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September 16, 2022

VideoAnt: Annotating Videos Collaboratively

VideoAnt is a web platform that can be accessed for free that lets you annotate videos and share your annotations. I am sharing this tool with you, inspired by the words of Jean Desjardins [in French], educational advisor at Cégep du Vieux Montréal. Indeed, I had the chance to participate in the workshop he hosted on June 16, 2022, VideoAnt: enricher les vidéos d’échanges écrits! at the Rendez-vous CP [in French].

For Jean Desjardins, because the annotations are accessible to the whole class, as well as the comments underneath them, VideoAnt is a precious tool to encourage written conversations around videos and to facilitate the absorption of video contents.

VideoAnt at a glance

VideoAnt is a free web tool created by the University of Minnesota in 2014. In consequence, its interface looks a bit dated, but the tool remains the best of its kind, according to Jean Desjardins. In Québec, Université de Sherbrooke is the institution that believed the most in the tool, with the initiative of Matthieu Petit, a professor of education. VideoAnt allows to annotate any YouTube video (public or unlisted). A video linked from a server can also be used. With VideoAnt, you can add the following to your videos:

  • written comments
  • observations
  • questions

Hence, this online platform transforms the videos consulted in interactive collaborative documents.

Presentation of the VideoAnt web tool (The video VideoAnt: Getting Started was produced by the College of Education and Human Development of the University of Minnesota.

VideoAnt requires you to sign in, which might be a bit off-putting at first for the teacher and the students. However, according to Jean Desjardins, the simplest things to do is to sign in with a Google account as with almost every web-based tool. Having a Google account thus allows the teacher to use the various digital tools available online without restrictions. To be able to comment on a video, the students must also sign in. However, they can read the comments left on a video without logging in.

VideoAnt or EdPuzzle?

VideoAnt and Eduzzle are 2 platforms that use publicly accessible online videos as their base material. However, the 2 tools do not have the same objective and cannot be used together.

EdPuzzle allows a teacher to add questions-feedback at specific moments in a video. It would then be possible to add an interactive aspect to video content. This is very relevant in the context of a flipped classroom. However, EdPuzzle does not allow for exchanges among peers and collaborative annotations as VideoAnt does.

VideoAnt is part of the collaborative annotation movement. In its most common use, it is used to make videos social and to mutualize help inside your group.

Integrating VideoAnt into your teaching practice

For Jean Desjardins, VideoAnt is extremely interesting in a context where students need to appropriate complex content. The students can comment on the video that you share with them. You can also segment the video and insert questions that the students will then comment on.

For example, imagine such a tool in the context of an internship (if the ethical considerations allow it): the students upload and share their own video of a manipulation they did during their internship, which would then be commented on by their peers. It is a dynamic way to encourage feedback and to analyse a variety of practices.

During his workshop, Jean Desjardins gave a tip to the attendees: give your students the procedure to upload and comment on videos in VideoAnt. This will make them feel safer! It is the perfect opportunity to deposit your tutorial on VideoAnt and to have them test the platform for the 1st time. For example, upload your video and write the instructions in the comments to engage your students in the activity.

In the case of a team project, it is simpler for the teacher to give the YouTube link to the students and to ask one person per team to upload the video to VideoAnt and to share the commented video with the rest of their team.

Do you use VideoAnt in your classroom? Do not hesitate to share your experience in the comments below!

Editor’s note

To learn more about VideoAnt, I suggest that you read “3 Platforms to Create Video-Based Tasks that Actively Engage Students”. (Please not that the 3rd platform mentioned in the article, Videonot.es, is no longer accessible.)

Acknowledgements

I want to thank Jean Desjardins for his very instructive workshop on the VideoAnt web tool and his collaboration in the writing of this article.

About the author

Camille Arpin

Camille Arpin has been an editor with Eductive (formerly Profweb) since 2019. She has taught French and French literature in various CEGEPs in the province. She is currently pursuing a postgraduate degree in higher education at the University of Sherbrooke.

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