Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Creating Videos for Interactive Learning Experience on Screen

Flipped classrooms and online learning are here to stay, even explode. Watching videos is a crucial part for the learning. To be honest, watching videos on the screens often makes me sleepy unless the videos are more like a performance instead of lecturing. But of course a performance is a kind of visual arts appealing to our sensations or emotion, while learning is very often heavy in information which talks to our logic brains. So there must be more narrations and conversations in education videos. Animations to visualize concepts like TED-ED is a big value of videos, but it takes time and expertise. Not every teacher can afford to do it. When digging deeper for a concept, like solving a calculus problem, can animations help? or are we really going to do animations for all problems?

Watching videos is appealing to learners of visual or auditory learning styles, but sometimes video form might not be the best way for some cases of instruction. Slides and texts with pictures could do good enough and learners can control the speed they go through them, watching videos don’t give you the chance to skip the parts you already know or speed up the pace, because you don’t know what you will miss when you hop through them. As you can find, the issue is that video lecturing is one way and one-size-fit-all thing. Only if the video is exactly what a learner needs and he’s motivated to learn at the moment, the video will get his full attention. Can we make videos interactive and adaptive ? What if watching videos becomes an interview experience, won’t that be awesome? I found some posts giving useful information about this regards.

How to Make an Interactive Lesson Using Youtube

Youtube has a great tool called Spotlight that lets you make any video interactive. It’s really handy for lessons and quizzes. Essentially, you can ask students a question — or a series of questions — and when they answer show them a personalized video response according to how they did.

1. Get to know the Spotlight Tool

In your Youtube account (they’re easy to set up if you don’t have one), take some time to check out the Spotlight tool. We found this great tutorial that walks you through the process, so you can start by watching that.

2. Add a video link

Spotlights let you create a clickable area in any part of your video that links to another video on Youtube.

3. Plan out your quiz experience

You can keep this pretty simple. We wanted a quiz where students could pick their question, then on each question choose the answer they thought was the best fit. If they got it right, great! If not, they’d get an explanation of where they went wrong, and a chance to click and try again.

We also threw in a “hint” box where they could get extra help, and a bonus video for each right answer. So we ended up with a video plan that looked something like this:

interactive video

My thought : if with this interactivity, could we make “choose-your-own-adventure” stories or even game-like explorations ?

Create “Choose Your Own Adventure” Videos

Greg Kulowiec shared his insights on how to make this kind of videos, the most critical aspect of these projects is the planning.

Better Online Math

Dan Meyer has discussed a lot about how lecture videos can be improved, here is a good argument.

So what should we improve? We should improve what happens before the lecture.

Currently, the online math experience begins with a lecture. The implicit assumption is that students need to be talked at for awhile before they can do anything meaningful. Not only is that untrue but it results in bored learners and poor learning.

Dan Schwartz, a cognitive psychologist at Stanford University, prefaced student lectures with a particular challenge [pdf]. He asked students to do something (to select the best pitching machine from these four) not just to watch someone else do something. Those students then received a lecture explaining and formalizing what they had just done. Those students scored higher on a posttest than students who were pushed straight into the lecture without the introductory challenge.

His work on (collaboration with BuzzMath) gives another perspective of how to design videos for learning.

3 Ways to Make Video Even More Interactive

Andy Schwen introduced how he utilized a tool called Teachem, teachers can design questions along the video timeline and they become key points highlighted or take-aways after watching the video, learners can add their notes with timeline stamps too.

The tool teachem has been a great companion in the transition of my classroom to this model. (Click here to see an example) While it will never replace the rich dialog of classroom activities, the experience away from my classroom becomes more interactive for students.
Using teachem, I am able to

  • Embed questions as “notecards” alongside my videos with revealable answers.
  • Create questions where students can “flip” the card–giving them their own amount of time to think through the question.
  • Highlight important ideas in the video that can also serve as bookmarks for students to find what they’re looking for if they need to see a specific part again.

Some recent notable improvements include the ability to add collaborating teachers to schools, various school visibility settings, note taking capability for students and an email the teacher option.

Popcorn Maker from Mozilla

Remix your favorite videos on YouTube or sounds on SoundCloud, add your own comments and links, or drag and drop in content from across the web. The result is a whole new way to tell stories on the web, with videos that are dynamic, full of links, and unique each time you watch them.

YouTube is working now on a new feature which would be great for us in education. The current project is called “Video Questions Editor Beta ” which is a way for ” multiple questions to be displayed on top of your video during playback that a viewer can answer.” But it’s not ready yet.

YouTube : ” The feature represents work in progress, there is no plan for long-term support of the feature and may be removed at any time without prior notification. Your comments will help us improve and perfect the mixtures we’re working on.

To build a less-passive video experience for the viewer, I hopes this post helps. Please comment if you have more suggestions.


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3 Responses »

  1. Some great ideas here – I’ve generally dismissed YouTube as an effective learning tool. You’re giving me a reason to take a second look. I’m excited to try a few of these ideas out!

  2. Great tools discussed. Yes I agree with your post. I also think that online video coaching will be effective with more interactive tools. Laying the design is the most crucial part. Innovations and constant evolution will make the video lecturing a sure shot success.


  1. Creating Videos for Interactive Learning Experience on Screen | Personal e-Learning Environments |

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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