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Why video is a key teaching tool for the flipped classroom

You’re probably familiar with what the flipped classroom is and how it works. It is the exact inverse of how homework and classwork traditionally align.

Flipped classrooms flip the role of students — it offers them a degree of autonomy to discover and exercise learning techniques that work best for them. A teacher’s role is also flipped — where once they stood in class and lectured to a passive audience, now they act as facilitators of the student's own self-driven and interactive learning process.

Students learn and study course material on their own, and formal class time acts as a work hub, where they complete projects and assignments related to the lessons. Class time is therefore “flipped” into a dynamic space where students can discuss residual issues with their teacher, as well as other students, and tackle tasks related to their at-home study.

The flipped classroom has been credited with creating an educational environment that is more self-driven and interactive, and as a result is more effective.

Video is a key teaching tool for the flipped classroom

Video content in most contexts is essential to the flipped classroom concept. It can bring many aspects of the course material to life, in a way that is multi-sensory, impactful and readily remembered.

From a tactical point of view videos can be replayed and paused, making them ideal self-study tools when combined with note taking, reading, online discussions and research.

Content and delivery is also easily controlled by the educator, since as much or as little can be left to assumption as is required; a trigonometry lesson can be carefully directed and detailed, while a video tutorial on the themes in Romeo and Juliet can be more discursive.

There are many concepts within your subject matter that may nonetheless need to be explained to students in a one-directional format — where you as the teacher get to explain a process or concept in a way that you know your students are familiar with. I make this point specifically because in many cases generic video content may not have the correct tonality or structure that your students are familiar with. In these instances teachers may need to take the plunge, and create their own videos.

4 Things to keep in mind when creating videos for the flipped classroom

Fortunately the world of digital video is advancing in leaps and bounds. Not only has YouTube revolutionized the storing, sharing and searching of video content, but cellphones and cellphone cameras have become extraordinarily advanced in terms of the quality as well as storage capacity they have for video. Just watch this charming 3-minute short story shot entirely on an iPhone.

So, even for the most tech-inhibited teacher simple “direct-to-camera” lessons should be simple to capture. Here are some things to keep in mind when starting you video lessons:

  1. Shoot horizontally

    Vertical videos are pretty much a scourge of online content. Our eyes, our TVs, our cinemas and PC screens are all designed for horizontal video content. When making a video on our phone, many of us make the mistake of holding it like we would normally — vertically. This makes for a terrible viewing experience.

    So always ensure that your videos are shot with the phone horizontal, which creates better, more expansive images.

  2. Stay stable

    Try to not let anyone directly hold the camera while filming. Even the simple act of breathing can sometimes cause shaky shots, not to mention walking or other types of movement.

    Be sure your footage is rock solid by using a phone stand or phone-enabled tripod. These don’t require big a investment, and if you’ll use one even for a semester it’ll be worth its value, I assure you.

  3. Excellent sound is essential

    A video content editor for a major news website once told me:

    They’ll forgive your jumpy video, but will crucify you for bad sound.

    Sound is the most important aspect of a good video. In this instance I would recommend investing in a decent smartphone microphone — this will plug straight into the jack of your phone. You can find great range across price points.

  4. Think about lighting

    When filming yourself presenting a subject, ensure that you are well-lit. This doesn’t mean additional or technical lighting; it simply means that there is enough ambient overhead or natural light — which can be enhanced using side or directional lamps.

A few video editing options

Once you have recorded your lesson, you will probably want to cut and edit out the flubs and bloopers. There are a host of paid online editing suites and many have educational packages to try. Of course YouTube itself has a fantastic editor, although the caveat is that your video is then only available on YouTube.

All of these online tools will also enable you to add images, other video and music to your video.

Other options include using graphics exclusively — this can work for more simple concepts. Also, Google has a little known online program called Story Builder which is a great combo between video and powerpoint.

Will you give video a try?

The benefits of videoing your lessons are almost innumerable:

  • you have a controlled environment in which to really clarify and dramatise the content,
  • you have the ability to share the videos with distance learners,
  • it frees up acres of time to spend with struggling or gifted students,
  • and ultimately it translates your course into the language that all young people readily, daily and happily understand — video content.

So, will you give video a try?

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