integrating webcam video with the screen recording.

There are more basic screencasting tools available for free. Some recommended screencasting tools are Ezvid, Screenr and Rylstim Screen Recorder.

8. Using Whiteboard

Whiteboard presentations are a great way to communicate complex concepts. A whiteboard allows an easy overview of your course content, using which you can then unpack specific elements of the online course. Whiteboards are a great way to walk the audience through complicated steps, as during the process the narrator is providing active commentary on how the problem is solved.

 

Use Whiteboard for effective communication

This is a very easy to use tool, and features both the presenter and the whiteboard. With this additional element in your e-learning video, you also need to manage lighting for the whiteboard so that it is not obstructed by shadows and is uniformly lighted.

For this purpose, a four-point lighting system should be used. This comprises of a key and fill light in front of the presenter, either side of the camera. These 2 lights should be at a height above the presenter, and at the same distance as the camera.

The remaining two lights are to be covered by flatboards to eliminate glare, and should therefore provide uniform illumination of the whiteboard. These 2 fill lights will essentially eliminate shadows and continue the focus on the whiteboard.

9. Whiteboard animation

Whiteboard animations are videos that use the concept of the whiteboard to show the learner a series of concepts, using hand-drawn figures. Whiteboard animation essentially eliminates the physical whiteboard, to be replaced by a digital whiteboard, used by a software such VideoScribe and Adobe AfterEffects. A whiteboard animation video can be made for the duration of 30 seconds to 5 minutes, and is very useful in presenting an information-heavy message effectively.

Use Adobe After Effects for video editing, and use VdoCipher for secure video hosting

Make Your Online Video Course More Engaging with these tips

Making your online video course engaging to students is a very important part of creating quality E-Learning courses. Engaging site design ensures that students are motivated to continue your online course, and ensures better results in terms of course completion and knowledge retention.

We have learnt considerably about E-Learning design through working with online video course creators. Here we bring our insights on how to make your online course more engaging.
This is combined with insights collected from leading E-Learning experts – Christopher Pappas (of elearningindustry.com), Tom Kuhlmann (Chief Learning Architect at Articulate LMS) and Connie Malamed (the eLearning Coach).

E-Learning Design Checklist for Your Online Video Course

checklist for online video course

A checklist for you to consider when designing any activity to make your online course more engaging would be:

  • Activity should be relevant to the online course content
  • Activity should be directly linked to the course objectives and outcomes
  • Encourages students’ active involvement
  • Increases student retention of key concepts
  • Activity should be fun and rewarding

Ideas to keep in mind for E-Learning design

1. Gamify your Online Course

Gamification for online video course

Gamification is the process of using elements from game design to help create an immersive environment for your online video course. This comprises of creating a social element to the game, in which users are given a sense of competition. Rewarding points, leaderboards, badges, and user progress levels are elements that can be used to create an environment in which students can immediately sense their progress in the course. Essentially gamification leverages people’s desire for socializing, competition, achievement and status for achieving greater engagement.

2. Create Learner Personas for Online Course

During the stage of online course design it is highly recommended that you create a learner persona, which would serve as an effective prototype of your learners.Having this well-defined learner persona would help the educator design the course keeping in mind the requirements of the target audience, helping ensure sustained learner engagement. This learner persona would share attributes with your learners, which would include training goals, education background, and skill level.

Create Learner Persona for your online video course

To create an effective learner persona, we suggest that you interview a sample of your target audience. This is to ensure that the learner persona you create for your online video course accurately maps to the real audience. Interviews and conversations would help you develop actionable insights into understanding your learners.

3. Simplify Complex Concepts

Simplifying your online course video to communicate complex concepts effectively is very important to sustain learner engagement. Online video courses offer a great solution through chunking content – that is creating short (say 2-3 minute long) videos, explaining a particular element to the concept. Shorter videos ensure higher knowledge retention, and do not demand much attention span from students. Processing and communicating knowledge piece-wise is an effective method increasingly being used by instructors and designers.

4. Use Quizzes Optimally

It is generally advised that a syllabus quiz is incorporated at the outset of the course. Having a syllabus quiz immediately after the introduction to the course ensures that the learners are aware of the course contents and the desired outcomes of the course, and have successfully create a mental scheme about how the course will progress. An ability to map the course structure helps in reinforcing the eventual desired outcome of the course.

5. Engage Students Directly Through Discussion Boards and Feedbacks

discussion board for online course

The level of activity in discussion boards is a good metric for how much students are engaged in the course. A vibrant discussion board ensures that your students find the course interesting and are willing to share ideas and knowledge on related subjects. Student collaboration can be further encouraged by designing group projects. Group projects encourage teamwork, and need to be actively supervised to ensure its success in increasing student engagement.

Creating an online video course requires a great one-time effort in terms of creation of online course content and website. However there is the possibility that this content may become dated over time. You can create a blog to post additional new information on course topics. Blogs complement the online video course by providing relevant current information, and are more authoritative than discussion boards. Blogs can also be used as a forum for discussion, and for engaging students using an expert-learner method.

6. Use Characters for Online Video Course

From the perspective of instruction design, characters may be used to guide the learners through the course. With the objective of guiding learners, the three personas that a character can take are:

  1. Course Guide – Such a character would offer guidance and support for the learner throughout their progress in their course. The character can introduce them to the next activity, as well as remind them of their course progress.
  2. Peer – This is an E-Learning character that would be on the same level as the learner in the course, and is perceived by the learner as training alongside them. The peer is designed to be similar to the learner persona created by the E-Learning team, and would be used to create a sense of competition and socialization.
  3. Expert – This character would embody an expert in the field, serving as an authority figure. This character would offer tips throughout the course, and assist in the learner finding additional knowledge when they would like to go into the topic in more depth.

 7. Storytelling approach for engaging learners

Storytelling for online course

Characters can also be used in storytelling as the primary drivers of the narrative. You can make learner engagement in your course more effective by incorporating a character who would storify the content to be learnt. Well developed E-Learning characters help give your learners a way to emotionally engage with your content. This emotional engagement ensures that your learners remain absorbed in the course, and t
heir engagement is more meaningful, ensuring knowledge retention and better achievement of the objectives.

8. Encourage your learners to pick an Avatar

This would help in creating a more game-like E-Learning experience. Having the users represented by an avatar helps build a direct connection with the course environment, and helps build a personal connection for the learners with the environment.

9. Measuring Course Objectives through Commensurate Evaluation

In the use of E-Learning for workplace training, the objectives of the course are closely-tied to performance in the workplace. For this reason, designing corporate training solutions requires an understanding of the workplace, so that learners from your online video course are able to transfer their learning to the workplace scenario. Interview sessions with the target audience is again highly recommended.

In a corporate training environment an E-Learning course is used to augment a goal defined by the management. For the E-Learning course to be able to achieve the desired objective, it is important to define the desired results from the course in relation to the management’s objective. For example, if the objective of the course is to enhance workplace collaboration between colleagues, the parameter to gauge success should not just be performance in the course itself – a more accurate parameter would be a measurement of scale of collaboration between colleagues. Directly mapping the results of the course to the course objective is essential to maintain a result-oriented training paradigm.

Video Hosting for Business: Player, Analytics, Security

Videos are now a key part of business websites. Whether you are looking to monetize your original content like a course , movie-serial or Looking to explain for your product to customers or Trying to promote and market your business; videos are essential part of any business. Video hosting for business thus requires a variety of feature set customized to particular business need.  

VdoCipher business video hosting has a full package offering for all type of businesses. The following post mentions the solutions for each of the industry and relevant features in detail. 

  1. Corporate Training

  2. E-Learning

  3. Publishers

  4. Marketing & Product Videos

  5. Movies and Online Television

The first part of blog has explanations on basis of features while in the second part we discuss our video solutions for businesses in Corporate Training, E-Learning, Publishers, Marketing and Movies & Online Television.

 

Feature Set for Business Video Hosting

1. Video Upload and Transcoding

Video Upload – IBM Aspera & Amazon S3 acceleration Encoding

2. Video management

Dashboard Search using ID and name Search using Tagging

3. Secure Video Streaming

Akamai and Amazon Cloudfront CDN network Server-side Encryption
Multi-bitrate Streaming One-time URL Accessed through Embed Code
Backend Authentication using Key Dynamic Watermarking
URL Whitelisting

4. Smooth Video Playback

Buffer Retention Customizable Rlayer
Design Custom User Skins Thumbnail Customization

5. Usability through APIs & Plugins

Developer-friendly API WordPress Plugin

6. Device Compatibility

Desktop Android – SDK integration to App iOS – SDK integration to App

7. Advertising

Ad Insertion – Client Side & Server Side

8. Analytics- APIs & Dashboard

9. Pricing

Pay-Per-Use Model


Video Hosting for Business: Feature Set

At VdoCipher we have optimized every stage of our video hosting solution, and here I go through the feature set that makes VdoCipher the ideal secure video streaming package for your business requirements. 


1. Video Upload and Transcoding

Upload using IBM’s Aspera and Amazon’s S3 Acceleration

Video is uploaded from device using IBM’s Aspera high-speed transfer, and stored privately on Amazon S3 Bucket. Minimizing time of video upload is an absolute priority for us, and for this we use services from IBM and Amazon to ensure that your video upload takes minimal time. We have fast-tracked the process so that you can start your video customization right away, and get back at your business.

You can also use Dropbox for transferring your business videos directly to our servers. We also enable video transfer from Public URL, and also from user accounts on Vimeo Pro and Wistia.

Encoding

We have setup our custom encoding protocol as an Amazon EC2 instance, to speed up video encoding.

As encoding takes considerably more time in the process of video upload, we recommend that for videos of size greater than 1GB you use offline encoders, or any of the free online options available. You can then choose to cancel video encoding option at the time of upload.


2. Video Management for Business Video Hosting

Dashboard

Your Video Dashboard serves as the one-stop destination for you to manage your videos effectively. We have enabled a grid view for the dashboard for the ease-of-use. Video upload and video settings can be directly changed at the Dashboard – for each video you may change the thumbnail, bitrate and player size directly from the dashboard. Encoding can occur in different bitrates for desktop and for mobile.

The easy-to-use GUI means that once you start using VdoCipher you can directly start using secure video hosting without further customization.

Video Search Using Video ID and name

Every video uploaded is assigned a video ID, and is identified by its name. You may search your videos using your video ID and name.

Video Search Using Tagging

You can directly tag your videos for easy categorizing and searching for videos within the dashboard.

Video hosting for business: Management


3. Secure Video Streaming

Security of video content from piracy is a key concern associated with video hosting for business. VdoCipher ensures that the content streamed through us is protected from any downloader, plugin, software or hack. To cater secure business video hosting requirements , VdoCipher uses a set of proprietary encryption and watermarking technology as described below.

Akamai and Amazon CloudFront CDN network

We employ CDNs provided by Amazon CloudFront and Akamai to ensure that your videos reach your viewers quickly and with minimal latency. CDNs work on the principle of caching of videos on local servers, so that when viewed in a vicinity of the Point of Presence the video can be smoothly seen.

Server-side Encryption

We have developed our own custom server-side encryption for storing and streaming videos on Amazon servers.

One-time URL accessed through embed code

We create our own one-time user playback URL, at the time of video player initialization. This URL is only accessed through the custom embed code in the player, and is therefore not public.

Backend Authentication Using OTP

The encrypted stream content is encrypted inside the player with a dynamic key. Our proprietary key transfer protocol is entirely private, unlike the public or semi-public key transfer involved in HLS, HTTPS and RTMPE.

Dynamic Watermarking

Using dynamic watermarking you can deter piracy through stream recording software. A watermark is laid on the video player, which identifies the user session like ip address, user id, email id, time stamp etc. Read on to learn more on our dynamic watermarking technology.

URL Whitelisting for Video Embed codes

Along with encryption and watermark to prevent download of content, VdoCipher provides an added layer of security from link based sharing. This is done through URL whitelisting. While other providers allow you to only restrict main domain site , allowing loop holes in security; VdoCipher allows you to whitelist exact page url e,g whitelist can be set on www.example.com/blog/paid_course and www.example.com as well. Restriction on the first url will ensure that your videos dont play outside the login access of users.

Encrypted Secure Video Streaming

VdoCipher DRM- Encrypted Video Streaming + Watermark


4. Custom Video Player

Buffer Retention

VdoCipher player is a progressive media player – the stream is buffered from the start of playback. The player buffer is conserved throughout the period of playback, so that your viewers can move ahead and back within the video playback without the need for additional buffering. This means that your viewers will need less bandwidth for your videos.

Customizable Player: Color , Controls, Call to Actions, Mail Capture

We provide customization so that the video player embedded is in sync with your website design. Our custom features include additional controls such as player seek, changing sound, toggle full screen and adding custom skin. Additional custom offerings include adding buttons over player to capture email ids or to take the viewer to your website pages. All of these customizations are possible with VdoCipher custom player.

Thumbnail Customization

You can set the image for your video thumbnail to make your video more appealing. This would be the image shown on your video player before playback starts. Designing a good thumbnail image makes it much more likely that the viewer will watch your video.

business video hosting: Player

Custom Player, Thumbnails, Tagging


5. Usability through APIs

Developer friendly API

We have a well-documented set of APIs for your developers to integrate VdoCipher media player on your website.

WordPress Plugin

You can use our WordPress plugin to embed your videos on your WP site. This feature is very easy-to-use – it can be done through WordPress shortcodes.


6. Device Compatibility

IOS Android desktop video hosting for business

Desktop

Videos can directly work in all browsers (chrome, firefox, IE, Opera) on all desktop(Windows, Linux, Mac) devices.

Android – SDK integration to App

Our streaming + custom player can be integrated with Android SDK for your mobile app for secure playback on Android Devices. We have developed ZenPlayer – our mobile app video player for customers who wish to provide their course on browsers. We also support mobile browser playback through HTML5

iOS – SDK integration to App

Browser HTML5 playback is available. We also provide iOS SDK, for seamless video playback on your iOS app.

Server-side Ad Stitching

Using VdoCipher you can enable Server Side Ad Stitching – so that any ad that you may wish to show to monetize your video is stitched directly to the video at the server side. This prevents any reliance on browser, as well as ensuring that your video ad is not blocked by ad-blockers.

Client Side Ad-insertion

You can integrate VAST (Video Ad Serving Template) compliant ad networks with VdoCipher streaming player, to strengthen your monetization strategy.


8. Analytics

Using VdoCipher you can access detailed analytics per video for viewer data, using our APIs and dashboard features.

Analytics for business video hosting


9. Pricing

Pay-per-use model

Our Pay-per-use model ensures that you are charged proportionately to the bandwidth and storage usage you require. Please visit the pricing page or send us a mail for additional info.

Video Hosting for Business: Sectors


1. Corporate Training

For businesses, training of existing and new workforce is key to their constant evolution. Adapting to the changes in the market environment swiftly is key to the well-being of any business. For this reason increasingly a performance-based paradigm is being adopted to enhance learning at the speed of work. VdoCipher appreciate this need of modern day business video hosting need, and we have designed our online video hosting solution to enable you to impart time-efficient and targeted training through videos.

The performance paradigm of 70-20-10 corporate training signifies that an employee’s learning comprises of:

  • 70% of Experiential training
  • 20% of Social Learning (Learning from peers)
  • 10% of Formal Training

This paradigm signifies learning at the rate of performance, and here the 10% time devoted to formal training is designed to provide an impetus for the 70% experiential learning and the 20% Social Learning.

Using VdoCipher you can securely host your corporate training videos. For this you can directly upload videos from your device, or from other Cloud Storage (Dropbox) or Video Hosting platform (Vimeo Pro) that you use. Our double layer of security ensures secure storage, encrypted stream delivery and OTP authentication, thereby making sure that your business videos are not made available outside your organization. Send a mail to info@vdocipher.com for consultation on your custom business requirements.


2. E-Learning

Video in E-Learning is increasingly being used in the space of K-12 education, as well as in preparation for university and professional exams. Video design is a very crucial element engaging learner attention. Schools and colleges may use flipped E-learning methods – using videos to engage students in a topic before class, for a more meaningful classroom interaction. Videos therefore have a strong ability to augment classroom teaching. VdoCipher appreciates the enormous growth potential in this space, and we work to ensure complete video security for e-Learning businesses. Check out our feature set to learn more about how we provide video hosting for E-Learning.

With increasing emergence of mobile phone devices, we also have support for your Android SDK player. And also we have our own app that your subscribers may use to view our videos. We have also optimized the transcoding process, offering 1080p resolution at bitrates of 300kbps, and 720p resolution at bitrates of 200kbps. This comes from our learnings with working closely with many E-Learning customers, assisting them in providing high-quality videos for all kind of users at different user bandwidths.

Feel free to send us a mail at info@vdocipher.com for a consultation on adapting a video hosting solution for your E-Learning business.


3. Publishers

Online video publishers are increasingly adopting a two-pronged multimedia strategy. YouTube offers publishers the opportunity to leverage a broader audience, a potential for vast number of pageviews and an opportunity for viral marketing. Using YouTube publishers can build an online audience. A custom video hosting solution is recommended for a more specific target audience – for example users who have already expressed interest, or paying subscribers, or both. VdoCipher offers publishers a secure video hosting platform for the requirements of your targetted audience.

You can also integrate call-to-action at the end of the video player, for reaching out to your audience in a more targeted manner. Strategically locating the call-to-action at the end of the video ensures that the viewer sees the option to become a paying customer at the most appropriate time. Call-to-action can be incorporated at any time while playing the video.

Our video platform enables you to optimize the user experience for your audience. Custom player skins. We have optimized transcoding, offering 1080p videos at a minimal bitrate for delivery at 300kbps, for low-motion videos, such as talking head videos, ensuring the best viewer. We also deliver video encoding at 512 kbps for audio solutions, a 16 time better quality than the max 128 kbps video that YouTube and Vimeo offer.

Besides we offer Server-side ad stitching, ensuring that ads are integrated to the video at the server level rather than the browser level, preventing blocking from ad blockers.

We also have support for your Android SDK, and also provide for multi-bitrate streaming using HLS protocol for iOS SDK. With the increasing popularity of mobile, our innovations in the mobile space enable you to reach the maximum audience.

We have leveraged Amazon’s CDN network to ensure localized caching, ensuring that your multimedia stream reaches your audience at the earliest, wherever they are on the globe. Feel free to send us a mail at info@vdocipher.com for a consultation on adapting our video hosting solution for your publishing requirements.


4. Marketing

Videos are of increasing relevance to the design of a marketing strategy. An Aberdeen research report found that average website conversion rates for sites that use videos are 4.8%, whereas conversion rates for websites that do not use video stands at 2.9%. Video ensures both information retention, and enhances the quality of the message. In charting out a marketing strategy, the following questions are of relevance:

  • What is your target audience?
  • What are your priorities when you design your videos?
  • Which are the critical stages in your sales cycle when a video will help?

B2B brands require a different marketing strategy than B2C brands. Identifying your niche is critical, and designing videos specifically for that niche is most important. This is because the quality of your audience is the most important factor – you need your ads to appeal to your defined narrow audience, rather than to a general audience. For this you need to identify what appeals most to your target audience.

For this reason we strongly suggest that you develop a video marketing funnel – a video marketing strategy from brand awareness to post-sale. This sales funnel approach should be centered on guiding your users throughout the purchase process. At VdoCipher, we offer a secure video hosting solution, for you to design your videos for your marketing strategy. Feel free to send us a mail at info@vdocipher.com for a consultation on adapting our video hosting solution for your marketing requirements.


5. Movies and Online Television

Entertainment videos, including mainstream movies, serials, or independent video content are responsible for most of the internet bandwidth consumption on the internet. Streaming movies online involves a large workflow process, starting from upload, transcoding, streaming , ad-insertion and subscription management, besides securing content from piracy. VdoCipher video hosting solution provides the complete solution for the requirements for entertainment content hosting, helping you monetize your content most effectively, without fear of losses due to illegal sharing.

Business Video Streaming Hosting VdoCipher

All these things, VdoCipher handles for you. Launch Today.

For a full free version business video hosting trial, Register now at VdoCipher.