Whether you are teaching a blended course (where a significant portion of the course takes place online) or have been using your institution’s course management system to supplement your face to face course, there are a couple tools that can be used to take online teaching and learning to the next level.

Level 1
YouTube has become a noted repository of high quality academic content from renowned universities. With the creation of YouTube Education, which aggregates the thousands of available videos into academic disciplines, finding informative videos to share online has become considerably easier. Including video that elaborates on concepts covered in the textbook or lecture can provide students with remedial support or enrichment opportunities without becoming a burdensome venture for the instructor.

Many of the institutionally created videos on YouTube Education often include captions or interactive transcripts. These interactive transcripts allow users to click on a specific line in the transcript, which will then sync the video to a corresponding portion of the video. By using the ‘find’ feature built into most Internet browsers, users can even search for specific terms used in the video. Here is an example video for a MIT Physics course that includes an interactive transcript (Look for the interactive transcript icon below the video beside the ‘share’ and ‘flag’ icons).

Level 2
Asynchronous online discussion tools have been around for some time. Unlike traditional text-based discussion forums, Voice Thread is a multi-modal online discussion tool that allows users to contribute to discussion threads using text, audio or even video. Whether you choose to host your discussion on the Voice Thread website or embed the discussion into your course management system, this tool provides students with an opportunity to choose their medium of communication.

 Level 3
You can now annotate your own YouTube videos to include an interactive commentary that students can click on when needed. The annotations can include supplementary information about the video, links to other videos or websites or even create video with multiple possibilities as viewers can click to determine what they will see next.

For an even greater level of student engagement, instructors can have students create annotations that pose questions or contribute comments regarding what is taking place in the video. Student created annotations could also be used as a means of assessment by providing learners with an opportunity to create annotations that highlight their analysis of the video content. In addition to facilitating professional reflection, having students provide annotations to their own performance videos could provide instructors with valuable insight into the student’s cognitive process.

Image by Swisscan on Flickr.