Review by Amanda Finkelberg, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2016

Comment Bubble

Customizable video-response tool allows easy, if limited, student feedback

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Creativity

Subjects
N/A
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
7-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Quick clicks allow viewers to comment on a video without pausing; custom categories provide unlimited classroom applications.

Cons: No option to hide viewer feedback from others may limit opportunities for individual assessment.

Bottom Line: A simple, easy way to add student-friendly assessments to online videos, including quick, customizable responses (e.g., "I get it") or short comments.

Creative teachers could go beyond the lecture feedback route and consider using the tool to get students talking about popular media (especially current events) and to promote media literacy. Consider taking seemingly unrelated content and having students evaluate it based on recent lessons. Create a custom Likert scale or make the quick comments something like "specious claim," "strawman argument," or "circular reasoning" and have students evaluate and score political debates. Or make a list of literary devices and show film while students find the moments of simile and metaphor. Once you get going, the applications are endless. Remember that student feedback is visible to the whole class, so they’ll likely be influenced by one another, for better or worse.

Be wary of the "watch this video and make five comments" assignment trap; you won't get a lot of engagement out of kids no matter how fun this tool is, unless the comments add some real value to their experience. In short, this isn't a perfect assessment tool and won't necessarily jazz up videos, but, used thoughtfully, it can make for some genuinely meaningful experiences and provide actionable feedback for teachers. 

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Comment Bubble is a bit of a hybrid between a student-response tool and an analytics tool: Creators solicit time-stamped feedback to online video from their viewers as they watch, which they can use to assess/gauge understanding or analyze a video/lesson. Quick Comment categories allow creators to specify the type of feedback they'd like, so they can ask viewers to rate such reactions as emotional response or level of agreement without requiring them to pause the video. Viewers simply click colored buttons at evocative moments, and comments are automatically added to the thread. Additional comments can be added as text, audio, or video. Custom questions can also be added, requiring a quick response from viewers. 

The analytics feature gives a clear picture of viewers' reactions to a video. A bar graph indicates moments that provoked the most responses. The comment thread logs viewer names, so users can identify which viewer made each comment. Comment Bubble now also features expert coaches (including an education coach) and focus groups, which could be used to get some feedback before taking lessons live. These are both paid features, however. 

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Although Comment Bubble isn't exclusively designed as an educational tool, its quick feedback features have many uses in the creative digital classroom. Teachers may want to route their flipped-lecture content through a Comment Bubble page to get a look at how students are engaging with a course lecture video. Asking kids to click when things are unclear or when they strongly disagree will help boost engagement and keep students feeling like active participants in the learning experience. Note that you won’t be able to hide the analytics graph from students, so they’ll be able to see how classmates responded. It’s a good idea to use Comment Bubble for collaborative formative assessment.

Keep in mind, though, that compared to hands-on activities, live discussion, or even lectures where students can ask questions for immediate clarification, learning from videos is a fairly passive experience and seldom results in deep retention or meaning-making. Comment Bubble can make your advance organizers or content-introduction videos more useful, but it won't turn them into complete lessons. 

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Kids give feedback in real time, keeping them engaged with the video and focused on key ideas. The slick interface will likely be a hit as well.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

If your lessons are on YouTube or Vimeo, this will be better than simply hoping your kids will watch or having a quiz afterward. Still, this is passive learning with a little extra, not active inquiry.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Speedy, responsive email help is available on the site, and there's a FAQ and guided tutorial. Features are fairly straightforward and beginner-friendly.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Mallory M. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Cobble Hill School of American Studies
Brooklyn, NY
REACT to video

<p>Students like having specific guides about what to look for as they watch clips (reading/viewing with a purpose), and to be able to immediately share their reactions to certain moments WHILE watching a video clip.
</p><p>
Often students have not learned what active close-viewing of visual media entails and this tool allows them to hone this skill. There are numerous options for using Comment Bubble in lessons. Teachers can select videos and create customized comment buttons for students to select from and click while the video is playing. This tool can be used to reinforce related unit skills and concepts. For example, students could tag videos at certain moments for the director's purpose, identify claims, persuasive evidence, etc. if they are in the middle of an argumentative reading/writing unit. If teachers create comment buttons which don't encourage students to think critically about the video, or the comment buttons don't correlate well with the selected video, students will not get much out of this tool. The power of this tool lies in the selection of video clips and what the teacher has students identifying, evaluating, critiquing, analyzing, etc. through the comment buttons she or he has created. </p><p>
It's extremely useful to be able to pinpoint patterns and trends across the class and also identify student misunderstanding via the graphing feature. I recommend making sure students are also required to type additional comments by at least one or two of the moments they've tagged to ensure they are using the buttons thoughtfully and can explain and analyze their choices. </p><p>
I found it useful to revisit the tagged video with the whole class to prompt detailed discussion by clicking into portions where students have tagged the video and asking them to share their thinking with the class; students are generally willing to discuss their comments because they have been given enough think time to closely view and react to the video clip on their own first, so they are coming to the discussion prepared. </p><p>
Some of the issues I've encountered so far: Occasionally students found it frustrating that there was a bit of a lag time between when they hit one of the comment buttons and the moment it officially registered on the video. Additionally, some YouTube videos I uploaded had been removed by the YouTube user, and I had to find another video altogether. </p>

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