Review of EdPuzzle
EdPuzzle is an online tool to create and edit interactive videos. Videos can be uploaded to the site for editing or a user can choose an existing video to edit from EdPuzzle’s massive video database. Specific videos are difficult to find, but can generally be sorted through in a few different ways: by curriculum level, by institution, and through ‘popular channels.’ Curriculum is split into elementary, middle, and high school levels—this tool is definitely not meant for higher education. Institutions available to you are determined when you sign up; namely, you will have easy access to any videos created by other members of your school or district. Popular channels include videos from EdPuzzle, YouTube, Khan Academy, TED Talks, and several other video platforms. This is the most complex way to sort through video content, as you can never be sure what subjects will appear on what channels. Any appealing videos can be quickly saved to "my content" so that the arduous search process can be avoided in the future.
While there are many tools that exist for teachers to create interactive media, EdPuzzle stands out in its ease of use and is one of the few that could be utilized by both teachers and students for video creation. Once a video is selected, the user has three options: edit, watch, or copy. The editing process is where the ‘meat’ of EdPuzzle takes place. Unlike other interactive video editors which include a multitude of editing options, EdPuzzle editor contains only four options to edit each video: cropping or shortening, adding a voiceover, adding audio notes, or adding quiz questions. The user cannot add video or mix videos together, the video file must be in its complete form when uploaded to EdPuzzle. Again, the simplicity involved in the editing process makes EdPuzzle ideal for teachers or students with little or no experience editing videos, but lacks the complex features and interactions to be considered a true video editing tool.
When assessing how well a tool like EdPuzzle can be integrated into your classroom, there are several helpful guidelines to consider. One very useful tool is the Ed Tech RCE (Rapid Cycle Evaluation) coach. While it has an intimidating name, the RCE Coach is really a straightforward tool that asks users to assess their needs, discover what may fit your needs, vet potential tools, and begin conversations. EdPuzzle would best fit the needs of a K-12 teacher who has a clear idea of the content they want to teach and the questions they want to ask, but is not familiar with interactive content creation. It would equally fit the needs of a middle or high school teacher that would like their students to create an interactive video for their classmates. This second scenario would be best executed with a specific type of video and a clear direction of what types of questions need to be asked in the interactive content. The next step asks educators to determine whether or not participants have the appropriate training and technical requirements; with EdPuzzle, this portion is less of a concern as any device with internet access and audio input/output can edit through the site. Vetting is possibly the most important step in the RCE process. Before adopting, you must ask yourself, “does this technology really work for the way I want to use it?” While this seems like a simple question, there are many aspects that are often overlooked. You must fully consider the group size (will the finished video be viewed individually or as a group?), product fit (does it meet outcomes for productivity?), design (do students find it engaging?), cost, time, and data that can be gathered from the tool. For EdPuzzle, students are likely to find the tech engaging (particularly if they are allowed to create the video themselves) which is one of the major selling points of this technology. Unfortunately, many of the other questions must be answered on an individual basis, and inability to answer these questions before using EdPuzzle in the classroom is likely to result in poor implementation.
Another commonly used framework for evaluating new technologies such as EdPuzzle is the “Triple E” Framework presented by Liz Kolb. Triple E promotes the idea that technology should be integrated into a course not just because it is new and interesting, but because it engages the students, enhances learning, and extends learning into students’ lives. EdPuzzle encourages increased engagement from students than a standard video would as it allows them to interact with the content both while and after it is being presented to them. Enhancement and extension of learning will occur if EdPuzzle is thoroughly evaluated and vetted to match with learning goals and teaching strategies before implementation (see the previous paragraph for pointers here!).
Overall, EdPuzzle has many strengths as an educational platform, including ease of access and simplistic navigation. Unfortunately, the straightforward methods used result in what is ultimately a simplistic experience—great for first-time editors or students learning about video creation, but a tool lacking in variety for anyone with experience in video or interactive content creation. While the simplicity is definitely a major shortcoming as far as video editing tools are concerned, I am not sure that I would push to change it. EdPuzzle fills a niche by specifically addressing K-12 learners and teachers; the complexity of other interactive content creators is likely to leave younger students feeling frustrated and confused. Neil Selwyn offered an interesting critique of this sort of online technology when he asserted that sometimes it is the act of creating the content that is the primary mode of learning, not the final outcome. I think this will hold true in many creative processes, including but not limited to the creation of educational videos in EdPuzzle.