How to Find and Use Streaming Video for Teaching

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Preparing to use streaming video in your class is different than using physical formats, such as DVDs. The UW Libraries has a growing collection of streaming videos, but we must obtain streaming rights to make videos available online to the university, even when we own physical copies in our collection.

Please be aware that if you are making a request to purchase streaming rights for titles not yet in our collection, it can take up to two months to license these materials.

This guide will help you:

1) Consider streaming models and choose the best that works for your class

There are several different streaming options out there.  What you choose will largely depend on how much and what kinds of streaming video you'd like to use. The models discussed below could be used in tandem with each other.

  • Link to streaming videos from the UW Libraries. Recognizing the importance of streaming videos to the curriculum, the Media Collection has contributed to a growing collection of streaming titles available from the UW LIbraries. Because we are part of the larger UW Libraries system, we must acquire rights to stream titles within an educational setting. (Go to next step to learn how to find these videos.)
  • Third party streaming services and freely-available content. If you intend to use a lots of feature films (i.e. popular Hollywood titles), you might consider asking your students to subscribe to a third party streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, among others. There is also a free service available from public libraries called Hoopla, and quite a few distributors and filmmakers make their titles freely-available in various places. The shortcoming of any of these services is that none will likely have all the titles you need. The website Can I Stream It allows you to search for particular titles and find out which one may be available. Our Streaming Video research guide explains more about these third party services and freely-available collections.
  • Host media content yourself. Canvas allows you to host media files up to a certain size for your class. You may consider doing a fair use evaluation and decide to host video content essential for your class. More information about this option:

2) Find streaming titles from the UW Libraries you can link to

There are two primary ways to find streaming videos that the UW Libraries has licensed:

Image showing how to access eVideo

If you have difficulty confirming whether the titles are available, you may submit a list of titles you use regularly from our collection, and we will check whether videos are available from the UW Libraries in a streaming format.  

3) Request that the library acquire rights to stream a particular title

The request process is slightly different depending on the genre of films, but in both cases licensing costs remain high and staff work time is involved, therefore we limit instructors to a total of three new Library purchases per class per quarter. (Note: there are no limits on the number of streaming titles you can use once they have been licensed by the UW Libraries.)

  • Feature films (popular Hollywood titles) and selected television shows. The Library licenses features films and some television shows from Swank Digital Campus. We are able to get videos for terms of a quarter or a year, and you will be asked during the request process how long you’d like access. Before submitting your request, please check the titles we have already purchased and then search to make sure the title is available from Swank Digital Campus. The turn-around time to make a title online is usually 1-2 weeks.
  • Educational documentaries.The Library will obtain rights for educational documentaries to the extent possible. Securing rights to stream videos can be time-consuming and expensive, and unfortunately, in some cases, rights may not be available. It can take up to two months for us to license and make videos available. You will recieve a response about your request within a week notifying you of its status.

Submit streaming video purchase request