Choosing Tools to Make Your Stories Interactive

Great interactive stories use tools that complement their content, enhance reader understanding, and not solely tools that shine or flash or sparkle. You can create such interactive stories. To do so, form your story first, then add meaningful interactivity with tools.
Gather all your contentBefore deciding on a tool, gather all your content into one place. Images, text, tweets -- paste them all into a Google Doc, or pin them to a tackboard. Then, ask questions like: What sticks out? What is similar? Do I have relevant photographs? Put those things next to each other. This helps uncover the ideas, forms, and possibility inherent in your content that will inform your tool choice later.

Note meaningful dimensionsYour beautiful new mix of images and text likely tells a story. Before adding interactivity to that story, note the dimensions over which it progresses. These are a few you might consider: TimeSpace/GeographySoundVisualDimensions such as these are often difficult, or dull, to expre…

Video annotations: what to use and why

3 reasons to use annotations in YouTube

1. Personalize the experience

Remember choose your own adventure books? You can take the same approach with a "spotlight" annotation. Ask a question and create answer-based paths, or simply provide an opportunity to skip ahead.

2. Correct a statement or emphasize a point

After creating a video about raising chickens, Extension Educator Wayne Martin learned more about how they receive immunizations. It had long bothered him that there was a partial truth in the video, but the idea of doing a major video edit can be daunting. In this case, it was unnecessary. Wayne was able to add what he learned to the existing video in just a few minutes with a "note" annotation.

3. Provide a call to action or add more context

At the end of your video, use the "spotlight" annotation tool to encourage viewers to sign up for a mailing list or learn more by visiting a website. Don't put it too early in your video or you'll lose viewers, but allow plenty of time at the end for someone to find their mouse and click before the video ends.

3 reasons to use VideoAnt instead

1. Use on mobile devices

VideoAnt annotations are mobile-friendly and YouTube's are not.

Annotate web hosted HTML5 video on your desktop or mobile device with VideoAnt's responsive video annotation interface

2. Control who can view and who can annotate

This makes VideoAnt excellent for courses and collaborators.

Your private Ants can only be accessed by the users you share them with. You control who can view and who can annotate.

3. Start a conversation

YouTube's annotations are great for presenting information by way of the video creator while VideoAnt is intended to foster conversation among a group.

Ants are easy to share and each annotation acts as a conversation thread - analyze the finer points of a video with other users.

Have you used YouTube annotations or VideoAnt? 

What has worked well for you, and what challenges are you trying to overcome?


  1. Great tips--and cool tools. I'm interested in understanding more about VidAnt, because (for the links to websites) YouTube requires website verification, which can be a process for websites other than Amazon and other pre-approved sites. But I still want to use YouTube for my videos. I'll need to dig more into the info you shared to see how this works.

  2. Great! I'm glad you'll be trying it out. Please let us know if you have any successes (or any trouble).


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