Video and “The Inverted Classroom”

The use of video and interactivity holds lots of promise for education transformation. This is quite evident by now. In this update I will present a particularly powerful and transformative use of video in education.

Research shows a direct correlation between interactivity in class and student achievement in learning higher order skills. In fact, a study by the Metiri Group that was commissioned by Cisco summarized the research findings in an eye-opening chart (see the chart below). The chart showed the impact of multimodal learning in comparison to traditional uni-modal learning and reported the results separately for Basic Skills and Higher Order Skills, and by the inclusion or absence of interactivity.

What that report finds is that when it comes to Higher Order Skills, “When the average student is engaged in higher-order thinking using multimedia in interactive situations, on average, their percentage ranking on higher-order or transfer skills increases by 32 percentile points over what that student would have accomplished with traditional learning.”

But, how do you add interactivity to class, especially if the curriculum design does not specifically cater for it? How do you dedicate more time to discussion and workshop activities without rushing through the material?

The “inverted classroom” offers just the solution for this. In the year 2000, Maureen Lange, Glenn Platt and Michael Treglia presented a paper to the Journal of Economic Education where they made the case for, and coined the phrase “inverted classroom”. Their definition was quite simple: “Inverting the classroom means that events that have traditionally taken place inside the classroom now take place outside the classroom and vice versa”. In a nutshell, rather than using class time for a predominantly one-way delivery of a lecture (from teacher to student), why don’t students come prepared to class (having read the material beforehand) and then dedicate class time to interactive discussion, debating, and workshop activities?

Many times this is easier said that done. Having students prepare ahead of time is usually a challenge, especially when the topic is not in their area of strength. Furthermore, a good lecture that is well prepared and delivered by a good teacher will be far more effective than reading 30 or 40 pages.

This is where the use of video provides the “secret sauce” that pulls all this together. By recording a video of the lecture and making the lecture available on the school’s (or college’s) video portal or video blog, students can watch the lecture ahead of time. Just like sitting for a lecture in class, except they can do it from the comfort of their homes, or the library or a café.

Recording the video can be done quite easily using a variety of video-based lecture-capture solutions. In fact, some modern lecture-capture solutions will also allow the teacher to load a set of slides the transition of which is synchronized with the lecture. Others will allow the recording of all that is displayed on a smart-board (including presentation material, videos played, teacher markings, …). And some also allow the students to post questions in-line within the video so that the teacher (and other students) will see the question or comment in the context of the exact point in the lecture that the student wishes to ask it.

Moreover, many of these solutions can be integrated with (or already include) discussion forums and interactive social media type applications. This adds another dimension to the interactive discussion in the sense that on-line discussion can precede, and continue after, class time. Just because the class period is over, does not mean that the discussion should stop!

Since now students can easily come to class prepared by having watched the lecture on-line, class time can be devoted to discussion, debate, and other interesting activities. Classes will be a lot more interesting and student achievement will improve.

This holds lots of promise for teaching a variety of subjects from Literature, to Social Studies, to Business and Economics, to Experimental Sciences.

Such an approach carries several additional benefits as well: By having the lecture available on-line, students can always watch it again by way of reviewing or preparing for exams. Parents can also watch the lectures in order to brush up on subjects so that they can help their kids study. Parents can also watch lectures of “sensitive subjects” (such as sex education for kids), familiarize themselves with what’s being taught and reinforce or supplement the material as needed in the home.

Video and the “Inverted Classroom” – a truly transformative approach.

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2 Responses to Video and “The Inverted Classroom”

  1. anwerkotob says:

    Today in the 2011 Cisco Virtual Forum for Education Leaders Salman Khan of the Khan Academy described how the Inverted Classroom has been used in teaching mathematics (though he did not specifically use the term “Inverted Classroom”).

    Students were asked to watch videos of the math class as homework (many of the videos are available on the Khan Academy’s web site: Class time was used to solve problems! How much interesting and useful is class now! Solving problems individually, in teams, with the teacher, …

    Moreover, in the Q&A session following the Primary/Secondary Schools Breakout session, Jeff Billings of the Paradise Valley Unified School District echoed the same concept: “Flip homework, use technology to deliver the lecture at home and use class time for project work”

  2. Pingback: momeNTUm » Video and “The Inverted Classroom”

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