Last week, I viewed a demo of Zaption, the brainchild of Jim Stigler, famous for his book, The Teaching Gap. Stigler has a long history working with video, both as a research tool (he directed the TIMSS video studies) and as a tool to support teacher learning. In this latest project, he has teamed up with his son, Thiel Fellow Charlie Stigler, to produce a breakthrough platform to support learning from video. The idea is simple: video is everywhere, but all you can do is watch it. Zaption takes any video (think YouTube or Vimeo) and makes it interactive, transforming the video experience from passive watching to active learning.
Many teachers are using video already, either showing it to their class or assigning it for homework. Zaption takes it to the next level, making it super easy for teachers to take video they already use, add questions, markup, and other interactive response elements, and then assign it to students in the form of an online “Zaption Tour.” Taking a Tour has the potential to be far more engaging for students than just watching a video. And, student responses, displayed on an easy-to-read analytics page, provide the teacher with actionable formative assessment data to guide subsequent discussions in class.
I immediately started to think about how Zaption Tours could function in much the way the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) envisions its tasks and templates. Much like LDC, a Zaption Tour provides a template around which educators could collaborate to create, test, share, and improve a new kind of education content. Zaption appears to have had the same idea: Not only can teachers create Tours for their own use, but they can also share them with other teachers in the Zaption Gallery, who can make their own copies of the Tours, edit them, and use them with their own students. I can imagine a growing library of Zaption Tours, indexed by the Common Core State Standards, all being continuously improved by teachers.
Innovative educators are finding all kinds of uses for Zaption, using it, for example, to flip their classrooms (making their own video lectures interactive), and as a tool for teacher education and development. As with many tools, the key is to capture the imagination of teachers. Zaption is beautifully designed and easy to use. But its real value will be in what teachers create to support their students’ learning.