How the Move to Annotate TED Talks Could Change Everything About Video-Based Learning

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From a small startup conference in 1984 to a learning powerhouse in 2016, TED leads the way when it comes to shaping opinions and sharing ideas. Basically, it’s L&D pro’s dream, making thousands of bite-sized, hyper-digestible videos available for free to help round out courses and make eLearning possible.

There’s been one glaring issue with TED Talks as learning tools, however, and that’s with the problem of citation and annotation. Many TED presenters don’t cite their data and the material moves so fast that in order to discuss the subject matter, teachers and students must be face-to-face and physically pause the video to talk.

TED’s new website addresses one of these problems, allowing for presenters to add footnotes based on video time for better citations and improve post-video reading. Still, the ability for a facilitator to annotate a TED Talk at key points throughout the video is a function not yet available. Still the move to citations makes us hopeful for a platform that allows instructors and facilitators to offer these key benefits through annotation:

Creating Context

The way one facilitator uses a TED Talk on leadership is going to be vastly different from the way another instructor harnesses the material. That’s because they’re teaching different groups in different industries; probably for different purposes. Because of this, when using widely-available online resources, it’s imperative that facilitators be able to create context and relevancy before, during, and after a learning experience.

What if, during a video, a pop-up appeared and directed learner attention to a scenario in which the information would help. A sales-based training video, for instance, could be made more relevant when an annotation explains exactly when to use a new technique. Creating context helps highlight the “why” behind a video, so learners can see the end game and stay engaged.

Look Here

Here’s the thing: It’s unlikely that you’ll get any learner’s undivided attention for anything longer than a few seconds. Continuous partial attention is the new norm in eLearning, and facilitators have to compete with disruptions, disengaged learners, and second screens.

Annotated videos could help by directing learner attention to the time and place it’s most important. Okay, so maybe a learner doesn’t have to be glued to the screen during an introduction. But a chapter roundup, some important facts and figures, or vital compliance information? That’s the important stuff. Instructors could use annotations to grab learner attention and keep it on the screen, even if it’s just for a few key seconds at various points throughout the video.

Improving Collaboration

One of the main complaints about video-based learning is the lack of instructor to student interaction. Not only do some students enjoy the discussion that comes from more traditional classrooms, but videos can seem cold and final without any real chance for participation.

With annotated videos, the question of collaboration could finally be answered by allowing users to submit questions, participate in discussions, and collaborate with their instructors, even when the video isn’t live. An instructor could solicit opinions via comments or emails at key places in the video, or suggest that a user pause and reflect after a certain chapter. Annotations could be the key to adding a more traditional classroom element to what is usually a hands-off method of learning.

TED Talks have obviously revolutionized the way that we share ideas and information, but that doesn’t mean it’s a perfected medium. Footnotes have definitely helped with citing issues, but we hope to see even more interactive features in the future. The ability for instructors to annotate videos throughout (whether they’re TED Talks or custom eLearning videos) could be the catalyst that tips video-based eLearning into a more interactive realm of instruction.