Flipping the Classroom

Young woman doing yogaWhen we think of a flipped classroom, we often associate it with children and face-to-face, but flipped classrooms are not just for kids or in person. In fact, I think a well done flipped classroom works well with all ages and locations. The key here is “well done”. Anyone can list a bunch of videos online and give students an assignment to work on in a classroom when you have a face-to-face, online or a hybrid class. Here are some suggestions for creating the online portion of a course:

  • What you put online matters. Don’t just go to YouTube and embed a bunch of videos because they apply to the subject matter. Yes, sometimes they work well, but you must choose wisely. Even better, make your own. It’s much easier with the current technology (smart phones, free software, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.). No one expects or wants slick, professional videos. Studies show that people distrust a video on YouTube that looks too professional. Good quality video and video are most important. I will give more details in a future post.
  • POWERPOINT – If you are doing a PowerPoint or similar program with a voice over, be sure to limit the length of the video. Chunk it into 5 minute +- segments with a natural beginning/ending (i.e. don’t just stop at five minutes while in the middle of an explanation). Choose titles for each chunk that make sense to the student and help them choose the correct video if they have questions/want to re-view the segment.
  • FONTS – Make use of fonts, images and colors to grab the brains attention. Fonts should be easy to read. A good rule of thumb is to take a piece of paper and place it on the bottom two thirds of the text. If you can still read the text, that’s a good font to choose. Save fancy fonts for titles or short bursts.
  • IMAGES – Images should be high quality and relevant to the subject matter or emotion you are trying to elicit. If you have a white background, remove it using the technique I showed in my last blog post.
  • Each slide should have only the main points you are trying to make. Don’t crowd the slide with a lot of text or the student will be trying to read it and miss what you are saying. This is particularly true of someone with a visual disability. Speaking of disabilities, it’s a good idea to create a copy of the presentation using a dyslexia friendly font. The fonts are slightly tilted, giving it a 3-D effect and it makes it easier for many (not all) dyslexics to read.
  • Try some alternative ways to post the information. If you look at some of my previous posts, you will see some ideas to try, such as Sparkol VideoScribe and StoryboardThat. Create some flash cards and games with Quizlet.
  • VIDEO – There are lots of programs available today to have a virtual classroom setting. My niece is attending a one year neuro-technology program. She attends two days of clinical training at Massachusetts General (other students attend hospitals in their area) and does the rest online. She takes tests, watches video’s and reads material online and in books she has been assigned. She also has a weekly meeting with her professor and her cohort online. They are all on video and can see and speak with each other. The professor will ask a question of one student and may ask another to add to the response or move on to another question/scenario. It mirrors a classroom setting, with the exception that they can be anywhere they have internet access and a headset. At UNH we use ZOOM for collaborative training sessions like the one I just described. In fact, I have one tomorrow night as part of a class I am teaching. It is scheduled for 7pm in an effort to make it possible for as many students to attend as possible. We are also recording it for those who cannot attend, for example, a student who is currently living in Romania and has a 7 hour time difference.

It is also important to mix things up. Surprise students and change it up. That way students will look forward to the online lecture part of the process and will, hopefully, pay attention. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and willingness to try something different. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.



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