Save your seat for Streaming Media NYC this May. Register Now!

Interactive Tools Make Classroom Video More Active Than Passive

Article Featured Image

A phase shift appears to be underway in the realm of educational video technology. On one side of this transformation, the central challenges of educational video are basic and existential: How do I make it and where do I put it? On the other side are questions pitched through the wheelhouse of a professional teacher: How do I present the material in a way that captures the students’ interest and encourages them to think their way through the instructional video?

Start-ups and established vendors are cooking up clever solutions to enable interactivity with educational videos. It is helpful to categorize them in terms of those that are teacher-driven and those that are student-driven. Does this solution require a visionary teacher to painstakingly anticipate student needs while preparing a lesson around an instructional video? Then call it teacher-driven. Does that solution require students to put themselves out there in the platform enough to drive that most powerful force in all schools—peer pressure? If so, it is learner-driven.

One time-honored approach is to allow teachers to construct choose-your-own-adventure-style lectures. These provide students with branching paths through the material that depend on how they answer questions that the teacher posed within the lecture to probe for common misunderstandings and to guide students through remedial materials they need to cover before they proceed. Two platforms are notable for taking that general lesson-construction idea and building a video experience that can support it: Eko and Rapt. Eko is an impressively powerful and free-to-use platform for making infinitely complicated, choose-your-own-adventure, interactive videos and for showcasing its stable of solid-quality entertainment programming using it. Eko doesn’t target education, however: Its primary income stream moving forward is rumored to be a partnership with Walmart to build an online video service to compete with Amazon and Netflix. Rapt is similar in functionality and significant in that the company was acquired by Kaltura, a hosting platform with a large footprint in the educational video market.

Taking a step down in sophistication, there are in-video quizzes that provide a similar experience for the student, but without any branching logic. Everyone sees the same video regardless of how they answer the questions, although they usually will get some feedback from the in-video question tool. Questions are typically used to prime students to be mindful of what comes next or to assess understanding of what came before the question. PlayPosit and Edpuzzle are two companies specializing in tools for adding in-video quizzes to YouTube or other videos. Many video hosting platforms used by schools natively support in-video quizzes, including Kaltura, MediaSite, and Ensemble.

The trend in the learner-driven approach is to take cues from how students interact socially online and attempt to incorporate those behaviors into how students watch their instructional videos. A prime example is Arc Media, the video hosting platform built by Instructure, the company behind the Canvas learning management system (LMS). Arc implements interactive capabilities akin to Soundcloud and Facebook Live: Every video incorporates a time-based chatroom, with threaded discussion posts by the class popping on as the video progresses. Since Arc was designed by an LMS vendor, it was made with the needs of the classroom in mind. An example of a detail the company got right is in making it easy to cloister comments within each term that the video is used: A video including annotations and chatter from a previous years’ students would seem inauthentic and stale.

Finally, there are the Snapchat-for-education platforms that leverage short videos to facilitate online video class discussions. In these, the teacher prompts students with a topic and the students respond with video. One example is Recap, offered for free by the makers of the Swivl camera platform. Flipgrid is another such platform, also available for free since its acquisition by Microsoft. Both are useful in offering your students a chance to connect with you and the material closer to their terms and comfort zone.

I’m agnostic as to whether either approach is superior. All classroom technology delivers the most benefits when both teachers and learners are deeply invested, but each will suffer when one or the other is taken away. It is fortunate is that these specialized tools are now available for teachers to reach different types of students with video.

[This article appears in the October 2018 issue of Streaming Media magazine as "Setting the Focus Back on Teaching and Learning."]

Streaming Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues
Related Articles

Effective K–12 Video Strategies

The revolutionary change over the past 10 years has made production technologies accessible to teachers and even students. And 4 years ago, of course, almost everyone was forced to rely on educational video to keep schools asfunctional as possible. Today, we can identify several use cases of teacher-produced educational video that are particularly effective.

360 Video and Ed Tech: What Are the Best Use Cases for Distance Learning?

In distance learning, 360 video for its own sake--no matter how cool it is--rarely goes over well; what are the use cases where it really adds to the mission? DiscoverVideo's Rich Mavrogeanes and Ohio State's Scott Nelson discuss real-world use cases where 360 video delivers unique experiences that wouldn't otherwise be possible with elearning, and others where it falls flat in this clip from Streaming Media East 2022.

How to Design a Hybrid Classroom

In-person or virtual? It's no longer one or the other, and schools and universities need to have clear strategies for delivering hybrid education to their students.

Video Helps Keep Schools Secure

The use of security cameras in schools is growing. Look for educational institutions and vendors to creatively squeeze value from fixed camera systems in schools by expanding the audience for the video footage while avoiding critical safety or privacy problems.

7 Essential Tools for Every Creator's Streaming Toolbox

Stream live with low latency. Collaborate on edits. Distribute to multiple platforms. Analyze data to make better choices. Here are the innovation leaders every streamer needs to know about.

The Caliper Framework Fills a Need for Classroom Video Analytics

Video learning systems are taking off in schools, but teachers have so far lacked a way to bring that data into their learning management systems. Enter Caliper.

Online Educators Enjoy Generous Copyright Exemptions for Video

Schools are covered by different copyright measures than the mass public, making it easy for streaming classrooms to get around access controls.

Find a Place for Live Video and Audio Streaming in the Classroom

Today's students grow up in a conflict-free echo chamber created by on-demand entertainment. Live streaming is a place for diverse opinions to come through.

Shooting 4K Video in the Classroom: What's the Big Hurry?

For educational video, some choose to shoot in 4k so they can zoom and enhance in post, but stream in mobile-friendly 720p. However, there's no reason to rush to 4K just yet.

From the Classroom to the Athletic Fields: Streaming in Educational Institutions

There are numerous uses for live and on-demand video streaming in educational institutions, including sporting events, commencements, concerts, debates, and flipped classrooms.

Companies and Suppliers Mentioned