Seven things you need to know about interactive video assessment tools
A white paper from Teaching and Learning with Technology at Penn State

At a glance

Interactive video assessment tools include EDpuzzle, eduCanon, and Zaption. They allow instructors to:

  • Search video services or upload their own videos
  • Assign students a specific segment of a video
  • Add narration
  • Embed assessment questions at specific points in a video
  • Review student and course-level analytics
  • Change video assignments from passive to interactive

Who to contact

Stephanie Edel-Malizia, Teaching and Learning with Technology

Usage scenarios

EDpuzzle: Chrystine Mitchell, assistant professor, language arts and literacy at Penn State Berks, uses EDpuzzle in her Education Theory and Practice online course to help track student progress and document their participation in watching assigned videos. “I was able to see who logged on to watch the videos and also see how they answered the questions. I only used EDpuzzle for the videos that I felt really highlighted course concepts,” she said. For the initial use of EDpuzzle, Mitchell chose to create questions that were not difficult to answer but yet related to the most salient points of the videos. In reflecting on the course, Mitchell shared that she felt it was unfortunate that the questions used were literal comprehension questions and that higher order-level questions were not included. “To do this again, I would probably make the questions from the videos worth points (towards the quiz grade) and build in more accountability. I would also make the questions a bit more in-depth,” she said.

Zaption: At UCLA, Juliet Williams, associate professor, Department of Gender Studies, uses Zaption in undergraduate general education/pre-major courses with an enrollment of about 160 students, for out of class, extra credit assignments. Popular music videos are used to assist students in making socially relevant connections with the content covered in the course, such as gender stereotypes. Students have the opportunity to earn up to one additional percentage point on their final grade for the course. Zaption assignments are popular with students and the vast majority chooses to complete Zaption assignments. Analytics are used to jump-start and guide in class discussion in order to relate assigned reading concepts to what is seen in the video. When asked how the students respond use of Zaption for assignments, Williams replied, “Students love the music videos. It is a fantastic tool for social analysis. Students ‘get it’ very quickly and respond very positively.”

Resource sites


Research team

Stephanie Edel-Malizia, Teaching and Learning with Technology

Benjamin Brautigam, Teaching and Learning with Technology

Kristin Bittner, Penn State Public Media WPSU

Dean Blackstock, World Campus Learning Design

1. What are they?

EDpuzzle, eduCanon, and Zaption are interactive video assessment tools that allow instructors to create custom integrated assessments for the videos they assign for students to watch.

Interactive video assessment tools have the following capabilities:

  • Search existing video on the Internet from sources such as YouTube and Khan Academy.
  • Customize the exact video clip to assign, starting at any point and ending at any point to assign a specific “snippet.”
  • Record your own voice over the assigned video for narration or to add additional information.
  • Embed custom assessment questions (true/false, multiple choice, open format) into the assigned video at any point on the video timeline.
  • Review individual student and course-level assessment analytics to identify the percentage of students who have completed the assignment.
  • Students can create their own video assessment projects as a class assignment.

Some of the ways these tools are used to engage students include:

  • augmenting face-to-face instruction
  • enhancing blended classes
  • use in flipped classrooms
  • use with online learning

The team investigated three interactive video assessment tools: EDpuzzle, eduCanon, and Zaption. Each of the three tools is offered at a basic level for free and has incremental paid account options with differing features such as privacy options, types of questions you can create, and number of assignments that can be created. For example, the free version of EDpuzzle allows unlimited use and open-ended as well as multiple-choice questions, but to keep lessons private, the user needs to have a paid account. Most importantly, each of these tools collects student assessment data and compiles it into reports showing learning trends by class as well as individual student progress.

Perhaps the description of these types of tools can be best summed up by the following statement by Quim Sabra, cofounder and CEO of EDpuzzle: “In EDpuzzle, any teacher can use and share video lessons; make them personal, useful, and engaging; and get information from their students to be more effective at school.”

2. How do they work?


EDpuzzle allows users to search video services such as YouTube, Khan Academy, LearnZillion, National Geographic, TED, Veritasium, Numberphile, Crash Course, Club Academia, Vimeo, and TeacherTube directly in the interface. Users can also upload their own videos. Uploaded videos stream directly from YouTube and are not copied to EDpuzzle’s servers. Once a video is selected or uploaded, the user can specify a start/stop time for a section of the video if he or she does not want to use the entire length. After cropping the video, users can add questions or record their voice to add an audio note.

EDpuzzle allows questions to have formatted text (i.e., bold, italics, underline), images, subscripts, superscripts, external links, and math equations. Users can add formatted mathematical equations in either LaTeX or MathML.

With EDpuzzle, if a student is playing a video, then clicks on another tab in his or her browser, the video pauses, preventing the student from completing other tasks while working on the video assignment. This feature essentially prevents students from being tempted to divert their attention from the task at hand and thwarts their attempts to multitask while watching the assigned video.

The free version of EDpuzzle provides unlimited use—no limit to classes, videos, projects, students, etc.


With eduCanon, users can select videos from services such as YouTube, Vimeo, TeacherTube, and KhanAcademy, but there is no search functionality within the application. Currently, there is no upload ability for original videos from a user’s computer, only videos from the Internet. However, users can upload their original videos to YouTube and then use the video in eduCanon. The video then streams directly from the source such as YouTube; it is not stored on eduCanon’s servers.

eduCanon calls their video lessons “bulbs.” These bulbs can be customized by using a time code to specify start/stop times. Once videos are created, users can use the student preview on the “bulbs” menu to review their work before assigning it to the class. Creating a class and assigning bulbs to a class is not intuitive, especially the first time an individual uses the tool.


Zaption allows users to either upload a video or record a video using a webcam. These videos are uploaded to a personal YouTube account, upon the user signing in through the Zaption interface. Users can search public videos on YouTube, Vimeo, PBS, National Geographic, TED, Discovery, NASA, Edutopia, VSauce, Crash Course, SciShow, and CGP Grey. Users can then create a “tour” with the media. Tours are equivalent to a learning module where an instructor can ask students questions about the video and add other clips to load after students watch the first video. To note, a user can only add one video clip per tour with a free Zaption Basic plan. If the user wants to add more, he or she has to upgrade to Zaption Pro.

Regarding interaction, a user can add basic text and image slides, open responses, multiple choice, and check boxes. There is also a custom drawing tool which allows a user to mark up the video by drawing on different video frames, which could be useful for pointing out content in the video with circles or highlights. The following tools are only available with a Zaption Pro account, and were not tested: numerical responses, drawn responses, discussion, jump, and replay.


Instructors can use the analytics available through these tools to easily see which students have completed watching assigned videos and understood the concepts. Course-level analytics allow an at-a-glance view where the instructor can quickly see how the class is progressing with the assignment. For example, when using multiple choice questions, if 100 percent of the students watched the video and 100 percent answered the assessment questions correctly, there really is no need to delve further into the information available through the analytics provided.

However, if the analytics show that 50 percent of the class missed a particular question or set of questions, the instructor can drill down into the data to determine which individuals answered incorrectly and also look to see if there is a trend in selecting the same wrong answer, indicating that there is a common misunderstanding or misapplication of the information being taught. With the data available, the instructor can pinpoint the misconceived information and reteach the concept. Similarly, instructors can easily spot the student who consistently answers incorrectly and in turn can assign appropriate support material to improve the individual student’s learning success.

Zaption analytics allow an instructor to know which questions students answered correctly; it also gives him or her some idea whether or not students are engaged in the assignment. Students are able to give each tour a rating (one to five stars) and a user can also see how many viewers are either fast forwarding or rewinding the video while completing the assignment.

Examples of the types of analytics provided can be seen below.

EDpuzzle analytics
ED puzzle analytics screen 1. Refer to information in caption.

EDpuzzle analytics screen shot 01 showing which students watched the assigned video and the grade they earned on the questions answered and graded. In this case, the grading for the open-ended questions was not completed, therefore although the report shows that two of the three students completed watching the video, the grades are all 0%. The report also includes an option to export grades to CSV, grade open ended questions, and to reset the assignment by student.

EDpuzzle analytics screen 2. Refer to information in caption.

EDpuzzle analytics screen shot 02 showing the grading function for open-ended questions. Each open-ended question is shown with the response provided by each student. If the answer provided is correct, the evaluator can click the green check mark; if the response is not correct, the evaluator clicks the red X.

Raw data (exported as CSV) is only available for overview view, and includes student name, percentage of video watched, correct questions (out of total number), and grade percentage. Data is not available for open-ended question sets.

eduCanon analytics
eduCanon analytics screen. Refer information in caption.

eduCanon analytics screen shot showing a question by question-by-question breakdown of the students and the answer they submitted for each question.

Raw data (exported as CSV) is only available for paid customers, so the team could not assess that feature.

Zaption analytics
Zaption analytics screen 1. Refer to information in caption.

Zaption analytics screen shot 01 showing the number of unique visitors who have started the “tour,” the average viewing time, the number of completed questions, the tour rating, the average skips forward, and the average skips backward.

Zaption analytics screen 2. Refer to information in caption.

Zaption analytics screen shot 02 showing each viewer (or student) by name, the number of responses submitted by each student, the date of the last submission, the total viewing time, the date last viewed, the total views, and the rating awarded by each student.

Zaption analytics screen 3. Refer to information in caption.

Zaption analytics screen shot 03 showing open-ended question responses for each student, the number of responses, and the date and time of the last response submitted. A word cloud shows the words used in each response.

Raw data (exported as CSV) is available and includes viewer name, user name, email address, user ID, fingerprint, IP address, text responses, and response date for text responses.

3. Why are they significant?

Using digital video as a learning tool is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways for instructors to convey content to students. With instructors assigning online videos from sources like Khan Academy, YouTube, TeacherTube, TEDx, and others, as well as recording their own lectures and assigning the video as part of an online, blended, or flipped class, video content is growing pervasive. However, how do instructors know which students watched the assigned video as required for the class? Who watched the entire video, who simply clicked play and went on to something else while the video played on, and of those who watched, who was able to grasp the concepts taught in the video? Over the past year or so, a new set of tools has begun to emerge, allowing instructors to easily embed custom questions into assigned videos.

Interactive video assessment tools not only allow videos to be assigned for students to watch, they also allow for assessment of content comprehension to be embedded into the video at precisely the right moment. When the instructor feels it is important to be certain the concept is successfully covered, he or she can require that a question be answered before the student goes on to watch more of the video.

Perhaps the description of Zaption published on their website best describes the significance of interactive video creation tools: “Zaption helps educators turn video into a personalized, interactive learning experience. The result is an engaging ‘lean forward’ activity. With Zaption’s analytics, instructors get real-time feedback and actionable data to track progress towards learning outcomes.”

4. What are the implications for teaching and learning?

Faculty are purposefully adding video components to their lessons in an effort to engage students through the power of storytelling. Course videos can demonstrate processes or concepts that may be difficult to convey through text or lecture alone.


These interactive video assessment tools allow instructors to check for comprehension during the video presentation. Skillfully crafted questions and interactions can allow for timely formative assessment. This could be particularly useful for planning what to concentrate on during a flipped classroom session. Students can watch an assigned video before class time, and instructors can focus time in the face-to-face session based on the data seen in the analytics.

For traditional face-to-face classes, these tools can be used to augment the typical top-down lecture. Learning labs or learning stations might be designated within the classroom where students work independently reviewing video material and answering questions in the assessments. These tools can also be used as simple homework assignments that are ungraded but used as formative assessment to guide the scope and sequence of material covered in class.

In online courses, instructors can use interactive video assessment tools to improve the use of video as a way to convey course content. Watching video is inherently a passive learning mode. By instructors adding questions to the videos, students become more engaged in the learning process and the learning becomes more active.


The vast majority of educational video content on the web is in the English language. For teaching a course in a foreign language, instructors can use the voice-over tools to translate the video. For foreign language instruction, faculty can ask students to provide translation as a course assignment.

Student-generated content

Students can also create their own videos with assessments as course assignments or to use as study tools.

5. What are the downsides?

Watching videos, no matter how entertaining or engaging, is primarily a passive learning activity. The addition of interactive elements may not necessarily lead to critical thinking. It is important for instructors to tie lessons learned from either the analytic data or the student work within these tools to higher-order learning activities to achieve deeper learning.

Currently, for two of the three of these tools, it appears that any content created by instructors becomes publicly available. Zaption keeps all content created by instructors private unless they share it in the public gallery or with other users and students. EDpuzzle sees the strength of their tool as being a platform to find video lessons that have already been cropped, have questions and comments, and are organized in folders. This makes it easier to find the perfect video for your class. The tool is intentionally open, much like a massive open online course is meant to be available for the masses. In EDpuzzle, content can be made private; currently, this is a manual process done by request. Marking videos as private in EDpuzzle may end up being available as fee for service; however, student created lessons are private.

6. Who is using them?

Currently, these tools are used primarily in middle and secondary school as free resources; however, higher education is beginning to find the tools just as useful.


  • 70,000+ users
  • 80% of users in K-12
  • 20% in higher ed and others (hospitals, companies, etc.)
  • 75% of users are from the US; the rest from 67 different countries


  • 20,000+ users
  • most are high school teachers
  • seeing some traction in elementary and middle schools as well, thanks to a partnership with Edmodo


  • 40% are K-12
  • 20% are higher ed
  • 40% are from other institutions including training orgs
  • Zaption’s interactive learning tours have been viewed by over 25,000 people

7. Where are they going?

Video is becoming one of the most prevalent methods of conveying information for learning for all ages, particularly in the growing fields of online, blended, and flipped classes. Combined with the ability to integrate custom assessment questions and powerful analytics, interactive video creation tools are projected to become some of the most useful teaching tools on the horizon.

In 2015, the eduCanon team plans to release an enterprise version of its platform for corporate training and higher education.

The goal of EDpuzzle is to be the premier platform to find video lessons, with the added benefit of knowing up front that it already works for similar learners. EDpuzzle will most likely include a paid option for inclusion in a learning management system (LMS) and/or for privacy purposes.

Zaption is being used by teachers, trainers, and content publishers. This tool seems to have potential for use in large-enrollment courses such as MOOCs.

In the Penn State community, there is a need for tools that enhance the growing use of video in face-to-face, online, blended, and flipped courses. Instructors want to know who watched assigned videos and who grasped the concept(s) covered in the video.

If Penn State were to pursue one of the three services, the investigative team would recommend a pilot exploring and assessing each tool in a classroom setting. Privacy and LMS integration are areas of concern when launching a tool such as these to be available University-wide. To ensure ease of use and reliability, content would need to be displayed in the LMS and any assessment data would need to be available within the LMS environment.

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