Since we initially launched WP Courseware as the first course creation plugin for WordPress in 2012, we’ve helped over 20,000 people launch online courses.
And during that time working with so many talented course creators from all around the globe, we’ve learned a thing or two about how online courses operate and succeed.
But this lesson surprised us!
Well, to be honest, with the explosive popularity of video as the preferred method of consuming content online, we knew that this trend did translate to the e-learning space as well.
After all, we work with our WP Courseware customers day in and day out in our support desk system and we get to take a look under the hood of a lot of course websites. So we knew that many of these courses were being delivered using video.
But it wasn’t until we began conducting user surveys that we learned just how staggeringly dominant video courses have become!
In our last WordPress learning management system user survey we found that nearly 92% of course creators used video as their primary training modality.
Needless to say, we’re always on hunt for tools and technologies to help our WP Courseware users improve the video playback experience for their students.
We’ve all seemed to develop a growing intolerance when it comes to our online video experience, too. Whereas just a few years ago we wouldn’t have even thought about being able to download and entire feature-length movie, now it’s unacceptable to wait a matter of seconds for a two-hour video to play.
Here’s the dilemma…
The truth is that there are a number of ways to deliver a high-quality video playback experience. There are video hosting services, content delivery networks, and other tools which can ensure fast video for your global viewer base.
But the hard truth is that for many first-time course creators, there’s a learning curve associated with every step of the process…
- Figuring out new equipment and software to produce high-quality video
- Learning how to effectively structure a course for effective outcomes
- Purchasing and configuring a web hosting account
- Feeling their way around WordPress for the first time
- Choosing and configuring a learning management system to deliver the course
- AND deciding where and how to host video
Because there are so many new steps involved which all take time to become familiar with, many first time course creators take the easy road when it comes to one of the most critical components of all…their video delivery platform.
Meet the villains of this story…
When I refer to the “easy road” with video, there are two paths…
YouTube and the WordPress Media Library.
Almost everyone has some degree of familiarity with YouTube. Heck, as a planet we spend 1 billion hours per day there. So learning how to upload a video there has almost no learning curve.
And when it comes to the WordPress Media Library, when you’ve spent the time to learn how to use WordPress and overcome that hurdle and then you see that tempting little option to upload videos it’s pretty hard to resist. Especially when you don’t know much about web hosting to begin with and aren’t aware that there are 200 other sites on your server which are all uploading content too and it’s being slung around the globe from the same hardware.
So while these two options are tempting for beginners, they both have major downsides…
YouTube is problematic because when a user embeds a video from YouTube onto their website, YouTube’s video player is designed to distract and lure viewers away from that site. YouTube uses its own icons, buttons, overlays and logos, as well as ‘Related Videos’ that appear when a viewer pauses or finishes a video. So even though YouTube is free and offers decent playback quality, it steals your viewers. No free video player is worth the cost of losing engaged viewers.
Adding videos from the WordPress Media Library can seem like a good alternative to YouTube. However, while the WordPress player does not siphon off your viewers, it provides a poor playback experience. Videos from the WP Media Library start slow, frequently stall out, and buffer extensively. And from analyzing metrics of over 500 million video views, we know that a viewer who experiences buffering while watching a video online watches 277% less video than a viewer who doesn’t.
SmartVideo to the rescue!
A couple of weeks ago, we were contacted by the team at Swarmify. Swarmify is a video acceleration company focused on bringing the streaming technologies used by the biggest names in the streaming video industry (Netflix, Hulu) to everyone in a simple package.
SmartVideo is the technology Swarmify has developed to offer Netflix-quality streaming to virtually any website owner. They have essentially developed a proprietary delivery network switching technology providing stall-out free playback at maximum bitrates.
As I mentioned to one Swarmify team member on a recent call, I’m familiar with almost all of the major CDN (content delivery network) providers and how to use them to leverage fast video delivery to a global user base.
But most of us choose to use one CDN and rely on their data centers exclusively to ensure a high-quality video experience for our users. SmartVideo uses several CDNs and can dynamically begin rerouting video playback requests to the fastest one at any given time.
Pretty cool, huh?
Easily auto-convert videos to SmartVideo…
What I found to be the most powerful feature of the SmartVideo platform is its ability to automatically convert existing or newly uploaded videos to the system.
Let’s say you’re already using YouTube to host your videos. But you’ve been embedding them on your site and your sick of the “recommended videos” popping up, people leaving your site through those links, or the video buffering which often happens with YouTube content.
All you need to do is create a SmartVideo account, install their WordPress plugin, and any YouTube content which is embedded on your site will begin to be automatically converted over to the SmartVideo system.
So the next time a site visitor begins to access the video content, the playback experience will suddenly be automatically improved as the videos are delivered from SmartVideo’s proprietary intelligent CDN network.
If you want to use the WP Media Library, simply add your video to the WP Media Library, install the SmartVideo plugin, and use the Add SmartVideo button that will be visible in the WP editor. SmartVideo will virtually eliminate loading and buffer times, offering viewers a premium video experience.
And SmartVideo hooked WP Courseware users up!
As I mentioned before, we’re always on the lookout for tools to help our course creators improve the video experience for their students.
SmartVideo offers a 14-day free trial, but their team was kind enough to hook WP Courseware users up with 40% off of your first month of service as well.
Just visit the SmartVideo website, set up an account, and enter the discount code WPCOURSEWARE40 to receive the discount!