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Flipping the Classroom Part 1

February 26, 2012

Today’s classroom is changing by the day as technology infuses itself into the classroom and in our lives. Students are more plugged into information today than they ever were through the use of the internet and devices like smart phones, tablets, laptops etc. In my opinion all of this technology is also changing the way kids and people think. People are more apt to go to Google, Bing, and Wikipedia etc. if they need to find a quick answer to a question. The question is, is this good or bad? Is this harming education or helping it? My answer to this is it depends on the quality of the educator. Are you as an educator willing to adapt to the changing tide or will you stay stuck in your old ways and sink, and take your students with? Technology is a mere tool that would be nothing without users to enhance its experience, and it can be a powerful teaching tool if used correctly. Flipping the classroom is one of the ways we can use technology to create a better learning experience, keep our students plugged into information we can trust, with the overall goal of enhancing learning outcomes.

If I were to define flipping the classroom in my own words here’s what I would say: “Flipping the classroom is a form of lesson planning that allows a teacher to turn the classroom into a more active, student centered learning environment that assess student’s application of knowledge vs. just knowledge”.  Flipping the classroom earned its name because of how the lesson is delivered. The student performs the lesson outside of the classroom and the teacher creates some form of assessment based off of the lesson in the next class. The assessment could be a test, group-work, a lab practical etc. The idea here is to make the students take charge and get the lesson done on their own time before the next class. Then the teacher becomes more of a facilitator on the practical side of things vs. just being a giver of knowledge.  One of the most important parts of flipping the classroom is trying to think about how you are going to connect with your students in the lesson through media. We aren’t doing our students any favors if we are just assigning a reading assignment with no guidance. It’s important that educators figure out a way to bring the lecture home to the student through media.

There are various tools available for educators to create media with. The most advanced would be a SMART board with the SMART recorder application and the simplest would be a regular digital voice recorder. Personally, I prefer the SMART board and the recorder application because this allows me to create a more visual lesson for my students. I can put a presentation on the board, plug in a microphone and when I start the recorder everything I say and write is captured live. Once I am finished all of this is saved as a video where students can hear me and see everything that I write, they just can’t see me (which isn’t a bad thing anyway). Then I upload my videos to YouTube, and I’m starting to toy with Vimeo as well. All of these are options for my students to access the lesson based on their personal preference. From my experience students prefer to use the most because I can do more with it; I will elaborate on this in another post. I show my students all of these options, give them their objectives, and let them know when they need to have this done by. Then it’s up to them to go through the video and objectives, and any other activity that I have planned for them by next class.

I know that technology can be a limitation for many educators due to budgetary constraints. If you don’t have a SMART board available then do what you can do get yourself out there with what you have. Other tools to use are: video cameras to record yourself teaching, digital voice recorders and iTunes, Screenr (which is a free online screen-casting service) etc. If you are having a hard time trying to figure out which technologies would work for you talk to other educators, online resources and blogs ( etc. I also created a packet on ( with a PowerPoint and video of me talking about flipping the classroom and technology. If you can, make sure your lesson is as visual as possible since our primary sense is vision. If you can’t provide a video lecture and are limited to pod casting them make sure you give your students handouts that correlate with your lecture.

  1. I go from centre to centre giving courses to teachers here in Spain. One of the ways that I use to keep in touch and keep focussed- because there is often a gap of two or more weeks between sessions- is to use a blog for the particular course. It is so easy to create a blog that it is possible to use it as a pinboard for useful resources and links. My Creative Education blog also has links to to stacks on Delicious, which is a great resource for students.

    I do not have a Smart board available to me in the centres I go to but I do have projectors linked to the laptop. I like to use the whiteboard in a tradiitional way because I think visually and like to record our conversations in this way. I then take a photograph of the board and stick it on the blog. It is easy really.

    I agree with you one hundred per cent about the changes that new technology offer us and I find your idea of flipping the classroom intriguing.

    • Thanks for the comment, I’m glad you liked and hopefully found it useful. Not everyone has a SMART board but there are plenty of other resources out there that are available. I will actually be writing a post about that in the near future as I compile my ideas some more.

      If you have a video camera that would be good for you to use, just aim it at yourself while you are lecturing with the white board and you can create a good video lesson.

      As I mentioned above, I’m creating a “tool-kit” of technological resources that range from free to costing the school. I’ll gladly put it up soon when I finish it. I am also doing a webinar on Thursday the 22nd at 3 p.m. CST, I believe that would put it at 9 p.m. your time. Here is the e-invite if you are interested in attending if you have the time:

      • Thanks Aaron. Unfortunately I will be going down to Portugal on Thursday evening and won’t be able to do it live. Will it be available after the event?

      • I will be archiving the presentation after we are finished and I’ll make sure that you’ll get it as soon as we’re done getting it ready. I have a lecture video on my YouTube channel that is almost identical to the actual presentation I’ll be doing on Thursday. Here it is:

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