Rapid developments in technology such as microsizing of digital camera components and improvements to audio and video recording resources have meant that we can create higher quality resources for students in easier ways than ever before, but often better quality comes at a price and that is the increase in file sizes. From bytes, to megabytes and gigabytes, The higher the quality of the resource the more it eats up your data. What can we do to make sure students can still access large files on the web?

We have had to rethink and develop new ways in which to deliver content to people. The technology that websites normally utilise to deliver content to you is no longer appropriate for large image files, PDFs or audio recordings. If it takes you 15 minutes to upload a file over a broadband connection, imagine how long it will take someone to download that file on a phone. We have to consider that many people these days use some form of mobile technology to engage with content on the go and we have to provide content appropriate for that.

So what can we do to facilitate the delivery of high resolution/quality content whilst maintaining user experience?

There are a multitude of services offering the solution and which route you go down should depend on your workflow. More often than not it’s best to link to a file rather than to host it within the VLE, this is because these services use more modern protocols to speed up the delivery of content.

Third Party Repositories*

Like an online hard drive, these are places in which to store data on the web and as is the case with many providers such as Vimeo, Dropbox, Google Drive and Soundcloud, a place in which to share that content back out again in the form of a URL.  You can then link to a file on Dropbox or Google drive from a website or even embed a video or audio file from one of the media hosting sites.

Large file send/receive*

If you prefer not to store your data in the cloud for any length of time, there are services like wetransfer or sendanyfile that let you upload a file and email a link to people to download it.

File Compression

Thirdly, you can compress your file. Often in the case of a PDF, or in some cases an mp3 this won’t result in a noticeable change in quality. Adobe Acrobat allows you to optimise your pdf, but if you don’t have that installed, you can do this on the web. Similarly, Audacity allows you to convert audio to mp3 and Soundcloud will transcode anything you upload for streaming at 128Kbs, which would allow you to demo material on the web.

*with any of these services it is important to read the terms and conditions and check that you are happy with what these companies are doing with your data.

Educational Technology can help inform your choices when looking at these various options.

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