Retention improves when students can engage content at the time they encounter it, through questions or other interactions that move information from their immediate working memory to their long-term memory (Oakley & Sejnowski, 2018). But the modern learning management system (LMS) has not gone the further step of allowing for interactions within videos. Because the LMS separates interactions from course content, placing them in different modules, students may watch an entire video and then discuss it later in a discussion forum or take a quiz on it. Any questions or thoughts students have about a video are likely forgotten by the time they reach the discussion forum, which may have been pre-stocked with a different discussion prompt anyway.
By contrast, MOOCs have been designed from an understanding of the neurology of learning; they provide a means of integrating questions and other interactions with videos themselves. A video in Coursera can be set to pause at different points to present the student with a question to answer before resuming. The question might simply ask the student about what was just covered. It need not require higher-order application of the material, which is better for formal exams. The mere act of answering a factual question about what the student just viewed will create the neuro-connections in long-term memory that constitute learning.
If online instructors want to add interactions to their videos, they need to go to outside applications. Luckily, there are some relatively simple applications designed to do just that. Here are a few of the best.
PlayPosit is my go-to option for adding interactions to videos. This site offers a free plan for hosting videos made by instructors or taken from other sources, such as YouTube. Once the video is loaded, there is a wide range of interactions for the instructor to add to it, including multiple-choice questions, free response (which must be manually graded), discussion forum, and polling. The instructor can also add text messages that appear at different places in the video to highlight or amplify its message. They can then program feedback for right or wrong student responses and, for wrong answers, have the video rewind to the relevant segment so that the student can rewatch the content and answer the question until they get it right. Plus, the instructor can have student responses sent to the LMS grade book and include closed captions to videos.
EdPuzzle is another well-established site for adding interactions to videos. Its functionality is similar to PlayPosit’s. The instructor uploads a video or finds one on the web and adds interactions that pause it at various points for students to answer a question or get additional information. The interactions include multiple-choice and open-ended questions, as well as a note that can contain links to outside content and student audio responses. It does not have the discussion question or polling options of PlayPosit. But it has the same ability to assign a class to one or more videos, as well as gradebook integration with an LMS. The instructor can set videos to require student responses before moving on, and as with PlayPosit, has access to a library of content that other instructors have made (though EdPuzzle’s library seems larger than PlayPosit’s). One helpful feature is the ability to cut and trim out parts of a video, including those found elsewhere, to home in on the portion the instructor wants. Plus, the instructor can add their own voiceover to a video. Finally, whereas PlayPosit restricts the instructor to 100 student views of a video in the free account, EdPuzzle allows for unlimited views. As both PlayPosit and EdPuzzle are competing for the same audience, they are constantly adding helpful features, making it worthwhile to compare the two when choosing between them.
A screencasting system might not come to mind as a means of adding interactions to videos, but Screencastify has been courting the education sector with features specific to teachers, including the ability to add multiple-choice questions to videos. The instructor can monitor responses, though there does not yet appear to be an LMS grade book integration. While lacking the functionality of EdPuzzle and PlayPosit, Screencastify can be a good choice for an instructor who wants a simple way to add multiple-choice questions to videos, and it’s a reliable one-stop option for recording, hosting, and adding interactions to screencasts.
ClassHook is a relatively new system that is primarily designed to help instructors find educational videos for their classes using its large lesson library. But it also includes a pause prompt feature that allows instructors to insert questions into videos. The instructor can then create a discussion forum to record students’ responses right in the system. This makes ClassHook a useful way to foster discussion around videos in not only online courses but also live teaching—whether face-to-face or in a synchronous video conference. An instructor can embed a ClassHook video into a PowerPoint or Google Slide presentation and then, upon reaching that slide in class, have the video pause on its own to give students a prompt and a link to an online room where they can post their responses. This approach generates far more responses live than simply asking the class a question and getting only the first reply.
Any of these systems will improve class videos as a teaching device.
Oakley, B., & Sejnowski, T. (2018). Learning how to learn. TarcherPerigee.