I’ll be honest. I heard from a teacher in Medicine Lodge a few weeks ago about a tool called Zaption, promised myself that I’d check it out later, and then completely forgot all about. Then this morning, I get a promo email from the company detailing the tool’s “high-quality, ready-made content, intuitive interface, and rich analytics” and urging me to go to their site to learn more.


Am feeling a bit unsettled. I get a lot of emails and offers of free stuff from people who are pushing their products and web sites. And I usually blow them off. Unless, of course, the price is right. I had planned to share Zaption with you anyway but doing it on the same day that I get the official sales pitch seems a bit like a sellout to the Man.

But I do really like the tool and believe there’s some nice potential for social studies teachers, especially those who are already flipping or are thinking about flipping their classrooms. I’m gonna let you decide for yourself if and when you might use Zaption. If you have an opinion one way or the other, let us know in the comments. I’d love to hear what others think of the tool.

At its most basic level, Zaption is a way for you to take a YouTube or a Vimeo video clip and add interactive elements such as multiple choice questions, open response boxes, text, images, and drawings. Students respond to the elements you embed. You track their responses using Zaption’s analytics feature. Everybody’s happy.

It’s all drag and drop. Copy and paste. Actually pretty sweet stuff. When you’re finished, share the URL to your Tour or email the completed product to your kids. (The Upgrade version allows for embeds as well.) I am a bit surprised and disappointed that there aren’t other social media sharing options such as Facebook and Twitter built in. Seems like a no-brainer for a web-based tool in 2014. Maybe those features are in the works?

I do like that the group’s been working with social studies teachers from around the country and curriculum partners like Facing History and Ourselves to create their video lessons. “Social studies teachers have always used video to bring history alive in the classroom. We just brought that process online to make educational videos more engaging and track how students actively learn with video,” says Zaption CEO Chris Walsh.

Zaption’s intuitive web app allows teachers to quickly create interactive experiences called “learning tours” by adding text, images, quiz questions, and discussions to their own “flipped classroom” videos or existing videos on YouTube and Vimeo. The interactive video lessons give students the opportunity to reflect, make connections, and focus on key concepts while allowing teachers to measure engagement and progress towards learning goals.

Trevor Gardner, an 11th grade history teacher at Envision Schools, agrees with this philosophy and encourages his students to “read the word and the world.”  Many of his students struggle with literacy skills, so Gardner uses a variety of Zaption-enhanced video lessons to expand student learning in the classroom. “My students are so engaged with the interactive videos that it allows me to shift away from classroom management and work with students individually or in small groups. I can also post assignments to my blog, which lets students watch missed lessons or review before an exam.”

The interactive elements and the video itself can be edited and tweaked in a variety of ways that allow you to be specific about how your kids interact with your content. And on the back end, you have some useful tracking software that lets you see responses and track data, including an CSV download option.

This looks like a great way to introduce new content, activate prior knowledge, create review activities, and insert formative feedback into your lessons.

Zaption also provides a curriculum gallery that allows educators to “easily find free standards-based and Common Core-aligned interactive learning tours” created by partners and other classroom teachers.

There are three different levels of Zaption access – the free version, a $79 upgrade, and a school licensing version. I’ve been playing with the free version but there looks like some nice features with the upgrade. Once you create an account, you get the option to try the upgrade for 30 days. I might give that a shot later to play with the bonus features.


I also like that they’ve created a pretty extensive YouTube tutorial series that makes an easy creation process even easier.

Give it a try. Come back here and let us know how it turns out. So I can stop feeling weird about the whole thing.

Have fun!