What is "Flipping the Classroom"?
See this video for a summary of "flipping the classroom":
Flipping the classroom involves finding or recording videos and screencasts (narrated recordings of your computer screen) that students watch before class time. Instead of (only) lecturing during class time, students can watch lectures and videos from home, and then during class do more interactive activities such as practicing problems, collaborative learning, active learning, formative assessment with classroom response systems, and the like. This is considered "flipping" the classroom, because the normal class-time activity (lecture) is done from home, while homework-like activities (practicing problems) can be done during class time. There are a variety of tools one can use to record a lesson, from a regular video camera, to a sophisticated lecture capture system. However, the most common and quick way to record a lesson is to use screencast software. Such software records the microphone as you speak, and also records anything that happens on the computer screen. This technique was popularized recently by the Khan Academy, which now receives millions of visitors a month watching their online lessons. In your video, you might be discussing writing tips, drawing equations and graphs (using a drawing or note-taking program like Microsoft Onenote along with a Bamboo tablet or Windows tablet or iPad), or discussing a web-based resource, or narrating as you proceed through a Powerpoint-based presentation. You can then upload and share the video recording via a streaming video server, such as Youtube or Vimeo or Kaltura. Below are some free tools for creating screencasts.
- Keep your videos short
- Youtube has a limit of 15 minutes per video. This is better for pedagogical reasons, too, as students' attention may wander during longer videos. Consider breaking your topic up into smaller segments spread across multiple videos. According to a study of edX, an optimal length for online videos is 6 minutes.
- Good audio is key.
- It is much harder to pay attention to and understand a video when the audio is not clear or is muffled or there is background noise.
- Find a nice quiet place to record your screencasts.
- If you plan on creating a number of screencasts, invest in a decent USB-based microphone or headset. At the low end, there are USB headsets on Amazon and elsewhere for $15-$30, and at a middle tier, there are high quality desktop microphones (such as the Snowball microphones from Blue) for around $50-$75 or so.
- Don't worry about making your videos "perfect."
- Your videos may not have the polish and editing that professionally-made videos have, but they can still be effective for learning. Even editing your own videos is often unnecessary if you plan appropriately.
- Plan ahead - create a bulleted list of items you want to cover (or even a script or storyboard if you so desire) so that you do not miss something important, and so that you can pace yourself. Prepare the items you want to show in advance so students don't have to wait while your software program launches or while you search for some file or resource.
- Start the video on your opening slide or some resource that signifies the topic of the video. If using a whiteboard or drawing software, draw the "title" of the topic at the beginning (or before the video starts). This is so that you don't have to edit the video later to insert a title sequence.
- If you find yourself losing track of your place or you have to cough or something like that, just pause the recording, and then unpause again when you are ready. That way you don't have to start all over. If you make a mistake that is not too major, just explain it and fix it while still recording. If you made a mistake, most likely some of your students will, too, and it helps pedagogically to discuss common mistakes.
- Your first video or two, however, may take two or more takes. It takes practice to become comfortable speaking in a timed video. Go back and listen to your videos - are you speaking too fast? Is the audio loud enough? You might record a very short practice video first just to make sure everything is coming out okay.
- Use HD quality
- I usually size the Screencast-o-Matic box to "Medium HD" for my screencasts.
- In order to see the text or other small details in a screencast, you should record to HD quality video, and also during the video you might recommend to students that they press the full-screen button (on the bottom right of the video player if using Youtube) and/or switch to the HD quality version of the video (if it is on Youtube - see the gear icon for changing video quality). HD improves the audio quality, too.
- Zoom in, select, or annotate to focus the viewer's attention
- Even with HD quality videos, you can better help focus viewers' attention by selecting, highlighting, marking, or even zooming into a particular aspect of the screen. Use your mouse as your pointer or as a way to provide gestures to focus attention. Many screencast tools will add a halo or circle around where the mouse is, and there are free tools such as ZoomIt by Microsoft that allow you to zoom into a part of the screen and even draw over the screen to highlight something (you can also draw over the screen by using a smart board or tablet with a stylus).
Free Tools for Creating Screencasts
- Screencast-o-Matic: http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/
- Jing: http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html
- Free software that can be downloaded and installed on a Windows or Mac computer.
- See the "More Tools for Creating Screencasts" section further down this page for more Windows/Mac screencasting software, including nicer but more expensive options such as Camtasia.
- iPad Apps
- Webcam Recording Software
- Most likely your computer came with software for recording from your webcam (such as Logitech, HP, etc.).
- Youtube can also record directly from your webcam.
- Do you need to use and show your webcam video? Some people place a small window showing the webcam video in the bottom corner of their screencast. This is your preference. Most often it is unnecessary pedagogically, but for some topics and for some instructors it can be useful, especially topics where gestures and/or facial expressions are important for helping to understand the topic.
- Speech Synthesizing Software
- If you or your students are uncomfortable with recording your voice for a screencast, there are some tools that will make videos that automatically generate speech from written text. Especially when students are making the videos, this is sometimes a humorous/fun option:
Options for Sharing Your Videos
- Youtube - http://www.youtube.com/
- This is the most popular free site for sharing videos. You do have an option to make your video public, unlisted, or private. You can also disable comments or ratings if you wish. If for some reason you do not wish to make your video public, I recommend making it unlisted instead of private. With an unlisted video, only people who know the direct URL to the video can view it. With a private Youtube video, however, you can only directly share it individually with up to 50 other Youtube users. It is more inconvenient to share a private video with students.
- Youtube has the advantage that students can also use it to upload videos they make.
- Be careful about FERPA, copyright, and other laws and rules. Do not reveal student names or other information from student records (FERPA) without students' permission. Do not upload a video that contains copyrighted music or other copyrighted materials that may result in the video being taken down.
- Vimeo - http://vimeo.com/
- Sometimes you must post longer videos, and Vimeo doesn't have the time limits Youtube has. Note, however, that most people viewing videos on a smart phone or ipad/android tablet will not be able to view Vimeo videos by default. You might want to point them to the Vimeo ipad and android apps.
- Kaltura - http://corp.kaltura.com/
- Our school uses Kaltura for video hosting. This is like your own private Youtube host, and it integrates with Blackboard. It also allows recording video screencasts from right in the browser.
While there has not been much research on screencasting and flipping the classroom yet (but see a few studies listed in the next section), there is related research on topics like lecturing, classroom demonstrations, and lecture capture, that provides relevant pedagogical tips.
Don't Just Make a Video
- Recording lessons is only the first step. The next step is replacing class time with more interactive activities (see below). If one only records lectures and does nothing else, the pedagogical benefits will likely not be that significant. Research on lecture capture (in which classroom lectures are recorded and posted online) shows the primary audiences that benefit are the top-end students, who will watch online lectures to reinforce their learning and double check their notes, and also international students, who benefit by being able to pause and rewind lectures in a non-native language. Students in the middle and low end do not tend to show benefits from posting videos online.
Sequencing - Should students watch video lectures before or after active learning experiences?
- Counter-intuitively, several research studies show that lectures are more effective after students have done some exploratory learning activity (like a lab, simulation, game, data analysis, etc.). When lecturing on the topic before students have had a chance to explore it or try it for themselves, students are more likely to tune out of the lecture and not retain much, because they do not see the need for learning it, or why the concepts are important, and what problems they solve. After students have had a chance to explore (and maybe fail) at something, they have more of a need to know. They have developed questions in their mind, they have run into problems that they couldn't solve. A lecture at that point helps them see the concepts and links between their experiences, and one can also connect the concepts covered in a lecture to the previous experiences the students have had.
- See research on productive failure and a "time for telling."
- You can make videos that are open-ended instead of just explanatory lectures that give students the "answers." You can ask students to watch a video that asks some open-ended inquiries and have students think or work on them before and during class.
Pedagogy of the Videos Themselves
- Address Misconceptions
- Open-ended questions
- As mentioned in the previous section, one suggestion is to not show the "answer" in a video, but ask open-ended questions of the students, and have students do the work and the learning.
- Use mouse gestures to focus attention
- As mentioned in the earlier technology tips section, you can highlight something on the screen, try selecting the text, or wiggling the mouse, or doing a circling motion with the mouse. In most screencast software, the location of the mouse will be shown via a halo or dot. There are also free tools like ZoomIt that allow you to zoom into part of the screen and draw over the screen, if you are not using a smart board or tablet with a stylus.
- Let students create the videos (constructivism and learning by teaching)
- See also From Passive Viewing to Active Learning: Simple Techniques for Applying Active Learning Strategies to Online Course Videos
Pedagogy of Classroom Activities
- Align in-class with out of class activities
- If the videos are not connected to in-class activities or not necessary to succeeding in class, students will likely not see the need for them or else not be as motivated to watch them. “Alignment of out-of-class content and in-class activities and the alignment with both of these with the objectives of the course as a whole is crucial to success” (ref).
- Formative Assessment with Classroom Response Systems
- Active Learning
- See the active learning page for some research and resources on active learning - in which students do the learning.
- Contrasting Cases
- Have students analyze, contrast and compare cases and examples. Research has shown this is pedagogically more effective than doing one case at a time.
- Collaborative Learning
- Put students in groups to work on problems or discuss issues.
- Inquiry Guided Learning, Problem-Based Learning, Service Learning
- Give students challenges and problems to work on. Real-world problems can be more motivating and relevant to students' interests, and result in more long term retention and transfer of their learning to the real world.
Explore-Flip-Apply instructional model
- See these resources on the Explore-Flip-Apply pedagogical model recommended by the creators of the flipped classroom technique:
Research on Screencasts & Flipping the Classroom
Further Readings on Flipping the Classroom
This presentation has extensive details and tips on flipping the classroom:
More Tips on Successfully Flipping the Classroom
More on: What is flipping the classroom?
More Tools for Creating Screencasts
Engaging Learners Resources