Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Films on Demand

Last week I met with Robin Miller from the McIntyre Library who showed me Films on Demand which is an educational video database provided through the library. I was very impressed with what it has to offer.

First, you may be wondering how to access it. One time I tried to find it and couldn't.  The easiest way is to go to the library's homepage (www.uwec.edu/library) and click on the "Books and Media" tab in the middle of the page.  Films on demand is listed below the search area. In the image below, a red arrow is pointing at it.

When I worked with CETL on the hybrid course development workshops in June, I didn't know that Films on Demand existed, which is sort of a tragedy.  The special collections tab shows some of the external sites that I was suggesting to participants. You can also search by Subject. 

Robin said an advantage of Films on Demand is that it has older videos, such as historical news footage that could be informative for either history or journalism. Many times sites such as PBS only have recent shows or clips on the website.

I asked about how stable the videos are - for instance, do the URLs change? How frequently are videos discontinued? Robin said that old videos are taken out due to lack of use, so hopefully if the videos are being viewed by a class, they would remain, especially if the students are viewing them out of class since there would be a higher number of viewers. New videos are being added all the time.

Disability accessibility is a concern since the only videos that have captions are those that the creator has captioned (i.e., Films on Demand does not offer captioning). So if PBS, for instance, captions all of their videos normally, they would be captioned on Films on Demand, but if they don't, there is no way to caption them easily if they are not already captioned. I'm honestly not sure how captioning would be provided if it was needed. I found that ABC News does caption their videos, but ironically a video on assistive technology for people with disabilities was not captioned. The image in this paragraph shows what the captioning looks like on ABC News and what the notification that captions are available in the top right looks like. The CC is on/of box comes on when the cursor is on the video.

I also noticed that when I clicked on Films on Demand under Books and Media, a warning came up that said "You are about to leave MetaLib. The site may not comply with accessibility standards." I'm not sure if that is referring to the lack of caption availability or problems with screen reader accessibility, but it is a concern.

Films on Demand would be well used in hybrid courses, in which students watch videos on their own time outside of or in lieu of class and then meet in class to apply or discuss the information.

So how do you share Films on Demand in D2L?  

There is a specific way this must be done.  You cannot create a Quicklink - you must Create New File:
When you are in the text box that opens after choosing "Create New File," you can add a Quicklink (image on left) and then choose URL. In order for it to work, you must choose Open in: New Window (see image below)

Make sure you use the link provided below the video where it says "Title URL," rather than the link in the URL area of your browser (see below).

The "proxy" part is important because that is how it funnels the request for the video through the server.  I'm pretty techy, but not techy enough to fully understand proxy servers.  What I do know, is that it will prompt the viewer to login to the library's services with their UWEC username and password if they are off campus to verify that they are a UWEC student or staff person. On campus, it should work fine.

Warning: this paragraph gets pretty techy.  It is even possible to embed videos in PowerPoint or in the html pages (news or 'create new file') in D2L. There is embed code under the video (it says "embed this video").  However, the proxy part of the URL (http://proxy.uwec.edu/login/url=)  needs to be added to the embed code right before the URL of the video (which will begin with http://digitalfilms.com). It looks funky because you have two http://'s in the same URL, but remember that the first one is for the proxy (hopefully I am making sense here!).  Note: In order to embed videos in PowerPoint, you need to create a Films on Demand account. 

So, what a great resource! If you have questions, I'd recommend talking to someone at the library such as Robin.  I think each department has a library representative.  I can help with putting the videos in D2L or in PowerPoint.  I will continue to think about and do research into the accessibility issue.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome information. I watched a movie on Loch Ness. Did you know that millions or maybe it was billions of years ago Scotland was connected to New York. Many buildings in NYC are made with a red sandstone that lines the eastern shore line (only) of Loch Ness. There is no monster as they say. Dinosaurs were extinct millions of years before the formation of Loch Ness. The lake is 700 feet deep. See what I learned! Awesome.