I need new media space!

DVD and HD Collection (3)

One day, all of the people on the Internet will have an unlimited area to store all the digital media files they could ever want. Storage space is getting cheaper and digital files are getting smaller with the use of better compression techniques. What do people do now though? Let me give you a couple of situations where the storage dilemma rears its ugly head. Here at the University of Mary Washington, we’re moving to a hosted Blackboard solution, and the dilemma is that there will now be a smaller storage area (100MB quota) for files associated with a given course. For some faculty that could mean three, two, or even one PowerPoint presentation.

The other situation is our umwblogs.org installation also has a 100MB limit (though we do have some control over that limit). Where will users store their video and audio content? Privacy is also a concern for these files. How do we keep the control over who sees a PowerPoint presentation? YouTube is a great place to store video, but can those videos be made private? This article will provide those answers and more. Luckily, those answers involve using very cheap web services (as in free).

Make your files smaller

No matter where you store your files, you will want to make them as small as possible. When it comes to PowerPoint, keeping the presentation simple will make for smaller file sizes. However, if you use pictures, your presentations can balloon in size. So here is a way to make the pictures in your presentation smaller.

Use “sharing” web sites

An alternative to sharing the PowerPoint files directly with the recipient, either through something like Blackboard, or through email, is to use a sharing site. Slideshare is a service that allows the sharing of PowerPoint presentations. You create an account, then upload your file and it gets converted into a Flash version for presenting on the web. You can present the small version or use the full-screen option. The Flash version does not include the animations or transitions that you use, but there is an option for downloading the original file which will keep those effects in tact. There is also an option for creating a private web address for sharing the file with only selected people. You can upload up to a 100MB file.

If you want to store and share video, we do recommend YouTube. Even though videos can be made private, faculty may be reticent to use it because of YouTube’s free-form nature and the sometimes objectionable content.

If that is an issue, we recommend a service called DivShare. For your video, as well as audio storage needs, DivShare will give you up to 5GB (gigabytes) of space to store your media. Just as a warning, you are allowed only 10GB worth of downloads per month, so you may at some point want to limit who you share your files with. You can make any audio or video files private. They use an un-guessable web address to link to the media. A built-in audio or video player will play the file on the web page. DivShare also supports images, PDF documents, Microsoft Word documents, as well as PowerPoint files. It converts those files to Flash documents as well.

Using UMWBlogs

All of the sharing sites we mentioned, YouTube, Slideshare, and DivShare, and others we didn’t mention, all work very well in concert with the umwblogs.org environment (in fact many were created with blogging platforms in mind). UMWBlogs also offers a variety of privacy protections, and it functions in a much superior way to Blackboard in terms of media presentation. You may want to consider using UMWBlogs for a course website.

Creative Commons License photo credit: William Hook

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