Denise Dejonghe

Captioning YouTube Videos Created by Others using Amara

Blog Post created by Denise Dejonghe on Nov 3, 2017

Many instructors include YouTube and other internet videos in their Canvas courses. However, not all videos are captioned by the video creators. YouTube doesn’t allow captioning of videos unless we own them and 3PlayMedia charges a fee. We use Techsmith Relay at our institution, which allows us to add YouTube links to the server but not caption the videos. I found that Amara can caption external videos for free when I tried it on a YouTube video!


Just copy the YouTube URL into Amara and follow their directions to create captions. The internet video remains in it's original state, but Amara overlays captions, provides embed code, and creates a transcript.



Uncaptioned YouTube video


The same video captioned using Amara


Placing in Canvas


Unfortunately, Canvas won't display the video using the Amara embed code that contains javascript.

  • The easiest method of adding the newly captioned video is to place the external link to the Amara-captioned video within a module or page.
  • It also works to save the embed code as an .html file (I used Notepad on my PC) and upload as a file to a Canvas course. Then, just place the html file within a module or as a link on a page. Here's what it looks like when you open the file:

HTML file of a video that is open in Canvas

  • We could even display the .html file using an iframe on a Canvas page, but that's a lot of coding for most instructors. 


A disadvantage of using internet videos is that the owner can take them down at any time without our knowledge. So, it's best to use the Link Validator to check external links before a course begins: How do I validate links in a course?  


If you have any other ideas for captioning videos from the internet and placing into Canvas, please let me know!