What is in Video Delivery in eLearning?
Video. When someone takes the word eLearning, by default more than 90% of us think of Video and Video based Learning. Such is the prominence of Video Learning in LMS or eLearning platforms.
So, what is in the game?
It may look like Video Learning is all about capturing the Video or creating the Video and you are all set for the Video Delivery. But there is much more to it.
So, What is involved in the Video based eLearning delivery?
- The compression and decompression (the Codec)
- The Bandwidth of the Server, the Network and the Client
- The Devices, The Browsers and The Video Players.
- …and more…
The ultimate goal of eLearning is creating and delivering high quality content. And when the Content has to be delivered in the form of Videos, the Quality of the Video delivery has to go hand in hand with the Quality of the Content to serve the purpose in its entirety.
In its simplest classification, the following are said to be most popular methods of creating an eLearning video.
- Recording a Lecture
- Screen Recording
- Live Streaming
Needless to say that the Video Content takes large amount of Storage. The Higher the Quality of the Video creation (the original video), the Higher the Storage it takes. So, now the point is where do you host these Videos, and what needs to be done to make them ready for the Delivery?
Typically the Video Content can be saved on the Local File System (can be the same that is used by your Learning Management System), or generic purpose Storage Infrastructure (like Amazon S3, Dropbox etc). When you are using Local Storage, donʼt forget about the “default maximum file size” supported. As the number of Videos grows, the more the demand for the Storage would be and the higher the cost of Storage would be. Then additional cost would incur for the Internet bandwidth to stream the content. Plus, there comes challenges to support the File Formats. Youtube, Vimeo and Video Content Management Systems can be the better options if you have more to do with the Video Learning.
The goal is to be able to host the videos on an infrastructure that supports Large Files, striking the balance between the technical and cost factors.
Compression / Decompression / Codec
In simple definition – Compression is about reducing the size of the Video with not much compromise on the Quality (to be done on the Transmission side).
Decompression does the reverse on the Receiving side to play the content. That said a Codec does the job of both Compression and Decompression. One may need to choose the right Codec that supports the universally accepted file formats, and the Video Player on the client side (Desktop or Mobile) should be able to support those standards. With this, the storage requirements can be reduced. Less Video size means – Less storage cost and Less streaming cost as well. There is much more to Compression, Decompression and Codecs than just the Storage and Streaming cost.
The goal is to strike a right balance between the file size and watchable video.
Streaming & Adaptive Streaming
Now, we are in agreement on what could be a typical size of an Uncompressed Video and then the need to reduce the size through right Compression (with Transcoders or Codecs). Still it is a Large file. And such Large files demand good bandwidth to send, stream and download. So, trying to connect back to your own experiences playing video contents on your devices? 🙂
The experience of the Learner is all about the quality of the Video delivery, apart from the Quality of the Video Learning Content. Given a decent internet connectivity on the Learner side, the smoother the Streaming happens, the better it is. At a very basic level, there should not be any buffering and loss of the content delivered. Adaptive Streaming is the concept to let the Stream adapt to the speed of internet on Learner as the Streaming happens. The Video should be converted for the Adaptive Streaming, and on the Learner side you need a Player that supports Adaptive Streaming.
Adaptive Streaming is also called as Adaptive Bitrate Streaming as it is mainly about adapting to the internet bitrate. Adaptive Streaming uses the concept of Segments and delivers the best suitable Segment for the Bitrate. Adaptive Streaming will be meaningful and effective only with a Adaptive Video Player on the Learner device.
The goal is to minimze the friction and maximize the experience for the Learner.
The Devices, The Browsers and The Video Players
One cannot have control over the Devices and the Browsers used by the Learners. The more the restrictions added on the Devices and Browsers supported, the harder it would be to acquire and retain the Learners and Users. Thus, Video Learning should ensure supporting all popular Devices, Browsers
and the Players.
The goal is to increase the reach by supporting all possible Devices, Browsers and the Players.
If you are planning for Video Content Delivery through your LMS or eLearning platforms, the above factors need to be considered. The details are provided at a very high-level and there needs to be a lot of breadth and depth to be looked at…