Web video is playing an increasingly prevalent role in online learning: university open courseware initiatives, flipped classrooms experiments, and a growing number of virtual schools all rely heavily on video for direct instruction. And while video is itself a broadcast medium, situating video within a website opens the possibility for peer-to-peer interactions. Most video-hosting websites support some peer interactions through a shared comment stream, but this inherently treats the video as a two-dimensional object, ignoring its most meaningful dimension: time. Particularly for long-form presentations of complex concepts that are difficult to grasp simply by viewing, a venue for peer dialogue is incredibly valuable, but a venue that lacks a notion of temporal context is inherently limited. What could peer interactions around web video look like if temporal context was treated as critically-relevant? I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to explore this question over the past few months while building Grockit Answers.
Many thanks to the Mozilla Popcorn project and the Popcorn.js development team for providing the layer of abstraction that makes this type of learning environment such a joy to build. For another great example of new forms of social learning around web videos, check out Popcorn Macbeth and some of the other great Popcorn demos.