Most online courses these days include video. It’s the preferred way to learn for most people, and usually form the core of your course content. Whether you are creating screencasts, live videos of yourself or an automated slideshow you will need a place to host your videos. One thing about videos though, video files are huge, and for people to watch them without buffering, stuttering, or stalling, you have to store them in a place that is very accessible. Most web hosts are not configured to host videos, which take more resources and bandwidth to play than showing a static image or text. Unless you are working with a host specifically configured to deliver video, uploading your videos to the host to embed into your courses, posts, and pages will usually result in long load times and very slow playing. Some may not play at all
This means you can’t just upload videos to your WordPress host account and think you’re covered. You’ve got to use a hosting site specifically meant for video hosting, and yes, that almost always means paying extra. Some third party course sites will host your videos as part of hosting your course, such as CourseCraft, Thinkific, or Teachable. This is a big plus as the cost is included, and there is no need to upload your video to one site, then embed it on your course site.
If you are using a WordPress LMS plugin, or a third party course host that does not include video (or if your video exceeds the limits set by your course hosting site), there are hosting sites specifically designed to host videos and play them smoothly on a variety of platforms (computers, smart phones, tablets, etc).
Almost anyone familiar with the Internet is familiar with YouTube. YouTube allows you to upload and display videos. These can be for teaching or entertainment and are easy to embed in most courseware platforms and in WordPress.
YouTube hosting is completely free and is a great host for your free and marketing videos. The benefit of placing free videos on YouTube is that they can be indexed by the search engines and help you find an audience as well as deliver to your current audience. YouTube does allow some privacy options in that you can set videos to only be seen by those who have a link. And you can also create private videos that are protected by access. To grant access, you must use a person’s gmail name.
What about videos created by others? It depends on the type of license chosen by the video creator. You can find out by clicking the publication window under a YouTube video. If it says Standard YouTube license, you can link to the content. If the content owner has enabled YouTube’s embed feature you can embed the video in your course as is, but you do not have the right to edit it.
If the license reads “Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)” you can edit the video any way you like, as long as you give credit to the original owner. So you can use just a part of the video, or ad it to other components as needed.
Vimeo provides private video hosting with several options for configuration and security. For $199 a year with unlimited videos but limited to up to 20GB of uploads per week, it is my favorite way to get started with a video host for my courses. You are not charged for the bandwidth with Vimeo only for the uploads.
Wistia is a premium video hosting service with a wide selection of plans. It’s a great site if you need a lot of analytics on your video performance, and they have many very entertaining videos in their library about video production and marketing. The main drawback of Wistia is the price, which is a combination of monthly fees and bandwidth allotments, and ranges from free (for up to 3 videos a month uploaded) to $100/month for uploading up to 500 videos.
The one thing to consider when planning for a Wistia account is that the number of videos on the account is the number you can upload in a 1 month period. Each account comes with 200GB per month of bandwidth. All bandwidth over 200GB is charged, and the price as of this writing is $0.33/GB.
Each time a video is played, bandwidth happens. This means that if you have a lot of evergreen videos, as you load more videos each month, if people are watching all of them your bandwidth could go crazy.
Wistia does have a bandwidth predictor. Although it’s not guaranteed 100% accurate, Wistia gives you this calculator to predict the bandwidth your site will use.
Amazon S3 is a very inexpensive storage option for all sorts of files, including video. The trick is to set it up (pretty tech-y) and to find a suitable player to access and play the videos.