zaption_01Many universities and colleges support faculty in the development of robust video lectures. Short videos can replace long lectures, but how does one know if students are actually watching the videos? The Education Group at the W.R. Berkley Innovation Lab evaluated several interactive video solutions.

Interactive videos provide 1) opportunities for students to actively participate in the video lecture by responding to question and discussion prompts 2) robust analytics that display data from students, including responses to questions, viewing time, and the date/time viewed, 3) allow students to rate videos, which allows faculty to incorporate feedback into their teaching curriculum, and 4) create opportunities for students to comment and generate discussion about the content and concepts viewed.

We reviewed four products:

  1. Zaption
  2. eduCanon
  3. EDpuzzle
  4. Exaltive

My favorite was Zaption! Zaption is an excellent fit for higher education teaching, while other solutions are better suited for K-12 instruction. The interface is easy to use for both instructors and learners, and linking and embedding Zaption videos into a Learning Management System, or embedding videos within an email is simple to do as well.

There are many useful features in the free version of Zaption, including multiple choice, opened ended, and check box-type questions. Its analytics are easy to read, and are easily exported as a .CSV file. The $89/year pro membership allows for additional question types, a discussion feature, 2G storage, and advanced controls used for filtering and sharing your analytics.

Student interaction with video content

While a student is watching a video, a question or prompt to discuss its topic appears on the screen, pausing the video.

Question prompts in Zaption

After a student responds appropriately to the question, the student is provided with feedback. The feedback can be simply correct or incorrect as shown below. More extensive feedback can be included (and should be to make this a valuable and productive learning experience for students).

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 5.40.44 PM     Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 5.40.31 PM

Thereafter, the video resumes. I recommend keeping videos to 3-5 minutes in length. By adding a few questions, you can see how your students respond, while assessing their reactions to the information and concepts presented.

Analytics and Assessment

For each video, the number of unique viewers, average viewing time, and percentage of students who completed the questions is available through Zaption’s analytics interface.

Zaption Lesson Analytics

Professors can see the average score of questions answered correctly, number of times students used the “skip forward” option during the video, and rating students gave the video from one to five stars.

Zaption Analytics

While the summary analytics are useful, the data provided at the individual student level is invaluable.


Zaption’s analytics clearly display each student’s individual response to the questions, and the distribution of answers by the class.

I’ve personally used this data to apprise my weekly mini-lecture. I put up slides that show how well the entire class performed on the questions asked in the video, in a similar manner to the one below:

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 5.55.01 PM

I use this vital data to fine-tune my lectures by addressing any questions or areas that may need more clarification. It also sends signals to students that I am engaged in their learning experience as I monitor their progress over time.

See an example of my Zaption video for my data visualization course: 


Without these interactive components, it is difficult to gauge whether the student has watched or responded to a video. If a professor places effort in creating a video lecture, they want students to both watch and engage with the video’s core teachings.

Interactive video platforms like Zaption enable faculty members to build upon future video lectures by evaluating the analytics collected from how students watch and react to interactive questions inserted in current lecture videos based on the students’ prior knowledge and observations on where they may have struggled.

Do you other approaches that have worked well for you teaching. Share them as comments below or reach out to me on Twitter.

Kristen Sosulski is an Associate Professor of Information Systems and Director of Education for the W.R. Berkley Innovation Lab at NYU Stern School of Business.




Tools for creating interactive educational videos