In the winter and spring of 2013, I piloted a one-to-one classroom using the flipped learning model. Content lectures were recorded and assigned to students as homework. Students then came back to class, took a short quiz to show their understandings, and worked on a higher order thinking lesson for the day in the classroom. The process was fairly efficient and somewhat effective. I still use video within my courses, albeit differently than I had that first year. The flipped model and methods have since become popularized and tools to make video-based content more interactive have been produced. Three companies that have capitalized on the popularization of this method are; Zaption, EDpuzzle, and EduCanon.
In the 2014-15 school year, I incorporated the use of Zaption and EDpuzzle in some of my classes to see how they could benefit my instruction. I used the premium version of Zaption until the free trial expired. I then downgraded to the basic account. EDpuzzle has always been free and I tested EduCanon features this summer. The following is what I learned.
When I break down the features of the apps, it becomes interesting fast. There are a lot of offerings from these companies and slight nuances could make a huge difference depending on your goal as a teacher:
Zaption and EduCanon have a free and paid version. Both platforms charge $89 for a year subscription. EDpuzzle is completely free. Click/Tap the images below to enlarge.
Being a thrifty educator, I am most curious about the features offered in the free editions. Thus, breaking down feature comparisons will be helpful for me when trying to decide if and how I want to use these platforms.
An example of how different these three programs are can easily be found when simply pulling video content into the platform to add interactive elements. For example, EDpuzzle allows a teacher to upload their own video, use a powerful search tool that spans video databases ranging from their very own user created EDpuzzle interactive video lessons to LearnZillion. If that is not enough, simply pasting the URL of an online video will bring the video into the system. Zaption, on the other hand, will search various online platforms and let you harvest an online video by URL. They will not allow one to upload a video, but this can be done by creating an online video account with YouTube, Vimeo, etc. Zaption has a separate area of its website called the gallery where lessons made by users are stored if made public by the user, and can be copied and edited. EduCanon has no search tools. The site will prompt you for the URL of an online video. Copying and editing user made videos with interactive elements is a premium feature. While these differences seem tremendous, the reality is they all allow for video curation by URL. Thus, any video on the internet can theoretically be pulled into all three systems.
Click/Tap the images below to enlarge.
Photo: EDPuzzle’s search interface.
Photo: EduCanon’s video curation interface (Note: The icons on the top are images for reference but are not clickable or useable in any way.)
The interactive elements that an instructor can add to a video are wide and vast. First, it should be noted that all three platforms allow a teacher to crop a curated video. Zaption (In the premium account) and EduCanon allow a viewer to skip to certain parts of the video depending on how the video-based content is structured. Only Zaption (Also, in the premium account) allows for multiple video-based contents to be included in one interactive viewing.
All three afford the opportunity to embed multiple choice questions, text slide/cards, image slide/cards, and links to video content. The elements, after that, are very diverse. Depending on the platform you are using, the ability to add audio notes, fill in the blank answers, live websites, and discussions may exist. View the side by side comparison that follows for the details.
The interface for adding interactive elements are intuitive. Zaption seems to offer the most precision for entering interactive elements into a clip at a specific time by using a scrubber. EduCanon has the “update time” option, which is somewhat helpful. EduCanon also sports a running list of questions and interactive elements added to the video. This is a handy tool too. View the images that follow to gain a sense of how one adds interactive features.
Click/Tap the images below to enlarge.
Photo: EDpuzzle’s interactive element window. The green question mark does not scrub the video. Rather, you can click another spot on the timeline and insert a new question. A scrubber would be nice.
Photo: Zaption’s interactive element window. The orange triangle is Zaption’s scrubber to make entering elements at a precise time easier. Also, a user can drag the interactive element on top of the video or to the side of the video depending on how they want their students to interact.
Again, all three are similar in this field. An instructor can share their interactive videos via email, link, embedding, and various social media. I am, however, most interested in embedding my interactive videos in my LMS, Schoology, without the need for my students to create a separate account nor use another app. I have found that my desire to share an interactive video with this method poses some differences. While all three allow me to embed my video-based content in Schoology without requiring my students to sign up for an account; they do not all allow me to view analytics in this format nor are the viewing experiences of high quality. Notably, EDpuzzle will only allow collection of viewing data if I have students create and sign in with an account. Zaption and EduCanon allow students to simply enter their name before viewing the video and viewing information is recorded and shared with me based on the name the students entered. Finally, when viewing an embedded Zaption video in Schoology, rather than the Zaption app, an annoying yellow banner that states “Zaption might not work on your browser. Try Google Chrome…” appears. See the images below as visual references.
Click/Tap the images below to enlarge.
Photo: EDpuzzle’s sign in screen. This is required to collect analytics. If you use the “guest mode” it will bring you directly to the interactive video but no analytics are collected.Photo: Zaption allows the option of students inputting their name without an account. Analytics is collected and associated with the name they input. Note, however, the ugly yellow banner when a Zaption video is embedded.
Photo: This is EduCanon’s no account window. Students enter their first and last name. They may enter their email to receive feedback. If they select “no email” EduCanon still allows them to view the video and collect analytics.
The data collected from students is quite detailed with all three of these programs. Zaption seems to have the most visual and intuitive analytics page, however EDpuzzle is very good too. EduCannon is a bit limited at this point. I have embedded videos below that are from the comapany YouTube pages to showcase their analytics page.
There are few features in each one of these that I consider positive extras. EDpuzzle is completely free and while that’s not extra it certainly is a compelling factor. Also, in EDpuzzle, an instructor can record audio over the video when adding the interactive features. EduCanon claims to do this too but I have not had much success with this feature in their platform. Zaption allows a user to control the settings of the interactive element as well as the element itself. For instace, I can set the element to pop up without stopping the video. I can also determine the area the element appers within the video. Zaption has LTI integration (This is a premium feature) which will automatically import grades into your gradebook. Finally, EduCanon allows for fill in the blank questions. I could see this option being helpful as prompts and scaffolding comprehension. There are other extras you may find comelling. View my side by side comparision below to see what is all offered.
Side by Side Comparison
If you are unable to view the google sheet below, follow this link.
These products are unique and effective tools when incorporating video lessons into the curriculum. They show the rise in popularity of the flipped method and video-based content in general. However, I will not pay a supscription fee for their premium services. The free version of all three of these products used in a way to maximize their unique qualities will suffice for my needs. Furthermore, when considering the elements used by these services when making my own videos (Drawing on the video for instance.) can be incorprated without the platform. In addition, tools offered by my LMS, such as discussions, quizzes, and polls can be used in conjunction with video to create the interactivity that these services offer.
A great white paper from Penn State on Interactive Videos and the three companies.
Question: Have you used these programs before? If so, do you have a preference? What do you like about them? What am I missing? As always, thank you for sharing your thoughts and questions in the comment section.