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January 17, 2013

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TOOLS FOR LEARNING: Flipping Out--A New Model to Reach All Students All Ways

TOOLS FOR LEARNING: Flipping Out--A New Model to Reach All Students All Ways

About 500 educators recently told Flipped Learning Network and ClassroomWindow what they thought about the latest learning model to hit their classrooms. But rather than expressing frustration or what ASCD chief program development officer MC Desrosiers calls “initiative fatigue” (that’s right—having to adopt trend after tired new trend)—88% thought it had improved their job satisfaction and 46% gave it a double thumbs-up, saying it had improved their job satisfaction “significantly.” These weren’t just a bunch of newbies that roll with what’s hip either. Most (85%) had 7 or more years of experience while having used this model for fewer than 2 years.

“Flipped learning”—reversing the traditional “lecture in class, go home and do your homework” model for a “watch the lecture at home and come in prepared for some in-depth collaboration and authentic learning” arrangement—may very well be the latest trend, but all signs point to a staying power that says everyone who tries it is flipping for it. Kari M. Arfstrom, executive director of the Flipped Learning Network, recently wrote, “Most educators are jumping in full force; 43% have posted over half of their instructional videos online, with 28% reporting more than 75% of their instruction is online” ( EdNET Insight , Market Data Retrieval, Sept. 14, 2012).

Arfstrom continued, “These innovative educators indicated a 67% increase in test scores, and they reported an 80% improvement in student attitudes.” So why wasn’t this big in, say, the 1980s? The answer to that comes in many forms, but mainly, it’s a combination of comfort with and access to today’s technology. In this Tools for Learning feature, we explore some of those technologies, tools, and platforms through a flipped learning lens.

Khan Academy. Besides strong endorse-ments from Google ($2 million), the Bill & MelindaGates Foundation (at least $1.5 million and priceless vocal support), and The O’Sullivan Foundation ($5 million), the reason for the site’s success is pretty straightforward: Students access content when and how they want it. Translation: There’s a pause button, and replaying something not quite grasped is simple. YouTube’s ubiquity provides an easy distribution channel; recent modifications have only improved the model. Now, sequenced tutorials lead students through increasing competency levels, mimick-ing video game structure to develop mastery. That’s right—students can stop and start their teacher; they’re really learning—and it works.

TED-Ed. TED’s mission of spreading great ideas is educational by nature, but move that more directly toward educators and you’ll discover the growing TED-Ed video library, where educators and animators pair up to create useful educational videos and customized lessons. Users can distribute these publicly and privately and track their impact. “Customized” means you choose which supplementary materials to keep or discard. Flipped here means teachers slingshot it out to a wider audience; it also refers to flipped teaching, where traditional homework and lecture times and places are reversed. In any case, deeper learning and teaching is the result.

YouTube EDU. As with Khan and TED-Ed, YouTube EDU is a video-based repository of instructional treasures. YouTube EDU consists of more than 700,000 videos including those from Khan Academy, Stanford, and TED-Ed. With YouTube for Teachers (tips and tricks for YouTube classroom integration) and YouTube for Schools (blocks noneducational content) comes a new playbook guide for teachers and learners to discover, create, and share educational and instructional videos. From short lessons to full courses, lectures outside of class have never been better, which raises another point about flipped learning: When world-class universities and direct sources of practical knowledge provide the lecture, students are getting the very best possible lectures available in any given subject area through a bit of simple search.

The Swivl. It seems like flipped learning requires a lot of video recording. That’s where this incredibly clever tool comes in. It allows teachers to easily capture lessons and share them with their students without the need for a cameraman. It’s one of those inventions that makes you wonder why no one invented it sooner. This little device follows you, the lecturer, with wireless audio and works with any iOS device. You really need to see videos of it in action to fully grasp it, and when you do, you’ll be soldflipping. and other products from TechSmith are set to explode as flipped learning spreads. TechSmith provides screen capture and recording software for individual and professional use. From taking screen captures to screen recording and managing content, teachers can use it to create great content and easily share it over Facebook, on Twitter, or on blogs. All these products with cool-sounding names (Snagit, Camtasia Studio, Camtasia Relay, Morae, Jing, Screencast, and Coach’s Eye) have one thing in common: They increase engagement. Whether it’s grabbing images, recording content straight off a computer screen, or creating dynamic presentations and screen casts, this company is in an interesting niche and will only help you in your pursuit of flipping your classroom.

The Flipped Coach. You might not think of gym as a flipped learning sort of class, but coach Jason Hahnstadt couldn’t have taken better advantage of the flipped learning model in his PE videos. In eSchoolNews , Jason writes all about it, with plenty of links to show you how he does it. Follow him on Twitter @flippedcoach or check out his website at

Google+ Hangouts. According to Jane Hart, a social learning and collaboration advisor and founder of the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies, this newcomer to her list of Top 100 Tools for Learning 2012 continues to climb the charts, as Google Hangouts proves especially popular for hosting video events. Check out her full list at for all kinds of great teaching and learning tools.

VoiceThread. This web-based digital storytelling application allows users to share stories through audio, images, or video. It’s a media aggregator in that it allows teachers and learners to easily post voice annotation to all sorts of things including documents, slide presentations, videos, or photo albums. Adding voice comments is accomplished through microphone, webcam, keyboard, or even phone. It’s very easy to use, and for “auditory” learners, it’s beyond excellent—it’s music (well, it could be if you sing) to the ears.

There are literally hundreds of tools for flipping a classroom out there. Our list is by no means exhaustive. We simply hope it has whetted your appetite for a great new model and inspires you to give it a try. On a final note, if you’ve done a bit of flipped teaching already or if you are bold and try some of our suggestions, do this quick survey on flipped classrooms from ClassroomWindow, at Flipped classrooms provide for deeper teaching and deeper learning, and at the same time, no teacher needs to feel alone in this age of networked technologies.

Contact Victor at

Jumping Off

According to Kari M. Arfstrom, executive director of the Flipped Learning Network, when teachers decide to implement flipped learning into their classrooms for the long term, or even for a unit, chances are that they’ve already got what it takes. “Thanks to the past decade of technology purchasing programs, classrooms likely have the necessary equipment. Teachers just need to get out the laptop, unbox the flip cam, use the editing software they prefer, and post the video … and off they go!”


Flipped Benefits

Flipped classrooms aren’t just a passing fad. Here’s a short checklist with a few reasons why they’re here to stay:

All set up: Students get most of their information before class.

No more yawns: “Boring lecture” times are reduced to nearly nothing.

At your own pace: No spacing out. Lectures watched at home can be paused and replayed as soon as a student becomes lost. Usually, it’s an unfamiliar term that derails the learner, and a good dictionary or help from a parent can clear things up.

Authentic learning: Class time becomes more meaningful; teachers can really get into higher-level questions and activities instead of droning on about the basics.

Active learning: More experiments, more time to explore the content, and more interaction time with other students surrounding the subject matter furthers deeper learning.

Practice makes perfect: With a solid background from at-home lectures, students can practice skills in class with expert guidance from teachers and peers.

Transformative: This isn’t just integrating new technologies, it’s shifting a paradigm to take advantage of them.


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