Friday, July 8, 2011

Flipped Classrooms

Yesterday, I met with a small group of teachers who are interested in the new and revolutionary notion of "flipped classrooms."  In a flipped classroom lesson, the teacher pre-records lessons, lectures, readings or PowerPoint presentations in video file.  The video file can include the teacher's voice to explain concepts, written notes using the computer's tablet function, or even a webcam image of the teacher speaking and demonstrating.  The student is assigned these videos as a homework assignment so that they come to class prepared with notes and materials.  This way, the time spent in class can be dedicated to live demonstrations, labs, discussions and other active teaching methods. 

There are many ways to attempt classroom flipping, but our school will be using Camtasia Studio to capture the videos, then uploading them to SchoolTube for students to view them. 

Last night, I experimented with Camtasia Studio and created my first instructional video.  It will take some time to get used to the capabilities and quirks of the software, but even in shooting my first video, I could see how this would be an amazing tool. 

My first video concerns one of the most important skills that incoming sixth graders need to know - how to maintain their files on the school's server.  In my twelve minute production, I showed students how to access their folder, how to create folders within the main folder, how to save to the files, as well as some neat tricks like pinning files to the task bar in Windows 7 to speed up their access. 

As soon as I finished that video and uploaded it to SchoolTube, I was already thinking about all the other videos I could make and all the potentialities for these videos.  Slow note-takers can watch videos as slowly and as many times as they need.  Students can easily catch up after an absence.  They can also move quickly through concepts that are easier for them, then spend time on those that are more challenging.  They can even go back and view past videos easily. 

Overall, it will require an initial time investment in the first year to get these ideas and videos off the ground, but in the long run, it will be well worth it!