QuickTime for Educators: Beyond Video Clips

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Most of us are aware of QuickTime as a means of experiencing video and audio found on the majority of CD-ROM titles and everywhere on the Internet. We may even be aware of the fact that QuickTime is the multimedia architecture undergirding applications such as Adobe Premeire, Macromedia Director, and the like.

What is not widely known yet is the fact that QuickTime is capable of doing a great deal more than present audio and video. This is because QuickTime movies can contain more than two tracks, one for audio and the other for video. In fact, QuickTime movies may have any number of tracks and those tracks may contain a wide variety of things in addition to multiple audio and video tracks. They can contain text, hypertext references, "wired" sprites, and even javascript.

In this paper we will explore several of these lesser-known QuickTime capabilities from the perspective of an educational content creator. We will be asking the question, "What can an educator do with these things?" [For this reader, the technology itself is not the interesting question. How Quicktime might be used as a tool to improve teaching/learning outcomes might be interesting. The preceding 3 paragraphs would be more compelling if potential educational applications of Quicktime technology were clear from the beginning. At a minimum, 3 should be placed in the introductory position. Why might an educator be interested in using Quicktime -- to meet what kinds of educational objectives? - NN]

This "lesser-known" status won't last long, however. Content creation applications that make it easy for content experts to make use of these features are coming to the fore in significant numbers and variety. Most are from small software startups but the entry of Adobe Inc. with its"Adobe GoLive"software is a clear indication that a significant number of content creators are very interested in what can be done with these specialized movie tracks. Accompanying this article is an annotated list of applications that work with these specialized QuickTime movie tracks. [. . . still no obvious point of educational interest. Why would the busy reader want to explore the new apps? - NN]

To experience the examples cited in this article, you will need to download and install QuickTime 4.0 if it is not already installed on your computer. QuickTime 4.0 is available for Windows and Macintosh computers. Check to see if your computer meets the minimum requirenments first. All of the examples used in this article were tested with Netscape Navigator and since this is also a free download, we recommend using the latest version which is 4.5.1. [The reader would, if not reviewing, stop reading at this point. No compelling reason to download and install a new application has yet been suggested. - NN]


Examples of Specialized Tracks in QuickTime

The Timecode Track

A timecode track can be added to any QuickTime movie in less than a minute using a free software tool called "QTTimeCode." For this example, I took the first minute of a movie whose audio track contained a Chopin Conserto and whose video track contained only a single graphic. To that I added a timecode track to produce:

Chopin Concerto With TimeCode [Opens in a New Window]

Now the professor can speak precisely with respect to this piece of music whether it be in a tutorial or part of a test item. The student can easily and accurately follow those instructions by "scrubbing" the controller forward and back, and watching the timecode display. [Half-way through the article, the reader finds one possible educational application of Quicktime technology for a professor of music theory. The paper may have a limited audience. - NN]

Chapter Lists

Another way to index a movie for rapid and accurate reference is to use a Chapter List. In this next example, a professor's photographic essay, done during a trip to China, becomes a resource in her classes. Moreover, the student can quickly jump to the cue points the professor has placed in the presentation simply by manipulating a popup menu in the movie controller.

Chinese Factory With Chapter List [Opens in a New Window]

Hypertext Reference (HREF) Tracks

An HREF track contains references that can invoke another web site entirely or, as in this example, load a web page into an ajacent frame at specific times during the movie. This technique can be used to provide supplementary text and graphics that are synchronized with aspects of a movie. These elements can be composed and changed as easily as a web page.

Chinese Walled Compound With HREF Track Narration [Opens in a New Window]

Karaoke Tracks

A karaoke track can present text in concert with audio and hilight each word as it is spoken. This could be a great advantage to students learning languages. Although the example provided here uses English, any other language could be substituted.

The Snowqueen With Karaoke Track [Opens in a New Window]

Sprite Tracks

Perhaps the most exciting of the specialized QuickTime tracks is the sprite track because these can be "wired" to enable one to interact with the movie. The following example was excerpted from a longer piece created by Israel Curtis of Brigham Young University to help students learn French by watching and listening to a French language movie. The wired sprites in this movie enable the student to turn the English subtitles on or off and switch between two audio tracks, one in English and the other in French.

Shoot the Piano Player [Opens in a New Window]



Of course there is even more to be plumbed from QuickTime. I hope that this small sampling of ideas has initiated some thinking about how we might use these and other aspects of QuickTime to more fully realize the potential of asynchronous learning. [Of course? This reader is unable to image any. - NN]


Critical Reviews


As I understand the writer's message, Quicktime is a special technology with limited educational potential, the possible exception being its utility for professors of film making. I wonder whether the writer has ideas he or she has not expressed, that might make the subject matter more interesting to a wider range of disciplines?

There is an organizational hint in the current title: It seems possible that the write might begin by specifying how video clips are currently used to enhance the teaching/learning experience, in a wider range of subjects, and then suggest specific ways Quicktime might be used to meet typical instructional objectives?


This is a gee-whiz, how-to article -- not my favorite kind. Still, it's well done, and so I recommend publishing it. It's virtue is its richness of hot-linked examples.



The article works well for "middle" and "high" tech types. My concern is that it would leave the novice in the dust.

One major addition: why use Quicktime. Author cannot assume that all readers know about Quicktime and the resources it brings to developing m-media resources.

Some suggestions:

  1. Most may not be familiar with Quicktime: what it does, who makes it.
    A sentence or two for history and context (from Apple; launched in
    199__; industry standard for ___ applications would be useful.
  2. Glossary functions for the novice: some examples include
    timecode track??
    special functions of some of the application software
    cited in the intro section
    scrubbing the controller
    hypertext reference tracks (HREF)
    sprite track

c) Warning to readers that the segments and links will be S L O W unless they have a direct Internet connection (i.e.,don't have great hopes for downloading this material if you are working on a modem from home, office, or hotel room).



I think reviewer NN has a good point that the author should discuss how conventional video has been used in the past to enhance the learning experience then describe the new Quicktime features and discuss how they create a more interactive learning environment. I would have loved to have viewed the links but the documents that they refer to are no longer located on the server referenced. It sure makes me want to poke around in my Quicktime 4.0 a little more!