What if….

Students came to your classroom already prepared to ask questions about a new topic?

What if you already knew the questions the students wanted answering?

Students already understood the new concept and were ready to experiment?

Teachers didn’t have to stand and lecture and students didn’t sit and listen for long lengths of time?

There was more time to work with individual students and help them progress at their own pace?

Students were engaged in meaningful activities right from the first minute they entered your classroom?

Could this be possible with Reverse instruction or by flipping the classroom.

Photo Credit: nataliej via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: nataliej via Compfight cc

The concept of the Flipped Classroom is not new. In fact educators have had somewhat of a rocking love affair with it over the years. From an influx of video watching homeworks to a damning of the practice by others. But is it just another fad? What if we could make it work and be of real benefit not just for students but to teachers too?

Chatting with a music teacher at UWCSEA recently Carl Jenkins asks students to ask questions at the end of the lesson submitting these on a google doc or form. He says this helps him to track their learning, to see who “got it” and who didn’t and how to plan ahead for the next lesson. What if this was a fundamental part of a flipped classroom? By reviewing a video of their own work or the demo by the teacher, they could submit their questions in advance of the next lesson or formulate a reflection that helps guide the teacher in gauging the level of understanding? How might watching a video form a stepping stone to the next concept or technique?

Photo Credit: PauliCarmody via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: PauliCarmody via Compfight cc

Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams (flippedclass.com)at Woodland Park Colorado explain the benefits of flipping the classroom in their video below:

Bergmann and Sams use Camtasia Studio to produce their videos. But beautiful and slick as Camtasia is, it also costs and there are lots of other, just as good, alternatives out there to use. Annotating your Youtube videos could work just as well as Patrick Green demonstrates here and he adds Virtual wait time to allow students some thinking time whilst pondering a thought or question..

I have dabbled with using YouTube videos to back up classroom practice or to review a process. I even tried out using TEDed for homework. TED-ed adds the dimension of watching, thinking and digging deeper asking questions to check learning and allowing some followup work. Here is one I found and used on Imagination with Janet Echelman. Have you tried using TEDed or curated your own video in a similar fashion or used an existing one? Can you see how you might use this in your teaching?

Having seen many teachers raving about the Khan Academy I took a look at the site, thinking this could be a great use for reverse instruction. Unfortunately there isn’t really much there for Visual Art and what there is is Art History orientated. It would be great if Art educators added real lessons there too.


Hand crossing fingers by Till Teenck from The Noun Project

Hand crossing fingers by Till Teenck from The Noun Project

But setting this type of homework demands trust. We must trust that students will watch the video, read the text or interact with the Q&A, post their questions or answer the quiz. It would more beneficial if we knew their worries in advance, their queries and questions, whether they are likely to struggle with the concept or skill and what prior knowledge they come to our lesson with. This all takes planning and time. The task must also be achievable work as one frustrated student posted on the comments section of a Flipped Classroom video on YouTube that they felt lost without the direct guidance of the teacher. We must know our students, prime them, instruct them and not leave them to flounder with yet another new approach.

By the nature of reversing the instruction the teacher leaves far more time for the student to practice and apply the technique or concept in class to their own work. This is crucial in an Art room context yet the demos are the most important part so they can literally see and feel the process. What might be lost through watching a video outside of the classroom? Wouldn’t we miss the discussions, the chats as a whole class? Wouldn’t students miss the opportunity to see when an experiment goes wrong or how to fix a problem – aren’t Youtube videos often too slick? Mistakes help us to learn and seeing a teacher work through it right in front of them has to be a great learning moment.

EduCanon and EDpuzzle

EduCanon allows that interactivability into the videos just like TEDed but with more punch. The key features that ensure feedback for the teacher are monitoring and question answers. I love that you are able to know which students have watched the video or not; a bit like Big Brother but in a supportive way!

Andrew Douch raves about its use in his classroom on his blog, citing the way that students cannot just skip through the content by answering the questions without watching the video. This feature ensures that all students will have watched it and you will know this. When you connect the students and the videos to you through a code, this is when EduCanon comes into its own, collecting the data and the responses for you. Reading his followup comments at the end of the blog post I discover a competitor, again free, EDpuzzle, with extra features EduCanon only has on the paid versions. Recently, Edudemic wrote an extensive article reviewing EDpuzzle as a complement to the school’s LMS or MOOC. I know I cannot wait to try one of these out. Can you see how they might be valuable in your classroom?

Death by videos

Years ago we were threatened by Death by worksheets, then in recent years Death by Powerpoint. Now might it be Death by videos?
It seems to me that they are many ways to incorporate the idea of reverse instruction into your classroom effectively and that it isnt just about watching videos or presentations. As educators we can be far more creative with this concept by switching or sliding, as opposed to flipping, the content you would normally dwell over in class. Moving the viewing and discussion out of the classroom totally would be a shame. My students love sitting on the beanbags or sofa at the front of my room talking together with me about the new idea or concept. Students benefit from listening to each others interpretations.
Do I ever lecture? No not really. Do we watch videos? Yes. Could they watch them at home? Probably.
But would it be the same experience, would they lose something?
We go to the movies together to react and experience, we like to ask questions during a lecture or talk and bounce ideas off one another as it is happening. Wouldn’t this be lost if it was switched to home and alone?

To flip or not to flip?

Photo Credit: lamazone via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: lamazone via Compfight cc

Reading online it appears flipping is much like Marmite. It’s a love it or hate it relationship. Clearly there are many teachers using it well and finding real benefit from it such as Jane MacKenzie-Hoskyn who uses a combination of Edmodo, Google docs, quizzes and videos with her IB Visual Arts class. In her words, she prefers “rather than shopping at one shop, I am happily shopping around to see where I can find the best bargain!” But reading comments on the Flipped Classroom YouTube videos and on blog sites, many teachers and students do not like it, some slamming teachers as being lazy. Another replying to the post on IncredibleArt says:

“In discussions with the colleague of mine that uses components of the flipped classroom, she has voiced the advantages as well as disadvantages. One of the disadvantages that she expressed was students not completing the assignments or listening to the lectures on the podcasts or online.” – See more at Incredibleart.com

Ownership, Assessment and Asynchronicity

The success of another strategy in education is in considering who is in charge of the learning. In Flip Love Affair, on PLP Network, Shelley Wright talks about it not being a fad but about ownership. She says:

“I’ve learned that inquiry & PBL learning can be incredibly powerful in the hands of students. I would never teach any other way again. When students own their learning, then deep, authentic, transformative things happen in a classroom. It has nothing to do with videos, or homework, or the latest fad in education. It has everything to do with who owns the learning. For me, the question really is: who owns the learning in your classroom?” PLP Network October 8, 2012


One of the main benefits of flipping lessons I can see is that students can revisit a concept or technique and work through at their own pace as explained in Aaron’s video below:

I am going to revisit videos in and out of the classroom to differentiate learning and help students prepare and revise concepts, ideas and techniques. Just this week I have set my students to watch a TED talk by JR the artist who posts huge billboard sized portrait posters of unknown members of the community. My students are in the midst of a project blending images on Photoshop to create a unique Portrait yet, being egocentric teenagers the works are all about themselves. By looking at the work of JR they came up with the suggestion to raise the profile of our support staff: the cleaners, canteen staff, the facilities and security staff who remain otherwise unknown yet a crucial part of the running of our school. By viewing JR’s website and video, formulating questions and challenges students return this week ready to put their thoughts straight into action. This leaves me time to see individuals about their own work and skill development and the remaining can start the practical work, armed with all they need to begin working.

So with all this talk about flipping, how do you like your eggs? Me, I like them scrambled.

Photo Credit: Hamburger Helper via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Hamburger Helper via Compfight cc


If you want to know more about Flipped Classroom see Knewton’s infographic below:

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

  1. Joe Teft says:

    Hey Nicki,

    The Death By Video section is by far my favourite part of your post. I wonder about this a lot, and how we need to make things meaningful, hilariously as I was reading your post I had a video on in the background. I wonder how we can work with students to make their learning meaningful.

    We’re trying to get students to explain math concepts this year at our school. That way students are looking at concepts from other students, not necessarily the teacher. Of course the teacher will help them make the video, but we are hoping that students (and parents) are more likely to listen and engage with other students making the video.

    I fully agree with your watching videos with your class to engage in the discussions. This is what I imagine the ideal flipped classroom looks like, an authentically engaged classroom discussing ideas. I think flipping your class and then looking at other videos.

    Another thing I was wondering was about assigning video searches for students. Because there are so many videos out there, instead of making students watch your video teachers can have a video prepared but encourage students to watch a different video as well. I hope that would bring a variety of perspectives to the classroom discussion.

    Great ideas and wonderings throughout the post. Thanks.

    • Nicki Hambleton says:

      Thanks Joe,
      I have to say this course is really stretching me, but in a good way and I do think that the last 2 posts have got my thinking going much deeper than I imagined. But doing so much research is taking time for me to digest and filter this new information so I am hideously behind.
      I love the idea of the students making the videos that students later will refer to in their flipped situation. When setting video searches they could select from an existing playlist, combining experts in the field, student and teacher made videos to allow for choice and range. Was it Scott who had the rant about teacher oriented videos? I am totally with him that it doesn’t have to be all about us and I am sure a range would help students realise their importance in the learning process. I guess we just have to guide students as we would with any kind of searching, where best to look and what to look out for.
      Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff again!

  2. Elizabeth Kangas says:

    Thank you so much for such an informative and comprehensive post on this subject. As somebody who is struggling to figure out how to fit in flipped learning into my subject area, I’m sure I’ll find myself coming back here to reread some stuff!

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