Flash Video Content

Flash Logo

Adobe Flash is a platform that has been around since the early 2000’s and was instrumental in making multimedia accessible.  It was incorporated into many programs and helped make streaming video easier.  Unfortunately, Flash also has had security issues, so Adobe is discontinuing Flash at the end of 2020.

Some Browsers are already blocking Flash files from playing.  The problem is that, as the semester starts, you may find that you have Flash video in your course that your students may not be able to access.  

You can look at your files to see if you have Flash formated items. You will want to look for files that end in “.flv” or “.swf.” These are the files that could be causing issues. You can also make a guess that any video that students are saying will not play are most likely Flash files.

The long term solution to this is to take any videos (that were originally in Flash format), and republish in HTML5 format.  An example would be a Adobe Presenter video.  All you have to do is republish as HTML5 and you are all set.  If the new publishing gives you a new link, remember to change that link in the course.

Short Term Solution

Because these videos may pop up during the Semester, and time constraints may make it impossible to republish the files in a timely manner, I wanted to give you a short term solution. The caveat here is that these instructions are a band-aid and will only work while browsers allow Flash files.

It should also be noted that Internet Explorer, Edge, and Safari are not recommended for use in BlackBoard.


Firefox Logo

Currently Firefox will play Flash content, so this browser can be used without modification. Please know that this could change at any time, so although Firefox works at this moment, it may not work on a future date. I will try and let you know if I hear of this, and I will follow up accordingly if that was to happen.



Chrome Logo

Chrome has disabled Flash content from playing, but this setting can be changed. I have attached instructions below, which can be downloaded.

Please be aware that, just like Firefox, if Chrome feels that Flash content is “dangerous” to be displayed on its browser, it may remove it. If this happens, Flash content will not play.

This is why it is important to know that enabling Flash is not a final solution. These files will need to be republished as HTML5 files, or a new replacement (non-Flash) file will need to be substituted over the next 11 months.

I hope this helps make this semester run smoother. Thanks for reading the FLC!!


Students can have a hard time with the pressure of University studies.  This is important for you, as a Faculty member to know, because you have immediate contact with students.  Anxiety can cause students to miss class as they become overwhelmed by the many challenges they face.  Sometimes anxiety is triggered by a number of small situations that build (assignments, quizzes, scheduling, homework), and sometimes the trigger is a big event, such as taking College classes for the first time.

Please watch this 7-1/2 minute video by The Chronicle of Higher Education that gives students a chance to share how they cope with stress.

Facing Anxiety (7:25)

As classes start please watch for anxiety and listen to your students for signs that they may need extra support. Here are links to health and well-being resources for UAS:

Welcome back to Spring Semester 2020!! Thanks for reading, and subscribing, to the Faculty Learning Corner!

Health and well-being. (n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2020, from http://www.uas.alaska.edu/celt/stl/health-and-well-being.html.

Schmalz, J. (2017, December 11). Facing Anxiety. Retrieved January 10, 2020, from https://www.chronicle.com/article/Facing-Anxiety/241968?cid=db&elq=707538367e4748c6a251bc87a4af049c&elqCampaignId=7414&elqTrackId=a72269be02e34e4abcd96f1d6bf53bd9&elqaid=17098&elqat=1.

Happy Holidays 2019

On this last day before the break, I wanted to wish you Happy Holidays.  Enjoy your time off!

Thanks for reading the Faculty Learning Corner. See you in 2020!!

Top Tools for Learning 2019

Here is the yearly list of tools that are used for learning in education as ranked by peers around the world who took the survey in the Spring of this year.  This is the 13th year that Jane Hart (from the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies) has compiled the list and not only gives an idea of top tools, but also shows what is new, and what tools are losing ground.

Picture of a sampling of the top tools for 2019
Top Tools for 2019

The 2019 Top 200 Tools for 2019 Learning list, generated from 2,524 votes from 46 countries in the 13th annual learning tools survey, was published on 18 September 2019.

This year, only 22% of voters came from colleges and universities, hence the Top 200 list is therefore skewed towards workplace learning. So in order to identify where and how the tools are being used in Higher Education you will want to look at the Top 100 Tools for Higher Education (EDU100) – the digital tools used by educators and students in colleges and universities.  Click on the link, or on the picture below to get to the full “education” list.

Picture of the Top Tools for Learning 2019

Voting for the Top Tools for Learning 2020 (the 14th Annual Digital Learning Tools survey) will open in Spring 2020.

Thank you for reading the Faculty Learning Corner, and I’ll see you next week for the last post of 2019!!!

12. Image Principle

The Image Principle says that people do not necessarily learn better from a multimedia lesson when the speaker’s image is added to the screen.

This is definitely an area that needs more research.   So what are the pros and cons of adding the speaker’s image?

On one hand, we know how important teacher presence is.  Students need teacher presence to help develop the social partnership that enhances deep learning. Mel Aclaro, in the video below, makes a pretty compelling argument.

Screencasting Q&A – Why use “picture-in-picture”? (3:53)

On the other hand, adding the instructors face in the presentation, as a picture-in-picture image, could create a split attention issue, where the learner is actually trying to watch the presentation and the teacher at the same time.  In addition, having the instructor’s image, which does not contain any pedagogically relevant information, is extraneous to the presentation.  This means that working memory is taxed and deep learning might not occur.

In a series of studies the image principle was tested, not just with a picture of the person giving a presentation, but also with animated narrators.  The findings were inconclusive.

Instances where an image seems to promote learning would be when it is used to actually point to a relative portion of the graphic (signaling principle) while on the screen.  This reduces cognitive load by showing the learner where to look on the screen.

To finish up, when it comes to on-line agents, you may wonder (If you remember Microsoft Office 97), “What ever happened to Clippy?”  Here is a fun video showing the history of one of the most famous on-line agents.

Whatever Happened to Clippy?  (10:57)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of posts on Multimedia Principles.  Have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week!!

Aclaro, M. (2013, July 21). Screencasting Q&A – Why use “picture-in-picture”? Retrieved November 19, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmpQeBe7xJQ.

Mayer, R. (2014). The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning, Second Edition. New York City: Cambridge University Press.

Whatever Happened to Clippy? (2018, August 11). Retrieved November 19, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnZ7AFiebys.

11. Voice Principle

Last week we looked at the Personalization Principle, and found that a speaker with a conversational style will have more impact on learning than a formal style presentation.  Today we are going to dive into this a bit more with the voice principle.  The Voice Principle means that we learn more deeply when being spoken to in a friendly human voice than a machine voice.

It also means to not speak as if you are a machine.  Do you remember the following teacher from the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?”

“Anyone, anyone” (1:15)

A friendly human voice conveys the idea that someone is speaking directly to you, and because of this, gives you a sense of social presence.  In related studies it was shown that humans are “wired for speech” and that even getting a “bored” human voice could negatively affect how well the students learn.

This was number 11 of our 12 part series.  Next week we will conclude with the Image Principle.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on Multimedia Principles.  Have a very Happy Thankgiving and thanks for reading!! Enjoy the long weekend!

“Anyone, anyone” teacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (2011, December 29). Retrieved November 18, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhiCFdWeQfA.

Mayer, R. (2014). The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning, Second Edition. New York City: Cambridge University Press.

10. Personalization Principle

The Personalization Principle means that conversational style is better than formal style.  Below is a video to introduce you to the principle – The first part of the video will make you want to turn it off, but keep watching – it starts with what not to do!!

The Personalization Principle (4:43)

When we are teaching, whether we think of this or not, there is a “conversation” going on with the student, even when the student is reading text, watching multimedia, or even playing an interactive educational game.  This student interaction is important not only for getting information to the learner, but also for student motivation.

Figure of a Nurse who looks like she is leading a class.
  • Use conversational style and virtual coaches – we want to engage the learner by delivering content in a conversational tone to increase learning.
  • Use conversational rather than formal style – Use conversational instead of formal writing so learners interact with the computer in a way that resembles human-to-human conversations. Of course, learners know that the character is not really in a conversation with them, but they may be more likely to act as if the character is a conversation partner.
  • Students should learn better with a human voice than a machine voice – Research provided by Nass and Brave shows that characteristics of the speaker’s voice can have a strong effect on learners.
  • Students learn better from a narrated animation when the speech is in conversation style rather than formal style.
  • Use on-screen coaches (for example, an automated cartoon character from Powtoon) to promote learning – In E-learning the instructor can be an on-screen character who interacts with the learner.  According to Clark and Mayer, pedagogical agents are on-screen characters who help guide during an e-learning process.  Agents can be shown visually as virtual images or as cartoon-like characters; they can be represented verbally through human recorded voice or printed text. They can be representations of real people using video and human voice.
  • Make the Author visible to promote learning – Characteristics of visible authors are promoting and increasing learner motivation and speak directly to the reader in a personal style.

There have been many studies supporting the personalization principle and it’s effectiveness, and they show that learners engage in deeper cognitive processing during learning.  Material using a conversational writing style and addition of on-screen characters can be more effective for some types of learner.  Another benefit of applying the personalization principle is that it helps provide the teacher with a sense of presence in the online classroom.

Thanks for subscribing to the FLC.  I’ll see you next week with the Voice Principle!

Mayer, R. (2014). The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning, Second Edition. New York City: Cambridge University Press.

Nass, Clifford & Brave, Scott. (2005). Wired for Speech : How Voice Activates and Advances the Human-Computer Relationship / C. Nass, S. Brave.

Silverman, L. (2013, February 19). The Personalization Principle. Retrieved November 11, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoX5QpH2S_E.

9. Multimedia Principle

Chart showing that pages with images draw 94% more views.

The Multimedia Principle means that “words and pictures” are better than words alone.  There has been a lot of research in this area, and it has been found that learners do, in fact, gain more knowledge with words and pictures than if they were just presented with words alone.

With computing power that has gotten better over the years, pictures could mean:

  • Illustrations
  • Graphs
  • Charts
  • Photographs
  • Diagrams
  • Animations
  • Simulations
  • Videos
  • Other Visual Representations (for example Three Dimensional Models)

As we saw last week, we also know that spoken narration, in conjunction with the picture or graphic, is better than text narration.  We also know that multimedia presentations can foster generative processing (the process of constructing meaning through generating relationships and associations between stimuli and existing knowledge, beliefs, and experiences), because the learner is able to hold corresponding verbal and pictorial representations in working memory at the same time.  Remember that working memory can only hold so much information, so this is an important consideration when looking at efficient ways to teach material.

The Multimedia Principle (3:23)

An important distinction to make is that there really no difference between using computers or just text books when learning with words and pictures.  You will need to look at how the medium fits the lesson, and what works best with study conditions. 

You also need to remember that the quality of the lesson is important.  As they say – garbage in, garbage out.  The instructional message itself is more important than the medium it is presented in, and if you have a confusing message, presenting it in words and pictures is not going to make it better! 

When you use words and pictures, take full advantage of the pictures.  The quality of the lesson can be influenced by quality, and purpose, of the picture.  Here are a few ways that the picture could be categorized:

  • Decorative – Illustrations that are intended to interest or entertain the reader, but do not enhance the message of the passage. (Picture of a group of children on a playground for a lesson on physics principles)
  • Representational – Illustrations that portray a single element. (Picture of the Space Shuttle with a heading “The Space Shuttle”)
  • Organizational – Illustrations that depict relationships along elements. (A map or chart showing the main parts of the heart)
  • Explanative – Illustrations that explain how a system works. (Frames showing how a lightning storm forms)

When you look at these four different categories of pictures you will see that decorative and representational pictures do little to help the learner gain knowledge, other than to entertain. 

Illustration showing how automobile brakes work.
Explanative Illustration

One additional thought is that knowledge construction will always be better than information delivery.  When using knowledge construction you can then use the multimedia principles to effectively get that knowledge to the learners.

I hope you are enjoying the FLC.  Next week we will look at the Personalization Principle!

Mayer, R. (2014). The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning, Second Edition. New York City: Cambridge University Press.

The Multimedia Principle. (2017, October 25). Retrieved November 11, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbvpPdxoJiI.

8. Modality Principle

Last week we talked about the Pre-Training principle, and this week we look into another principle that will help us with essential processing.  The Modality Principle means that “graphics and narration” are better than “graphics and text.”

Here is a video that explains the Modality principle.

The Modality Principle (5:04)

If you only get one thing out of today’s FLC, it’s that when you have graphics, whether it’s a picture or a video, you want to use spoken word narration whenever possible.  This is the shortcut into working memory, as the graphics are processed through the visual channel and the narration is processed in the auditory channel (at the same time and without interfering with each other). 

When using graphics and spoken word narration, the learner will not have to integrate information as they would if they received two sources of information visually. It is so important not to split the learners attention, and this will help the student learn better and more efficiently.

Thanks for reading the Faculty Learning Corner (FLC) and I’ll see you next week with the Multimedia Principle.

7. Pre-Training Principle

The Pre-Training Principle means that we need to pre-teach key concepts for better understanding.  What this means is that learners actually learn better and more deeply if they already know the names and characteristics of the subject.

Picture depicting three phases of learning, questioning, thinking, and light bulb turning on.

So, why is this important?  We again look at working memory, and the capacity of the brain to retain knowledge.  What we find is that when a complex subject is approached at a fast pace (such as in a college course) the brain cannot take everything in.  This is called “essential overload.”

Pre-Training then gives essential knowledge, and is given before the lesson starts, which makes it easier to process the new concepts of the lesson.

Microscope with parts labeled

Here is an example.  Students in biology will need to use a microscope in their first lesson to look at blood cells, while at the same time trying to figure out the parts of the microscope.  Students with prior knowledge of the parts of the microscope and how they work can use their cognitive resources to learning the blood cell lesson.  Students who do not have this prior knowledge will be taxed by learning the lesson and learning the microscope parts and how they work. These students need pre-training.

Pre-training, in this case, helps by providing essential knowledge prior to diving into the concepts of the lesson.  Knowing your learner is very important then to know when to apply pre-training. 

The results are very clear that those with pre-training will perform better than those learners who do not get pre-training.  Students “learn more deeply from a multimedia message when they know the names and characteristics of the main concepts.”

Next week we look at the Modality Principle.  Have a great weekend!!

Mayer, R. (2014). The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning, Second Edition. New York City: Cambridge University Press.