About VideoAnt

VideoAnt is a web-based video annotation tool for mobile and desktop devices. Use VideoAnt to add annotations, or comments, to web-hosted videos.

VideoAnt supports annotation of any publicly accessible video file or YouTube video.

VideoAnt-annotated videos are called “Ants”. Create a user account to create and save collections of Ants. Authenticated users can manage their Ants from their account dashboard, otherwise known as their “Ant Farm”.

Signing In

VideoAnt supports authentication (sign-in) through University of Minnesota Internet ID, Google and Facebook. Twitter is no longer an option for new users, but the option is available for users who signed up with Twitter in earlier versions of VideoAnt.

To create Ants without authentication you may use your email and sign in as a guest. Guests do not have full access to their individual account settings and any Ants created with a guest account are not stored in an Ant Farm. Instead, guest account users will receive a link to view an Ant they've created via email.

The first time you login you must accept the Terms and Conditions to continue. If you are signing in as a guest you must accept the Terms and Conditions each time you sign in. Upon signing in you will be directed to your Ant Farm.

Creating New Ants (Annotated Videos)

To add a new Ant, click the “New Ant” button on your dashboard or the plus icon in the menu.

If you have signed-in with Google and have previously uploaded videos to YouTube you can click the “Browse My YouTube Uploads” button. This feature allows you to conveniently import Ants from a list of the videos you’ve uploaded to YouTube. From this list you may select a video by clicking “Annotate”.

The link you enter must be either a link to a YouTube video or a direct link to a video file on the web, for example:

  • http://youtu.be/<youtube id>
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=<youtube id>
  • http://youtu.be/<youtube id>?list=<playlist id>
  • http://www.example.com/videos/example.mp4

Upon creating a new Ant, you will be brought to the annotate page. Here you can add and manage annotations and access the Ant’s settings. See Ant Settings, Privacy, and Sharing.

Annotating & Commenting

Once signed in, you are viewing your Ant Farm. In your Ant Farm, you can choose to display all Ants, only your Ants, or only those shared with you. Hover over an Ant and select the Annotate icon to navigate to that Ant’s annotation. See Managing your Ant Farm.

Underneath the video player is the video timeline and the play controls, along with Ant and author details.

Select the annotate button every time you wish to create a new annotation. The video will stop playing and a new annotation form will open on the right side (or below the video player on mobile devices) to provide you with a space to add your ideas. The annotation title is a required field and you must supply a title; however, the annotation content box is optional.

Select the “Save” button when you are finished with your annotation. The video will begin to play again.

You will also be able to see annotations created by other users. Every annotation is marked in the video timeline by a small, draggable marker. You can adjust the timing of your annotation by dragging the marker to a new spot.

Users with permission to annotate also have permission to leave a response to another user's annotation. To respond to an annotation, simply click the “Respond” button located beneath the annotation, write your comment, and click “Save Response”.

Managing Your Ant Farm


Your Ant Farm is a dashboard to manage Ants created by you or shared with you.

Ant filters, search and the “New Ant” button can be found at the top of the page.

The Ant filters allow you to filter between your Ants and those shared with you.

Use the Search field to search by Ant title or the content of an annotation within an Ant.

Hovering over an Ant in your Ant Farm will display information such as author, privacy setting, video source, annotations and sharing. Below this information are options for Ant management.

Ant Management

To annotate the Ant, select the annotation .

To open the duplicate settings of an Ant, select the Manage Duplicates icon . More information about duplicating Ants can be found under Duplicate Ants .

To manage settings for the Ant, select the Settings icon . Here you can change the default title of the Ant, add an optional description, find embed and export options, and manage sharing and privacy. See Settings, Privacy & Sharing . These features are only available to the Ant’s author.

To delete an Ant, you must be the author of the Ant. To delete an Ant, select the Delete icon .

To hide an Ant that has been shared with you, select the Remove Share icon . The Ant will be removed from your dashboard, but it will still be available to the author and any other users who have access to the Ant.

Duplicate Ants

VideoAnt allows you to duplicate or copy any Ant you’ve created. You might use this feature to more easily distribute Ants to individual users or groups of users so each can annotate separately. See User Groups.

To duplicate an Ant, navigate to the Ant Farm and select the Manage Duplicates icon . icon. A panel will open up displaying an image and information from your original Ant. To duplicate, select the “New Duplicate” button on the right. Check the “Copy Annotations” box, if you wish the duplicate to include all of the annotations from the original Ant. Note that in the new copy of the Ant, all annotations, including those not authored by you, will list you as the author.

Once duplicated, Ants will appear under the “Duplicates” heading of in the “Ant Duplicates” panel and include all of the management settings options available for original Ants.

To check if an Ant has duplicates, hover over the Ant thumbnail in the Ant Farm. The number of duplicates, along with a link to the duplicates panel, will be displayed.

Note: You cannot duplicate a duplicate Ant.

Private YouTube Uploads

When creating an Ant, you will find it easiest to add YouTube videos with the “Unlisted” privacy setting. Read more about YouTube privacy settings

  1. Open two tabs in the same browser. Sign in to VideoAnt in one tab and your YouTube account in the other. Note: This should be the YouTube account that includes the private video you would like to annotate.
  2. In the YouTube tab, navigate to the private video and copy the share URL.
  3. In the VideoAnt tab select “New Ant,” paste the URL, and select “Load.”
  4. To share the Ant of this private YouTube video you will, first, need to give them access to your private video in YouTube and then share the Ant with the same email address. See Ant Settings, Privacy, and Sharing.

Ant Settings, Privacy & Sharing

To manage Ant sharing and privacy, navigate to an Ant’s annotate page or your Ant Farm and select the Settings for your Ant. A panel with your Ant's settings will appear. Here you can change the title of your Ant, add an optional description, find the embed code and export options, and the share settings.

The embed code can be used on a personal website or anywhere HTML is allowed. Note: The embed code can be used on a personal website or anywhere HTML is allowed.

Under “Share” you will find the share URL (the URL to your Ant's view/annotate page), the public permission setting, and the option to share with specific users.

You can share an Ant with another user in these ways:

  1. Send the “Share URL” to another user. Whether that user can either view or annotate the Ant is determined by the public permission setting.
  2. Share with specific users by entering their email address under “Add Users.” You can add a list of email addresses separated by a comma. From the drop down select “annotate” or “view” to determine the permissions. Click “Share” in the lower right.
  3. Share with a predetermined group of users by selecting the group name from the “Add Groups” drop down list. See User Groups.

Whether or not other users can view or annotate your Ant is determined by the permissions that you set. If multiple permission levels are set for an Ant, the least restrictive permission level will take precedence. For instance, if you add a person to an Ant’s shared list, and grant him or her a “can view” permission level, but you then set the public permission level to “no access”, the user will still be able to view your Ant, since the “can view” permission level is the least restrictive. In another example, if you set the public permission level for your Ant to “can annotate”, but then grant an individual user a “can view” permission level for that same Ant, he or she will actually be able to annotate the Ant, because the public permission level is the least restrictive of the two levels that you’ve selected, and thus overrides the specific user's permission setting.

User Groups

Groups were developed to make sharing with users easier. For example, an instructor who wishes to share more than one Ant with a specific group of students can add them to a group for easier sharing later on.

To manage your groups, select the Group icon in the menu bar (upper-right). This will open the groups panel.

To add a new group, click the “Add a New Group” link. A new group item will be added to the groups list. You can edit the group title and group description by clicking the title and description boxes.

To add new members to a group, select the “Manage” button of a group. A tab will open with options to add new members. Enter the email address of the user you would like to add. To add multiple members to a group at once, enter email addresses separated by commas or spaces.

If you want to delete a group, select the “Manage” button for that group and then select “Delete Group.”

Once created, sharing an Ant with a group is essentially the same as sharing with an individual and is done in the Ant settings panel. See Settings, Privacy & Sharing for more information on sharing an Ant. From an Ant's share settings, click the cursor in the “Add Users...” box. This will display the groups drop down list. When you select a group, the email addresses of the group members will be displayed in the “Ad Users” box. Select from the drop down the permissions for this group (view or annotate). Then click “Share”.

Note: VideoAnt does not automatically update the share settings when you add or remove members from a group. For example, once added to a group, a new member will not have access to the Ants that were previously shared with that group. New members will need to be added to the “Share” settings for those Ants. If you remove a member from a group you will need to remove that user from the “Share” settings for any Ant that is shared with that group.

User Profile

Select your user name from the menu bar in the upper-right to edit your User Details.


Here you can edit your display name and email address. You can also choose to receive email notifications when there is activity on one of your Ants. When you have selected the “Display Profile” option, your profile will be displayed under the heading “Author Details” on the annotation page of each of your Ants.


In this section you can add your institution, department, and title. Under “About” you can add a sentence or two about yourself. Note: when you have chosen to display your profile this text will appear on each of your Ants. To add a profile Image, copy and paste the URL of a publicly accessible image. For example, copy the Image URL of your Facebook or Google+ profile picture (for example, http://www.url.com/profile-image.jpg).

Connected Accounts

VideoAnt supports multiple ways of signing in (e.g., University of Minnesota, Google, Twitter, and Facebook). If you choose to sign in using more than one of these methods, you can connect these accounts so all of your Ants are accessible regardless of which method is used to sign in. Select the icon of the service you would like to connect to the account you have signed in with. You will be redirect to the sign-in page for that service. Sign in and approve the confirmation message (for example, in Facebook you will need to approve the following message “VideoAnt will receive the following info: your public profile and email address.” Once you select OK you will return to VideoAnt and may close the “User Details” panel.

Ideas for Instructors

VideoAnt was designed for use in the classroom. VideoAnt can act as an open forum for instructors and their students to post their responses to a video. Below are four suggestions for using VideoAnt as an instructor.

Method 1: VideoAnt as lecture presentation

  1. Instructor selects a video hosted on YouTube and annotates it with VideoAnt.
  2. Instructor pastes the link to their Ant into their site or learning management system.
  3. Students can select the link and watch the annotated video as an online “lecture” about the video.

Method 2: VideoAnt as class group discussion

  1. Instructor selects a video hosted on YouTube and creates a VideoAnt entry.
  2. Instructor pastes the link to their Ant into their site or learning management system, with instructions to use the link to add annotations on the VideoAnt page.
  3. Students can visit the link and add their own annotations, as a class group, to the video. All students' annotations will appear collected together on the instructor’s Ant.
  4. Instructors may find the duplicate feature helpful to create separate versions of the Ant to be shared with individual students or groups of students, to keep annotations separate.
  5. After students have completed all annotations, the instructor can access the video through his or her Ant Farm to view all annotations and assess the quality of the discussion for grading.
  6. Tip: Set a due date on this assignment, by which all students are directed to complete their annotations. After the due date, login to VideoAnt and access the video to view all of the student annotations.

Method 3: Student VideoAnts as Critical Reflection or Self-Assessment

  1. Each student, or groups of students, creates a video and publishes it to YouTube.
  2. Once the video is processed in YouTube, student(s) copy the link to view the video and creates an Ant with annotations.
  3. Instructor provides a place for the student to submit their link, e.g. on their site, learning management system, via email, etc.
  4. Student(s) copy the link to the Ant and submit their assignment over the medium desired by the instructor.
  5. The instructor can use the URL’s to review student videos and annotations. Instructor can then provide a score in the gradebook for the quality of the assignment and assessments.

Method 4: Student VideoAnts as Peer Review/Small Group Discussion

  1. Each student, or groups of students, creates a video and publishes it to YouTube.
  2. Once the video is processed in YouTube, student(s) copy the link to view the video and creates an Ant, with or without annotations, as the instructor desires.
  3. Student(s) copy the link to the Ant, found within the Ant settings, in the sharing section.
  4. Instructor provides a medium over which users can share their Ants, such as a forum or a Google Doc.
  5. Students paste their Ant link from VideoAnt into the instructor’s desired medium of sharing.
  6. Each student's submission will be a URL. Other students can access the URL and add annotations to their peers' videos.
  7. The instructor can also use the URLs to review student videos and annotations. Instructor can then provide a score in the gradebook for the quality of the assignment and assessments.
  8. Tip: Inform students that this activity has TWO due dates:
    1. the date by which VideoAnt links are to be shared for peers to see, and
    2. the date by which they must finish annotating peer videos. After the second due date, the instructor can use the posted URLs to review student videos and annotations for grading purposes.


Ant: An annotated video.

Ant Farm: A user’s collection of annotated videos, or Ants.

Annotation: Text-based commentary tied to a specific point on a video’s timeline.

Author: The creator of an Ant.

Comment: See Response.

Connected Accounts: VideoAnt supports multiple ways of signing in (e.g., University of Minnesota, Google, Twitter, and Facebook). If you choose to sign in using more than one of these methods, you can connect these accounts so all of your Ants are accessible regardless of which method is used to sign in.

Description: In addition to giving your Ant a title, you can add a description (click on Ant Settings to edit). Use a description to describe the purpose of a shared Ant (e.g., VideoAnt assignment/activity instructions). This is an optional feature.

Duplicate: A copy of an Ant.

Groups: A collection of VideoAnt users. For example, you can create a group to easily share an Ant with students from a specific course.

Profile: Includes title, institution, department, and a thumbnail image. This image and information appears in the Author Details section of an Ant. Can be edited by clicking on the user name in the upper right.

Response: A comment on an annotation.

YouTube Uploads: VideoAnt users who have signed in using Google can access videos they have previously uploaded to YouTube.


VideoAnt was rebuilt for version 4 and released in 2015. Development began in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota by Zach Payne and was continued by Jake Larson and Travis Galloway. VideoAnt was developed under the direction of David Ernst.

Additional editing, design, testing, and inspiration was provided by Treden Wagoner, Amanda Rondeau, Melissa Falldin, Pete McCauley, Thomas Nechodomu, Lyn DeLorme and Peter Zimmerman.

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