Interactive Video Tools

At a Glance

Interactive video tools like Kaltura, VoiceThread, and Nearpod allow instructors to annotate and embed questions into videos, resulting in a more active, engaging learning experience which yields important formative assessment data.

Research Team

This investigation was led by Aaron Royer  (Sr. Instructional Designer), Renee Evans (Sr. Instructional Designer) and Amanda Valdespino (Instructional Designer), members of Learning Innovation and Faculty Engagement.

What is it?

The use of video in higher education has surged in recent years, as hybrid and online course formats and teaching methods like flipped learning continue to gain traction. In these methods and formats, video often provides first contact with new course concepts, effectively replacing live lecture, and allowing for a more active face-to-face or synchronous learning environment. In the past, video-based lectures were largely one-sided, passive viewing experiences which led some to criticize them “as just bad lectures on video” (Makice, 2012). However, in recent years, instructors and researchers have begun to emphasize the importance of interactive, structured first exposure to new concepts, and, fortunately, advances in video platforms have been conducive to this. Tools like Kaltura, Nearpod, and VoiceThread allow instructors and students to engage with videos in a number of ways, including through embedded questions and collaborative annotation.  

An interactive video quiz created with Kaltura



A platform which allows users to record, edit, upload, and embed questions in webcam and screencast videos, all from within Blackboard. 


A platform where users can create, share, and annotate media projects which incorporate video, images, audio, and text. 

  • Website: 
  • Licensed and Supported by UMIT: Users can login with their UMID.
  • Blackboard Integration: Users can create, share, and annotate VoiceThread projects from within Blackboard.
  • Question Types: Open ended, reflection points
  • UMIT Support Page


An interactive video and presentation platform which allows users to upload a variety of content types and embed interactivity within it. 

  • Website: 
  • Not UM-Supported: Nearpod’s free version allows teachers to create interactive content and share it with up to 40 students. 
  • Question Types: Multiple choice, open ended 
  • Educational Resources: Nearpod Educator Resources

How does it work?

Interactive video tools can be used for a one-time class assignment or multiple times throughout the semester and can be used in a number of ways, including to record and share lectures about key course concepts and assess student progress towards learning goals. Once you have selected an interactive-video tool that meets the needs of your course, follow these general steps to get started:


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  • 1. Access the tool

    Instructors login to Blackboard and can access Kaltura in a variety of ways:

    1. Go to any content area, click on Build Content, and choose Kaltura Media.
    2. Go to any content area, click on Assessments, and choose Kaltura Video Quiz.
    3. Go to any content area, click on Tools, and choose Kaltura Media.
    4. Find Course Tools on your Blackboard toolbar, and choose Media Gallery.

    Kaltura access options in the order presented above (from left)


  • 2. Add video and interactivity

    Instructors can add video to the Kaltura Media Gallery by uploading pre-recorded videos, recording videos within Kaltura using Express Capture (talking-head video) or Kaltura Capture  (recorded screen), or linking to a video from YouTube.

    For the Kaltura Video Quiz feature, instructors need to play the selected video or move the media’s real time marker to the desired point in the timeline. From there, they can select a question type, fill in the appropriate information, and when finished click Done or Preview to test. Instructors can also choose other features such as "allow multiple attempts," "provide feedback," and "show scores." When ready to share, click Save and Embed to make it visible to students within their Blackboard course.

    The Kaltura Video Quiz editing interface


  • 3. Students review and complete assignments

    Students log into the course site, access the content and complete any associated activities. If the instructor added the video to the Bb course as an assessment, students' quiz results will be synced automatically with Grade Center.


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Who's doing it?

Interactive video is becoming increasingly popular in higher ed, and the following examples from the University of Miami and other institutions illustrate some of the most common usage scenarios. 

Usage Scenarios from University of Miami

Marc Knecht, Professor of Chemistry

Dr. Knecht uses interactive video extensively in his introductory chemistry course, CHM121, to introduce new concepts. He prefers to use Camtasia to record and edit videos and Kaltura to embed quiz questions, though he has found the former to be more user friendly. The questions embedded in his videos add an element of accountability to pre-class work, as he is able to see who watched the videos and how well they understand the concepts. Dr. Knecht’s students appreciate that they can follow lectures at their own pace and rewatch as needed to learn difficult concepts.  One major obstacle has been embedding questions with the proper formatting for chemistry (e.g., chemical compounds, figures, etc.).


Yunqiu Wang, Senior Lecturer of Biology

Dr. Wang uses Kaltura to embed quiz questions in YouTube videos as a way to introduce new content and prepare students for in-class, discussion-based activities. He typically inserts three to five multiple-choice questions and particularly likes that students’ scores appear automatically in Blackboard’s Grade Center. He notes, though, that it took him a while to get comfortable with using Kaltura in Blackboard, but that this investment of time has paid off, as interactive video incentivizes his students to watch pre-class videos thoroughly, with the current completion rate hovering around 90%, a significant increase over previous semesters. Dr. Wang also notes that students’ grades on important exams have been slightly higher than they were before he started using interactive video.

Additional Usage Scenarios

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  • Kaltura, Florida Gulf Coast University

    Florida Gulf Coast University

    Associate Professor Dr. Mark Simpson used interactive video to encourage student engagement and learning in his online classroom (Simpson & Bolduc-Simpson, 2018). Using Kaltura’s video quizzing feature, Dr. Simpson embedded short Youtube videos based on course-related content with multiple-choice or true-false questions that students would take as low-stakes assessments. He  was able to choose if students could revise questions and receive hints, and he could review students' progress through the analytics feature. In a feedback survey, students reacted positively to the video quizzes, saying they were visually appealing, required focus, and allowed for further practice and retention of concepts (p. 11). Dr. Simpson even used the video quizzing feature to record his course syllabus document and quiz students on different components.

  • VoiceThread, Spring Hill College

    Spring Hill College

    Associate Professor Dr. Ola Fox studied how VoiceThread enhanced collaborative learning within an online, graduate clinical nurse leader course (Fox, 2017). Dr. Fox at first used VoiceThread for non-graded assessments such as students posing any questions about course orientation and submitting self-introduction videos to build community (p. 22). For graded assessments, Dr. Fox had students working on nurse leadership case studies. Students were provided guidelines and required to watch a VoiceThread that explained the assignment. Then, in groups, students analyzed a section of the case study and presented their analysis in a VoiceThread audio or webcam comment (p. 23). Students were also able to provide constructive peer feedback comments to other groups and revise their section for a higher grade. The graduate nursing students reacted positively to the use of VoiceThread as they found it “humanized” the course by allowing students and instructors to communicate emotion, personality, and other nonverbal cues in an asynchronous learning environment, resulting in connectedness (p. 26).

    VoiceThread also has a repository of videos and slides created by educators for their courses. Instrcutors can browse the many wonderful examples - like a German professor who used VoiceThread to have students create a collaborative tour of Berlin - for inspiration.

  • Nearpod, Thomas Jefferson University

    Thomas Jefferson University

    Assistant Professor Dr. John Milligan used Nearpod to provide participation choices to his undergraduate organic chemistry students  once they had to rapidly transition online due to the COVID-19 pandemic (Milligan, 2020). Dr. Milligan was already using the tool to integrate live, multiple-choice polling during his lectures. Once the class transitioned to remote, he gave students two options - to participate synchronously in polling during live lectures or asynchronously via embedded questions within recorded lectures. Although a majority of his students preferred the synchronous form of engagement, some appreciated the flexibility to watch lectures and answer questions at their own pace (p. 3208). When it came to polling questions versus exam scores, Dr. Milligan found students that chose the asynchronous option did better on polling, but had slightly lower test scores than students that chose the synchronous option. A recommendation was in the future to provide options in Nearpod for students to discuss their polling questions or have the instructor give feedback, similar to what would happen during a live lecture. Despite this, Dr. Milligan concluded that offering a mix of synchronous and asynchronous options for students is an effective instructional strategy (p. 3209).

What are the benefits?

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  • Convenience for instructors and students

    Instructors can employ interactive video to have students access or review content as well as assess student understanding of the content all in one platform. Instead of having students watch a lecture, answer a discussion-board question, and take a short quiz, instructors can simply create one interactive video that has students perform various activities all at once.


  • Maximize study time

    With embedded questions or interactive elements, students have the choice to immediately jump to pieces of information they find relevant or crucial to their learning. Students can also go back to review questions or video content at their own pace without having to watch a whole video in its entirety. 


  • Choice of modalities

    With interactive video, students use their visual and auditory channels to learn course concepts through quizzing, reflection points, and feedback from peers. This provides opportunities and choices for students to participate in learning activities in their preferred modalities.

  • Analytics and grading

    Interactive video tools such as Kaltura and Nearpod allow instructors to track students’ responses to interactive elements within a video and evaluate their progress through video reporting. Kaltura and VoiceThread also allow grading to be imported into the Blackboard GradeCenter.

What are the challenges?

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  • Time consuming for instructors

    Prior to adding interactivity to videos, instructors will need to decide between creating their own videos or using premade ones. Creating your own videos will entail storyboarding, scriptwriting, editing and possibly learning how to use video recording and editing software. Instructors who choose to use videos that have already been created (e.g., YouTube) will need to find a video that fits the learning goals. This may mean watching several videos of varying lengths to find the right one for the class. Additionally, if the instructor is going to use the interactive videos to replace the lecture, then the instructor will also have to plan and redesign the in-class session. Finally, when adding any sort of interactivity to videos such as review questions or reflection points, instructors will need to do a bit of pre-planning so that interaction will encourage students to make meaningful connections (Whitaker, 2020).

  • Cognitive overload

    When any type of multimedia such as interactive videos is presented to students, there is the potential for cognitive overload. This is because the brain uses separate processing systems for visual and verbal information and these systems have limited capacity. Therefore, cognitive overload has the potential to occur when "the processing demands evoked by the learning task may exceed the processing capacity of the cognitive system" ( Mayer, R. & Moreno, R., 2010). Instructors need to be mindful of this because in order for meaningful learning to occur it requires significant cognitive processing. For example, presenting words as narration and not as on-screen text can lead to better transfer of knowledge and removing irrelevant information can improve understanding (Mayer, R. & Moreno,R., 2010).


  • Student engagement

    Using interactive videos for pre-class or post-class work is common and for many students the use of interactive videos to learn new concepts or review class material will be new to them. Instructors should ensure that the videos are closely tied to the learning objectives and assessments. If not, students may see it as busy work and respond negatively. To further encourage student engagement, it is best to limit the length. Videos should be no more than 10 minutes long. It can be a challenge for instructors to break up an hour long lecture into short interactive videos, so they will have to decide on the concepts and topics that are most important while ensuring that the content is covered in adequate detail.

  • Collaboration issues

    Collaboration in course development is common in higher ed. For example, some instructors delegate development tasks to teaching assistants, while others, in particular those teaching large-enrollment introductory courses, co-develop curricula and resources to be used and shared across sections of a course. Collaborating on interactive video is not always straightforward, though. When accessing Kaltura through Blackboard, for instance, only the user who uploaded a video to her media library can edit it, which means that a teaching assistant or co-instructor cannot embed quiz questions in videos uploaded by other users. This effectively means that collaboration on interactive videos needs to happen outside Blackboard, using a video recording and editing tool coupled with a cloud storage platform like Google Drive.

What are the implications for teaching and learning?

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  • Extended active learning

    Many active-learning pedagogies like flipped learning seek to optimize face-to-face time by moving typically passive, information-transfer activities like lectures outside the classroom in the form of videos. Though in the past students often watched these videos passively, this need not be the case.  With interactive video tools, instructors can couple videos with a range of question types or annotation exercises, resulting in lesson sequences which are active and engaging both pre- and in-class.

  • Formative assessment

    In active-learning environments, first contact with new concepts often takes place asynchronously, outside of class. In such cases, instructors need to be more intentional about their approach to monitoring student learning and progress - referred to as formative assessment - since they will not be able to read the room, answer questions, and elaborate on concepts as needed.  Indeed, research has shown that, in the absence of such support, students often feel that they are left to teach themselves a particular subject (Deslauriers et al., 2019). Interactive video platforms offer a range of features which help instructors gather and analyze data on student progress.  With Kaltura, for example, instructors can embed quiz questions in their videos and get access to various student-response metrics, which could then be used as the basis for targeted lectures and elaboration in class. As another example, VoiceThread allows both instructors and students to annotate videos, opening the door to a range of discussion activities and student-driven, asynchronous question-and-answer sessions, both of which, in addition to being highly interactive, yield rich formative data.

  • Accountability

    One of the most commonly cited pitfalls in active-learning environments is that students don’t do the pre-class work (e.g., watch the videos, read the texts, listen to the podcasts, etc.) and thus are unprepared to engage with new content at higher cognitive levels once they arrive to class (Van Sickle, 2015). One way to encourage students to complete this work is to hold them accountable by linking a portion of their grade to it. Many interactive video platforms facilitate this by giving instructors access to student usage statistics and response reports and, in some cases, syncing them directly with their grade books. For instance, Kaltura, when accessed from within Blackboard, automatically creates an entry in the Blackboard Grade Center if an instructor adds an interactive video quiz to her course.

Where is it going?

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  • Further LTI integration

    Nearpod, Kaltura, and VoiceThread are working on ways for instructors to better integrate interactive video into an LMS and provide secure links for instructors to embed within their course site. As a reminder, anything that is a non-UM supported tool needs a service ticket sent to request LTI integration. From there, UMIT needs to follow a standard set of procedures in order to approve whether it can or cannot be integrated into Blackboard.

  • Accessibility

    Interactive video tools are continuously improving accessibility by including features such as closed caption displays, better compatibility with mobile screen readers, and the option to translate into multiple languages.

  • Mobile updates

    As more students begin to access course content through their phones, interactive video tools such as VoiceThread will update to add more features and optimize the mobile device experience.

  • More question types

    As of now, Kaltura, VoiceThread and Nearpod have very limited question types instructors can add to their videos. Future updates will include more options instructors can choose to embed, including creating a points or scoring system in order to gamify pre-instructional materials.


Deslauriers, L., McCarty, L. S., Miller, K., Callaghan, K., & Kestin, G. (2019). Measuring actual learning versus feeling of learning in response to being actively engaged in the classroom. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(39), 19251–19257. 

Fox, O. H. (2017). Using VoiceThread to Promote Collaborative Learning in On-Line Clinical Nurse Leader Courses. Journal of Professional Nursing, 33(1), 20–26. 

Makice, K. (2012, April 13). Flipping the Classroom Requires More Than Video. Wired. 

Mayer, R. E., & Moreno, R. (2003). Nine Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 43–52. 

Milligan, J. A. (2020). What Is the Value of Synchronous Engagement in Small Remote Organic Chemistry Classes? Analysis of Multiple-Choice Polling Data from the COVID-Impacted Spring Semester of 2020. Journal of Chemical Education, 97(9), 3206–3210.

Simpson, M., & Bolduc-Simpson, S. (2018). Interactivity: Engaging Video Activities In Online Courses. Journal of Education and Social Development, 2(2), 10–14.

Van Sickle, J. (2015). Adventures in Flipping College Algebra. PRIMUS, 25(8), 600–613. 

Whitaker, D. (2020, June 1). Getting the Most Out of Interactive Video. Digital Learning.