TED.org is teaming educators with animators to create TED-Ed flipped lectures. Anyone can choose a YouTube video and then place it side-by-side with a variety of questions, allowing viewers to assess their own recall and understanding.
*Update 12/10/11 – I’ve given up on using YouTube’s RSS feed due to the time lag. Now I just create a homework post that includes the video AND the response form. My blog RSS updates immediately and then MailChimp scrapes it to send home.
In my experimentation with a time-shifting flipped classroom model, I’ve been building videos for both students and teachers but have been searching for a way to automatically collect data on how much of my intended audience is using the material.
I’m wasn’t yet happy with figuring out how often my students are accessing content. I can look for number of video views and average time spent on video, but that doesn’t tell me who or when. This desire is complicated by the fact that my students are 10-12 years old, and I don’t want to sign them up for any third-party accounts to receive notifications. My current system relies on YouTube’s hidden RSS feeds, Google Apps for Edu’s email system, and GApps free MailChimp service.
Step 1: YouTube’s hidden RSS feed
With the current YouTube system, to subscribe to a channel or create a personal channel, YouTube asks my students to create their own YouTube account and then link it with their school Google Apps account. I can’t and won’t ask a 10-year-old to create an account, so I need a different solution.
Fortunately, YouTube actually generates a hidden user RSS feed. This isn’t publicized and it isn’t perfect – in my testing it takes up to 6 hours for a new video to be added to the RSS feed.
Once I have the RSS feed, I had to figure out how to get new post updates into my existing student system. I could have used Google Reader, but that would require that students visit the Reader site to check for updates. I want an automated system that would push new content directly to my audience.
If students use Apple Mail or Microsoft Outlook, they can subscribe to the feed and receive updates directly in their email program. My students only use the Gmail interface or IMAP to Mail for iPad, neither of which have an RSS subscription feature.
I took a tip from email marketers and decided to look for a way to send a note to student inboxes when a new video is posted. Within my Google Apps for Edu deployment, I enabled the brilliant and free MailChimp Marketplace Solution.
Step 3: MailChimp & RSS integration
With MailChimp enabled, I authenticate into the service and build a new campaign to send out an email update to my subscriber list when a new video is posted. This allows me to automatically email my students every time there is a new video and track who clicks on the link and how often they do so.
The real test of comprehension is the conversation and project-based learning that occurs in the classroom after students have engaged online content. However, with accurate data on which of my students have clicked through to the new video, in-video self-quizzes with chapter markers for key concepts, and a post-viewing survey, I can get a better understanding of how my students use the material prior to classroom arrival.
It also allows me to make connections and support students on an individual level. I can keep an eye out for inconsistencies – a student that doesn’t complete the online survey but can speak with understanding in the classroom; a student who doesn’t share at school but expresses themselves at-length online; a student who only accesses content during study hall; a student who can regurgitate information word-by-word but can’t put their learning into open-ended practice, etc.
My current MailChimp integration system isn’t perfect due to the time lag between posting a video and the RSS feed update. To ensure that the assignment email blast goes out on the right day, I typically post the video first thing in the morning, giving YouTube enough time to update the RSS feed. Some students visit the site of their own initiative, and so their clicks aren’t recorded.
However, this solution keeps my student information safe and doesn’t require additional accounts, services, or software for my students or myself. This solution is fully automated once I post a video online, and the combination of click-through rates, average time spent-on-video, and Google Form results create a fairly comprehensive collection of individual and group habits.
If readers have an alternate way of scraping YouTube for new content, I’d love to hear about it in the comments and incorporate into my existing practice.
I just uploaded a test video to Vimeo to compare the time between posting and RSS feed update. If the time lag is significantly less, then this may be a better video sharing option for automation.
YouTube doesn’t have to be a place where viewers passively watch video. Free annotation tools allow content creators to provide interactive opportunities to engage content. The resulting video can be used as part of a flipped classroom model or to time-shift any kind of instruction.
This video tutorial shows you exactly how to create buttons that can be placed on your video to jump forwards and backwards within the timeline.
Demonstration #1: Interactive Flipped Instruction
Here is an example of an interactive lesson on fractions that use YouTube annotations to create a quick self-quiz.1 This flipped instruction (flipped classroom) example redirects the viewer directly into the pertinent portion of the lecture that addresses any incorrect answers:
Demonstration #2: Chapter Markers in YouTube
Here is an example of a video that covers several different topics and includes an introductory table of contents that can be accessed at any time.2
Demonstration #3: Allow viewers to create their own content
Final example is fun but also a powerful example of the freedom that interactivity allows. Use the buttons to play the piano and create your own song – one that the original video creator could never have imagined.
Flipped instruction (the flipped classroom model, vodcasting, time-shifting) is an attractive concept because of the in-class time that is freed to work through concept application and discussion. One of the criticisms of this teaching tool is that students receive knowledge in a passive state – by watching video.
In an attempt to create a more interactive experience for students, YouTube annotations and time-markers can be used to create “check-ins” as the lesson progresses. Below is a simple proof of concept* using a review of fractions. There are an infinite amount of creative possibilities using these free tools, and they work when viewed at YouTube.com or when embedded into a class website.
How might you use these tools – feel free to comment below.
*This is just a proof of concept. Audio quality is low and audio/video channels get out of sync towards the end.
Apple’s iPad is becoming a common fixture in over 600 districts across the US1, and teachers are connecting online to share ideas for effective implementations. As the barrier to access has been removed in these classrooms, many teachers are considering a blended teaching model or flipped classroom opportunities*.
Flipped instruction (flipped classrooms, vodcasting, time-shifted instruction) allows students to view or review a lecture when they are ready to, at their own pace. This requires teachers to record lectures either live or, more often than not, prior to delivery. To capture a lecture, educators like Ramsey Musallam and Stacey Roshan use software that records their voice along with the action happening on their screen in real-time.
Screencasting software for desktop/laptops is fully developed** – users can record screens while opening and closing applications and have access to post production elements (titles, transitions, trimming, etc) all from within the software. iPad apps are not so fully developed yet – with iOS4, users can only record what is going on within the screencasting app.
All of the reviewed Apps allow the user to:
import a background image from the camera roll
choose pen colors for drawing
erase areas of the screen or the entire page
record voice along with what is happening on the screen
At its core, flipped teaching (also called flipped classroom, flipped instruction, vodcasting, educational video-on-demand) is a format for removing some of the lecture-based lessons from classrooms and giving students the ability to learn that content in their own time at their own pace. This is done through recording video-based lectures* [editor note: flipped philosophy has moved away from requiring video – see this article for more information. 4/25/2012] and posting them online for students to engage and respond to.
There are several advantages to this model of teaching.
Flipped teaching means that an educator doesn’t need to guess at what speed to deliver content – with students watching lectures at home they can move at their own speed and review concepts as necessary.
Without large portions of classroom time spent lecturing, educators can use that time to see students working through projects and assignments that would have previously been done in isolation at home: break out sessions can occur spontaneously, students can work in mentor-based groupings, jigsaw opportunities, supplemental support, etc.
Jon Bergmann, Jerry Overmyer and Brett Wilie outline some other benefits in somewhat of a flip model manifesto published at The Daily Riff:1
A means to INCREASE interaction and personalized contact time between students and teachers.
An environment where students take responsibility for their own learning.
A blending of direct instruction with constructivist learning.
A classroom where students who are absent due to illness or extra-curricular activities such as athletics or field-trips, don’t get left behind.
A class where content is permanently archived for review or remediation.
How is flipped instruction different from other educational movements?
Flipped classroom isn’t the first time that technology has been held up as a solution for the worldwide challenges that are occurring in education, and it won’t be the last. However, the focus of flipped teaching is different from other examples in that the technology itself is simply a tool for flexible communication that allows educators to differentiate instruction to meet individual student needs and spend more time in the classroom focused on collaboration and higher-order thinking. The technology solutions are varied and don’t rely on a single vendor to implement. Flipped teaching is a great example of using technology with intention.
Educators critical of Khan’s model point out that his lecture-respond model does nothing to inspire students and furthermore just encourages the “drill and regurgitate” learning that is built for standardized tests. Frank Noschese eloquently elaborates in his article Khan Academy: My Final Remarks:
[W]e should be inspiring [students] to figure things out on their own and learn how to create their own knowledge by working together. For example, instead of relying on lectures and textbooks, the Modeling Instruction paradigm emphasizes active student construction of conceptual and mathematical models in an interactive learning community.
Ramsey Musallam is working with the flipped model to address Noschese’s observation and push the practice into a more constructivist experience. His graduate work at the University of San Francisco focused on the cognitive psychology behind time-shifted instruction. Based on his research, Musallam adds a few best practices to the flipped model; ones he believes enhance student retention and understanding:
Musallam always introduces a new skill or concept IN THE CLASSROOM with open exploration. Students learn through true trial and error and make their own explorations prior to being exposed to the theory behind the experiments.
Students completed a 5 sentence typed recap of each lesson while watching the lecture. This immediate typed response forces student to recall and synthesize information, responding in their own words.
Musallam uses the same visual procedure every time when explaining a concept. This allows students to become familiar with his process so that they can begin to predict and hypothesize as they watch.
Musallam limits viewer input to one channel at a time. Visual and auditory channels of information delivery are alternated to avoid information overload. Furthermore, Musallam’s screencasts are as simple as possible – typically white background with text and simple diagrams.