7 Things You Need to Know about Online Video Editors
A white paper from Teaching and Learning with Technology at Penn State

At a Glance:

Online video editors like MediaCore, WeVideo, and YouTube’s editor provide users:

  • Browser-based interfaces for editing
  • Online storage for media elements
  • Collaboration on differing schedules and locations
  • Integration with mobile devices and apps

Who to contact

Teaching and Learning with Technology – Nick Smerker

Usage Scenarios

At Penn State New Kensington, Dr. Gary Heberling plans to have his students use the MediaCore platform to both upload videos as well as edit them collaboratively using the online video editor application. By doing so, he is encouraging his IST 110 students explore emerging tools and gain hands-on practice with technologies that may be unfamiliar to them. He will also be collecting feedback from these students on their experiences that can be directly shared with the product design team at MediaCore for future improvements of their platform.

At the University of Southern California, the Shoah Foundation has been exploring online video editing platforms like Kaltura and WeVideo to allow for collaborative storytelling. By allowing users to create and remix video projects based on the firsthand testimonies of those who have survived atrocities like the Holocaust, the Foundation is able further its mission of teaching history through visual education.


Online video editors research team

Marc Aubertin, University of Southern California
Gary Heberling, College of Information Sciences and Technology, Penn State
Albert Herrera, University of Southern California
Hannah Inzko, Teaching and Learning with Technology, Penn State
Tomo Isoyama, University of Southern California
Carl Kuzmich, University of Southern California
John Parker, University of Southern California
Nick Smerker, Teaching and Learning with Technology, Penn State

1. What are they?

Online video editors are cloud-based tools that eliminate the need for specialized hardware and desktop software for media project creation. These tools enable students to not only upload video clips, images, sound recordings, and other media to a web-based content management interface, but also to edit these elements together in any browser on any platform with an Internet connection. This flexibility enables learners to complete projects without the cumbersome task of working around group schedules or geography.

2. Who is using them?

Online video editors are becoming increasingly popular in both education and industry. Tools like MediaCore, WeVideo, YouTube’s video editor, and others are already in use on both sides of the aisle and have been used for a variety of projects, promotions, and more.

With a focus on the education market, MediaCore has been used for both higher ed and primary/secondary ed classrooms. WeVideo supports both industry and education clients and is readily integrated into both environments. YouTube’s video editor is integrated into the YouTube.com website and is available to anyone with a Google account.

A screen shot of the management interface for MediaCore pilot application from Media Commons at Penn State

MediaCore’s video management interface

Screen shot of content being added to WeVideo, YouTube's video editor

Adding content to the WeVideo editor

3. How do they work?

Online video editors work by allowing a user to upload a variety of video files, still images, and sound files to a shared, cloud-based storage space. End users only need an Internet connection, a browser, and some sort of a device to capture video, if recording their own media. These devices can range from high-end video capture cameras and microphones to mobile devices like an iPhone or iPod.

The editor interface loads via Flash or HTML-5 in the browser and allows users to select which materials they would like to add to their video. The editor also allows for trimming of clips, insertion of titles and transitions, application of video and audio filters and effects, and recording of voice-over narration. Users can choose to add additional collaborators to any video project, enabling these individuals to access the same work space on their own time—from any location—to make their own changes and add their own media.

Sharing the project is controlled by the owner(s) and can be managed on the fly. Finished projects are published by way of private links or public uploads to services like YouTube, Vimeo, etc.

Screen shot of various clips of interviews from the Shoah Foundation

Clips from the Shoah Foundation media archive

4. Why are they significant?

Online video editors offer distinct advantages for users in higher education as they make producing video projects for the classroom far less stressful and far more accessible. With these tools, students need no longer worry about having access to a single editing computer on campus or the correct software installed at home. Student groups using an online video editor do not have to plan around one another’s schedules in order to work on the same project. Completed videos can be uploaded to other video sharing services, added to e-portfolios or résumés and the like very easily.

5. What are the downsides?

Because materials are stored in the cloud, access to the materials requires a reasonably fast Internet connection. Time to upload content can become a major bottleneck for users with slower connections.

Some platforms can be integrated with existing login credential systems, while others rely on free accounts like Google. The first requires campus IT support but ensures that account management is simple and security is strong. The second leverages the convenience of setting up accounts on the fly but necessitates account creation on a user by user basis and can be cumbersome.

Students used to using more full-featured tools like iMovie or Final Cut may feel limited by the simplified interface and pared down tools. Online video editors are great for most projects, but you may want to consider a more robust tool for professional grade productions.

6. Where are they going?

Since these services are all relatively new on the scene, it is hard to predict their exact trajectories. However, more and more classroom tools are becoming cloud-based, especially as our digital lifestyles become increasingly mobile. This trend towards lightweight, flexible tools points towards a bright future for online video editors. Many, like MediaCore and WeVideo, are willing to work with partner institutions to develop their products to address the specific needs of each learning community.

7. What are the implications for teaching and learning?

Online video editors make it possible for instructors to assign video projects with confidence that their students will be able to focus more of their attention on content than process. Students will not be stressed by lack of access to specialized hardware and software or difficulties with group scheduling when using online, collaborative tools.

Additionally, students and instructors alike will be able to open up collaboration to users at other campuses, institutions, and beyond. For hybrid and online classes, this decoupling of video projects from localized technology resources opens up a new avenue for teaching and learning.

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