Recommended Tools and Methods for Using Audio and Video in Canvas

Using audio and video in a Canvas course can open the door to many possibilities, including multimedia discussion boards, recorded student presentations, using a flipped classroom model, and more. Still, instructors must make a number of choices regarding what tools to use and how to use them, from picking a webcam recorder to figuring out the best way to share videos in Canvas.

In this article you’ll find our recommendations on what tools and methods to use to support audio and video in your Canvas course, including:

  • Kaltura Capture, Kaltura webcam recorder, and Kaltura (My Media), the university’s supported solutions for recording, storing, and sharing media. Both tools are available to you and your students for free. We will also discuss the recording features in PowerPoint and how you turn your PowerPoints into lecture videos.
  • YouTube, Vimeo, and other third-party video platforms. Though the university doesn’t support these platforms, we will cover recommendations on how to embed or link to these sources.
  • PlayPosit, a powerful tool for making your audio and video content more interactive.

Recording Audio and Video

Kaltura Capture

When you or your students need to record audio or video content, Kaltura Capture will suit your needs in most instances. The app is simple to use and offers screen recording and webcam recording capability, making it an ideal tool for video lectures or prerecorded student presentations. After downloading and installing it on your device, you can use Kaltura Capture to:

  • Record the content on your computer screen. If you have a second monitor connected to your computer, you can choose which display to record.
  • Record video of yourself with your computer’s built-in or external webcam.
  • Record audio of yourself speaking with your computer’s built-in or external microphone.
  • On Windows, you can also record the audio from your computer system, such as when playing a video during a screen recording. (You must enable this feature in the application settings first.)

Kaltura Webcam Recorder

If you don’t need Kaltura Capture’s screen recording features, you can use Kaltura webcam recorder to record audio and video of yourself instead. It can be launched from your browser without downloading any software. Simply open the app from My Media in Canvas or within the Rich Content Editor while editing a Canvas page, discussion, assignment, quiz, or announcement. The webcam recorder is a quick and easy option for providing video feedback or recording a video introduction for a discussion board.

The "Kaltura" button in the Canvas Rich Content Editor, along with the "Add New" media dropdown menu
To launch the webcam recorder while editing an item in Canvas, click on the Kaltura icon (rainbow flower) in the toolbar of the Rich Content Editor. In the pop-up menu, click the “Add New” button and select “Webcam Recorder” from the dropdown menu.

Microsoft PowerPoint

If you already use PowerPoint to develop your lecture materials, consider using its built-in audio and video recording capabilities to create your pre-recorded lecture videos. Audio narrations can be recorded within PowerPoint slide by slide. Additionally, you can enable your webcam and record video footage of yourself during your narrations. To make your presentations mobile-friendly and more accessible, we recommend exporting your narrated PowerPoints as video files, uploading them to Kaltura (My Media), and then embedding the videos in Canvas. This LinkedIn Learning video is a great resource for getting started with recording narrations in PowerPoint.

Other Tools for Recording Audio and Video

Kaltura Capture and the Kaltura webcam recorder are not the only means of recording audio and video out there, and they may not work for every situation. You are welcome to explore other recording software, but know that if you use a tool that is not provided by the university, it also means that you will be on your own in terms of finding support if you need help.

It’s worth mentioning that there is one recording method we would discourage instructors from using: the “Record/Upload Media” option in the Rich Content Editor. First, Canvas has a limit on file size for media recorded with this feature. And second, captions (both machine-generated and professional) cannot be added to recordings made with this tool. To maximize accessibility and save yourself a potential headache, use a different recording software and store your recordings in Kaltura.

Storing and Sharing Your Media

Kaltura (My Media)

Whether you choose to record with Kaltura Capture or another application, we highly recommend uploading your recordings to Kaltura. One of the biggest advantages is that Kaltura provides unlimited long-term cloud video and audio storage at no additional cost. Once an audio or video file is in Kaltura, it is also incredibly easy to link or embed it anywhere in a Canvas course.

Kaltura makes it easy to manage your media as well. You can apply tags and add descriptions to help organize your content, sort and filter by a variety of attributes, and even make simple edits to your media with the Kaltura video editor, such as trimming out unwanted sections at the beginning or end of a screen capture recording.

The Kaltura video editor as it appears in Canvas
The Kaltura video editor is great for when you need to cut out sections of a video clip, trim the beginning or end of a clip, or create a short clip from a longer video.

Using Kaltura is also best practice for accessibility. When you upload your media, machine-generated English captions are automatically applied. When a student makes a formal disability accommodation request for captions through Student Accessibility Services, professional captions can be easily ordered and applied to your Kaltura media as well.

Quick Tip: Uploading Media from a Smartphone to Kaltura

What do you do if you want to have students create audio or video content, but they don’t all have access to a computer with a webcam? Fortunately, an Apple or Android smartphone can do the trick in these situations. First, students can record their media with the camera application on their phone. To upload a recording from your phone to Kaltura, download the Kaltura MediaSpace GO application for iOS or Android and then follow these instructions to configure the app’s setup. Once the app is configured, you can upload to Kaltura (My Media) in just a few taps.

Other Tools for Storing and Sharing Your Media

Since video and audio files can be large, it is best to pick a storage solution in which your videos are saved to a cloud or hosted on a website. YouTube, while not a technology supported by the university, is still an option that supports both share links and embed codes. If you are comfortable with using OneDrive, you can also store recordings in your UWGB OneDrive cloud and share links to those recordings, though there is not currently a supported method for embedding these recordings in Canvas.

Please note that it is not advisable to upload media to your Canvas course’s files area. Video and audio files will quickly take up your course’s limited file storage space. Using a cloud storage system for your media helps solve this issue, as media embedded from platforms like Kaltura or YouTube do not count against this quota.

The "files" tab in Canvas
The “Files” area in Canvas is good for storing documents and images that are linked or embedded in your course, however it is not ideal for larger files like audio and video.

Sharing Media from External Sources

For media that you do not own and that is hosted outside Kaltura, such as YouTube videos and Ted Talks, you have a few options for sharing. Depending on the source, you might be able to search for and embed the content from within Canvas’s Rich Content Editor. For the rest, you can use an embed code or a simple hyperlink.

Canvas Integrations

Films on Demand, TedEd, Vimeo, and YouTube all have Canvas integrations that you can access from the Rich Content Editor. While editing a page or post, click on Apps (the plug icon) in the toolbar of the Rich Content Editor and then “View All” to select a tool. Use the tool’s interface to search for and embed your video.

The YouTube video search using the YouTube Canvas integration
The YouTube Canvas integration lets you search for and embed media from within the Canvas Rich Content Editor.

Embed Codes

If your video source is not listed above, check to see if there is an embed code available on the website where the media is hosted (often this will be an option when you click to “share” a video). If you have the embed code, you can add the media to a Canvas page, discussion, etc. by going to Insert > Embed in the Rich Content Editor and pasting the embed code.

Hyperlinks

If all else fails, you can add a hyperlink to the media using the Links button in the Rich Content Editor and then “External Links.” Make sure to give the hyperlink a descriptive name, rather than just pasting the whole URL on the page. This is not only best practice for accessibility, but it also helps contextualize the links before a student clicks on them.

Enhancing Audio and Video Activities

Want to bring your audio and video content to the next level? Tools like PlayPosit can help by adding interactions for students to engage with while they watch. PlayPosit bulbs can include content from Kaltura, YouTube, and Vimeo, so you can mix and match content you’ve created yourself with other videos you’ve found online. Adding a few simple interactions to a video takes just a few minutes of setup. You can learn more about this powerful media tool in this overview guide and another guide on potential use cases.

Questions?

Using audio and video in a course can seem intimidating at first, but with the right tools and training, it can also be harnessed for effective teaching. As always, we also welcome you to request a CATL consultation if you’d like to learn more about developing learning materials or activities with audio and video. As you explore your media options, you may also find the resources below useful.

 

Top 10 Technology Tips & Time-Savers

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In an effort to help instructors in their work, CATL brainstormed some of the best technology time-savers and tips we have to share with you. Here’s our “Top 10” list. We encourage you to save it for future reference and use.

  1. Have end-of-semester questions about Canvas, such as how to send grades to SIS or give a student extended access to a course for an Incomplete? Consult our End-of-Semester Canvas Survival Guide for answers to these and other frequently asked questions.
  2. Work smarter and not harder by copying over your Canvas materials the next time you teach a course. Besides doing a full course import, did you know that you can also quickly copy a single module or module item to another course or share one with another instructor? You can even reuse imported course announcements by using the delay posting option to schedule them to post at a future date and time.
  3. Speed up your grading and boost transparency by setting up rubrics in Canvas. Once you’ve added a rubric to an assignment or a graded discussion and checked the box to use it for grading, Canvas will calculate the point total automatically when you use it to grade. Plus, rubrics can also be directly tied to your course’s outcomes in Canvas.
  4. Encourage or re-engage specific groups of students using the analytics and inbox features. Check out the weekly student activity trend data available in New Analytics to see which students may need a little prodding or use the “message students who” feature in the Canvas gradebook to give reminders and/or praise for an assignment.
  5. Want to fine tune the pacing of your course? You can add requirements to a module to force students to work through its contents in order. Once you have requirements set up, prerequisites can also be added which require a student to meet the requirements of a previous module before accessing the next.
  6. Consider using Kaltura (My Media) for the most streamlined audio/video experience in Canvas. You can upload and store your audio and video files in Kaltura, which has much greater storage capacity than many other options, and then easily embed your media in Canvas or provide a share link.
  7. Even if you’ve used Kaltura Capture before, you may not be familiar with all the different options for recording, such as the ability to choose a source for each output and toggle your webcam, screen recording, and audio on/off. In Windows, you can even enable system audio to capture audio from videos playing on your computer.
  8. With PlayPosit, you can enhance course videos in minutes by adding interactions for learners to engage with, such as polls or free-response questions. If you create a graded bulb, students’ grades also sync with Canvas automatically.
  9. If you are using Zoom for synchronous online classes or office hours, remember that you can schedule meetings through the Canvas Zoom integration. If you record your meetings, you can also publish these recordings for students to access in Canvas through the Zoom integration.
  10. If you’re looking for ways to add more engagement to your synchronous online lectures, try preparing in-class quizzes or polls for your Zoom meetings. Polls and quizzes can be added to Zoom meetings through the Zoom web portal and then pushed out to students during the meeting. Want to try something similar in an in-person class? Consider exploring PlayPosit’s Broadcast feature.

Enhance Course Videos with PlayPosit in Mere Minutes

If you’ve been tuned in to the CATL blog or Teach Tuesday newsletter at all over the past year, you’ve likely gained at least a passing understanding of what PlayPosit is. CATL staff have been eager to share our excitement about what this interactive video platform can do to boost learner engagement in courses at UW-Green Bay! PlayPosit is a very powerful and flexible tool, and that can make it seem intimidating to many instructors. While you can spend hours in the PlayPosit designer crafting your masterpiece video experience, in truth, some of the most impactful uses of PlayPosit can be implemented by instructors in 10 minutes or less! In this post, you will find a few examples of how you can leverage PlayPosit in simple ways that will give you immediate feedback from students, reinforce key concepts, and provide opportunities for your students to interact with you and collaborate with each other, all by using your pre-existing course videos.

Get Instant Feedback from Your Students

Screenshot of a PlayPosit bulb with an interaction which asks students for immediate feedback on the video

One of the most simple and effective uses of PlayPosit is adding a prompt at the end of a video where students can submit any questions or feedback on the content. Adding one “free response” interaction at the end of each course video can help you continuously monitor the “pulse” of the course and get immediate feedback from students on their understanding of the content. You can ask students to identify the muddiest point of the video for them and the resources and actions they need to better understand it. This type of metacognitive question can help students better identify the concepts which will require the most study to master. If you teach a large lecture class where the labor of parsing student responses would not be sustainable, you can instead add one or more “Poll” interactions to gain a quantitative insight of your students’ perception of their understanding of the content in each video. This poll data can help direct your planning of class time and additional resources for review.

Reinforce Key Concepts with Quiz Breaks

Another simple use of PlayPosit is to insert a “quiz” question at an important checkpoint of a video to help reinforce a key concept that has just been covered. Adding quiz breaks to your video can help students solidify their comprehension of the material and keep their active attention throughout the video (Szpunar et al., 2013). PlayPosit offers several interaction types suitable for this purpose: Multiple Choice, Check All, Free Response, and Fill in the Blank. Consider adding a question at the end, at a logical break near the midpoint of the video, or anytime the video shifts gears from one topic to another. You can give students multiple (or unlimited) attempts to answer correctly and (optionally) add a small point value to the assigned PlayPosit video to give your students extra incentive to engage with the content on-schedule.

Collaboratively Annotate a Video

Screenshot of the “Template Gallery” in the PlayPosit designer

PlayPosit’s “discussion” interaction type can be used to facilitate an exercise that asks students watch a video and post to a class-wide discussion board that is built-in to the video player. In addition to videos in your personal Kaltura My Media library, instructors can incorporate public YouTube and Vimeo videos into their PlayPosit activities, so consider this use case if you use any YouTube or Vimeo videos as required viewing in your course. Through PlayPosit’s Template Gallery, you can quickly add a single customizable discussion interaction that students can post to throughout the entire duration of the video.

Students can use the discussion interaction to collaboratively annotate the video to add their interpretations, cite criticism or link to pertinent online resources, and pose their own questions for class discussion. Each comment posted in the discussion is timestamped with the position of the video at which the student paused and submitted the comment. Students and instructors can select the timestamp on a post to immediately jump the video player to that moment of the video and make threaded replies to build off each other’s contributions. PlayPosit discussions are a great way to get a class to go on a deep exploration of a short video or clip that warrants repeated viewings.

Maximum Impact, Minimal Time

Each of the use cases described in this post involves using PlayPosit to add only one or two interactive elements to a course video. If you already use videos in your course, you can create any of these in under 10 minutes! Watch the video below to see the process from start-to-finish in under 3 minutes:

These PlayPosit enhancements to your course videos can give you big returns on just a little bit of time invested. Teaching with asynchronous videos doesn’t have to feel like lecturing into the void when you build formative exercises directly into the videos and give students ways to provide you with immediate feedback each time they watch a video. You’ll get a clear picture of which students are engaging with your video content, and, since you’ve turned the video watching experience into an active one, your students will be more likely to engage and stay engaged with course videos.

We hope these examples will spark you to take the first step to using PlayPosit in your courses. CATL is happy to provide consultations both to instructors who are looking to get started with PlayPosit as well as instructors who have already taken their first steps and are now inspired to build beyond the fundamentals and create interactive video masterpieces. Fill out our consultation request form to schedule a time to meet with a CATL team member or reach out to us at catl@uwgb.edu with your questions and ideas!

VoiceThread Contract Ending: Alternatives and Solutions

On June 1, 2022, UWGB faculty, staff, and students will lose access to VoiceThread. After this date, you will no longer be able to create new VoiceThreads or access and reuse old VoiceThread projects in Canvas or on the VoiceThread site. You can, however, download and store past projects in a different application or format before June 1 (see instructions below).

We feel confident about moving forward and being able to help you meet your teaching and learning goals. Instructors have used VoiceThread for several purposes, but we think those same instructional goals can be met with other tools. Please consult the list below to find your particular use(s) of VoiceThread and read about alternative tools or strategies. Still, this blog post is intended only as a reference document. Before you begin modifying your course or activities, we would encourage you to reach out to CATL for a brief consultation about your specific situation, rather than simply reading this information. You can reach us by email (CATL@uwgb.edu), phone (920-465-2541), or by filling out our consultation request form.

Alternatives to VoiceThread by Activity Type

Discussions or Critiques Using Audio or Video Recordings

The most common use for VoiceThread is to facilitate discussions that incorporate audio and video recordings, such as having online students record introduction videos and respond to those of their peers. The good news is that you can still have discussions this way using two tools you are likely already familiar with: Kaltura and Canvas discussion boards. Click the case below for more details.

Use a Canvas discussion board with Kaltura (My Media) audio/video embeds

  1. Set up a Canvas discussion board.
  2. Provide instructions on the following in the discussion board description:

Narrated Presentations or Lecture Videos

Some instructors used VoiceThread to record lectures that permit students to add comments on slides. You can instead, however, provide opportunities for student interaction with a pre-recorded lecture by turning your video into a PlayPosit bulb (see this article for a few easy ideas). If you’re simply looking for a lecture recording tool, Kaltura Capture and PowerPoint are great options. Click on the use cases in the accordion below to learn more. You can also read more about recording with Kaltura and PowerPoint in this guide.

Use PowerPoint & Kaltura (My Media)

  1. Record narrations in PowerPoint.
  2. Export the presentation as a .MP4 file with recorded timings and narrations.
  3. Upload the .MP4 file to Kaltura (My Media) in Canvas.
  4. Embed the Kaltura video on a page in Canvas.

Use Kaltura Capture & Kaltura (My Media)

  1. Record your lecture using Kaltura Capture; you can record your webcam footage and your computer screen at the same time.
  2. Once you are finished recording, click Save & Upload in Kaltura Capture to upload the recording to Kaltura (My Media).
  3. Embed the Kaltura video on a page in Canvas.

Use PowerPoint or Kaltura Capture, Kaltura (My Media), & PlayPosit

  1. Record your lecture with PowerPoint or Kaltura Capture and upload to Kaltura (My Media) in Canvas.
  2. For ungraded PlayPosit activities, create a bulb on a Canvas page in the Rich Content Editor. For graded PlayPosit activities, create a Canvas assignment with “External Tool” as the submission type and then create the bulb through the External Tool pop-up window.
  3. On the page or in the Canvas assignment description with the PlayPosit bulb, include instructions on how to interact with the bulb and leave comments in the bulb’s discussion; this PlayPosit student guide is an excellent resource to link.

Student-Created Narrated Presentations

Recorded student presentations are a common method to assess learning, especially in asynchronous online classes. Depending on your assignment learning outcomes, a video link submission to a Canvas assignment may be all you need, however, if you would like students to view and/or comment on peers’ presentations, there are ways to accomplish this using Canvas discussions or PlayPosit peer review assignments.

Use PowerPoint or Kaltura Capture, Kaltura (My Media), & a Canvas assignment

  1. Set up a Canvas online submission assignment with “Website URL” checked as the online entry option.
  2. Provide instructions on the following in the assignment description:

Use PowerPoint or Kaltura Capture, Kaltura (My Media), & a Canvas discussion board

  1. Set up a Canvas discussion.
  2. Provide instructions on the following in the discussion description:

Use Canvas Groups, Kaltura Capture, Kaltura (My Media), & a PlayPosit peer review assignment

  1. Set up Groups in Canvas; students will have to review the presentations of the other members in their group, so use that information to determine an appropriate group size.
  2. Create a Canvas assignment with “external tool” as the submission type.
  3. Set up the PlayPosit peer review assignment in the External Tool pop-up window.
  4. Provide instructions on the following in the Canvas assignment description:
    • How to record a video with Kaltura Capture and upload it to Kaltura (My Media) (most PlayPosit assignments will use Kaltura videos, though you can also use YouTube or Vimeo video links).
    • How to submit a PlayPosit peer review assignment, how to view and assess peers’ submissions, and how to view peer and/or instructor feedback on your own submission; this PlayPosit peer review guide for students is an excellent resource to link.

Exporting & Saving VoiceThreads for Future Use

Considerations Before Exporting

VoiceThread, by design, is meant to foster student engagement and discussion. If you are thinking about exporting a VoiceThread to reuse in a future course, first reflect on the purpose of the VoiceThread activity and whether the recorded video version would accomplish the same goals as the original activity. What modifications would you need to make for the video to still be an effective learning experience? Will the video be embedded in a PlayPosit bulb or Canvas discussion to allow for student interaction? Would it be better to redesign the activity and adapt it for another tool entirely?

If you are able to give sound pedagogical reasoning to support exporting and reusing a video of a VoiceThread, or perhaps would just like to keep them for archival purposes, read on.

Guidelines for Exporting VoiceThreads

VoiceThreads can be exported as video files (.mov) that include all slides and comments played in sequence. You can export as many threads as you wish, but it will take an investment of time.

If you used VoiceThread simply to present your own content (e.g., lectures), your downloaded exports can be uploaded to your Kaltura My Media library and shared with students in future classes. As a bonus, machine-generated English captions will be added automatically when you upload the video to Kaltura.

If you have a VoiceThread that includes student comments and you wish to reuse it as a video presentation in a future class, before exporting it, you should first create a copy of the VoiceThread that includes no comments or only instructor comments. Export that “clean” copy to comply with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) law. By law, you cannot share student comments from one class (not even the identities of those students) with another class in the same or future semesters.

Please refer to this knowledgebase article on exporting VoiceThreads and downloading those exports. Note that UWGB’s license includes an unlimited amount of “export credits.”

TIP: To quickly access your personal VoiceThread home page and see your library of threads, first launch any VoiceThread in Canvas, then navigate to voicethread.com/myvoice.

Please export any VoiceThread content you wish to keep a copy of before June 1, 2022.

Questions?

Please remember that CATL is here to help! If you would like help adapting your VoiceThread activities and assignments, we encourage you to request a consultation, email CATL@uwgb.edu, or call us (465-2541). A CATL team member would be happy to assist you.

Approaching the Spring 2022 Semester & Mitigating COVID Disruptions

We know you may have questions or concerns about the upcoming semester and the possibility that you will have to temporarily adapt the way you teach or share information with students based on your own or numerous student illnesses. While we hope that doesn’t happen, know the resources below are available if it does.

We also know you may be tempted to improvise in the moment (e.g., using a cell phone to record a live class and post it to Canvas), but these sorts of solutions may create their own problems. A lecture recorded with a cell phone, for example, may present issues for remote learners—are the audio and video quality good enough for learners to understand and absorb the lecture? Can they see what’s on the whiteboard and monitors at the front of the classroom? What about participating in-class group work or discussions? 

Some more sustainable, equitable options could be: 

  • creating a formal note-taking buddy system among students 
  • modifying assessments with online submissions or flexible submission dates 
  • moving group presentations to a virtual, recorded format, such as Zoom, VoiceThread or PlayPosit, that students can comment on in Canvas 
  • “flipping” a course by recording lectures so students can watch them on their own time and devoting in-person class time to review/group work/collaboration 
  • reworking elements of your course to be asynchronous 
  • offering alternative options to in-class participation, like online discussions, journaling, or reflection 

Remember, CATL is always here to help with generating strategies to assist quarantined learners and instructors. 

Who To Contact About What

Your Chair, Dean, and others mentioned in the Chancellor’s 1/14/22 campus email can help with:

  • Questions about policies related to temporary pivots in instruction modality, special accommodations in your teaching, and any other class decisions related to COVID-19
  • You may also reach out to the COVID Response Team (covidresponse@uwgb.edu) and/or Associate Provost Courtney Sherman with policy and COVID-related questions

The CATL Team (CATL@uwgb.edu – teaching; DLE@uwgb.edu – teaching technology) will assist with: 

  • Teaching and learning (e.g., course design, assignment options, equity-based instruction) 
  • Using technology in course instruction (e.g., holding office hours in Zoom, having students use Microsoft Teams for group work, using the Canvas Zoom integration, recording videos for asynchronous instruction using Kaltura tools) 
  • Strategies to keep quarantined learners engaged and/or how to modify assignments or assessments to accommodate 

The GBIT Service Desk (GBIT@uwgb.edu) is your resource for:  

  • All other technical software or hardware questions, as well as technological support in campus classrooms (e.g., login issues, Office 365 and Sharepoint, non-teaching Zoom & Teams use, classroom projectors) 

Specific Vendor Support Services (varies by service – see links below under the appropriate tool) 

  • We have direct vendor support for many technological teaching tools. Although CATL can and will help with best practices, most purely technical questions are best answered by the support line for that software.  
  • Canvas support is available to instructors 24/7 
  • Vendor support is also available for Zoom, PlayPosit, and VoiceThread (see below) 

Resources for Specific Tools

Click on one of the headings below to expand the accordion and see the related guides.

Canvas

Learning management system. Allows instructors to post learning materials (readings, videos), create assessments (assignments, discussions, quizzes), and grade assessments. Also allows students to interact with course materials, submit assessments, and view their grades. 

Kaltura

Video recording, hosting, and sharing platform. Integrates with Canvas. Sometimes referred to as “My Media” within Canvas. 

Zoom 

Web conferencing application with features like chat, polling, and breakout rooms. Integrates with Canvas.

Microsoft Teams

Web conferencing application and file sharing platform. Best for courses centered around group projects and collaboration. 

PlayPosit

Platform for building and viewing interactive video content; can be used to create formative assessments during video playback. Integrates with Canvas and uses videos uploaded to Kaltura (My Media), YouTube, and Vimeo. 

VoiceThread 

Platform for conducting asynchronous discussion around a presentation or other media. Discussion takes the form of text, audio, and video comments.