A Comprehensive Guide to Using VideoAnt for Annotating YouTube Videos in the Classroom

VideoAnt is a free online video annotation tool created and managed by the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota. I have used it quite a bit over the past few years in my language classroom. Over the next while, I will be sharing some ways in which I have used it, but I felt it was important to create a user guide first that I can refer to in future posts. I hope you find it helpful.

Screenshot of VideoAnt with sample annotations

Creating an account (teacher):

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  • Click on either Facebook or Google to connect your account. There used to be an option to use your email address, but that has been removed in later updates. If you connect your Google account, you will be able to search your own YouTube uploads directly within VideoAnt. You will also have to agree to the Terms and Conditions with the University of Minnesota.

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  • Regardless of account, you will be able to paste in a YouTube URL to access any public video.

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Annotating a video:

  • Once you have loaded a YouTube video, you will be taken to the annotation screen.

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  • Just under the video, you will see a number of icons.
    • On the left is the Play button (right facing arrow).
    • Next to that is the video time (where in the video / total length of video).
    • The third icon below the video is the Annotation button (looks like a video camera in a speech bubble).
    • To the right of the that is the captions button (CC).
    • Next to that is the Settings button (looks like a gear).
    • Lastly, you will find the Info button (turns on and off the Author Details).
  • Press the Play button to start the video. When you would like to add an annotation, press the Annotation button and the video will pause. A black line will appear in the timeline below the video. A new box will appear to the right of the video. Give the note a title in the Subject box and more information in the Content section. Click on Save to add the annotation and to restart the video.

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  • People can now reply to that annotation by clicking on the Respond button and tying their message in the Add your response and then clicking on Save Response button. People can continue to comment on this annotation and the Respond button keeps track of the number of responses.
  • You can also edit the content of the annotation by clicking on the pencil button inside the annotation box.
  • You can delete the annotation by clicking on the trashcan icon inside the annotation box.
  • If you want to change the place for the annotation, simply click and drag the black line in the timeline.
  • If you click on the blue time button in the annotation box, you will skip to that section of the video. This makes an excellent bookmarking tool if you want to mark certain sections of a video.

Changing the title of your Ant:

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  • By default, VideoAnt uses the title of the YouTube video as the title of the Ant. You can change the title of the Ant by clicking on the gear icon just under the video and tying a new title and description under the General tab.

Embedding your Ant in a webpage and Exporting the content of your Ant:

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  • To embed your Ant in a webpage, click on the gear icon under the video and then click on the Embed & Export tab. Select and copy the Embed code and then paste that into a webpage that allows embedding.
  • You can also export all the annotations and comments by clicking on the Text icon. For those more advanced users, you can also download the content as an RSS, JSON, or XML file.

Sharing your Ant:

VideoANT sharing

  • To share your Ant with other people, click on the gear icon under the video and then click on the Share tab.
  • If you want others to be able to view and comment on and/or annotate your Ant, simply copy the Share URL and distribute it. Please note that anyone with that URL will be able to view/comment on/annotate your Ant, so don’t share publicly.
  • If you want others simply watch the video with the annotations, but not able to comment or annotate themselves, click on the Annotate button and change to View.
  • If you want make it so no one can view the Ant, change the Annotate button to Private.

Viewing and annotating or commenting on a shared Ant:


  • If you are given a shared link to an Ant, you can the Ant with annotations and responses without signing in. Simply click on the video and/or the annotations.
  • If you want to add an annotation or a response, you will need to sign in first. When you click on the link, you will be brought to the Ant page. Click on the Sign In button in the top-right corner. You will then be given the option of linking your Facebook or Google account. You will also be given the chance to be sign in as a guest using an email address and checking off the Terms and Conditions checkbox before clicking on Sign in as a Guest. [Tip: For my students, I have them use a fake email address since the system doesn’t check to make sure it is valid. They will need to remember their fake email address for future comments. I also ask them to share their fake email address with me so I know who has commented (this is how VideoAnt keeps track of authorship)].

Creating an Ant using a guest account:

  • Once you are logged in as a guest user (see Viewing and annotating or commenting on a shared Ant above), you can create your own Ant by clicking on the (plus) button in the top-right corner and then pasting in a YouTube link in the box.

Organizing, Duplicating, and Deleting your Ants:

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  • When you are logged in with your Facebook or Google account, you can keep track of all of your Ants in your Ant Farm. To access your Ant Farm, click on the VideoAnt logo in the top-left corner. You will now see a thumbnail of each Ant you have created.

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  • To duplicate an Ant: hover your mouse over the Ant you want to duplicate and click on the icon that looks like two overlapping pages. If you want to copy over the annotations as well, check the box that says COPY ANNOTATIONS. Click on New Duplicate. A new Ant will appear in that box with the label Duplicates (1). As you add more duplicates, that number will change to show may copies you have.


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  • To delete an Ant, hover your mouse over the Ant you want to delete and click on the trashcan icon. You will then need to confirm this by clicking on Delete.

Creating and using Groups:

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  • You can create a group of VideoAnt users (even those using guest accounts) to make it easier to distribute an Ant to smaller groups while limiting who else has access to it. To create a group, click on the button in the top-right corner that looks like three people together.
  • Click on + Add a New Group and the give the group a title by typing over New Group Title. You can also add a description by typing over New Group Description.
  • Add members to the group by clicking on + Add New Members and then add the email addresses for the users you would like to add, separating each on with a space or a comma. Click on Submit when you are done.
  • Click on Close when you are done.
  • When you are sharing your Ant with others, you have the option to share it with a group. When you are in the Share tab of the Ant Settings of the Ant you want to share, click in the box under ADD USERS. Click on SELECT GROUP and select the group you want to share with.

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