Sunday, February 22, 2015

Unexpected Advantages of Flipped Classroom Videos

In a flipped classroom the teacher records their lesson for students to view at another time.  There are multiple advantages to these flipped videos for the students but there are advantages to the teacher too.

Advantages for teachers?
Teachers are often very busy and do not have time to regularly observe their fellow teachers.  We can often learn a lot from observing other teachers but rarely have the time.  The teachers in my department have recorded their own lessons for our common curriculum (same notes and same assessments).  We can easily “observe” each other by watching each others’ video lessons on our own time.  In our video lessons we have the same examples but we each have a different way of explaining the concepts so by watching each others’ video lessons we can gain new insights in to teaching the concepts and learn from each other.  While watching a colleague’s lesson we are exposed to a new way of explaining the material or make new connections of how this concept relates to a different area of mathematics.  It is common for me to step into a colleague’s room during his prep time and see him watching another teacher’s video lesson.   Using flipped classroom videos to improve our professional practice is a great use of our videos even though the videos were initially created to help our students.

A second advantage of flipped videos was shown to me last spring.  I had a student teacher for one of my classes.  He would watch three different teachers’ lessons to see how the experienced (old) teachers taught the material.  He would then develop his own lesson and record his video lesson using the best practices he saw in the experienced teachers’ lessons or improvements to the lesson that he was able to bring in.  As a new teacher, this was a great way for him to learn how to present the material to students in an effective manner.  As someone who started teaching in the early 1990’s, I would have found this technique very valuable.  Using flipped classroom videos as a way to help young teachers develop into a more effective teacher by “observing” multiple experienced teachers was an unexpected but great use of a flipped video. 

A third advantage for teachers I have noticed is that since I have been flipping my classes I do not have nearly as many students in before or after school asking questions.  Recording video lessons requires significant time up front but in the long run the teacher gets that time back with not having as many students in before and after school needing help.

A fourth advantage of videos in a flipped learning classroom is that if a student is absent, they can watch the video before they come back to school.  Students can come back to school caught up on what they missed.  It is not uncommon for me to have students gone and they come back having watched the lessons and completed the assignments.   This means the teacher either has more time since they are not working with previously absent students before or after school to get them caught up, or the teacher can continue to work with all the students in the classroom versus ignoring most of the class while reteaching the previously absent student one on one during class time.

Advantages for students?
Each teacher that teaches one of our courses records their own videos at the request of our students.  We expect our students to watch the lesson before class but since we have multiple teacher videos for each lesson students can choose to watch which ever teacher.  Most students will watch the video lesson of their classroom teacher but some choose to watch a different teacher because that teacher’s style matches with the student’s learning style.  Some students will watch their teacher’s video lessons on a daily basis but will watch a different teacher’s lessons as a review for an assessment.  The key thing is that students are learning the material, we do not care who they are learning it from.   

Students are able to rewatch lessons either from their teacher or another teacher as part of their review for an assessment.  My Augsburg College class meets once a week and students watch the lesson before class then have an assessment on that material the next week.  Almost all my college students rewatch the lesson as part of their review for an assessment while others will rewatch the lesson multiple times.

Students are able to pause and rewind the teacher during the lesson, even rewinding the teacher multiple times to understand that part of the lesson.  In a lecture a student may ask a question once, it is not likely but possible they would ask the same question a second time if they still do not understand.  If they still do not understand, they will likely give the teacher the impression that they do understand because they do not want to look stupid in front of their peers.  But with a video lesson a student can rewind and listen to part of the video lesson as many times as needed to understand the concept.  

Most teachers that start out flipping their classroom anticipate the student advantages like the student can pause and rewind the video as needed, watch the lesson when they have time and that students can rewatch the lessons for an assessment.  But as you have read there are multiple unexpected advantages for the teacher like being able to “observe” their colleagues and learn from them, to helping younger teachers develop their skills and become an effective teacher, or having more time before and after school.  As I continue flipping and reflecting, I am sure more unexpected advantages will come to light.  I would encourage you to consider flipping your class, so that you can experience these advantages too.