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Webinar Series: Captioning Video in an LMS

By: Art Morgan

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In this webinar we review the most common methods for using video within a Learning Management System (LMS) course, and how to efficiently add captions to the videos that you use in your courses.

Note: The following video should be considered an alternative to the Annotated Transcript, which contains descriptions of visual references in the media. Also, the pages listed in the Resources section are primarily text-based, and will be useful to those who do not have access to the visual content.


Annotated Transcript

>> Art Morgan: Welcome back to our webinar series. My name is Art Morgan, and in this webinar, we’re going to cover the topic of Captioning Video in Your Learning Management System Courses.

Let’s quickly cover our objectives here. We’re going to review the most common methods for using video within an LMS course. We’re also going to talk about which methods are most efficient when adding captions to video. And also, what methods to avoid when adding video due to the challenges with making the video accessible.

So first, in terms of methods for adding video, there’s really four basic methods in Learning Management System courses. The first is to record within the LMS, a short video. And this sort of feature is often called the Video Notes feature. And we have an example here of an instructor recording a video. Usually, you just click a button within your LMS when you’re logged in as an instructor, and it uses your webcam. Often you can see the instructor’s face and maybe his or her cat walking in the background. This can be useful, especially if you’re doing a totally online class where the students don’t get to meet you in person at all, but this sort of video tool is often very limited in terms of the features and editing features in particular that it offers. And as we’ll discuss later, it’s often very difficult to caption these videos. The second method is to use an external video authoring tool, like Camtasia which I’m showing here. And this sort of tool has a lot of great features in terms of editing and ability to add picture in picture, and markup, and that sort of thing. So what you do once you’ve recorded something and edited it, is that you export it to an MP4 video file format. And then you can upload that to your LMS and then use it on your pages. The third method is to use what’s called an embed code. And this can be a really effective method. What I’m showing here is the Insert Stuff widget from D2L Brightspace which makes it really quite easy to embed a video within a page. And we’ll talk about how you caption those. And then the last method is to use a video platform that’s integrated with your LMS. And I’m showing a few examples of video platforms that might be integrated with your LMS.

Let’s talk first about adding closed captions to videos that you’ve recorded using a video notes type feature, and I’ll talk about three different scenarios with the three major LMS systems. With Canvas, you have to click on a button to grab a URL, which you could then use with our list of URLs feature. We’ll give you a caption file which the Canvas needs to be an SRT file. You could download that from AST or grab it from your email results and upload it to Canvas. Or, you could save yourself the last few steps by using the AST Smart Player which would allow you to just embed the Smart Player in a page in Canvas. With D2L Brightspace, there’s currently no ability to upload a caption file for video notes. So what you’d have to do there is download the video, caption it, add open captions or an encoded subtitle track, and then re-upload the video to Brightspace. With Blackboard Learn, there is a feature called Video Everywhere which uses YouTube as the recording and storage mechanism. And basically you would set that up to store the videos that you record in your own YouTube account. Once you’ve done that, you could use the AST YouTube integration to caption those videos. So that is a possibility for video notes if you have access to that Video Everywhere feature.

Let’s talk next about the video upload method. Most LMSs allow you to upload MP4 video that you’ve created with other tools. But you also need to be aware of file size limits with this method. So for example, with Brightspace, you can upload fairly large individual video files, up to one gigabyte per file currently, but they do have limits and quotas in terms of the total amount of video you can upload. So in general, you won’t be able to use that method very extensively. Similarly, with Canvas, you can upload video files but their file size limits are also fairly small, and so they usually recommend that you use an external system or an add-on which we’ll discuss later to handle video. In the case of Blackboard, it’s a very small file size limit, and there’s currently no way to add captions except for open captions.

Let’s talk now about a couple different ways to embed YouTube videos in your LMS courses. Most LMSs have a built in YouTube embed widget, and they work quite nicely if you’re inserting videos that you own. So for example, I’m showing in the screenshot here how you do this in Canvas [ description of Canvas embed steps ]. You insert your cursor where you want to insert the video, click on the YouTube insert icon, you can search for appropriate video, select it, and then it’ll embed it right there in the spot where you had selected. Now, this is great as far as the captioning workflow, if it’s a video you own because then you can set up the AST YouTube integration and it’s a very simple workflow.

If you have YouTube videos that you don’t own and you want to embed them in your LMS courses, or if you just want to take advantage of the additional features of the AST Smart Player, here’s how you’d do that. So you would grab the embed code from the Smart Player, copy that, and then over in your LMS page, you’d use the LMS editor to paste in the code and insert it in the appropriate place on the right hand side where it’s showing the D2L Brightspace editor, but it works similarly in other LMS platforms.

Here’s an example of the Smart Player embedded on a page in Canvas, and it looks quite similar in Brightspace and other LMSs.

Finally, let’s talk about the last common method which is to integrate your video platform with both AST and your LMS. We have a separate webinar on AST integrations with video platforms, but the basic concept is that you’ve got a set of videos stores on your video platform. You caption it using AST, and then AST pushes the caption file back to the video platform.

And these are a few examples of integrations that we have for captioning, but the last step after you’ve done the captioning, is to insert or embed the videos from that platform into your LMS pages. And in many of the video platforms such as Kaltura and MediaSpace and so on, they have integrations with your LMS. So, it basically creates a nice button in the tool set.

In this case, we’re looking at a Kaltura example where you could click on this Mashups button and then select from a set of videos that you have within Kaltura, click on it, and it would insert it in. And of course, if you’ve captioned it already using the AST integration, then it would insert it with the captions.

So we talked about video platform integrations, but it’s worth noting that some LMS platform vendors also have video platforms that can be added on to the LMS product. So for example, D2L Brightspace has their Capture product, and they’ve made a lot of great enhancements to that product. They’ve had a captioning integration with AST for a number of years, but this year they enhanced the capture product so that it’s mobile friendly, it has a lot of great analytics features that you can get with it, and it really is a very simple workflow for captioning and for inserting into your LMS courses. Canvas has a promising product called ARC that is currently in beta. That also is designed to be mobile friendly, and easy way to organize and store your videos on your platform and a lot of analytics features. And finally, Blackboard Learn has their Blackboard Collaborate Ultra product which is shown on the right here, and similarly is designed to be very mobile friendly. Neither of these last two products have captioning integrations currently, but if you’re looking at either of these, please reach out to us.

So to summarize, we currently don’t recommend using most of the video note features that you find in LMSs. The simplest workflow at this point for including caption videos in your LMS is to use a video platform that’s integrated with both your LMS and with AST, but we also think it’s worth noting that the AST Smart Player embedded in a course page is a very convenient option in many cases.

Here are a few resources that you can use for more information. There are quite a few articles on our Support Center. The first one is about using the AST Smart Player within an LMS. We also have an overview tutorial on the smart player and several tutorials on the various Lecture Capture and video platform integrations. Finally, you can always reach out to our support experts, at So thank you for your time today, and we hope that this webinar was useful.