Saturday, January 24, 2009

Guidelines for posting Multimedia files to Blackboard

Here are some recommendations that can help in making your multimedia files easier for students to download and view in Blackboard.

Multimedia Guidelines

In an effort to maximize access to dynamic media content (images, video, audio, and Flash files) by students, we recommend that instructors posting multimedia files to a web page or Blackboard course adhere to these file size guidelines.

The diversity of internet connection types among students makes it important to pay attention to the size of files when uploading content. For example, a student using a broadband connection would be able to download a 10MB file in approximately 1 minute or less, whereas a student using a 56K modem connection (there still are some out there) would spend about 30 minutes downloading the same file.


Most images should only be around 60k-100k; however, larger sizes are acceptable when larger files are required (e.g., graphic design courses); in such special cases, the image size should be 500k or less. The best image formats are JPEG (.jpg) and GIF (.gif)

PowerPoint slide shows can be added to a Blackboard site but should be limited to 10 mb. Care should be taken to compress all contained images (to keep file size small). In addition, PPT should be provided in an alternative format, such as PDF. When creating PDF files, it is recommended that the print setting be set for 3 slides per page. This will reduce the number of pages, should a student wish to print the PDF document. The best PowerPoint format is PowerPoint 97-2003 (.PPT) rather than the newer PowerPoint 2007 (.PPTX) format, which might require students using older versions of Microsoft Office to download a special viewer.

Another option for Slide Shows is to upload your file to the online streaming slide show service Slide Share. You can use the service to add more features to your slide show, such as audio, music, narration, and then embed it in your Blackboard course site using Slide Share's embedding feature.


Please see this related article on how to embed video in Blackboard.

Video can be very tricky; it is very easy to create a video file that is too large to be delivered on the web. Consider that your students may not have access to a broadband connection. Some students are still on dial-up connections, making it impossible to access large video files uploaded to Blackboard.

These are the most acceptable video formats: Quicktime (.MOV), Windows Media Video (.WMV), MPEG-4 (.MP4), Flash Video (. SWF or .FLV), and RealMedia (.RM).

Audio-Video Interleave (.AVI) container file format may also work, but is not recommended, as it is not optimized for the web, and can require "codec" software to view that students may need to download separately (such as the Divx codec and others). Certain newer formats, such as MKV (.mkv) will almost always require the students to download a separate viewer program to watch.

You can also put your video on Blackboard by uploading it to a streaming video site and then "embedding" the video right in your Blackboard course site. It is always better to stream the video from sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Picasaweb than to upload the file just to Blackboard. If you choose to upload a video files directly into Blackboard, that file should be no larger than 100MB. Larger files should be uploaded to a streaming video site and then embedded in Blackboard (this makes them appear to be contained in Blackboard, but they are actually streamed from the streaming video site).


Audio files uploaded to Blackboard should be no larger than 5MB. Acceptable formats are .MP3, .M4A, .M4B, .AAC, and .WMA. The best way to post an audio file to Blackboard is to make it a Podcast episode - that way the player for the audio is shown right in Blackboard and the student does not have to download the audio before listening to it.

Note: .WAV is a legacy format for which the file size is too large and is therefore not recommended.


For Flash files (.SWF), size is not typically an issue. Flash is intended for web delivery, and takes download time into consideration. Flash file size should be less than 5MB.