Time to tame online video

I bet you watch a lot of video on the web - either for leisure or for work. Apart from streaming services I use at home, I usually watch a TED Talk when I have lunch at work and I usually include a video explainer in my training workshops.

From what I’ve seen so far, I can quite safely assume that nearly all teachers show videos to their students almost daily. Talks, documentaries, animations, explainers and music are all in your quiver of professional EdTech tools. It is also safe to assume that many times you have wished you had more control over how YouTube and video on the web in general behaves, sparing you all those uncomfortable moments.

Stop autoplay

How many times have you felt embarrassed in front of your students or audience when a video started playing automatically? Remember looking anxiously for the tab with the little speaker icon, trying pause playback? Many websites use autoplay to draw you into their content. Some (like Facebook) allow you to change the default option to off. Others (like YouTube) don’t, but you usually expect a video to start playing when you click the link, right? Well, sometimes you don’t. Maybe you just want to have the video ready for later. Moreover, paused videos start playing after you relaunch the browser, which is always very annoying. Finally, many news websites include videos that start playing automatically, embarrassing you at the office.
Time to relax because there is a Chrome extension that takes care of all this. It is called Disable HTML5 Autoplay and it blocks all video and audio content from playing automatically. It affects all websites, not just YouTube, so it pretty much has you covered. You might have to add whitelist some websites in order to prevent them from misbehaving. At first, you might find it weird that clicking a YouTube link won’t make the video play instantly, but with time you’ll realize that this is much better because it lets you...

Get in control

I listen to all my podcasts and audiobooks at 1.10 or 1.25 times the speed and sometimes even at 1.50 times the speed, depending on the reader. This way, I can consume more content in the same amount of time. So, why not do the same with video? I’m not talking about speeding up Netflix - I would never do that. But I have recently started speeding up talks, lectures and almost all other videos, except for music ones. I can do this thanks to Video Speed Controller, a browser extension for Chrome or Firefox that adds extra control buttons on top of all videos on the web, including YouTube and Facebook. This tool allows you to speed up or slow down videos. Only 10 minutes left to show that talk? No problem. Your advanced class will love you even more for not wasting half their break. Got a class of juniors who might be struggling with the jargon? Again no problem. Slow down the video and the sentences become easier to follow and words easier to recognize. And since we’re getting comfortable with God mode here, why not throw in an extra 2 buttons for jumping 10 seconds backward or forward in order to repeat that last sentence or skip the next bit? I’m sure you’ll really appreciate this granularity and hopefully you’ll forget those times when repeating or skipping parts of a video meant clicking a red timeline and trying to find the timecode - a pain in the behind.

Summarize and search

Many people, including me, have to watch long lecture videos for coursework - either as a teacher or as a life-long learner. Going over ten lectures for your research or literature review or having to study for an exam that includes material from videos can be very time consuming. BriefTube is an instant video summarizer for Chrome. Currently, it works with all YouTube videos that have English subtitles and based on those subtitles it gives you a summary of the video. It also creates chapters and adds an image from Wikipedia for the thumbnails. Moreover, it allows you to search for a word in the video and it also generates a word cloud, based on the video’s contents. I’ve tried it quite a bit and I was really impressed with the results. Currently, you can use it for free and get half the video summarized. If you want to unlock the full functionality, you’ll have to buy a monthly subscription.

This post is part of the When EdTech Meets ELT series, my regular column in ELTeaser, the TESOL Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece quarterly magazine.

Image credit: VIDEO by Steve Snodgrass (CC BY 2.0)


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