Today’s guest post was published on Getting Smart.
By Erin Palmer
The flipped classroom uses technology to allow students more time to apply knowledge and teachers more time for hands-on education. It’s a continually changing strategy that evolves with technology.
Innovative educators are usually on the lookout for the latest technology breakthroughs that will help them better organize and conduct flipped classrooms.
The following tools are listed from most basic to most sophisticated and can be used alone or in tandem to make flipped classrooms more engaging.
Google Docs have many advantages over traditional word processing programs, including real-time automatic updates visible to all users, a feature that enables robust discussion and sharing. Google Docs can be embedded into almost any online learning platform, and the program’s growing popularity in higher education and the workplace makes it a must-learn for students of all ages.
Ideal for first-time flippers, YouTube offers a user-friendly, universally understood platform for taped lectures and other educational videos. Teachers can structure coursework according to topic and create student “playlists” while enjoying basic video editing features, such as captioning, sound-tracking and trimming/stabilizing. YouTube.com/schools offers an ad-free format for uploaded educational videos, while YouTube itself remains the premier site for sourcing and sharing new material.
Teachem is a timely and valuable resource ideal for teachers interested in a more structured flipped classroom but unwilling to commit to paid or complex programming. A limited-option learning management system (LMS), Teachem helps educators build classes around YouTube videos. Teachers can create their own videos or source from YouTube itself; flashcards and time-stamped “smartnotes” complement video learning. Teachem is gradually adding new features and functionalities, including an enrollment dashboard, extended link-sharing and a centralized teacher-specific (rather than course-specific) structure.
A social media site open to first-time and experienced flippers, the Flipped Learning Network contains resources for all kinds of flipped classrooms while facilitating discussion, collective problem-solving and peer networking. As with other social networking sites, users create distinct pages and have the option to join a variety of groups organized around subject matter, physical location, level of experience and teacher resource (i.e., Camtasia, Edmodo), among others. The site originates with Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, authors of the seminal Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day. Other means of networking, such as the Twitter feed #flipclass and Bergmann’s solo blog (The Flipped Class Blog) are also available.
Perhaps the most popular screencasting technology available, Camtasia Studio is now in its eighth incarnation and has remained up-to-date with educational trends. Teachers can source new and existing screen-captures, PowerPoint presentations, webcam videos and even video games to create coursework that features multi-track timelines, music, animation and a variety of other visual effects. Proprietary SmartFocus predictive technology focuses visual presentations according to cursor positioning; user-controlled editing options are also available. Quiz-creation and sharing across mobile and tablet devices are included in Camtasia Studio, as is a recently rebuilt, high-quality screen-recorder. TechSmith, Camtasia Studio’s parent company, offers educators a 40% discount.
Beyond enabling activities fundamental to the flipped classroom, such as video lectures and e-readings, these comprehensive online learning platforms offer educator networks and resources, discussion and collaboration features, and grading and assessment options. Advantages unique to each include Edmodo’s design, which is similar enough to Facebook’s that students can easily master the former’s basic functionalities, and Schoology’s proprietary content-creation and curriculum-management resources. Schoology also offers quantitative assessment and analytics that translate hard data into quality instruction, feedback and remediation strategies.
With the plethora of tools available to enrich flipped classrooms, educators of all disciplines and philosophies should be able to find the right fit. Whether it’s the foundational Google Docs or the sophisticated and broad-reaching Schoology, any tool’s most important feature is the instructor’s enthusiasm for its application.