“I don’t want my videos to be videos; I want them to be lessons”
In part one of my FlipConAus Review, I began exploring the learning from the FlipConAus Pre-Conference workshop I attended, which was led by Joel Speranza (@JoelBSperanza). This article will finish that,and set the stage for Day Two of FlipConAus. I closed out Part One with Joel’s video cheat sheet and a brief look at some video analytics. After Joel finished talking to us about tips for video creation, we moved on to a general discussion around the various tools that can be utilised for the purpose of flipping a classroom.
Joel posits that there are five categories of tools critical for flipped learning:
Joel indicated that having a formative diagnostic and feedback system within the flipped system (differentiated from your normal processes) and / or subject specific websites and programs are optional, but will enhance your flipping. Joel also indicated that if you want to compare tools in a particular category against others in the same category, then Googling X vs (where X represents the name of one of the tool options you want to compare) will bring up a comparison of that tool with its direct competitors.
This can be anything from your current tools including whiteboard/blackboard, butcher’s paper, workbooks etc, as long as you can capture what is being done in some way.
Capture device / software
There is such a huge range of options here, from a webcam, your smart phone or tablet, a DSLR camera, camcorder etc in regards to the device, and software also sees a plethora of options from my personal tool of choice (Camtasia), to screen-cast-o-matic and a number of others. Guido Gautsch (@gheedough) has put together a useful article that covers some of the various options (both hardware and software) in more depth than I can include here.
This, typically, is either YouTube, TeacherTube or Vimeo. Unfortunately, those three sites are all blocked for State schools in NSW and in many other regions both domestically and internationally, making video hosting and then access problematic. Some options to get around the blocks include MyEdApp with their proxy; iTunesU, where you can upload the video file directly into the course for students to download onto their device (which has other inherent issues), and the trusty USB or DVD. Some schools utilise the internal server for hosting which is fine for accessing at school, but problematic for access otherwise. If you have come across another video hosting option, particularly one that bypasses general blocks, please let me know in the comments section.
Interactive Video Tools
Again, this is an area that has a vast array of options, and I would encourage you to explore them for yourself and determine which ones you like. Some of the tools that we discussed included EduCannon, Zaption* and EdPuzzle.
Another area with an array of options, including super low-tech (using a workbook) to high tech using tools such as GClass, Edmodo, MyEdApp, or Moodle. This is another area in which you will need to do some exploration and testing to decide what your preference is.
This discussion of the various tools available to use with flipping led to a discussion around workflow, or the process by which you flip a lesson and Joel showed us a rough sketch of his own workflow:
This takes each of the categories of tools, and arranges them in order of use for the workflow and is designed to help you crystallised exactly what you need to use for your specific context. He then asked us to consider this image:
Joel’s contention was that when deciding what tools you planned to use in your flipping, that you limit the number of tools that the students were expected to have the ability to use to the school standard plus two additional tools. For example, if your school is a Google Apps for Education school, then your students would already have the expertise to utilise those apps, and you only be adding, at most, two further websites requiring expertise. Joel’s theory here is that by keeping the technical skills needed to manageable limits that we increase the ability of our students to master using the tools that we require them to use, resulting in a higher probability of engagement with the tools and the learning. You will notice in Joel’s image that the list of tools requiring teacher expertise is substantial relative to the other two columns. This is deliberate, and reflective of the processes involved in presenting, recording, hosting and delivering the flipped learning lesson.
Joel also indicated that he has on occasion allowed students to demonstrate their learning using the tools in the workflow. For example, allowing students to create a ‘bulb’ within EduCannon as the process of creating the bulb requires students to have the conceptual understanding of the topic, in order to create not only their video, but also the interactive elements, with conceptual accuracy.
We then entered a discussion around Flipped Learning experts. Joel reminded us of the research popularised by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers indicating that it takes around ten thousand hours of focused practice to master something indicating that there has not been enough time for anyone to be considered an expert flipper. The point here is to remind us that flipping a new craft, and thus has only limited research behind us, and that as the leaders in flipping, in time as there is a greater weight of research and pedagogical practice behind flipping, that we will be considered poor flippers. This was not meant to be discouraging, and Joel likened it to the advent of the chalkboard.
The chalkboard has been around, as a pedagogical tool for approximately two hundred years, and has a vast amount of research and pedagogical experience behind it to help us know what good use of a blackboard looks like (which I think transfers naturally to a whiteboard). Teachers in the mid-twentieth century were better teachers when it came to utilising the blackboard then the pioneers who first used it as they had the experience of their forebears to learn from, bring this famous quote to mind:
We are making the mistakes in flipping that our descendants will (hopefully) not make, as they will have learnt from our experience; we are setting the stage for them to use flipping as a pedagogical tool in better ways than we are able to currently with our dearth of experience and research to guide us. This is an important point I believe. It seems to be forgotten (or perhaps just not made explicit?) that when you are leading the way in a field, that you only have a limited amount of experience and mistakes from predecessors to guide you, and that it is in fact you who are making the mistakes for others to learn from. As early adopters of flipped learning, we will be the giants upon whose shoulders others will stand.
Joel closed with a critical discussion focused on questioning the norms around why things are done the way they are; why do we do what we do? We began by talking briefly about classroom layouts, and quickly moved on to schooling norms such as two straight lines outside the class before going in, how we move around the school etc, with some discussion around what people do differently, before moving onto the focus question for this segment, which is how do we make learning goals clear in a flipped class?Typically, in a traditional learning session, students are told up front what they will be learning and why, but doing this in a video is not necessarily a normal process yet.
Ideas discussed included having the goal appear on screen, either consistently throughout the video, or at intervals, verbalising it as you traditionally would or some combination thereof. Joel indicated that he asks his students to “write down your goal and do it” or, if not the goal, then the learning focus. This led to a discussion of how we can utilise the what does success look like? as a strong differentiation tool when flipping, and what motivates people. The final comment was that everyone learns differently. This means we need to teach differently. Flipped learning as a pedagogical practice enables us to do this.
The below video is an amusing scene from West Wing and encapsulates common feelings about change quite nicely. Joel showed us this while talking about the fear of change that some people have and the common question of “why do I need to change?”
Thank you for reading. The next article will begin looking at the conference proper, which began with a keynote address from Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams.
Since this article was originally posted, the Zaption platform closed down.
“What is the best use of your face-to-face time ?”
– Jon Bergmann
EDIT: I forgot to add in the link for Thursday’s Storify that I put together. I learnt something new about Storify last night; it will only give you the thousand most recent Tweets. Unfortunately, this means that I missed about half of Thursday as there were well over a thousand tweets during the three days.
I know that I do not normally publish over the weekend, however there is a lot to talk about from FlipConAus, and I do not want to drag it on for too long, so here we are. In March of this year I made the choice to attend a masterclass with Jon Bergmann about Flipped Learning as part of my time at the FutureSchools conference and expo. Flipped Learning was something I was only passingly familiar with at the time, but which intrigued me. Jon mentioned as part of his closing remarks that FlipCon, which had been held in the US for several years was branching out internationally, and that he and the team would be bringing FlipConAus to Australia in October. I made the decision then, full of verve, to attend. FlipConAus was held at Saint Stephen’s College, Coomera on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th October, with three optional full-day Pre-Conference workshops to select from, in addition to the Flipped Learning boot camp, all of which took place on Thursday 22nd October.
Given the distance that I was travelling, it seemed logical to me to attend as much as possible, and accordingly registered for a pre-conference workshop, Flipped Teaching: The Next Level with Joel Speranza (@JoelBSperanza), a secondary mathematics teacher. I am not sure, exactly, what I was expecting from the day. I have not been flipping my teaching due to a lack of infrastructure (hardware and wi-fi density), but I have been providing flipped professional development via this blog and YouTube to colleagues, so I feel like I am further along the flipped journey than a true novice, but not as far along as someone who has been flipping their own teaching.
Re-digesting the day while I spoke with my wife on the phone at the end of Thursday, I commented something along the lines of “I feel like I got nothing, but at the same time, a lot, out of the day.” That is not meant to be disparaging of Joel or his efforts, but indicative of my (self-conceptualised) odd position on the flipped learning pathway. Looking back at my notes, which are plentiful, I can see that I learned a great deal that day. Much of it, I feel, was reinforcing a flagging confidence in my own ability to flip.
I attempted to flip my classroom, earlier in the year, beginning with in-flipping, however, I found that it was not working, and this hurt my confidence significantly, being a new teacher and on my first block of teaching I felt, to be honest, like a complete goose. The brand new, gung-ho, more excitement and passion than common sense teacher that proceeds to fall flat on his face. Looking back, I can see where I went wrong, and it was in the planning stages. So for me, I feel like one of the biggest gains out of the workshop was revived confidence and faith in flipping; and in my ability to implement flipped learning with the right infrastructure.
The first thing that Joel did was an ice-breaker, with the usual name and location as well as what your experience with flipped learning was at that point. This was something I really appreciated, realising as we went around, that our group consisted of a broad cross-section of educators. I think I was in the running to be the youngest person there; there were educators from primary, secondary, vocational, Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Hong Kong, and a fairly even gender split. From conversations both then and throughout the day, I noticed a common theme and it caused this realisation:
I am not alone in wanting to flip and in hitting obstacles to doing so, and not being sure how to go about overcoming them.
This alone, in my eyes, made it worth attending the workshop. I often, within my school, felt like the lone nut in this now classic video:
But no longer. Or rather, I am still the lone nut, but I am not the only lone nut. I have connections now with other lone nuts and some others who are leaders and are leading a movement, and I cannot explain how much that means to me.
I had to laugh a little at Joel’s first activity though it had merit. He asked us to brainstorm, as a group, on a piece of butchers paper, all the reasons why flipping would not / does not work. We dug into the remarks heard on a regular basis. and came up with quite a number of (supposed) reason why flipped learning does not work relatively quickly; and as quickly, were able to list a range of reasons why flipped learning can and does work.
Having ‘gotten that out of our systems,’ we moved on and went through an in-flipped lesson, about folding shirts the fast way.We went through this in the way that Joel would expect his students to progress through a lesson, with the exception that we watched the video then, rather than at home. After watching the video, he had us all go outside and explained that he asks every student in his flipped classes “what are you doing today?” as they enter the room. This question prompts cognition about the student’s learning goal for the session, making it clear to the student and to Joel, what the aim is for the session. This also builds on the relationship between Joel and each student, whereby this process is now normal for them. We then proceeded to work through the lesson, with much peer-teaching and collaboration going on.
“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”
– Blaise Pascal, The Provincial Letters (Letter 16, 1657)
Joel commented that there is no right way to make a video, but, that there are some important considerations to factor in.
“On to Exhibit B, where the x-axis represents the percentage of a video viewed (think of each line as the average engagement graph for a video of that length range in Wistia, one of the bars of Exhibit A over time, with each line representing the average video for that bin, with the lengths normalized), and the y-axis represents audience engagement. In this case, you could compare the engagement graph line of your own video to the appropriate line of this graph to compare yourself to the average.
A possible takeaway from this graph would be to organize the content of your videos journalistically, placing the most important, essential information first, then following with supporting details. For longer videos, notice that the dropoff at the beginning is extremely steep; it seems that most viewers decide quickly whether or not to watch, and once that decision is made, they tend to stick around until the end of the video, when they detect that the video is wrapping up and another drop off occurs.”
Jon and Joel’s advice would appear to stack up against the analytics; shorter is better.
I will stop there for this article as it is already quite lengthy, and there is still much to explore from the day. Thank you for reading, and feel free to leave any feedback or questions in the comments section below. Part Two will appear on Wednesday afternoon and will be found on this page.