Avoiding Firefox Media Blocking

As described in another Barnstormer post, recent versions of Firefox block videos embedded in pages displayed in Pilot. Desire2Learn, the company that makes the technology that drives Pilot, says it is working on a solution. Meanwhile, there are some workarounds.

The problem is that videos from sites such as YouTube and Screencast fail to display in Firefox when they have been placed in a content page using embed code. Even though in Firefox you only see a blank space where the videos should be, the videos work perfectly in other browsers, and even in older versions of Firefox.

The culprit is a new security feature, called mixed content blocking, which won’t allow content that’s not encrypted (the video) to be displayed within a page that is encrypted (the page in Pilot).

Solution 1: Don’t Embed. Link Instead.

The simplest and safest way around the problem is to add a link to the video and make that link open in a new window. The link can be its own content item or it can be inserted into a page.

Content Item Link

In a content module, click the “New” button, then “New Link.”

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In the New Link box, provide the URL, the words that will be the link, and check the “Open in New Window” box. Then click “Create.”

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Link on a Page

You can insert a link on an HTML content page or anywhere else that you use the HTML editor, such as in a News item, a Quiz question or a Discussion description.

Click the “Quicklink” incon on the HTML editor’s toolbar.

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Check “New Window” in the Quicklink dialog box.

Quicklink dialog box

Solution 2: User Option

When Firefox blocks mixed content, there is a small shield icon that appears in the Firefox location bar (just to the left of the URL). A user can click that shield and choose “Disable Protection on This Page.” Then the video will appear.

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The trouble is, that requires the user to notice that subtle little shield icon and know what to do with it. So you will have to include instructions in each course for Firefox users.

Unfortunately, there is no option to disable the blocking for a particular site. So users have to unblock each page they come to that has a video. In fact, even when you leave a page and come back to it, you have to disable the blocking again.

A user can disable mixed content blocking completely in Firefox. But it’s probably not a good idea to recommend that mess with their browser’s config options.

Of course, you could urge people not to use Firefox. But Firefox tends to be the best browser to use with Pilot overall, aside from the video issue. Plus other browsers are also implementing similar security measures.

Solution 3: Make the Videos Secure

With some videos, you can simply add https to the URL, or change the http to https, in the embed code and Firefox will no longer block it because it will be secure content and Firefox users will see the video without doing anything special.

YouTube embed code, for example, has a URL in it that starts something like

src=”//www.youtube…

Find that in the embed and add “https:” in front of the two slashes:

src=”https://www.youtube

Unfortunately, this does not work with Screencast videos.