The Issue:  There are 25 students in Mr. Jones’s class.  Once he has delivered the new content for the day through a PowerPoint presentation, there are only 25 minutes of the class left for the students to work.  If Mr. Jones is going to help each student individually, that’s only one minute per student.

However, if as homework the students could view a video of Mr. Jones delivering the PowerPoint, the majority of class time could be used for independent work and individual help from Mr. Jones.

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There’s a lot of buzz about the ‘flipped’ classroom in educational circles, that is, when content that is usually delivered in a lecture is instead made available as a video for students to watch in their own time. There are two main benefits to ‘flipping’ a classroom: it frees up class time for discussions, collaborative work, inquiry-based learning, and individualized help; and it allows students to absorb the content at their own pace – the video can be paused or replayed.

Clearly, creating video content for classes takes considerable effort and time, but once the videos are created, they can be used for different sections of the same course, potentially in different courses where similar units are taught, and sometimes across the years.  However, the main point is that this makes valuable class time available for collaboration, interaction, and individualized attention from the teacher.

Videos prepared for a ‘flipped’ classroom can take a variety of forms including:

  • a recording of the teacher delivering a lecture;
  • An audio commentary to accompany a PowerPoint/Keynote/Prezi presentation;
  • Animations
  • Screencasts: a narrated recording of actions on the teacher’s computer screen.  This is particularly useful for showing students how to perform an action themselves on a computer.

There are a number of considerations when introducing ‘flipped’ videos into a course or classroom environment.  In his Edutopia article, Five Best Practices for the Flipped Classroom, Andrew Miller describes five important considerations for the flipped classroom:

  1. The students should have a reason to watch the video.  “Because it’s on the test” may force students to watch a video, but doesn’t address the importance of intrinsically motivating students.  Rather, the video should be relevant, interesting, and most importantly, useful to the students.
  2. The flipped classroom should follow an effective teaching model such as project-based learning; the flipped classroom should support an educational model rather than just be used solely as a substitute for in-class lectures.
  3. The students’ access to technology needs to be considered: will all students have equal access at home?
  4. Each video can contain a built-in reflective activity to engage students in thinking about what they have learned.
  5. Consider when and where the students are to watch and reflect upon the video and how long it will take them.

Therefore, as with all good pedagogy, use of ‘flipped’ video should be intentional and take into account student motivation, the overall educational model, student access, reflection, as well as practical issues.

Preparing videos can take considerable time.  (In preparing videos for this ebook, I needed to collect the resources, images, and information, prepare a script, then record up to ten ‘takes’ to get them right.)  However, there are now many ways for teachers to integrate video lectures into their courses other than producing them themselves: see this gallery for screenshots of some online resources, many of which are free.

Further Resources

The education/technology site Knewton provides a history, description, and rationale for the ‘flipped’ classroom in this helpful infographic:  The Flipped Classroom Infographic

Udacity offers project-based online courses created by renowened university lecturers.

Coursera offers lecture-based video courses again created by renowned professors from well-known universities.

Creative Commons License
Beyond the Paperless Classroom by David Doherty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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