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VidiWiki (Microsoft Research India)

The goal of VidWiki is to annotate educational videos with typeface overlays for readability and thereby enabling automated translation to other languages.


- A crowd-sourced platform where learners can contribute annotations to handwritten-style educational videos. This not only speaks to the ‘Apply’ part of the Bloomerg’s Taxonomy but also had the potential of easy ‘translations’ for videos to other languages.
Academic Contributions:
Cross, A., Bayyapunedi, M., Cutrell, E., Agarwal, A., & Thies, W. (2013, April). TypeRighting: combining the benefits of handwriting and typeface in online educational videos. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 793-796)..
Cross, A., Bayyapunedi, M., Ravindran, D., Cutrell, E., & Thies, W. (2014, February). VidWiki: enabling the crowd to improve the legibility of online educational videos. In Proceedings of the 17th ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work & social computing (pp. 1167-1175)


MOOCs made a big splash in EdTech in 2012, when they were touted to replace the college degree. MITx’s first course Circuits and Electronics had 155,000 signups from across the world. Even though, open courses were not new to the world (MIT’s own Open Courseware had several courses open for public to consume,) this new version involved peer learning opportunities; a synchronous schedule for every cohort of sign ups; periodic assignment feedback etc.
As part of my Research Internship with Microsoft in 2012, I chose this topic of MOOCs. The expected outcome was to understand the ecosystem of learners and examine if the methods being employed by the educators at MITx were meeting the needs of these learners via quant research.


Examined the forums for potential topics of research. We posed questions to students in some of the popular forums of the MITx course to understand the learning styles, processes and the overall experience.
We were curious about the handwritten style videos of Prof. Agarwal and sought to understand what the learners thought of this style (There were other courses and videos online that followed this videos style. The most famous one being that of Sal Khan of KhanAcademy).
From an initial Qualitative study we understood that the students appreciated this style when watching the video as part of the course the first time. Some described that this handwritten video accompanied with the video of the professor made them feel like they were inside a classroom attending a class where they could go back and forth to understand a concept better.
Understanding that there was in fact value in this style of videos - we decided to examine how the video was used as the student went further along in their learning process. When they proceeded from learning to writing an assignment and to revising for a test.
We found that the users didn’t find the may not have always found the handwriting legible (Especially if they rewatched the video for review purposes),

Tools used

Amazon Mechanical Turk
Balsamiq (for wireframing + basic HTML/CSS coding)


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