Backup/Move A Camtasia Project


As you build a Camtasia project, you may import resources stored in various places on your file system, including different formats of video files, graphics, audio files, and so on.  You will also make many edits, adding callouts, zoom-and-pan features, animations and the like.  When you save your project as a camproj file pointers to all these resources and the location and details of all your edits will be saved in the file, so you simply need to double-click the camproj file later and it will invoke the Camtasia Studio editor with your project laid out just as you left it.  At some point, however, you are going to need to move the project.  Say you want to work on it at home, or in another computer lab.  That’s where exporting as a zip file comes in.

With your project open in Camtasia Studio click File and select “Export project as zip…”

Export As Zip

An Export Project dialog box will appear.  Navigate to where you want to save the zip file, be sure the “Include all files from Clip Bin in zip” box is selected, and click OK.

Include Files Dialog

The save process will take some time if you have a multi-resource project.  In time the file will be saved, and it will include a correctly referenced camproj file of its own.  Now you can move your project to another computer without fearing the loss of resources and edits.  Even if you are not moving to another computer, this is a valuable way to make a backup of your project, to guard against inadvertant resource losses as you later do “housekeeping” on your computer.  Many is the time that I have deleted files in obscure folders from long forgotten projects, only to discover later that I actually needed that file.

To open the backed up project on another computer, simply reverse the procedure.  Open Camtasia Studio, click on the File menu, and select “Import zipped project…”

Import zipped project

It takes a goodly amount of time, but will open the project just as it was.

Alternately, you can extract the files from your zip file and double-click on its camproj file.  Camtasia Studio will be invoked and, in time, will open your project, ready for further editing or re-production and/or re-purposing.

Student Use of Video Everywhere in Blackboard


I just got off the phone with a faculty member who was planning to have students use the Video Everywhere tool. If you don’t recall, that’s the simple tool embedded in the Content Editor in Blackboard that allows for easy recording of video from a webcam or embedding YouTube videos into the course. The tool is available for student use in tools like the Discussion Board, so this professor was going to have students record their presentations and grant access to their fellow students that way.

I’m certain the attempt will go off well, as all the Video Everywhere tool truly does is leverage the technology developed by YouTube, and YouTube just… works. That’s the beauty of it. However this professor did have one concern, that of the comfort level of students on posting a video to YouTube. Perhaps some will not want to have video of themselves out on the Internet for all the world to see.

Of course, it’s far more likely that students will already be posting content to YouTube, and that this will be just one more way they include content on their own channels. Still, that’s a very valid concern, and I felt I should discuss the “security” of videos created using that Video Everywhere tool.

By default, when you post a newly recorded video to your YouTube account using the Video Everywhere tool, it’s set to a status of “Unlisted”. (That’s as opposed to “Public” or “Private,” by the way.) An Unlisted video is one that is publicly visible, but not indexed in any search tools. So the only typical way in which somebody is going to see an Unlisted video is if they are provided with a link to it, or see it embedded in a page somewhere. It is, technically, possible that somebody might be randomly typing in URLs and run across it… more on that a bit later.

Now, why would Blackboard not just make the video Private instead? Because Private YouTube videos only allow specific, invited individuals to view them. I suppose it might be possible for a video integration tool to leverage YouTube’s invitation system, but there is a maximum limit of 50 users who could be invited to view such a video, which would certainly make such a tool less than useful for large courses. So instead the tool leverages that Unlisted status, allowing anybody to view the video provided they have the address. This, of course, is all well documented on the appropriate YouTube page.

So what should you tell a student who is nervous about somebody actually finding their video by randomly typing in addresses? For that, I’d turn to the cliché “needle in a haystack.” Actually, it’s worse than a needle hidden in a haystack, that would be a case of a needle hidden in a warehouse piled high with needles, with a constant stream of new needles being dumped onto the pile with each passing moment. Seriously, have you ever considered how much content there is on YouTube? I did wonder, so I tried to find out. The question is posed on the YouTube FAQ page, “How many videos are on YouTube?” They don’t actually answer that question, but instead say that “48 hours of video are uploaded every minute, resulting in nearly 8 years of content uploaded every day.”

I’m going to say that if a student is concerned that somebody will randomly URL-type their way to seeing that video, they should rest assured that it is very unlikely, to the point of being somewhat silly to worry about.

Oh, and if you had no idea what this whole “Video Everywhere” thing is, you may want to take a look at this video detailing how the tool works. And yes, this video is hosted on YouTube.

Video in Blackboard: To Upload or Not To Upload

artwork: sean gakuseisean

This Friday I will be conducting a workshop on PowerPoint to video, using the video tools built-in to PowerPoint to create a narrated video from a presentation.  If we stick strictly with PowerPoint, the video that will be produced will be in the WMV format (for PowerPoint 2010—the default format for PowerPoint 2013 is MP4).  Let’s assume that you want students to view the video in your Blackboard course.  While Blackboard claims to support the WMV (Windows Media Video) format, in practice there are so many problems with playing WMV files in Blackboard courses (due primarily to the unfortunate way the Windows Media Player operates in a web-invoked environment) that it is not a practical format to use within Blackboard.  The question becomes, how and where do you upload it so that students will have access to it?  Here are the practical answers to this question at our institution.


The most reliable viewing experience for your students will be achieved by uploading the WMV file to YouTube.  YouTube will automatically re-encode the video in web-friendly formats and bandwidth targets.  All you need to be concerned with, if you take this approach, is supplying the highest definition video possible with the least original compression.  Therefore, when making your video in PowerPoint, be sure to pick the highest possible resolution.  With PowerPoint 2010  and 2013 this is 960 x 720, as Microsoft says optimistically, “For viewing on a computer monitor, projector, or high definition display”.  In actual fact it is a good deal less than high resolution, but with mainly static slides it is pretty good.  Note that this is also a 4:3 aspect ratio picture, even though in PowerPoint 2013 now by default displays slides in a 16:9 aspect ratio.  This means that you are going to have some letterbox bars above and below your video, but that’s as may be.  (Someday the various teams at Microsoft may begin speaking to each other).

As I say, this is by far the easiest solution.  The resulting video, which can be inserted in video using the YouTube Mashup tool, or simply embedded using the iframe embed code straight from the YouTube site, will play regardless of the OS and browser platform the student is using, and there will be no complications with needing to load special plugins on the part of the student.  It will just work.

Nevertheless, for reasons that remain obscure to me, many faculty members do not want their work to appear on YouTube.  So where should they upload the video?

It is a tossup between uploading directly to Blackboard, or uploading to web space at Palomar College (faculty members can have as much as they want).  The determining factor is the size of your video, and consequently the size of your Blackboard course.  Some videos can be very, very large files.  While there is no limit to the cumulative size a Blackboard course can be, Blackboard does have a 2.5 GB file size limit on archives.  An archive (backup) file larger than 2.5 GB cannot be restored to Blackboard.  Since we strongly recommend that all courses be archived, as you go, with multiple archives, but at least one when you finish teaching the course.  That way, if you do not teach the course for over a year, you will have a source from which to restore its contents in future years.  You will also have a record of all student work in that course in case it is challenged.

Now, a single video from a PowerPoint presentation is not likely to take you over the 2.5 GB limit, or anywhere close to it (though I have seen some enormous (!) presentations, a bunch of them might.  If this is a concern, then your best strategy would be to upload the videos to your Palomar (or some other) web space, and simply link to them in Blackboard by creating a web link (see below).  If it is not a concern, then simply upload the file to Blackboard (see also below).  In either case, however, if your source file is in the WMV format (and it will be unless you are using PowerPoint 2013) we recommend you first convert it to MP4 format to eliminate the problems inherent with using the Windows Media player.

MP4 Conversion

To convert a WMV file to an MP4 file, using the web (near) web standard H.264 codec, we recommend a free free utility called Any Video Converter.  There are both PC and Mac versions.   The tool is really easy to work with.  Just identify the input file:, and perform the conversion.

 Add Video

Select the output parameters, first type of file:

Customized MP4 Movie

then resolution:

Video Size

Now click the Convert button.  Your video file(s) will be converted.

Web Space

If you decide you do not want your video at YouTube, and you do not want to inflate your Blackboard course size, your best alternative is to upload the mp4 video to your Palomar (or other host) web space.  How?  With either a dedicated FTP program (we recommend Filezilla, for either PC or Mac), or with a District of self licensed copy of a web authoring program like Expression Web 4 from Microsoft or Dreamweaver from Adobe.  Simple file uploads can best be achieved by uploading using Filezilla.

If you do not already have web space, or are not sure if you have it or not, please contact our helpdesk.  They can set it up for you if you do not already have it.  Since we support secure ftp uploads, be sure to use the SFTP:// protocol with Filezilla.

Once your file is uploaded to your Palomar (or other host) web space, use the Web Link content type in Blackboard to create a link to it:

Web Link Tool

After clicking Web Link, give your link a name, and then paste (recommended) or type in the URL to the video.  Like this:

Web Link

If your video resides on the Palomar College www2 web server (as it almost certainly will) be sure to use the https:// protocol.  Now click Submit.  Your link in Blackboard will look like this:

Web Link Appearance

When your students click this link, it will invoke whatever player the student has associated with the mp4 file type, most likely the QuickTime player, and play the video.

 Upload to Blackboard

If you decide that file size is not an issue, and you want your video embedded directly into Blackboard, then do this:

Open (or create) the Blackboard content area where you wish the video to be.

Hover over the drop-down next to Build Content with your mouse cursor.

Video Selection

Fill out the resulting form with a name for the Video, then browse your computer to find the video:

Find Video

Complete the Video Options section, being sure NOT to select Autostart or Loop.  If you want to size the video to some dimension other than the one it is in, you can do that in this section too, but never make it bigger than it’s original size.

Video Options

Now fill out Standard Options (i.e., whether students can at this time see the video or if you wish to restrict it to a date/time range):

Standard Options

Now click Submit and you are done.  You will see a video player embedded in Blackboard with the first frame of the video displayed, along with video player controls.


Those are your choices.  To recap, we recommend YouTube first because it is easiest and will result in a trouble-free experience most of the time.  If you object to YouTube, convert files to mp4 and either upload it to a web host, and then create a web link to it in Blackboard, or embed it directly in Blackboard.  I hope this demystifies part of the process of creating videos from PowerPoint and then making them available to students.

[Note: icon artwork used in this post ©sean gakuseisean]

How to Get the Latest Version of Windows Movie Maker


The latest version of Windows Movie Maker is part of a download package from Microsoft called Windows Essentials, formerly know as “Windows Live Essentials” and “Windows Live Essentials 2012.”  No one ever accused Microsoft of branding acumen.  In any event, to get Movie Maker you must go to the Windows Essentials download site and click the Download Now link.  There is no need to go to a specific page dedicated to Movie Maker because you MUST download and start the installer for the entire Windows Essentials suite of programs, which included Windows Messenger, Windows Writer (a blogging client), Windows Mail, Windows Family Safety, Microsoft SkyDrive, the Outlook Connector Pack, and a combination Windows Movie Maker and Photo Gallery install.  You cannot separate the install of Movie Maker and Photo Gallery, but must install them both, since they work in tandem.  The installer does, however, let you selectively install components, so you can deselect all but the Photo Gallery and Movie Maker components.  Just click on the “Choose the programs you want” during the installation process.

After you get them installed I recommend that you pin them to the start menu if you plan on using them frequently.  Just click the Start button, search on “Movie,” right-click the program and choose “Pin to Start Menu” (Windows 7).  If you are using Windows 8 and want it on your Start Screen, right-click the Start screen, choose All Apps, locate the Movie Maker app, right-click it and choose Add to Start Screen—or, if you are using touch, pull out the charms, search apps for Movie Maker, and add it in the same manner.

It is important to remember that this version of Movie Maker is for Windows 7 or 8 only.  If you are using Vista or XP there are older versions you can install.  Here is a screen video that illustrates the whole procedure.


Inserting Links Into WordPress Pages and Posts

WordPress Logo

Links to webpages and files are a basic part of the web. In fact, without them it wouldn’t be much of a ‘web’. The WordPress content editor makes it easy to insert new links and edit existing ones. There are three types of links that will commonly be inserted:

  • Internal pages or posts – These are links to pages or posts within your own WordPress site. WordPress makes it really easy to choose which existing page or post to link to.
  • External websites or files – Anything that is outside of your WordPress site is an an external link. WordPress allows you to specify a URL for any external content.
  • Internal files – The WordPress content editor makes it really easy to upload a file and link to it, all in one simple interface.
The following video demonstrates how to insert all three types of links:

How to Disable Comments in WordPress

WordPress Logo

One of the most frequently asked questions about using WordPress for managing a website is:

How do I disable the comments on a page or post?

While the comment system in WordPress works really well and can be a great way to get feedback, there are many instances when comments from site visitors are not necessary or appropriate. By default, the option for a site visitor to leave a comment is on. It is not obvious how to turn comments off when creating or editing a page because the option is initially hidden.

The following short video shows how to disable comments on a page or post and how to change the default setting so that comments are off when creating new content.