#edtech #esl YouTube annotations provide a discussion space layered onto each video.
In my previous post, Interactive Videos, I shared some examples of YouTube videos that incorporate some new interactive features of the site that overlay buttons and links that can take you to a different segment of the video or to a different video or website entirely.
These kinds of pop-up messages have been crowding onto YouTube videos since this feature became available. If used gratuitously, they are annoying, but when used to add supplemental information, they can be quite useful. As one example, take a look at the video tutorial for making the above image. It’s a straightforward and informative two-minute video. At about the 1:30 mark, some red text appears that seems to be essential information that was omitted in the original shooting of the video. Adding a quick note is a simple solution that does not require reshooting the video.
But there must be more we can do with these tools. I’d been thinking about some different ways to incorporate these techniques when I came across a presentation made by Craig Howard at the Indiana University Foreign / Second Language Share Fair. The page includes a recording of the presentation, a handout that summarizes how to annotate YouTube videos, and a link to an example video, which I’ve included below.
The nice thing about this approach is that a video, in this case a video for teachers-in-training to discuss, can include the online conversation layered right over top of the video. Comments by different speakers can be made in different colors and the length of time they are displayed can easily be adjusted as appropriate. Of course, everyone involved needs to have free Google or Gmail accounts to sign in, and the video must be configured to allow annotations by people other than the person who uploaded it.
The ability to integrate video materials and online discussion so seamlessly opens up some interesting potential for interacting with videos in new and interesting ways. I’ve recently looked at some options for online bulletin boards / sticky notes, including Google Docs, but incorporating this style of discussion directly onto the video is fantastic.
I’m still kicking around different options for making YouTube videos more interactive. If you have other examples or ideas, please share them in the comments below.
When I hear the phrase interactive videos, I think of people covered in florescent mocap pingpong balls or choppy, Choose Your Own Adventure-style stories like Dragon’s Lair. And there are those. But, it seems that some creative tinkerers have pushed the envelope with some of YouTube’s interactive features and come up with some interesting results.
How can they be used with ESL and EFL students? Well, in addition to viewing and interacting with the videos and then discussing or reporting on the experience, students could be challenged to determine how the videos were made. For the more ambitious, students could make their own videos using the same techniques. Some of them, like the Oscars find the difference photo challenge would be relatively easy to remake.
In the video above, a dad asks his son to draw something on a new iPad, the ubiquitous Apple tablet. The 2-year-old clearly has some facility with the device as he casually switches between apps and between tools within the drawing app. Interestingly, (though not surprisingly for anyone with a 2-year-old,) the boy also wants to use his favorite apps including playing some pre-reading games and watching videos. He very naturally fast-forwards through the video to his favorite part. He also knows to change the orientation of the device to properly orient the app to a wider landscape format.
Although I like gadgets, I’m not a true early adopter. I do carry a PDA — an iPod touch — which my 2- and 4-year-olds enjoy playing with. It’s amazing how quickly they understand gestural interfaces, pinching, pulling and tapping their way from app to app.
While I don’t think that I need to rush right out and get my kids iPads so they don’t get left behind, (the whole point is that they’re easy to use anyway,) I do wonder about some of the interesting opportunities for learning on these devices: drawing, reading, and linking information. Of course, they also do a lot of these things on paper which places far fewer limits on their creativity — instead of choosing from 16 colors in a paint program, they can choose from 128 crayon colors or create their own by mixing their paints.
In the end, this new technology is flashy and fun, but I’m not convinced that iPads and other tablets are essential tools that will give our kids and our students a clear learning advantage. I sure would like one, though.
A colleague of mine, Kathy, and I have been discussing ways to create a language sandbox game. This idea would be to create blocks with words on them that somehow interact in a way that demonstrates grammaticality.
Siftables work like colored blocks, but they can interact.
Kathy’s oldschool. She’s been experimenting with blocks of wood painted different colors which students can manipulate. Great for kinesthetic learners! We discussed cutting them into puzzlepiece shapes so that each block only “fits” other words according to grammatical rules. At first, it seems like it would be possible to make nouns with square tabs that fit into square slots on verbs, and so on. However, as complexity increases, this becomes exponentially more difficult. Structures as complex as nouns modified by multiple adjectives would be prohibitively difficult.
What if a computer application could be developed that would replace the wood blocks with word tiles that could be manipulated with a mouse (or an interactive whiteboard!)? Could the tiles snap together and repel each other like magnets according to grammar rules? Could words be tagged for part-of-speech automatically within the application? Could different categories of words (verbs, adjectives, adverbs, specifiers, etc.) be added and deleted with the check of a box? Could students add their own tiles seemlessly into the pile? Clearly, some intelligence would be required of the application to implement all of these features.
Siftables react to each other. Imagine a word on each one.
As I was kicking all of this around, my friend Mike at Ohio University pointed me to siftables, which seem to be the synthesis of both ideas. Rather than try to describe these brilliant little devices, watch the TED Talks video.
Not only could these little devices fit the bill perfectly, the way they interact could inform interactions in the language sandbox I’ve been envisioning. Until we’ve all got pockets full of siftables to pass out in class, my $50 wiimote-based interactive whiteboard will have to do. In the meantime, I’m hoping that having students drag word tiles across the screen will work almost as well for kinesthetic learners.