Annotating Academic Video

Long Title: Annotating Academic Video
ETH Zürich
Universität Bern
Zürcher Fachhochschule
Université de Lausanne
Université de Fribourg - Universität Freiburg
Pädagogische Hochschule Thurgau (unfunded partner)
SWITCH - Teleinformatikdienste für Lehre und Forschung
Domain: ELS
Status: finished
Start Date: 01.02.2012
End Date: 31.12.2012
Project Leader: O. A. Schulte

This project will deliver a video annotation service enabling users to enrich mere video with a variety of actions in a way that their input can be shared with other users. It will provide learners with adequate tools to actively capture the content: Note-taking, highlighting, structuring, establishing relations or defining excerpts.

(see also Academically Annotating Academic Video (extension))


See Academically Annotating Academic Video (extension)

Initial Situation

The way we use video has changed dramatically over the last couple of years; ease of use and usability have led to an omnipresence of video on the internet. Academia witnessed a massive increase in the number of lecture recordings especially, resulting in a growing corpus of knowledge that can easily be consumed by learners.
However, the promise of "interactive video" many have been waiting for in the e-learning domain especially hasn't been delivered on yet. The lack of such a feature has been particularly painful when measured by pedagogical expectations: Video as a learning object doesn't even offer basic note-taking functionalities, not to mention scenarios where active learners acquire knowledge as part of a communication process with instructors and peers. None of this is really possible with academic video yet.
While YouTube has started an annotation service back in 2009, the feature hasn't been implemented with most of the major video management systems for educational purposes. There are, however, beginnings of such a functionality with the open source video management system Opencast Matterhorn this project will be based upon technically.


The goal of the project is to deliver an annotation service that is open source and flexible enough to be used in a variety of educational settings and in conjunction with different technologies relevant in the academic use of video, i.e. video players, video management systems and learning management systems.
The project wants to overcome existing limitations:

  • Annotation service to work in conjunction with different video management systems, learning management systems, content management systems. The implementation will impose a small set of requirements on the video player and the backend system but will not be tied to a specific product in any of these areas.
  • Open source software to allow modification of the service by third parties according to their needs, thus enabling a further development of the service by a community.
  • Integration with SWITCHcast and Opencast Matterhorn as academic video management systems, ILIAS and Moodle as learning management systems.
  • Integration with AAI (granular access to annotation rights and annotation access).
  • Clear-cut set of features - with options for extensions and modifications.


The annotation service is set to enhance a number of existing projects, products, and settings. First and foremost though, annotations make video a full-fledged learning object in that they provide learners with adequate tools to actively capture the content.
The service is generic in that it is set to be largely independent from the technological environment it will be used in. This will allow third parties to benefit from an annotation service as long as they develop the necessary connectors for video players, video management systems and/or databases for annotations.


System components to develop will be the annotations library, player adapter, server API and the User Interface. The development of the annotation service depends on a functional environment with sandbox installations for all relevant systems and will allow it's integration with the different systems (SWITCHcast, Opencast Matterhorn, Moodle).
Four use cases will form the time flow of the project:

  1. Simple annotation
  2. Structured annotation
  3. Authorized annotation
  4. Enhanced annotation