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Using Interactive Videos to Encourage Active Learning

Instance Description

Interactive videos are an excellent choice for providing an active learning experience for students. Instead of a video that positions the learner as a passive listener, interactive videos engage the viewer and demand certain forms of interaction. In fact, students have reported that interactive videos can be fun and allow them to learn the content better compared to videos without any forms of interaction (Kim, Glassman, Monroy-Hernandez, & Morris, 2015; Neo, Neo, & Yap, 2008). In general, research suggests that high interactivity in a video can improve learning and provide learners the opportunity to express their ideas and their learning (Kim et al., 2015). Additionally, interactive videos increase opportunities for student engagement and can be designed to include quiz questions to check students’ conceptual understanding (Kolas, 2015).

animation of two yellow items being placed next to the kelly
Photo Credit

Credit: Mark Wherley © Penn State is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 

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See it in Practice

This video has no audio so no captions have been included. 
Credit: Video by J. Liu © Penn State, 2021 and licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0  

Research has shown that videos requiring high student interactivity can improve learning. This video is unusual in that it was used as a data source for conducting a time and motion study. The video contains no words, just unedited footage of harvest operations. This video was one of many utilized in ABE 885: Biomass Harvest and Logistics. The goal for students was to learn by doing, so students timed the field operations shown and then used the data to make calculations. Many agricultural activities occur only for a brief window during the year, but with videos like this one, time and motion studies of field operations can be practiced any time of year.

Instead of pressing play and watching passively, students need to engage with the video content by recording the time between bale drops. And the students need to determine if there are other data they can utilize such as weather conditions, or the time for a tractor to negotiate a corner. The timings collected from several videos are combined in the assignment in order to make calculations and propose ways to increase efficiency.

The technique of providing a video from which data can be collected by students has great potential for science labs, animal or human behavioral studies, and for many other disciplines.



The harvesting operations videos show the activity with no narration, so no captioning was done. Audio cues could be added to accommodate the visually impaired.


  • Videos can be uploaded directly to Canvas using the Kaltura integration or uploaded to YouTube or Kaltura and then placed in Canvas with an embed code or URL.
  • Interactive videos can be used in online and residential classes.


This video has no audio so no captions have been included.
Credit: Adapted from Oilfield Training Center. “Drilling Training – Run Drill Pipe Through Rotary Table.” YouTube. May 18, 2016.

Many instructors supplement their online course materials with instructor-created or third-party YouTube videos. While these videos can enhance the learning experience, they often leave students in a passive role. Current learning theory suggests that we can motivate more effective learning when learners play an active role rather than a passive role. Kaltura (Penn State’s tool for storing, publishing, and streaming media) can be used to insert quiz questions into videos to build interactivity, and in turn, help shift students from passive observers to active learners.

In this example, the Drilling Training video shows the four different question types supported by Kaltura quizzes: Reflection Point (0:09), Multiple Choice (0:21), True/False (0:40), and Open-Ended (1:04). Each question type, except for the Reflection Point, allows you to supplement the questions with hints and/or provide feedback indicating the rationale behind the correct answers. It is important to note that the Drilling Training video used in this example is a third-party YouTube video. Kaltura quiz questions can be added to instructor-created videos and to third-party YouTube videos.

You can share your quiz with a direct link to your Kaltura Media page or you can use two different embed codes (public or private) to add your quiz to an existing web page. If you are working in Canvas, you can also add the video quiz directly into your Canvas course space with the Embed Kaltura Media tool.



  • Kaltura products support all major screen readers; JAWS for Chrome, NVDA for Firefox, and voiceover for Safari.
  • All videos should have closed captions and transcripts. (Note: The YouTube video used to create the Kaltura quiz in this example has no audio track.)


  • If using third-party YouTube videos, you need to make sure the videos are listed publicly and are viewable to everyone.
  • The Kaltura quiz function is not currently tied to the Canvas gradebook and should only be used for formative assessment.
  • Interactive videos can also be created using H5P, but connecting them to the Canvas gradebook is more difficult or sometimes not possible, depending on how your institution handles H5P.



  • Kim, J., Glassman, E., Monroy-Hernández, A., & Morris, M. (2015). RIMES: Embedding interactive multimedia exercises in lecture videos. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, New York, NY. doi:10.1145/2702123.2702186
  • Kolås, L. (2015). Application of interactive videos in education. In 2015 International Conference on Information Technology Based Higher Education and Training (ITHET) (pp. 1-6). IEEE.
  • Neo, M., Neo, T. K., & Yap, W. L. (2008). Students' perceptions of interactive multimedia mediated web-based learning: A Malaysian perspective. In Proceedings of ASCILITE 2008 Conference, Melbourne.