Videos are traditionally linear and directive. In the classroom, videos are designed to either dispense information or teach the viewer a new skill. However, great lessons are rarely passive. Using the annotations feature in YouTube, teachers can create videos that require participation. At its most basic, students are given four choices, and they select the correct answer. If an incorrect choice is made, students watch a new video that reteaches the concept. If the correct choice is made, the initial video links a new video that shows the next step, or the next problem. Going deeper, the first video can link to several choices, and each of those choices can link to several choices.

Create an interactive video, where the initial video links to two other videos. YouTube Annotations will be leveraged to build interactivity into the videos. Unfortunately, Annotations is only available on desktop computers. Mobile users will view the initial video, but Annotations are not currently supported on mobile devices.

1. Introduction to the interactive genre
• The Time Machine: An Interactive Adventure!
example of interactive YouTube video
• Tell a story!
a. Write a story
b. Correct answers move story along
c. Real-life problems
d. Flow chart

2. Classroom examples
• Chemical Reactions (high school chem)
a. Complete a chemical reaction equation
b. Select the correct answer (out of 4)
c. Incorrect answers show the real-life experiment failing with the incorrect chemical
d. Correct answers show the real-life experiment succeeding and the final chemical created
• We’re in Treble! (beginning music notation)
a. A new musician begins an adventure
b. Along the way, clues are given, problems are encountered, and the viewer must correctly identify correct music notation to keep the plot moving along.
c. Incorrect answers change the plot of the video, beginning with a brief, in-character reteaching lesson.
• Enter the Welcome Wagon (2nd grade social studies)
a. Students will read a map, and give directions to the nearby library.
b. Student choices will affect the driver’s choices, and the path on the map.
c. Dozens of choices are possible for students, giving them freedom to “drive” through a small town, video clip-by-clip, and learn how to navigate Cartesian coordinates.

3. How to Create an Interactive Video
Together as a group:
• Plan! Create flowchart showing various paths/choices.
• Record and upload separate videos. Add videos to a playlist.
• Make first video public and all others unlisted.
• Use annotations to add links to end of scenes.
• If right, continue with story/lesson. Rewards: better story, better ending, higher-ordered thinking, more difficult problems.
• If wrong, reteach. Consequences: different story ending, slower video pace, less content.


  • M.Miller

    Thanks for sharing this knowledge with the Ed Tech community, Bill. Your presentation Saturday at SGVMUG Tech Fair was wonderful! Although I knew how to do this in Multimedia Authoring programs like Hyperstudio, I had NO IDEA this could be done right in You Tube!! Fantastic! :-)

  • M.Miller

    OMG! I just watched The Time Machine – such fun! And very well done, too! Congratulations and Thanks. :-)

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  • sylvia duckworth

    HI Bill, love this post, thanks! The video on slide 4 is very entertaining, but a little outdated as the annotate interface is different now on YouTube. Here is a newer version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5zzVemi3m4#t=21

  • http://www.billselak.com/ billselak

    Thanks Sylvia! I changed that video. I liked how the outdated one talked about the video we watched, but it’s just too outdated now. Appreciate the #edusupport.

  • sylvia duckworth

    HI Bill, do you know that awesome interactive video that teaches teenagers the right way to deal with their digital footprint? I’m trying to track it down for a preso I’m doing on using GAFE to create interactive stories. I tweeted it out but go no response.

  • sylvia duckworth

    PS what software did you use to get the bird on your shoulder? Love it!

  • http://www.billselak.com/ billselak

    No software. I just moved it to the right spot on my shoulder on the slide. I got the icon/image at http://www.webdesignbooth.com/33-beautiful-social-media-icon-sets-for-designers-and-bloggers/

  • sylvia duckworth

    Ooohh… clever!

  • Christina Luce

    Awesome. Thanks for sharing this.

  • http://www.billselak.com/ billselak

    Glad you liked it, Christina! Let me know if you make an interactive video with your students.

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  • Christina

    If the school has its own website where they can embed videos, there’s a more developed version of the YouTube annotations available. http://www.pulpix.co allows you to add bonus content, like this for example: https://www.pulpix.co/video/6/europe

  • http://www.billselak.com/ billselak

    Thanks for sharing Christina. Pulpix looks like a cool solution.