The web is filled with many educational videos that teachers can use to enrich their lessons and share over course blogs and wikis. EmbedPlus has launched a free service that could be useful to teachers wishing to upgrade such videos with enhanced playback and content. Given a YouTube link and a few seconds, EmbedPlus’ first release applies APIs to instantly generate special embed code that adds features like: DVD-like controls, third-party annotations, real-time Internet reactions, and more. Below are a few of EmbedPlus’ co-creator Shola “Tay” Omojokun’s thoughts on the potential use of the service’s core features in the context of teaching:
- Chapter/Scene Skipping – Videos often have specific segments or turning points that viewers may wish to jump back and forth to – especially after the first view. A video could span multiple topics and/or contain different speakers. Teachers can mark each turning point for easy navigation using the jump buttons on the player. Alternatively, if a video has certain ‘skippable’ parts that are not relevant to the desired lesson, the beginning of the relevant parts could be marked for direct access to them.
- Movable Zoom and Slow Motion – These are the other DVD-like controls. They can be particularly valuable for science and nature videos in which students are to make observations. To illustrate, a video might contain experiments and chemical reactions that may happen too quickly for normal playback. Slow motion and zoom offers students a chance to get a closer and clearer understanding of the event. They can also provide greater accessibility that some students might need for viewing text and other objects within a video.
- Third Party Annotations –Teachers might wish to offer additional information beyond what is presented in a video. Such information could be effectively displayed using annotations that popup at user-defined times. EmbedPlus offers such a feature for third-parties—i.e. anyone that wishes to embed a video. While annotations/captions are also possible through YouTube, they can only be added by a user with access to the video’s channel. EmbedPlus complements YouTube in this way. You will also find that with EmbedPlus’ annotations, the control bar of the player displays the text to avoid blocking the video screen and possibly distracting viewers.
- Real-time Reactions – This optional feature displays YouTube and Twitter reactions right inside the player. We are speculating that some comments from YouTube and Twitter can offer students useful viewpoints from others that have viewed a video—particularly those outside the students’ classroom. This of course depends on the nature of the commenters and tweeters.
In summary, these features can help you focus your students on relevant parts of videos and allow you to add your own extended material. Feel free to take a look at EmbedPlus’ homepage for a demo showing the above features at work on a sample educational video, and see whether the enhancements fit well with the videos you share with your students.