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A round-up of interactive video options

We take for granted that we can interact with text, but up until recently it’s been a challenge to interact (read/write/talk) with media.  I last looked at tools for annotating and interacting with video more than a year ago.  The field has changed a bit.

Why interact with video?

Being able to interact with video allows us to personalize video-based instruction, by leading learners to the segment of video we like them to watch, by adding voice-overs, notes, pop-ups, screenshots, maps, references, pauses.   It also allows learners to create video with even more depth and features and can the interaction can be used to support media literacy learning.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve played with interactive video in a few ways:

  • asking students to evaluate and comment on accuracy and persuasive techniques used in newsreels and campaign ads
  • inviting students to prepare for their own senior presentations by annotating TED talks for rhetorical strategies
  • having world language students enhance video dialogues they produced with maps, subtitles, hyperlinks, and pop-ups
  • creating a grad school class orientation pointing to the platforms, tools and tutorials we’d use over the course of the semester
  • having students help me create interactive tutorials to embed on our LibGuides

Here are a few video annotation/interaction options:

EDpuzzle is a relatively new, free tool for cropping and pausing video, adding voice overlay, audio notes, and embedding quizzes in the form of open ended or multiple choice questions.

Co-founder Quim, who was a math teacher in Barcelona, notes the importance of showing the specific part of a video his students need to watch and in gathering data regarding the effectiveness of instructional video. Quim also shares how critical it was to share his own teacher’s voice in building relationships with his group of largely immigrant students–so that they feel “they are with you in the video.”

Created for educators, EDpuzzle allows teachers to set up classes, to assign specific video lessons and to engage students in creating their own video lessons.  Analytics share which students watch, when they last watched, and whether they watched at home or at school.

Users upload their own videos directly to the site or may import videos from YouTube, Vimeo or TeacherTube, Khan Academy or a number of other portals.

While the videos teachers create are added to the EDpuzzle portal, videos created by students within projects remain private.  Finished videos may be embedded into Moodles, wikis, or any other sites.  A Workshop guide offers step-by-step instruction.

I’ve been using Mozilla PopcornMaker for nearly two years now and love the power of the multiple-layer video editor that invites users to remix videos to include pop-ups, text boxes, images, maps (even in streetview), as well as Wikipedia articles that continue to update. It plays nice with YouTube, Soundcloud, Flickr and Giphy.  In open source style, all PopcornMaker projects can be remixed.

ThingLink for video, made by the wonderful folks who brought us Thinglink for images, looks so promising.  I am eagerly awaiting early access.  The video promises the ability to drag and add text-enhanced ThingLink icons, as well as images, and embed widgets.  It also offers features to support e-commerce.  Icons, fonts and colors may be edited.  Analytics share how viewers interact with videos in terms of clicks, views and time spent. You can register for early access here.

eduCanon is an interactive learning platform into which teachers may embed questions and any html object.   The Builder Environment guides teachers through lesson development on top of any YouTube video.  Users may add questions that appear on the side of the video at precise timings using the full-featured text editor, with options for response feedback.  Lessons are archived in a library and may be previewed in student view mode.

Here’s the student view for the iPad.

TED-Ed lessons offer educators the opportunity to customize a TED video to meet their specific instructional needs.   Click on a video displaying the + sign and you’ll be able to search for a TED-Ed Original, TED Talk or any YouTube video, around which you may create a lesson enhanced with your added questions, discussion ideas, notes and resources.

Among the other options for creating interactive video:

YouTube Video Editor: allows users to easily clip and add text and filters to videos you drag in.

Write-on Video is an iPad app that allows users to annotate and animate videos and pictures, by arranging the elements into storyboards and slideshows enhanced by free-hand drawing, text boxes, stamps, and sound clips.


Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Cheri Dobbs says

    Hi Joyce,
    Have you tried using Touchcast for interactive videos? It looks so cool, but every time I try to figure out how to use it, I’m completely flummoxed! I’m looking forward to trying some of the other tools you mentioned. I have used PopcornMaker and found it to be fairly intuitive.



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