Review by Amanda Finkelberg, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2014


Flashcard-like notes can help; more functionality could boost learning

Subjects & skills

  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: This easy-to-use tool adds an interactive layer to YouTube videos.

Cons: Flashcard-only annotations mean you can't see how students respond to questions; the tool only works with YouTube.

Bottom Line: A useful tool if adding highlights to YouTube videos is enough, but other annotation and assessment options are more robust.

Teachers need ways to make better classroom use of the quality content on YouTube. Annotating videos with notes, questions, and light assessment is a great way to deepen engagement and create a fuller learning experience. Teachem’s flashcards are a fine way to help direct students to the important concepts and moments in an online video. Flashcards also allow students to create a discussion thread at these highlighted moments. Note that you'll need to create a free “school” in order to make compilations and use privacy controls.

A good way to use this tool in a classroom might be to get students making their own annotated videos and creating compilations. Consider it a study aid for lecture videos; flashcards are a great way to take notes and test peers. Or ask students to mark up a video as a different type of formative assessment. Teachem unfortunately won’t teach them, but teachers may be able to find ways to use video annotation as a way to deepen engagement.

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Teachem is a free way for users to annotate YouTube videos with “flashcards” at specific points in the video. It’s simple to use: Just login or use the Facebook single sign-on, paste the link to a YouTube video, press play, and pause the video where you’d like to add a question. Then enter the text into the entry field along the right side of the site, enter the answer for the flip side, and voila, a flashcard has been entered at that time code. Now students can click the questions to navigate the video, and questions will be highlighted as the video plays. Note that questions stay highlighted until another question appears.

Teachem does offer teachers a simple way to add annotations to videos, but it doesn’t have the functionality of similar free tools like EduCanon or Zaption. The fact that it only works with YouTube content is a significant limitation, especially for teachers in schools where that content is blocked. And the simple survey responses that Teachem’s flashcards create are no match for EduCanon's or Zaption’s multiple choice, stored-response questions with a functional teacher dashboard. 

Watching online videos can be an arduous task for today’s quick-clicking students. Adding interaction is a great way to keep them focused and engaged. Teachem’s model allows students to navigate to specific points in the video by clicking the questions so it’s possible to skip over a lot of content to just get to the essentials. Depending on your class, this may or may not be a good fit for you.

With so many free video annotating tools available, teachers are likely to find better options to suit their specific needs. Teachem’s flashcard feature might be a way for students to make and share their own study notes or as a platform for a video-based assignment, but teachers looking to build simple, engaging interactivity on top of Web video, may want to find another option.

Overall Rating

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

Adding flashcards for reviews may increase engagement, but the onus is on teachers more than on the tool. Similar products offer a variety of interaction types, so the flashcard may be a bit limited in comparison. 

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

Adding notes and discussion threads at specific points in a video and curating content into organized "schools" will help structure viewing. This kind of interaction can promote more active viewing habits.

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

Although the tools are pretty easy to use, there's no help menu or contact info. An FAQ page contains Teachem-annotated videos that function more like how-tos.

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