Making Better Flipped Videos

Flipped classrooms?  Sure, let me simply record my voice and post it online.  FAIL!  Flipped classrooms are more than putting ideas online.  Edutopia has a fantastic overview of what flipped classrooms are, but I found their advice was geared toward the idea behind flipped classroom.  I do not think the article provided content-rich advice for teachers.

Like all public ed teachers, my administrators are also encouraging myself and my colleagues to try flipping lessons.  If you have not tried, you must.  When you try, make sure you ask your students how it went.  What you think is great might be terrible and vice versa.

I am not an expert in creating flipped videos.  In fact, I’m pretty bad at it.  If I were good at it, though, I don’t know if I would know why I was good.  I believe practice and effort creates perfect work.  So, here are my tips of the moment, based on observations I received from my peers and students.

  1. Keep it short- I like presentations with five minutes or less.  Let’s be honest, if you had to watch a video you didn’t find too engaging, would you watch for more than five minutes?
  2. Transform your teaching– If your video does not add value to teaching the lesson traditionally, do not record the video.  By adding value, the video should be better than a traditional option.  Simply recording lectures to place online adds little or no value.
  3. Specific, precise content– Since you must keep your videos short, do not feel bad about packing the content into the video.  Students can pause the video and review pieces.  If the video is not content-rich, your video will be boring.
  4. Flashy videos do not content– Music, animations, and fancy fonts are nice, but do not use them to try to add value to a content-deprived video.  If your video has strong content, effective presentation is a bonus.  However, a lack of content paired with effective presentation will still result in a poor video.
  5. Clear objective– Start your video clear objective.  This should be written and spoken.  Throughout the video, and certainly at the end, be certain to recap your objective.  Text cues and subtitles throughout the video will help retain focus.

Now that I’ve shared my tips, you can look at my past attempts to do this well.  I have a small, but growing YouTube channel.  Some of my videos violate my suggestions above.  My latest attempt, which my students are using this week, is my Introduction to Federalist 70.

I welcome your suggestions and comments.  Only by working together can we perfect our profession.

UPDATE: Here is a more recent video I produced for my class.  What do you think?  Any better?


3 thoughts on “Making Better Flipped Videos

  1. Bill September 20, 2012 / 2:21 pm

    I did a flipped classroom before it was a buzzword (or at least before I heard it), and I loved it. Actually I flipped the entire course. It was our first year in the block (my last year full time physics) and instead of lecturing (equally boring to me) I assigned readings from the book. All students really ever got out of lectures was equations, abbreviations and units. I don’t need to tell them that, they can read it themselves. We spent class doing demos, labs and working problems together. NO ONE failed the course that year. I can’t say that about any other year.
    Dr. S, e-mail me if you’re interested in specifics about grading, accountability, etc.

    • Justin Staub, Ed.D. September 21, 2012 / 12:14 pm

      Bill, I almost despise calling it “flipped classroom.” It does bring together ideas of what has been going on and allow us to share those ideas with newcomers. What I think flipped classroom teachers NEED to do is invest the time in projects and activities to build from the flipped content. While I’m not in favor of “teaching” outside the classroom, I am equally not in favor of students practicing the work without me around either. At least by flipping the content, students can revisit that often enough to support and learn, building from their activities in the class. Thanks for your comments.

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