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VideoNot.es for Analysis, Peer Review, and Grading

posted: 4.30.13 by Traci Gardner

VideoNot.es is a new web-based tool that synchronizes text notes with a YouTube video. I found the tool on Richard Byrne’s Free Technology for Teachers site, where the tool was suggested as “A Great Tool for Taking Notes While Watching Academic Videos”—but I have some additional ideas for using the tool in the classroom for video analysis and for peer review and grading of student-produced videos. First, however, let me explain how to use the tool, and then I’ll share some teaching ideas and a few warnings.

How To Take VideoNot.es. Visit the VideoNot.es site and click the blue “Create Your Notes” button to connect the tool to your Google account. You will need to sign into your Google account. (Once you’ve completed this process, you can also start with the “Create” button on Google Drive.)

After you login, you’ll reach a page like the one shown below, with a spot for your video on the left and a place for notetaking on the right:

Paste the URL for the video in the box on the left, and click the “Load Video” button. Give the video a few seconds to load, and you’re ready to go. Click the play arrow for the video, and move the cursor to the notes box on the right.

As the video plays, you can type on the right. The tool synchronizes your notes with the section of the video you were viewing when you started to type your notes. Once you have finished, you click either the “Save” or the “Share” button and publish the notes to your Google Drive. You can share the notes with anyone via Google. A word of warning however: You need to remove the developer from the video share. His account is added by default.

Check the Knowledge Base for more details on using the tool, including instructions for using it with TED Talks and Coursera videos.

How To Play VideoNot.es. To return to the notes, go to your Google Drive and open the document using VideoNot.es. Load the video on the left side of the browser. After it loads, move to the notes side and you can click on any of the yellow blocks, which appear at the beginning of each section in the notes. When you do, the video will queue the section that corresponds to the notes.

Look at an Example. I made some sample notes using the Bedford/St. Martin’s video conversation with Andrea Lunsford that you can look at to see how the tool works. As you can see in the screenshot below, I clicked the highlighted passage in the notes and the video queued to the related section and began playing:

Visit the sample notes if you would like to see how the tool works. The link will prompt you to install the VideoNot.es tool in your browser. If you’re using Chrome, it should work smoothly. If you’re using another browser however, it may be smoother to visit theVideoNot.es first, try the tool with a sample video to install it, and then return to my sample notes.

How to Use VideoNot.es for Analysis and Notetaking. In hisFree Technology for Teachers post, Richard Byrne recommendsVideoNot.es for flipped classroom activities. Students use the tool to align their questions and comments with the pertinent sections of the videos they watch at home. It’s much smoother than having to grab the URL for a specific point in a video and switch to another app to take your notes. When students return to the classroom, they can pull up their notes and the video and ask the teacher any questions.

I wouldn’t limit VideoNot.es to the flipped classroom however. It would be perfect for film critique and analysis. Ask students to watch a video and identify camera angles or track specific filming strategies as they appear in the video. The saved notes will let you jump directly to those features in the video. Likewise, you can ask students to track a particular image in a video or even comment on gender roles. It would be perfect for identifying fallacies in commercials or political speeches.

How to Use VideoNot.es for Peer Review and Grading. While I liked the notetaking possibilities for VideoNot.es, what really got me excited about the tool was its potential for peer review and grading of student video projects. The process of using the tool is the same, but the questions and purpose of the running commentary shifts from identifying aspects of the video to providing feedback and making suggestions. Students can walk through the feedback point-by-point, jumping directly to the related scene in their video drafts. It’s a great way to show students exactly what works and what needs revision.

The Drawbacks. I love the potential for VideoNot.es, but there are some issues to consider.

  • The tool works best with the Chrome browser. It was awkward to get it set up in the other browsers I checked. Chrome is free, so I don’t have a problem asking people to use it for this one tool. Still, it’s not my ideal scenario.
  • Users need a Google account to save their notes. It would be nice if there were other options, especially for people who do not want to use Google resources.
  • The related video has to be public or at least shared with the same people the notes are shared with. While the tool would be wonderful for peer review, some students may be hesitant to publish unfinished work publicly. I did find that the videos could be posted on a private server rather than on YouTube.
  • Students need to understand how sharing works on Google Drive, and they need to remove the developer from their notes when they save them. This is lapse of privacy worries me the most of any of the issues. If the developer is not removed from the share, the developer would have read-only access to whatever is included in the notes. Most worrying, those notes could include grades and assessment information. I strongly recommend checking the permissions before adding private information on a video.
  • The tool does not yet support subtitles for videos. Without subtitles, the tool does limit accessibility. The Feedback page on the site indicates subtitle support is planned but gives no estimate for when the feature will be added.

The bottom line. VideoNot.es seems like a great tool for the classroom and for collaboration with colleagues. I would like to see the tool have wider browser support, but I like what it does enough to ask students to use Chrome for this one activity, even if it isn’t their favorite browser. Getting around the requirement for Google accounts is tougher. If a student absolutely refuses to use Google, I would probably just use another way to comment on her work. My biggest complaint about the tool is the default sharing with the developer’s Google address. Perhaps there is a good reason for it, but I don’t like the fact that it’s the default and it is added without consent or warning.

What do you think? Take a look at VideoNot.es and let me know what you think. Is it a tool you could use in the classroom? Do you see a strategy that I didn’t? Please share your ideas by leaving a comment below or dropping by my page on Facebook orGoogle+.


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