Embedding audio into PowerPoint presentations

August 22, 2007

If you have created a PowerPoint presentation and added some audio files, say an audio track or a recording from the British Library Archival Sound Recordings collection you may find when you upload the presentation to a website or your VLE that the audio files are now “missing”.

This is because PowerPoint has an option that for files bigger than a certain size it will link to them rather than embed them. This is fine if you play the presentation from your laptop or computer, but rather annoying for a learner who has downloaded the presentation from the VLE and is attempting to play the presentation at home.

In PowerPoint 2003

Tools > Options > General Tab

Embed files screenshot

Link sounds with file size greater than <insert a number which is larger than the size of the audio files being used>

I tested this on our Moodle VLE and it worked a treat. I would guess that later and earlier versions of PowerPoint have a similar option.

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YouTube introduces advertising…

August 22, 2007

So there I was blogging about how we use video on our VLE where I did mention that some of the staff were using YouTube.

Now one of the nice things about YouTube was the “lack” of “in your face” advertising, however it is now looking like that could be a thing of the past!

Video advertising has started on the YouTube website, its owner – internet giant Google – has confirmed.

Google said it had designed the way the adverts work on the video-sharing website to be as unobtrusive and undisruptive as possible.

The adverts will begin 15 seconds after a user has started to watch a video, but only on 20% of the screen window.

Google said the advert would then disappear within 10 seconds if the user had not clicked to watch it.

Read more, source BBC.


Video on the VLE

August 22, 2007

I have over the years looked at how we can store and use digital video to support and enhance learning. Generally small video clips seem to work better online (just look at the success of YouTube) rather than whole programmes.

Though having said that I am currently enjoying the BBC Archive trial and the BBC iPlayer beta and on both of those I am watching full length programmes. However I am watching it for entertainment rather than educational – raises another question, is there a such a stark difference between entertainment and learning these days?

We are storing video clips we use on the VLE (we use Moodle) using the Flash Video format. Though some staff are using YouTube or TeacherTube.

Our Flash video generally streams “okay” both inside and outside the college.

I have found that using Quicktime H.264 encoded files results in a similar file size, but much better quality. This was particularly evident with the Italian Language programme I used as my example, where the audio was out of sync with the video when using Flash video which would have proved difficult for language students to follow the foreign language.

h.264 video

However it does require that the client have Quicktime installed and though this is a free download for users outside the college, the Quicktime player we have installed on college machines is not capable of playing H.264 content.

The main advantage of encoding H.264 was the time it took to encode the files. Though quality and final file size were also advantageous.

To encode a 15 minute MPEG2 Freeview recording took around 15 minutes on my iMac.

To encode the same 15 minute MPEG2 recording as a FLV file took about five to six hours… and then I needed to create a Flash object which contained the FLV video file.

We now have a 15 minute limit on files just because anything longer will take too long to download. For those video recordings/files we put them on DVD and allow the students to view them via a DVD player.

Longer term for larger videos we are aiming to have a media/video server, but this will be mainly aimed at streaming internally.