I don’t typically blog about sites and topics that people suggest. Usually, I worry that the folks may have some vested interest in me posting about the subject and I try to remain as neutral and unbiased as possible. This morning, however, I received an email from Swaroop Raju, the co-founder of eduCanon, asking me to check out his site. He didn’t specifically ask me to review the site on my blog or to give it a positive review. He just suggested I check it out in support of my Flipped Classroom project and offered to meet in a Google Hangout if I had any questions.
eduCanon is a site that allows teachers to add questions to videos from YouTube, Vimeo or TeacherTube to assess student understanding and to keep students engaged. The process is pretty simple. Instructors sign up for an account and start building a lesson. After selecting a video, instructors can select specific points of the video where a question would pop up. Instructors can choose to add questions throughout the video or save them for the end of the video. Students can watch the lessons by signing up for a free account (no email address is necessary) and find their instructor by entering in an instructor-specific code. Once they find their instructor, they can watch an assigned lesson and answer the questions. All student responses are recorded so they can be entered into a grade book if a teacher chooses.
As someone who is using more flipped instruction with his students, I’m really impressed with what eduCanon offers. Besides being easy to use, the site provides an ‘in-line’ assessment tool to monitor student learning from video lessons. The data garnered from the questions would provide a great starting point for the face-to-face instruction that occurs after students watch a video lesson. Before students entered the face-to-face class, I would have an idea of where students had difficulty and where they did not. I would also know which students needed some extra help. It’s the perfect tool to support classroom differentiation.
Now, I realize other tools can be paired together to offer similar functionality. Teachers could use Google Docs to have students answer short surveys after they’ve watch a video or teachers could embed videos and assessment questions into a site like Edmodo. But eduCanon offers a simple, one-stop package that connects videos and questions together. Also, most of the sites services are available for free. While premium membership exists (for $48 a year), the basic services are available at no cost to instructors or students. The premium services offer some options to increase efficiency and convenience, like gradebook exporting and lesson library searching. Ultimately, however, the premium services do not significantly alter the pedagogical applications of the site. If you’re an instructor who has been flipping some lessons, check out eduCanon.