Is Interactive Video Useful For Examination?

Now that I have explored the possibilities of interactive video for teaching a foreign language, I’m wondering whether it’s useful for assessing the skills taught, too.

I will explore the possibilities the tool offers and evaluate its value as a method of examination.

Suitability of language skills to be assessed online

Generally speaking, videos easily appeal to students and therefore they automatically increase students’ involvement. Wouldn’t it be great to top it all off by testing their skills online as well, using the same method as in the training stage?

So far, I explored interactive video as a useful tool for teaching vocabulary, listening, speaking, and grammar.

Assessing speaking skills with a video would be too complicated; it requires voice recognition software and, even if that was possible, speaking is so much more than just pronouncing the words in the right way. The same goes for writing.

We teachers are indispensable when it comes to assessing these skills.

Teaching is about personal relationships and building personality. So, let’s keep in touch with our students by reading their brilliant ideas and interacting with them while we assess these productive skills.

However, the assessment of vocabulary, grammar and listening do not necessarily require teacher involvement. Let’s check out what possibilities interactive video offers for, let’s say, vocabulary exams.

Requirements vocabulary tests should meet

Vocabulary exams test students’ individual knowledge or skills. Therefore, it should be possible to make sure students are taking their tests individually.

Also, it is important that the test represents natural situations as accurately as possible. Video offers excellent opportunities to realize that; it shows words and phrases in a natural context.

How to build a test on vocabulary

Testing vocabulary with interactive video gives students a context for they have to have studied. This context will help them recognize the words just like they would in real-life conversations.

To test their active knowledge of these words, it should be possible to bleep just the target word from the video while leaving the rest of the sentence intact, so students have to guess what the missing ‘idea’ is.

The only thing they still need to do to show their knowledge is translate this ‘idea’ into a word in the target language.

1. Find a video on the topic you selected

Whether your students have studied vocabulary from books or acquired their knowledge by using interactive material, they will have studied words around a particular theme (see my blog about teaching vocabulary for reasons why).

This makes interactive video the obvious candidate for vocabulary tests; you just look for a video dealing with the same theme that uses many of these words in a natural context.

What helps even more in active vocabulary testing is a video with images showing the meanings of the words the students have to provide, so they are visually primed for the right phrasing.

For my vocabulary test, I choose a video about water shortage in several parts of the world, which goes with the charity theme.

The video includes several words my students have studied before, like ‘health’, ‘solvable’ and ‘disease’.

2. Watch the video and decide which interactions you would like to add.

Pause screen: Before the test, it should be perfectly clear for the students what they’re about to do. The pause screen is useful for this purpose: you can just give them any information you think they will need.

In my pause screen, I explain what will be on test, namely both active and passive vocabulary. I also explain the way they have to work: they need to stow away all items which could help them, they can replay the video and try the questions again, and they have to use the context and only the words they studied while answering the questions.

Open question: with an open question, students are not just tested on their range of vocabulary, but also on spelling. If they make a mistake in their spelling, their answer is incorrect, so it will cost them points.

I start with an open question about the word ‘need’. I think there’s not enough context to expect the students to fill in the right word without any difficulty, so I give them a hint on which letter the word starts with. Since it’s not a listening test, I show them the gap sentence they heard on the question screen.

As I don’t want the students to hear the answer afterwards and know whether they were correct; if they make a mistake it might discourage them right from the start. That’s why I disable the ‘Feedback screen’ (just below the ‘Add Answer’ button). I also select ‘Continue playing at’ under ‘Action type’ and set the time just after the answer has been said in the video.

Under the tab ‘Advanced’, it is possible to easily allow students to listen to the fragment again. Just tick ‘Enable back button’, select ‘Continue playing at’ and enter the moment in the video from which you want it to replay if students click the back button.

My second question is just like the first, with the only difference that now I would like my students to fill in a word in the middle of a sequence. However, there is not an option yet to insert a kind of ‘beep’ sound while the video plays on and remains visible, so the picture material can provide the context the students need to answer this question.

Therefore, I now just added a pause screen with the text ‘There should be a ‘beep’ here…’, but of course these questions are useless for real testing without a real ‘beep’.

Multiple choice question: this is a convenient option especially if students studied words which are closely related in meaning. By asking a multiple choice question, I can check whether they can tell the minor differences between the options.

Don’t make it easy for the students to look at each other’s screen. If that’s difficult in terms of rearranging the classroom or having them take the tests at home, although that comes with its own disadvantages, the best option would be to shuffle the questions under the “Advanced” tab.

I add a multiple choice question to check whether my students remember what a billion is. When counting large numbers in Dutch, we go from miljoen (million) to miljard (billion) to biljoen (trillion). This can be confusing since billion and biljoen sound so much alike, so I want to make sure that they know that a billion is way more than just a couple of millions.

Menu: students sometimes like to postpone answering questions, hoping they will come up with the right answer after some time of ‘distraction’. In order to easily go back to a question they would like to see again, you can add a ‘Menu’, adding the questions and their action time as menu items.

In the menu, I provide the questions by their numbers: it’s difficult to give a short description without giving the answer away. I select the ‘Jump to interaction’ option, which then shows the questions I already created. Just select the right ones and voilà: my menu has been finished.

3. Change the video settings

As I don’t want the students to get any feedback while taking the test, I untick the ‘Show random feedback title’ box under ‘Video settings’, ‘Advanced’, ‘Video Settings’.

In the same tab, I select ‘Show score’ under ‘End of video’ so my students will know their results when they have finished taking the test. Under ‘Reporting’, I set the percentage of points to succeed to 60.

4. Publish your interactive video

It’s important that students don’t have access to the test beforehand. In order to achieve that, you keep the publishing settings under ‘Video settings’, ‘General’ offline.

In the meantime, you add the list of allowed viewers. Do this under ‘Video settings’, ‘Optional variables’, ‘Allowed viewers’. Here, you will find instructions on how to import the details of your students.

When you think your students are ready for the test, you change the availability settings from ‘Offline’ into ‘Allowed viewers only’.

Insight in the results

After taking the test, your students will see their scores on their screens. Publishing your video as ‘Allowed viewers only’ will allow you to check their results as well, so you can use their scores in your school’s marking system.

Click the ‘Statistics’ button in the top right corner in the editor. Under the ‘Variables’ tab, you can click ‘Downloads’ and select what kind of information you would like to get. In the document you download, you can see all the information you need; for instance, when the students finished the test, how long it took them, and what their score was.

Using ‘Question statistics’, you can analyze the answers your students gave on the test and probably change future classes according to these facts. I’ll leave it up to you whether you think ‘Statistics for nerds’ is a great option.

Interactive video for testing vocabulary

A huge point of improvement for testing vocabulary with interactive video would be the option of a ‘beep’ sound (or just a moment of silence) for gap questions. Now, it is only possible to skip part of the video completely, which disables students to use the picture material as context for guessing the right answer.

Luckily, the HiHaHo team is working on an audio interaction, so this shouldn’t take long to fix.

A downside of interactive video, in general, is that it takes some time to create and take the test. To keep the fun factor of watching a video, just a limited number of questions should be asked. For bigger tests, it might be more efficient to take tests without interactive video, in my opinion.

Interactive video still makes tests way more attractive for students, not in the least because students nowadays are fonder of watching than of reading. Also, it gives them a ‘natural’ context which helps them recall the words on the test.

It saves time as I don’t have to grade vocabulary tests myself anymore.

Open questions accurately test whether students not only know the meaning of a word, but also the way it’s supposed to be spelled. However, this could have a negative impact on student suffering from dyslexia.

Passive understanding of vocabulary is tested in such a way that it is essential for students to study their words phonetically instead of lexically as some of them tend to do.

So, interactive video passes the test when it comes to examination with a fun and yet natural context.

Teachers who are willing to go the extra mile will be rewarded with more variety in the classroom, improving the long-term retention of vocabulary of their students and NO grading!

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Mariëlle Nederlof

Teacher of English (EFL)



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