How to create online video classes?
November 5, 2009 10:36 AM   Subscribe

I need advice in setting up secure, online video classes.

A student would pay for the class, and then be directed to a streaming video that they would be able to watch (not download) for a length of time (say a week).

I could use any advice, resources, warnings or general musings on how to accomplish this. Existing software or hosting solutions also welcome. I know html and css but only just getting my little toenail wet with php. Finally, this would be for a small business with limited resources (i.e. cash).
posted by jabo to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
What is your expected volume? Would creating some keys manually be a problem?
posted by odinsdream at 10:44 AM on November 5, 2009

Look into Adobe "acrobat connect"...I had an online class using it, and it worked pretty damn well.
posted by notsnot at 10:49 AM on November 5, 2009

Odinsdream -

This would be for people interested in learning techniques in creating a form of jewelry. The target audience would be those interested in learning arts and crafts so. Not sure what the volume would be. This wouldn't be something that a student would take tests for, just watching to learn the technique.
posted by jabo at 11:34 AM on November 5, 2009

If the volume is low, you could create individual links to the video files and send those to the client via e-mail after you confirm their purchase. Stick a note on your calendar to remove the link after a certain amount of time, or write a script for expunging them.
posted by odinsdream at 12:18 PM on November 5, 2009

It's not too hard to use adobe connect or simple streaming recorded video and restrict it, but the problem you face is twofold: information sharing and market informational asymmetries. Information sharing is easy to explain: password protection places your security in the hands of the user. And anything that shows up on a computer screen is easy enough to record and upload to Youtube. If you think people with technical savvy will try this, there's not many cost effective approaches you can take. Log IP addresses for a given username and raise a warning if too many addresses sign into one account.

Information asymmetry is another challenge. You know how good your lecture is, but students don't, and the prudent will assume the worst. The obvious way around this is to offer one video for free, but I expect you'll face low conversion rates, meaning most of your video traffic will be uncompensated. My employer pays for online video training accounts; for other people the site uses a chapter based system where videos are 5 minutes long and give you the introductory chapters free. I'm not sure how well it fits your market and product though. In any case, you'll want to build in some business measurement tools to see how much you need to give away to earn customers.

But all this assumes you have a relatively high volume of visitors. If you only make one sale a month, I'm almost tempted to suggest burning it to DVD and mailing it.
posted by pwnguin at 3:31 PM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

There are some payment processors that will ping your server with the new or expired login credentials for users so another script can handle authentication - ensuring only paid up users can log in.

Others will FTP in to your server and update an .htaccess / .htpasswd file with valid usernames & passwords - this is a very simple solution.

The second problem is how to prevent someone from downloading your video files. This is a bit more difficult, but doable in a few different ways.

1. Javascript obfuscation. You have a flash video player & hide the name of the file that's loaded into the flash player by encoding the name in javascript. The HTML page will pass the information on to the player, but won't be readable easily by doing a simple view source.

2. Encoding the video files that are to load into the flash player itself.

You could get someone to program either one for you. Though it won't stop someone with video + audio capture software from simply recording what's going to their screen/sound card.

Lastly, you'll need a program that watches out for how many people log in with a single set of credentials (some people will sign up & then post their credentials... this happens in porn more than in jewelry making), and blocks them if too many people sign up or if too much bandwidth is transferred in too short a period of time.
posted by MesoFilter at 10:18 PM on November 5, 2009

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