As video lecture sites such as Khan Academy grow in popularity, more teachers are hopping on the “flipped classroom” bandwagon.
“Flipping” the classroom means using Web-enabled instructional strategies that allow educators to spend class time interacting with students rather than lecturing. Most often, this involves assigning students an instructional video (vodcast) to watch online as homework, while problem-solving or other hands-on work occurs class time.
The motivation behind flipping is that students can receive more one-on-one attention from the classroom teacher if they are actively working on an assignment in class. Proponents claim this leads to better understanding of a given lesson.
In addition, video instruction allows teachers to implement demonstrations that would be hard to do live in every class (e.g., animation, experiments or visualization techniques). An added bonus is that kids can learn at their own pace, replaying the video if necessary.
The flipped classroom theory gets a boost with the emergence of free lecture sites such as Khan Academy. Khan offers a library of over 3,000 videos that cover K-12 math; science topics such as biology,chemistry and physics; and even the humanities—with playlists on finance and history. Each video is a digestible chunk, 10 minutes long on average and specifically designed for consumption via computer. For example, check out this two-and-a-half minute video on Converting Fahrenheit to Celsius.
In addition to watching videos, students can do practice exercises and complete assessments from any computer with Web access. Educators can view each student’s progress in detail, so that they are prepared to deliver individualized interventions once kids return to class.
Another free video-instruction site, TED offers a wealth of information and recently launched a TED-Ed section just for educators, which it hopes to grow to a bank of several hundred videos in the next year.
TED’s goal, unlike Khan Academy’s, is not to build entire curricula. Rather, the site seeks video content that sparks “curiosity, wonder and mind-shifting insight.” Looking for an “a-ha moment” rather than a standards-based lesson? Check out cockroach beatbox, an icky (and utterly fascinating) six-minute science demonstration.