Tool Review: Zaption Makes Differentiation Doable

One of the core instructional behaviors that I’ve been trying to polish over the past few years is providing differentiated learning experiences for my students.

The simple truth is that whole class instruction isn’t completely appropriate when my classrooms are full of students with incredibly diverse abilities.  My challenge, then, is finding ways to stretch students in need of enrichment and to provide extra practice to students in need of remediation.

That kind of targeted enrichment and remediation, however, ain’t easy to pull off.  First, it depends on my ability to accurately identify the different levels of mastery in my classroom.  Then, it depends on my willingness and ability to develop multiple sets of materials that are uniquely suited for students of different abilities. Finally, it depends on my ability to find and then give my students access to those materials on a moment’s notice!

#easiersaidthandone

That’s why I’m tinkering with Zaption — a service that allows students to interact with video-based content in interesting ways.

Zaption makes it possible for teachers to create interactive “video tours” that pair videos from popular sources like YouTube and Vimeo with content elements like text and image slides as well as multiple choice and open-ended assessment questions.  Adding text and image slides to a video tour allows teachers to reinforce key points.  Adding assessment elements allows teachers to get a quick sense for whether or not students are mastering important concepts.

Need an example of what a Zaption video tour looks like in action?

Then check out this tour on plate tectonics that I put together yesterday.  While you won’t get to see the reports available to teachers, you will get a sense for what a Zaption video tour looks like to students.

The free version of Zaption makes it possible for users to create tours built around one video.  Each tour created with a free account can include up to six content elements.  Zaption’s Pro features — which cost $79 per year — make it possible for users to create tours from multiple videos and to include up to 15 content elements in a tour.  There are also additional content, organizing and reporting elements — like classroom discussions and the ability to create student groups — available to Pro users.  Finally, Zaption has a Pro Campus feature that allows STUDENTS to create their own video tours.

My plans are to stick with the free version for the time being.  While I am REALLY intrigued by the classroom discussion features available to Pro users and the ability for students to create their own video tours available to Pro Campus users, I’m broke — and there is enough functionality in the basic version to let me do some interesting things in class.

My guess is that I will start to use Zaption to do both preteaching and reteaching in my classroom.  

Using Zaption at the beginning of a lesson can give me valuable information about what students know before I even begin teaching.  I might be able to quickly spot students — or entire classes — that can place out of individual lessons because they have already mastered the content or concepts that we are about to study.

I’m also excited about using Zaption tours as remediation activities in my room.  When students struggle to master content or concepts, I can turn them loose on a video tour for initial reteaching.  That will free me to work more productively with student groups in my room who actually need my attention.

Long story short:  I see a TON of potential in Zaption as a tool for facilitating my efforts to create differentiated learning experiences in my classroom — an instructional practice that I believe in and yet have always struggled to pull off on a consistent basis.

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