Video Upload Widget operational once again

How the new Video Upload widget looks (click image to enlarge)

The issues mentioned in the last blog post have now been resolved. The video widget now has a tab all to itself under the E-Learning Support tab group on our system (as pictured).

As a result of the upgrade and of the branding process we went through with Blackboard last month, the widget now looks different — but better I think. Fixing it for the new version also allowed me the opportunity to make some minor changes to the way in which it operates. These changes are hopefully improvements:

(1) In trying to get the widget to work, I moved all the script for building the form or for loading the videos (depending on the user’s route of entry) to a folder in our Content System. This means we can make changes to the script easily and without having to constantly consider the pitfalls of Blackboard’s Visual Text Box Editor and its tendency to mangle code.

(2) The module (i.e., the box which displays the video upload form and videos themselves, sitting on a tab within Blackboard) is now just a reference to the script — the entire code for the module is here:

<script type="text/javascript">
var username="@X@user.user_id@X@";
<script type="text/javascript"

That first set of <script> tags fetches the user’s username and assigns it to the global variable username for use in the external script. It also for some reason prevents the second line with the external reference from disappearing. I have no idea why; just another of the quirks of Blackboard’s VTBE I suppose!


An example of the e-mail received by the user (click to enlarge)

(3) As before, when the user has submitted a video via the widget it is sent to a server in ITS and transcoded. The user then receives an e-mail which contains a link back to the widget which providing both previews and instructions on how to embed the videos into Blackboard. This is still the case, except the link in the e-mail now points to a re-direct page. This makes no difference to the usability of the widget but it does mean I can move it onto a different tab in Blackboard without having to tell IT Services to update the link in the e-mail. It also means of course that in future links in old e-mails won’t break for users. (Thanks to David Wong for implementing this side of the process.)

I still need to do some testing with the widget to make sure it works in all browsers, etc. Once this is done I will update our wiki on the Google Code project site and provide some guidance as to how this widget might be used in other institutions with a dropbox2 server.

About Guy

I am currently Enhancement Officer (for Education Technologies) at the University of Reading. I am also studying for a Masters in Research at the University's School of Systems Engineering.
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