Creating the perfect video lesson for a flipped classroom

Brian Bennett

Brian is a former High School teacher in Northern Indiana, US, and an advocate of the flipped learning model. After teaching science for four yearshe now works as the Academic Customer Solutions Engineer at TechSmith.

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Mobile learning is gaining momentum. Over the next two years, 12 to 17 year-olds will be the second largest adopters of smartphone technology according to eMarketeer.

At the same time, an increasing number of schools are providing smartphone and tablet technology to aid 'anytime, anywhere' learning.

The mobile classroom provides many benefits: convenience; the ability to repeat specific parts of any training until a topic is understood; using familiar platforms; and empowering students to take ownership of their own learning. It also encourages the 'flipped classroom' model – an approach I used with my pupils.

The flipped teaching technique

With the traditional teaching model, students attend lessons and learn the theory behind a subject, and are then assigned homework to assess their knowledge and understanding of the lesson.

With flipped teaching, teachers create and assign learning materials for students to view ahead of lessons – in essence, putting the 'homework' task first. These materials, for example, can be in the form of online videos which can be viewed on school-owned or personal mobile devices.

Having studied the theory at home, students put into practice what they have learnt in the classroom, where they can seek help from the teacher if they become stuck or need clarification.

Flipped content can also be used at different stages of the learning cycle, and can be introduced to pupils in the classroom to help elicit an understanding of the learning objective for the lesson.

Creating content for the flipped classroom

As a teacher, I used screencasting lesson capture software to create content for my own flipped classroom. This is simply a video recording of on-screen activity on a computer. I also used it to simultaneously record my voice via a microphone in order to narrate and explain the content on my screen to students.

I used screencasts to record a number of different activities, from step-by-step tutorials that guided students through a particular task, to instructional videos showing students how to work out a set of mathematical equations.

As a result, my students asked informed questions during classes and it created more time to individually go through any challenges they had encountered at home. My understanding and relationship with my students changed too: lessons became less of a transfer of information and more of a discussion.

By recording live presentations, lectures and tutorials, I effectively gave students a rewind button for key material, helping them learn at their own pace or catch up from an absence.

Creating the perfect video lesson

After a year of the flipped classroom, I learned that content is just as important as technique in order for it to work successfully. Here are a few tips for creating effective video lessons:

  • Sound check – Try to get as close to your microphone as possible to ensure you can be heard and that you limit any background noise
  • Brevity – Keep your video content short to avoid losing your students’ attention
  • Clarity – Plan how you would like to deliver your information in advance to avoid deviating from the subject matter
  • Interaction – Consider making your videos more interactive with quizzes and use more visual examples to illustrate your points
  • Accessibility – Make sure your content is easy to see easy to get to and can be viewed on a smartphone, tablet or PC

The flipped classroom offers students a way of taking control of their learning, and offers teachers the opportunity to strengthen their collaboration with students, with more time spent productively on one-on-one guidance.

Photo credit: flickgingerbrad  and AJC1

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