Creating your video library in the cloud

Most teachers are probably not used to teaching with videos on a regular basis yet, and even fewer will feel the need for a video library in the cloud. Yet, as broadband connections have become more and more reliable it is getting easier to use video in the classroom via the cloud and more and more teachers are starting to use video for flipped classrooms.

Google certainly does't make it easy to decide where to keep your media. For photos there is Picasa, G+ and Drive and for video there is YouTube, G+ and Drive. I'm actually using all three of the services for different purposes. While I usually have my private video on Google+, I prefer to upload school projects that are meant for the public to my school's YouTube channel or I create a separate YouTube channel for bigger projects.

So, what is the point in using yet another service? As I have started to build my media libraries in Google Drive, i.e. photos, images, audio files which I use in my classes, I have also started to use Drive more and more often for short educational (usually 3-10 minute) videos. There are a couple of reasons for choosing Drive over YouTube or other services. The most important ones are probably that

  • Drive is private rather than public by default.
  • you can easily download videos from Drive to your PC or mobile device
  • you can stream video without having to download from the web
This makes drive quite useful in the following situations: 

  • You have a project involving video podcasts and your students don't want to upload their videos to YouTube. The students can upload the videos to a shared folder or via a form (e.g. Forms+) 
  • Videos are part of the students portfolio. In this case Drive is a much better option than e.g. Moodle as there are no strict size limits and you can stream videos directly in Google Drive rather than having to download them. 
  • You want to use online video and you are not sure if that video will remain online in the future. Upload it to your Drive and stream it from Drive rather than a public service. 
  • You use copyrighted material (e.g. videos that come on a CD/DVD with a textbook) which you are not allowed to publish online. 
  • You would like your students to be able to download the videos you share with them.
  • You would like to keep a copy of a video on a mobile device for reference on the go
  • The video is part of a set of learning materials (e.g. pdf files, vocabulary lists, etc.) and you want to keep it in the same place (e.g. a Drive folder) as the other materials. 
Google Drive also offers a couple of other useful features:
  • Third party apps (e.g. a video converter, trimmer, etc.) 
  • Comments
  • Publish on blogs or Moodle (via embed code)
Of course, there is still plenty of improvement in Google Drive regarding the use of video: 
  • Chromecast functionality in the Drive app (like in the YouTube app)
  • a YouTube like editor
  • note taking/comments based on the the timecode
  • subtitle/transcription feature (including search!) 
As far as Chromecast is concerened there are currently two ways of playing a Drive video via Chromecast on a big screen: 
  • using the Chrome browser Chromecast extension on a laptop/chromebook
  • playing the video file via a third party Chromecast enabled player (e.g. Avia, AllCast)
It would be nice, however, to be able to do that directly frome the mobile Drive app. 

People have barley begun building their video libraries in the cloud, so many of these features might come as people start to use them. At least for teaching with video Google Drive seems to be a great choice. When it comes to learning, YouTube playlists might be sufficient for the time being. However, as teachers are starting to make more use of video (e.g. flipped classroom) video libraries in the cloud will also become more interesting for learners.

One final piece of advice: when starting to build your video library you want to keep the size of your videos rather small in order not to fill up your drive space too fast. Using the mp4 format ensures a good compromise between quality and file size. Moreover, PAL/NTSC format might also be sufficient for the time being. 

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