Wednesday, April 27, 2011

10 Tools to Help you Flip Your Classroom

Two years ago I "flipped" my high school Anatomy & Physiology class. Read my previous post for the full story. I  learned by trial and error. I have also found some very helpful resources that I would like to share with you.

1. Camtasia Studio: The leading screen casting software title on the market. Easily zoom, pan, and create call-outs on your screen captures. Accepts multiple audio and video tracks. Retails for $299, educators pricing is $179. See what Camtasia can do by viewing one of my screencasts.

2. Snagit: from the makers of Camtasia (TechSmith), this screen capture tool allows you to quickly capture a still image of all or part of your screen. Also includes a light-weight editor which allows you to annotate your captures. I use snagit to grab images of my screen which I then insert into my presentations. Snagit retails for $49.95, $37.05 for educators.

3. Google Docs: You will be creating lots of presentations and handouts in your flipped classroom. Google Docs lets you do the common word-processing tasks. The benefit of using Google Docs is that your files live in the cloud and are updated in real-time. Presentations can be embedded directly into a blog or wiki page. Any change that you make will automagically be changed for anyone who has access to the file, not matter where it is on the web. Here is a sample presentation that I created using Google Docs Presentation.

4. Wikispaces: After creating your recorded lectures and hand-outs, you will want somewhere to post them sot that your students can access them. Wikispaces is a easy to use wiki interface that allows you to create a website on which you can post videos, handouts, links, and files. Furthermore, your can you the integrated discussion feature to facilitate threaded discussions with your students. Here is the wiki site that I setup for my Anatomy & Physiology class.

The commercial version of wikispaces includes advertising. You can upgrade to a private-label wiki ($50-1,000/year depending on the option you choose), or sign up for the free education label wiki, a great deal!

5. Twitter: The internet has enabled like-minded people, scattered across the globe, quick and easy access to each other. There is a Twitter discussion going in on just about any topic you can imagine, including reverse instruction! If you are not currently using Twitter, I would recommend this overview post. If you are a Twitter user, make sure that you follow the hashtag  #flipclass. I have also assembled a list of educators on Twitter who are classroom flippers. Follow them here.

6. The Flipped Class Network: created by the fathers of flip, Jon Bergman and Aaron Sams, the Flipped Class Network is a social community for teachers interested in and currently using the flipped classroom model. This is the place to go for discussion, support, and ideas related to this instructional method.

7. Jing: the cousin of Camtasia Studio (see #1 above), Jing is a light-weight screencasting tool. Download and install Jing on your PC or Mac and then easily record the activity on your screen using video or still-photos. Jing is free as long as your videos are 5 minutes long or less and you are posting them to Jing pro ($14.95/year) is an affordable way to record and share professional looking screencasts.

Jing is not as full-featured as Camtasia or Snagit. It does include some simple annotating tools, but does not include the advanced features of Camtasia such as the zoom and pan.

8. YouTube: This might be obvious, but one of the best places to upload and share your recorded lectures is YouTube. Extremely reliable, universally visited, and easy to use, not posting your videos to YouTube would be a mistake. Consider grouping videos on a topic into a playlist that students can watch in sequence. You can also add videos created by others to your playlist, enriching your video library with minimal effort.

Here are some videos that I created for my biology courses featuring lab demonstrations and instructions. I created a special YouTube account just for these videos. This keeps my personal account account separate from my school account.

9. Blogs to Follow: The flipped classroom community continues to grow. I have assembled a list of bloggers who regularly post about the flipped classroom. You can add these blogs to your RSS reader by clicking here.   I will continue to add to this bundle as I come across more noteworthy blogs. If you have a recommendation, please leave a comment with the address to the blog.

10. iTunes: this mega-podcasting platform is a worthwhile location to post your audio and video lectures. Doing so requires a little bit of time, know-how, and perseverance. Unlike YouTube, Apple does not host user content. You must either purchase web space (something that isn't terribly expensive) or use a free media hosting service such as PodOmatic. Check out this post by Tony Vincent for instructions on getting your podcast listed on iTunes.

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