Flipping out

Online learning

Moving classes online will require some changes in the way you do things, says George Hess. You can’t just post materials and expect students to view them. And you also can’t just turn on a webcam and hope students will watch you lecture for an hour. In a class, you know when they are sleeping, but online, not so much. 


When doing direct instruction online, the best method to use is the flipped learning model.

Most of you have probably heard of it. At its most basic level, you provide students with materials that substitute for your lecture to view at home and then do activities based on that material in the classroom where you are available to help.

The premise is that students don’t need help during the lecture, but are more likely to need it when doing homework. Flipped learning allows you to provide feedback and help students improve their work BEFORE it’s graded.

With a flipped online lesson, you’ll provide resources for your students and then conduct real-time online lessons using video conferencing or even text chat. By making the live sessions interactive, you won’t have to worry about whether students are watching or not. If at all possible, divide the class up into smaller groups for the live sessions.

The materials you provide don’t need to be original videos. To get started, feel free to use videos that are on YouTube, Vimeo, or sites like Khan Academy. In fact, your materials don’t need to be videos at all. You can use articles and essay, or have students work on interactive websites like Ricci Adams’ Musictheory.net.

If you do choose to make your own videos, don’t be too critical of yourself. You don’t have to become Steven Spielberg overnight. Most of us who have been flipping classes for a while, cringe at the primitive videos we made when we first started. We’ll talk more about creating compelling videos in a future post. You can also check out the resources at the Flipped Learning Global Initiative for more tips.

Once you post your materials, you’ll want to know whether your students are using them. You could find out through questions in the live session, but there are better ways. Instead, use formative assessment. Online programs like EdPuzzle and PlayPosit let you embed questions in videos, so you’ll know whether students have watched the video, as well as whether they understood them.

Presenting new materials asynchronously while using live video conferencing for discussion, feedback, and Q&A will eliminate a lot of the headaches and frustrations involved in transitioning to online learning.

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