Jul 25, 2012

Flash Content, Flash Browsers and iOS

In the recent flurry of discussions that have occurred regarding the flipped classroom, one hurdle that I have noticed is the ability to post videos that are accessible on iOS devices (iPods, iPhones, iPads).  With the inability to view Flash content, many students who try to view videos on these mobile devices run into the issue that they are unable to view your videos.  There are a few options and a few workarounds to help your students view Flash content and videos on these devices. 

First, in terms of storing your videos, many people like to use YouTube as a place to post them.  This is fine and tends to work well when students try to view your videos on and iOS device.  One trick I have found that helps out tremendously is to share by using the URL to your YouTube video as a link from your LMS, Teacher Website, or wherever.  This means that when students click on it, it will open in the native YouTube app on their iOS device. 

If you plan to Embed your video, it helps to check the box marked "Use Old Embed Code".  The reason for this is that some sites will often reject the standard embed code which is based on HTML 5.  The old embed code is based on Flash.  I know this sounds crazy since Flash is not an option on iOS devices, but sometimes you just have to play around with the one that works.  If one doesn't work, try the other.  But always, always, always, setup your embedded video on your website and then try to view it on your iOS device to make sure it is viewable/playable.

Second, if you are not much of a techie, there are other ways to help  your students gain access to your video content on their iOS device.  The easiest route is to direct them to a Flash Browser in the App Store.  There are several good ones for free and some great ones that cost a few dollars.  A few that I have found to be good are:

Photon Flash Browser - $4.99 in the App Store - This one works great, but comes at a cost.  If students are willing to spend the money, this one allows users to view any flash content via a streaming process.  There is a slight lag, but it is not that noticeable.   For iPad/iPhone/iPod.




Rover - Supported by ads from educational providers such as Discovery Education, this app is Free!  As a result you have ads that popup at the beginning, but once you enter your site address and navigate, the ads go away while you browse.  This app is for iPad only.



Puffin Web Browser - Available as a Free and Paid App - this browser works as the others do by streaming content across the web and back to your device to provide the experience of viewing flash content.  Works great.  Expect ads on the Free version. 




Whichever route you take in making content available to your students, make sure you spend a few minutes at the beginning of the school year going over accessibility options.  This will help prevent any obstacles your students have to accessing content and viewing it as homework.  Good luck flipping your classroom!