Do you ever wonder if your students are really engaging their minds while they watch the videos you post in moodle? Or, have you ever wanted to comment to your online students about portions of a video while they watch it? This week's Web App Spotlight focuses on VideoANT, a new web 2.0 application that could address these questions and change the way you think about using videos in online courses.

Created by Brad Hosak, the New Media Developer for the University of Minnesota, VideoANT combines streaming video with time synchronized text annotations. As a video plays in the application window, annotations are seen to the right of the video and a timeline is shown below the video, marking where each of the annotations start. Once the video playhead reaches a mark in the timeline, the corresponding annotation on the right is highlighted.

Here is an example of the embedded version of VideoANT (one you could place in your moodle shell!):

Interested? Getting started is easy.  You start by going here and entering the link of a streaming video (youtube, or other streaming servers/services), your email, and the title of the project you want to create into these fields:

After you complete those steps, you will receive an email that contains links to a strictly viewable version of the project, an editable version of the project (where you create the annotations), a link that will give you the embed HTML code (so that you can place it in moodle or wherever else you are able to post HTML code like I did above), and a link to an RSS feed created specifically for the project (the RSS feed can be used to alert you to any changes made to the annotations of a project). The possibilities of what to use it for are up to you.

 For instance, if you wanted them to watch a video segment on the civil war, you could place annotations throughout the video that would help them see how a certain portion of the video relates to what they have been learning in class.  Or you could require your students to create their own VideoANT project where they are the ones that have to perform the annotating.The video they use could even be a video that you used in a previous VideoANT project.

There are some limiting factors to VideoANT:

  • The video has to already by streaming from somewhere on the internet. 
  • Videos have to be a .flv, .mov, or a youtube video.
  • If you hand out the editing url of a project, then anyone who has access to it can edit or delete any annotations.
So, if you are looking for a new way to engage students with video content, VideoANT might just be your solution. Let us know what you think and what your experience is with VideoANT in the comments below. Can you think of any innovative ideas as to how this could be used?