February 11, 2013



Viewing of video issues in K-State Online

By Rebecca Gould

With the beginning of the spring semester, we are seeing an increase in the use of video in courses and imported into K-State Online. Associated with this increase in usage comes technical issues that students are experiencing. In many instances, the IT Help Desk and the Division of Continuing Education Facilitation Center have been able to work through the issues. On the other hand, there have been times when a solution was not found. 

The issues are multifaceted including: 1) resolution, bit rate, size of the video file; 2) bandwidth/connectivity, i.e. wireless in an apartment complex; 3) the AT&T Uverse issue the first week of school; 4) Internet service provider issues; 5) the computer used to view the videos and more.

During the first week of the semester AT&T Uverse experienced an outage that continues. Internet service providers offer varying plans. If students choose the least expensive plan with the lowest downstream speed, they will have difficulty viewing videos. Also if students are sharing wireless connectivity with others in an apartment complex where wireless is shared among tenants, viewing quality will be poor.

Quick suggestions for students

1. Students can run the readiness test available from public.online.ksu.edu/support/readiness to determine if their computer has the appropriate specifications.

2. Change the browser they are using. Sometimes what was not viewable in one browser might be viewable in another.

3. The type of hardware and video card matter. Minimum specifications provided by campus are available from www.k-state.edu/its/buying/minimumrequirements.html.

Important information for instructors making videos 

1) Use the video conversion wizard built into K-State Online. It will convert videos that are in other formats like avi, mpg, etc. and will use an appropriate encoding and resolution. This tool is good for new video, please encourage faculty to use.  It also can be a bottleneck as it is processor intensive to convert video for faculty.  Important note: Faculty cannot send an existing mp4 to it, it does not re-encode mp4 files into a new bit rate so existing mp4s may need to be re-encoded

2) Use Handbrake or other tools to encode your video, but we recommend that the max bit rate is 1.5 Mbps.  Lower is perfectly fine for many cases that don't have a lot of movement for example.

3) Chunk video into smaller segments of 15 minutes or less in length. Office of mediated education's video production services team is available to consult or help re-encode, shorten etc videos for faculty. The charge for this service is on a cost recovery basis.  For assistance contact superman@k-state.edu.

The Media Development Center in iTAC, 214 Hale Library, also is available to assist those who want to encode/edit video themselves or learn more about the process.