Tips for Flipping the Classroom and Effective Videos

What is Flipping the Classroom?

Flipping the classroom is an evidence-based teaching technique that usually involves moving some lectures online to free up time during class for more active learning strategies like peer instruction or collaborative learning.

A more official definition comes from the Flipped Learning Network:

Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter.

See this short video for a quick explanation of how and why flipping the classroom works:

Why Flip Your Classroom?

Some potential reasons:

  • Efficiency, saving time, covering more content
    • Instead of repeating the same lecture over and over, record it and have students watch it online
  • More careful, precise, or in-depth lectures
    • Students can pause, re-watch lectures, you can go more in-depth
    • Knowledgeable students can skip ahead if need be
  • Sharing your knowledge with others
    • Sharing your lecture videos on Youtube, for example
  • Free up time during class for active learning
    • Replace lecture time with group problem solving, individual activities, etc.
  • Be there to support students when they need you the most
    • When students may struggle the most and when they may learn the most is perhaps when they are working on their homework and preparing for exams.  Traditionally, they do those alone.  In a flipped class, they can do those during class while you are there to help and guide them, thus helping them improve their achievement and success in your course.

Research on Flipping the Classroom

  • Reviews, meta-analyses
    • What does the research say about flipped learning – by Robert Talbert, author of Flipped Learning: A Guide for Higher Education Faculty
      • “The vast majority of the papers reviewed show either higher scores than students in traditional settings, or else the differences are not statistically significant.”
      • “One of the most consistent results in flipped learning research is that it is strongly correlated with improved class meeting attendance.”
      • ” Students tend to show higher satisfaction with flipped learning than with traditional methods…But — and here’s the big caveat — these benefits only tend to sink in over time.”
    • “Students in flipped courses exhibited gains in critical thinking, with the largest objective gains in intermediate and upper-level courses” (ref)
    • A negative result of flipping: “possibly because of poor video usage by the hybrid-flipped learners.” (ref)
    • “Meta-analysis shows a small effect of flipped classrooms on learning outcomes” and “Flipped classrooms achieved higher learning outcomes when quizzes were added in their design.” (ref)
    • “embedding self-regulated learning (SRL) prompts in a video…enhanced instructional efficiency, as evidenced by the significant difference in learning outcomes. (ref)
  • Student satisfaction
    • Instructor-made videos: “Student perceptions of this instructional strategy were overwhelmingly positive.” (ref)
    • ” Student evaluations of teaching showed that students rated the instructor significantly higher in a flipped classroom setting.” (ref)
  • Discipline-specific examples:
    • Computer science example: “Watching course content earlier has a significant correlation to course performance” (ref)
    • Biology example: “Students in the flipped sections had significantly higher quiz scores” (ref)
    • Upper-level engineering: “inverted classroom allowed the instructor to cover more material” (ref)
    • Chemistry: “students enrolled in the flipped course reported attending class more often than students in the non-flipped course” and ” students enrolled in the flipped chemistry course experienced, on average, a statistically significant increase of half a standard deviation in their grade in the subsequent chemistry course.” (ref)
    • Math – flipping without video example: “students were required to respond to a reading before class and take a quiz after class. During the active learning class, students worked together in groups on problems instead of listening to a lecture.” (ref)


Tips for Success, Things to Avoid When Flipping the Classroom


Pedagogical Uses for Videos

Via Tony Bates, Teaching in a Digital Age:

  • Demonstrate experiments or phenomena
  • Illustrate principles involving dynamic change or movement
  • Illustrate principles involving 3D space
  • Illustrate abstract principles with physical models
  • Substitute for a field visit
  • Bring students primary resource or case study material
  • Demonstrate how abstract principles or concepts apply to real-world problems
  • Demonstrate decision-making processes
  • Demonstrate correct procedures for using tools or equipment
  • Demonstrate methods or techniques of performance
  • Record and archive events important to topics in a course


General Resources on Creating Educational Videos


Sample Lecture Videos

Via Constantine Stefanakos.  See the CGM Lab Youtube Channel for more examples.


Recording Your Own Screencast Videos

These record what you do on the computer screen as well as your microphone, sort of like Khan Academy videos.

  • Screencastify – works in Chrome browser with Google
  • Screencast-o-Matic – my favorite tool, partly because I’ve been using it over a decade
  • OBS – Open Broadcast Software – free and open source – available in the Software Center
  • Camtasia($) – commercial option that includes extra features like video editing
  • Panopto / Kaltura – you can record your computer screen with the Panopto software or Kaltura if you school has one of those.

There are also apps for iPhone/iPad and Android for recording lessons:


Options for Sharing Your Videos

  • Youtube – share your videos publicly or keep them unlisted.  You can create a separate playlist or Youtube channel to organize all your course videos.  Be sure to edit the captions for accessibility.
  • Panopto and Microsoft Stream – for videos you want to restrict so that only people at your school can see.
  • Vimeo – for videos you want to share publicly but they are too long for Youtube


Interactive Video: Embed Questions In or After Your Videos

These tools let you embed questions in your video to add some interactivity and help ensure students are actually watching them:

  • H5P – free and open source collection of dozens of tools for adding interactivity to your course, including one for interactive videos linked here
  • PlayPosit
  • Edpuzzle
  • Panopto Quizzes

You can also add questions without using these tools.  You might embed your video at the top of a Canvas quiz, for example, and ask them to answer questions after watching the video.


Technological Tips

  • Keep your videos short 
  • Good audio is key
    • It is much harder to pay attention to and understand a video when the audio is not clear or is muffled or there is background noise.
    • Find a nice quiet place to record your screencasts.
    • You can get a USB headset, for example, or a Blue microphone for even better quality.
  • Don’t worry about making your videos “perfect”
    • Your videos may not have the polish and editing that professionally-made videos have, but they can still be effective for learning. Even editing your own videos is often unnecessary if you plan appropriately.
    • Plan ahead – create a bulleted list of items you want to cover (or even a script or storyboard if you so desire) so that you do not miss something important, and so that you can pace yourself. Prepare the items you want to show in advance so students don’t have to wait while your software program launches or while you search for some file or resource.
    • Start the video on your opening slide or some resource that signifies the topic of the video. If using a whiteboard or drawing software, draw the “title” of the topic at the beginning (or before the video starts). This is so that you don’t have to edit the video later to insert a title sequence.
    • If you find yourself losing track of your place or you have to cough or something like that, just pause the recording, and then unpause again when you are ready. That way you don’t have to start all over. If you make a mistake that is not too major, just explain it and fix it while still recording. If you made a mistake, most likely some of your students will, too, and it helps pedagogically to discuss common mistakes.
    • Your first video or two, however, may take two or more takes. It takes practice to become comfortable speaking in a timed video. Go back and listen to your videos – are you speaking too fast? Is the audio loud enough? You might record a very short practice video first just to make sure everything is coming out okay.
  • Use HD Quality
    • In order to see the text or other small details in a screencast, you should record to HD quality video, and also during the video you might recommend to students that they press the full-screen button (on the bottom right of the video player if using Youtube) and/or switch to the HD quality version of the video (if it is on Youtube – see the gear icon for changing video quality).
    • I usually size the Screencast-o-Matic box to “Medium HD” for my screencasts.
  • Zoom in, select, or annotate to focus the viewer’s attention
    • Even with HD quality videos, you can better help focus viewers’ attention by selecting, highlighting, marking, or even zooming into a particular aspect of the screen. Use your mouse as your pointer or as a way to provide gestures to focus attention. Many screencast tools will add a halo or circle around where the mouse is.


Pedagogical Tips

See also the article: Developing a Framework for Creating Effective Instructional Video Podcasts.

  • Don’t Just Make a Video
    • Recording lessons is only the first step. The next step is replacing class time with more interactive activities. If one only records lectures and does nothing else, the pedagogical benefits will likely not be that significant.
  • Sequencing – Should students watch video lectures before or after active learning experiences?
    • Counter-intuitively, several research studies show that lectures are more effective after students have done some exploratory learning activity (like a lab, simulation, game, data analysis, etc.). When lecturing on the topic before students have had a chance to explore it or try it for themselves, students are more likely to tune out of the lecture and not retain much, because they do not see the need for learning it, or why the concepts are important, and what problems they solve. After students have had a chance to explore (and maybe fail) at something, they have more of a need to know. They have developed questions in their mind, they have run into problems that they couldn’t solve. A lecture at that point helps them see the concepts and links between their experiences, and one can also connect the concepts covered in a lecture to the previous experiences the students have had.
    • See research on productive failure and a “time for telling.”
    • You can make videos that are open-ended instead of just explanatory lectures that give students the “answers.” You can ask students to watch a video that asks some open-ended inquiries and have students think or work on them before and during class.
  • Target misconceptions rather than only showing the “correct” answers
  • Dialogue better than monologue
    • Like in the above video, there is a lot of research (e.g., 1, 2) showing students learning more by watching a dialogue between multiple people from different perspectives rather than just a single person monologue.
  • Embed questions in or around your videos
    • As mentioned in the previous section, one suggestion is to not show the “answer” in a video, but ask open-ended questions of the students, and have students do the work and the learning.
    • And as mentioned in the above Interactive Video section, you might consider embedding questions in or around your videos.  This can have the dual effect of spurring your students to think more deeply about the concepts in the video and holding them accountable for watching the videos with something like a quiz.
    • See also From Passive Viewing to Active Learning: Simple Techniques for Applying Active Learning Strategies to Online Course Videos.
  • Let students create the videos
    • Students enjoy making screencasts and teaching each other (and the world) topics they have learned.
    • They could either use their phones and the Youtube app to record and share videos, or you might use a video discussion board like FlipGrid, which integrates with Canvas.
    • Here’s just one study showing the benefits of student-generated videos: Video Made the Calculus Star


Issues and Concerns about Recording Lectures and Flipping the Classroom

  • Intellectual Property
    • If I record my lectures, will the university own that content and potentially replace me?  I’d recommend recording your own videos and uploading them to Youtube, so that not only do you keep control over the videos (and you can take them down when you want), but also so that people outside the university can also benefit and learn from your videos.
    • If you work with the university to create videos, discuss any issues or concerns you have with your supervisor.
  • Copyright
    • An exception to the above suggestion of using Youtube is if you video uses copyrighted materials from someone else, such as a publisher.  While you have fair use to use copyrighted materials for teaching purposes with your own students, you can’t really share those materials outside the scope of your teaching.  So for example if you are recording a screencast using a PowerPoint from your textbook publisher’s site, for example, I would put share it on Panopto or Microsoft Stream (and not Youtube), so that only students here can view it.
  • Class Attendance
    • If you record your lectures, will students skip class?  There is some research that your class attendance might dip very slightly if you record your lectures.  But you can counteract this by increasing accountability and interactivity in your classes.  Start your class off with a question that students might answer related to the video, for example, or have an attendance policy, or add some required group activities to your class sessions.
  • Student Resistance
    • If you flip your classroom, try peer instruction, or try anything new or different or out of the norm of traditional teaching approaches, yes, you might expect a small amount of resistance, although the research shows that actually students show greater satisfaction in classes that use these kinds of techniques.  Still, I would recommend framing what you are doing with students: explain to them why you are doing this, why it will benefit them (perhaps share research), and basically sell them on your teaching strategy.  You may have to periodically remind your students of why you are doing this, instead of only explaining it to them at the beginning of the semester.
    • Here are some resources on reducing student resistance when you try something new in your courses.
  • Other Concerns




Faculty developer. Interests: developing educational technology; faculty & student development; learning sciences & psychology.

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Posted in Educational Technology, Evidence-Based Pedagogy, Online Teaching & Learning
Doug Holton

Doug Holton

Faculty developer. Interests: developing educational technology; faculty & student development; learning sciences & psychology.

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