Optimize video for online delivery using Handbrake

If you’ve used your phone, tablet, or digital camera to record video for your students to watch, you may find the resulting files large and take forever to upload. This means they’ll also take a long time for your students to download. Fortunately, you can pretty easily optimize your video using the free software HandBrake.

First, you’ll need to download and install HandBrake. Go to https://handbrake.fr/downloads.php to get the latest version that’s appropriate for your computer. We’ll be using the Windows version in this example.

Handbrake gives you the option to optimize one file at a time, or a number of files at once. If you’d like to run a number of files together, put them all in a folder before you get started.

Now launch HandBrake.

First we need to select the file or files. Click the SOURCE button.


If you’ve put a bunch of files into a folder, choose FOLDER. For this example, we’ll be optimizing a single file, so we’ll choose file, locate our file in the browser, and click OPEN.


It may take a minute or two to scan your file or files, depending on how large the file(s) are (and how many you’re doing in a single sitting).

Now, click BROWSE on the Destination line to pick where you’re going to save the file and what name you’re going to save it under.


Under OUTPUT SETTINGS, make sure the MP4 is selected as the container. Click the WEB OPTIMIZED checkbox.


On the VIDEO tab, make sure the H.264 (x264) is selected as the Video Codec.


Finally, click START to begin the process. Depending on the size of the video file(s), the process may take quite a while to run. Be patient.

Once the process is complete, you should have a significantly smaller video file to upload.

Fixing incorrect menu colors from the December 2016 update

The Blackboard update applied in late December contained a bug which may alter the colors of course menus making them difficult to read. If one or more of your courses is incorrectly showing the menu in green/blue the following steps will restore the default menu colors.

Note: These steps can only be performed by an instructor. If you are a student in a course affected by this glitch please contact your instructor.

1. Open the affected course.


2. Make sure Edit Mode is On. This setting is found in the upper right corner of the screen.


3. Hover over on the multi-colored Course Theme icon and click on Default.


4. Click the Student Preview button and wait a moment for Student Preview mode to start up.


5. Click the “Exit Preview” button in the yellow bar at the top of the screen.


6. Choose “Delete the preview user and all data” and click the Continue button.


Your course menu has now been restored to the default colors. Sorry for the inconvenience caused by this Blackboard bug.


Motivating students through course gamification and blackboard tools

Presentation Resources

Presentation slides (PDF)

Sample Syllabus / Schedule (PDF)


Gameful Pedaogy by GradeCraft

Boskic, N., & Hu, S. (2015). Gamification in Higher Education: How we Changed Roles. Proceedings Of The European Conference On Games Based Learning, 1741-748.

Cózar-Gutiérrez, R., & Sáez-López, J. (2016). Game-based learning and gamification in initial teacher training in the social sciences: an experiment with MinecraftEdu. International Journal Of Educational Technology In Higher Education, 13(1), 1-11. doi:10.1186/s41239-016-0003-4

Erenli, K. (2013). The Impact of Gamification. International Journal Of Emerging Technologies In Learning, 15-21. doi:10.3991/ijet.v8iS1.2320

Faiella, F., & Ricciardi, M. (2015). GAMIFICATION AND LEARNING: A REVIEW OF ISSUES AND RESEARCH. Journal Of E-Learning & Knowledge Society, 11(3), 13-21.

Rule, R. (2016). Workshop- Gamification: a Hands-on Session to Explore this Motivational Technique. https://community.blackboard.com/docs/DOC-2136-workshop-gamification-a-hands-on-session-to-explore-this-motivational-technique

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