Video and HTML5: gains for online courses, MOOC development and online broadcast

Posted on October 18, 2013


HTML5 video development continues apace and the academic community should really be interested in the possibilities offered by open source development in the multimedia space, specifically video of course, in teaching. Massively open online courses (MOOCs) and related trends in the way people access courses in higher education – such as learning management systems (LMS) or integrated learning systems (ILS) – are the big buzz in colleges and universities right now.

A previous post about HTML5 and open source standards looked at the way one company – Kaltura – offers advice on building an online repository for video, with the emphasis on education and training. Kaltura has developed an interesting system to enable responsive video posting online. The company joined forces with Google and Wikipedia to allow people to quickly and easily add video to Wikipedia.

In addition, using a plug-in to the Firefox browser developed by Mozilla – called Firefogg – anyone can now add public domain or their own videos to a Wikipedia page. Both are interesting developments and show how academic institutions could go about building their own HTML5-ready online video repositories.

Apple scrap
Technology journalist Philip Hunter posted in the Broadcast Engineering blog recently that Apple’s iOS ‘ecosystem’ of apps would not survive the transition to HTML5. He said the company’s habit of creating its own standards in video and multimedia would fail as online video moves towards full broadcast quality. One factor cited was the widespread adoption of Android over iOS and that has been followed by the almost universal realisation that HTML5 open standards for video are preferable to ‘proprietary’ standards.

Android robot

HTML5 is designed to allow video playback without plug-ins such as Adobe Flash. “Eventually Apple will have to adapt because there will be millions of HTML5 and JavaScript developers and only hundreds of thousands of iOS developers,” said Kaltura’s director of player and mobile product, Michael Dale. “The latter is still a large number, and Apple will continue to be one of the major targets for app and service development. But it will no longer be setting the pace, with that mantle passing to Android.”

Steve Jobs sees the future
Hunter’s article is correct in one sense – Apple will be ‘forced’ into using HTML5 open standards. But that was already accepted by the company, as witnessed by this thoughtful post from none other than Steve Jobs back in April 2010.

In it he talks about moving away from Flash’s proprietary standards to simply using HTML5, CSS and Javascript for the browsing and multimedia experience. He also cites security issues, battery life and the fact that Flash does not adequately support touch-based devices. And lets face it, touch-based devices are the future for mobile consumers.

How that affects the huge amount of native Apple apps already on the market remains to be seen, but Intel has an online tutorial showing how developers can create HTML5 apps from iOS. A nail in the coffin of iOS apps?

Live streaming
Back to video innovation and Kaltura recently announced its partnership with a company called Orad, whose RadioTV provides a live streaming and video on demand portal for any device. RadioTV not only fully automates switching between cameras during a live event, it also allows producers to use different camera types such as broadcast cameras, IP cameras and Skype feeds together in the same video stream. All content is stored on Kaltura’s Mediaspace. A cheaper way for organisations to produce larger online live events? Maybe. If I find any examples of the system at work I’ll post them later.

Tech twits
Finally, for anyone interested in a primer, questions related to the technologies discussed here such as Android, HTML5, online video or pretty much anything related to mobiles, the internet and multimedia, could do worse than check out Twit offers daily and weekly online TV shows on technology and is an excellent resource for staying up to date with the fast-moving world of video innovation.