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Three tools for “in-text” video analysis and why it matters

For many of us, the go-to platform for learning and sharing is video.  Our students increasingly consult YouTube to get up to speed on any topic.  We learn from TED Talks, the Khan Academy, as well as the growing number of videos we ourselves create for flipped. blended and hybrid instruction.

Though film media prevails on all our devices and while we’ve long asked learners to take notes or question print or digital text, up until now, there has been no easy way for us to highlight, analyze, and share what we learn from video in an in-text kinda way.

Why is it valuable to be able to play with video in a in-text way?  Here are a few of my own top reasons:

  • To get easily back to a specific part of a video you wanted to reference, revisit or share with others.
  • To ask learners to reflect on their viewing.
  • To pose questions, linked to particular moments in a film, or the film as a whole
  • To assess understanding of media or simply to ensure the assigned media was actually watched.
  • To annotate videos for credibility–for instance when examining political or commercial advertising, looking for differences in news stories across channels or cultures, or when exploring historical newsreels.
  • To study a speaker’s or actor’s effective, or not-so-effective, strategies–pointing to body language, rhetorical devices, (over)use of words, grabbers and clinchers, humor, etc.
  • To collaborate and suggest edits in student-created videos in process.
  • To point to important quotes and evidence in film
  • To understand how media messages are constructed by deconstructing them
  • To learn about the art of propaganda and selling
  • To understand the art of film-making, camera choices, musical elements, etc.
  • To collaboratively judge/assess/add comments to an assignment or a contest with media products.
  • To suggest improvements in recorded musical or theatrical or athletic performances, or the fluency of language learners.
  • For content analysis of focus groups or exit interviews

Our AASL standards ask us to encourage learners:

  • 1.1.5 Evaluate information found in selected sources on the basis of accuracy, validity, appropriateness to needs, importance, and social and cultural context.
  • 1.1.6 Read, view, and listen for information presented in any format (e.g., textual, visual, media, digital) in order to make inferences and gather meaning.
  • 2.1.6 Use the writing process, media, and visual literacy, and technology skills to create products that express new understandings.
  • 4.1.3 Respond to literature and creative expressions of ideas in various formats and genres.

Among the Common Core Standards addressing media understanding are:

  • CC.11-12.R.I.7 Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
  • CC.11-12.W.2.a Text Types and Purposes: Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information so that each new element builds on that which precedes it to create a unified whole; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
  • CC.11-12.SL.2 Comprehension and Collaboration: Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.
  • CC.11-12.SL.5 Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
  • CC.11-12.W.2.e Text Types and Purposes: Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
  • CC11-12RH/SS7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Here are three game-changing options for more closely examining and interacting with video as text:

1.  I’ve only recently fallen in love with  and realized the big potential of this web app. Completely integrated with Google Drive, the free application, with its side-by-side viewing panel allows you to take synchronized notes on videos.  In Google Drive style, users may invite others in to edit or view.  Notes are time-stamped,  synchronized, sharable and savable.  Users can also insert screenshots from the video into their notes. makes it easy to rewind and adjust speeds to transcribe or grab exact quotes from video. plays especially nicely with Coursera, Udacity, edX, Khan Academy, Vimeo, and YouTube.  Notes are automatically saved to a file in Google Drive.  Here is a little tour created by the fabulous Richard Byrne.

2. unbersense is an app and a community designed for coaches and athletes to analyze and improve their games.  The app, for iOS and Android, was designed for coaches to examine, analyze and compare videos of players.  Users may  record; tag (using categories, players, etc.); post comments or questions to the community; share videos with an individual, a team or the community for tips and feedback; use a variety of slow motion features; annotate with precision drawing tools;  trim and compare videos with original video or with a library of pro videos in either portrait or landscape orientation.  While the tool was designed for sports and your coaches will love it, consider its use for recording and analyzing: chemical reactions in the lab, musical performances, children working on projects, directorial approaches and staging in theater, student speeches or presentations.

3. Mozilla Popcorn Makerhas been a favorite of mine for a couple of years. The free web app allows you to remix web video, with text, pop-ups, links, pauses, maps, audio and images.  You can easily embed your remixed video on other websites.  I’ve used it to create interactive tours of my classes, had my German classes create video lessons, and used it with World War II newsreels to examine credibility and propaganda strategies.

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. EdPuzzle and Educanon are also very good for asking questions and getting responses from students. I use EdPuzzle to quiz my Film and Literature students on camera shot distances, angles and movements, as well as their close viewing analysis of scenes from the films we are watching in the class. It allows me to let them screen the film in class and then they can watch and rewatch a particular scene and post there comments on the film.


  1. freedom mentor…

    Three tools for “in-text” video analysis and why it matters — @joycevalenza NeverEndingSearch…

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