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Publishing vs. Embedding

What's the difference between publishing and embedding a video in Canvas? Read below to find out.

There are two terms that Kaltura uses to describe at the highest level how to present videos to your students: "publishing" and "embedding."

When videos are "published," they are made visible to students in the course(s) you specify by appearing in that course's Media Gallery. Without any other action, however, the Media Gallery will be the only place they can find your videos. Because there isn't any automated notification when something is added to a Media Gallery, you'll need to ensure that students know to find your videos there.

When videos are "embedded," they are inserted into the piece of instructional material you have specified. Usually, embedding a video means finding the video's "embed code" - the HTML that a webpage needs in order to properly display the video when the page is loaded. Within Canvas, however, there's a button within the rich content editor that easily allows you to select the video from "My Media" that you want to insert, without having to deal with any of the code itself. Videos can be embedded into any piece of instructional materials that use the rich text editor, such as pages, assignments, or even quizzes.

A screenshot of the rich content editor.
Figure 1. The rich content editor, with the "embed Kaltura media" button circled. You can embed a video from your "My Media" in Canvas anywhere you see the rich content editor (e.g. a page, a quiz question, a discussion board post, etc.).

Should I Publish or Embed My Videos?

You may be wondering whether it's better to publish your videos to the Media Gallery or embed them within your modules. Well, from a best practices perspective, ideally you would do both.

Presenting your students with a well-organized course - a logical module structure, clear learning objectives, plenty of context for what they need to consume, and so on - is a key tenet of effective instructional design. Create pages within your modules for your multimedia that make clear when students are expected to consume them, and use the rich content editor to provide context for how the video fits in with the larger course structure.

Many students, however, benefit from being able to review your videos (for example, prior to an assessment), so consider publishing them to the Media Gallery as well to facilitate finding them.

As you can see in the table below, embedding videos does take a little more effort - but not much. The time you spend creating an effective and thorough modular structure to your course can have a powerful effect on your students.

Table 1. The comparative advantages and disadvantages of publishing and embedding your videos in your Canvas course.
Presentation Method Advantages Disadvantages
  • Less time to make videos visible in your course
  • More video options are available to the student, such as the option to download it (if you enable it), comments, attachments, etc.
  • No ability to leverage Canvas features (due dates, scheduled release dates, text above or below the video, video size, etc.)
  • Videos are only visible in the Media Gallery; students need to know to check the gallery if you add new material
  • Pedagogical efficacy: students better understand the context and chronology of the videos
  • You can leverage Canvas's functions (due dates, scheduled release dates, text above or below the video, video size, etc.)
  • It requires a little extra work to embed rather than just publish
  • Embedded videos don't automatically appear in the course's Media Gallery (i.e. they aren't automatically published)
  • If students are looking for a particular video, it may be harder for them to locate it
  • You can't create a "Kaltura video" course element in Canvas - you must create a page (or something else that uses the rich content editor) and embed the video there

Have additional questions about video? Contact Multimedia Services at