Archive | trend overview RSS feed for this section

Flipping/Blending/Disrupting the Classroom with Online Video

23 Jan Blending Education

Blending Education

With advances in video-capture technology and the introduction of more affordable mobile devices, many teachers are changing the nature of their instruction using online videos.  Some are even “flipping” the classroom, assigning lectures for homework, and reserving in-class time for what were traditionally homework assignments.

What is Flipping?

Flipping the classroom is an “‘inverted’ teaching structure in which instructional content is delivered outside class, and engagement with the content … is done in class” (Ojalvo and Doyne).

Flipping instruction is part of a larger movement to blend or disrupt the classroom, using online technologies to take learning out of brick-and-mortar buildings and into students’ everyday lives.

Flipping your classroom is so much more than providing your students with access to online video tutorials.  The concept is much more embedded in providing students differentiated experiences, extending beyond the classrooms more effectively. It allows teachers to much more easily engage their students in small group and or one on one (Meech).

The Khan Academy Model

Khan Academy WebsiteWhile Salman Khan was not the first to consider flipping the classroom, he is the most famous due to his disruptive Khan Academy website, famously championed by Bill Gates, and featured in a TED talk.

On this website, Khan has created targeted instructional videos on a variety of instructional topics. In addition to providing videos, the site also includes practice and review questions.  Teachers can create accounts to keep track of student progress on the site.

However, even the Khan Academy realizes the importance of the brick-and-mortar school in their vision for the future.  As “blended learning” becomes “the latest buzzword — that is, a blend of offline and computer-mediated/online instruction — Khan Academy is now eyeing building its own school” (Watters, 2011).

Critiques of the Khan Academy and Flipping in General

However, even proponents of flipping argue that it’s not for everyone. Critics of online learning and the Khan Academy in particular argue that the one-size-fit-all model may be inappropriate for certain facets of instruction. By focusing primarily on technology, many proponents of online instruction de-emphasize the traditional role of the teacher:

However, “teachers don’t scale,” said Khan. You can’t simply replicate teachers the way you can print textbooks, so the trick, according to Khan is to make sure those “good ones” can have their instruction broadcast as widely as possible (Watters, 2010.)

Are screen-captured lectures guilty of enforcing old pedagogies?

Also, using video to teach reinforces an old pedagogy of education that many progressive teachers believe we should move away from (Noschese). Instead of focusing on the same old drill-and-kill form of education, these teachers argue that we should be incorporating more experiences for hands-on-learning. (It should be noted that proponents of true flipping the classroom argue that by making video lectures the homework for a class, it frees up in-class time for other models of learning. (Roshan).)

Teachers who choose to create their own videos quickly learn that filming, editing and publishing lectures can be quite complicated. In addition, after creating videos to be viewed as homework, teachers still have to prepare lessons to fill all the class time now available to them. In some ways, flipping the classroom could theoretically double the teacher’s work load, and some teachers may not have enough time at their disposal.

Another important factor to consider is the digital divide. Many teachers cannot assume that computer or Internet access are available from home. In order to truly flip your class, students should ideally have consistent Internet access from home. While mobile devices are becoming cheaper, not all students have the capability to stream video easily over these devices (Nielsen).

What Teachers can do in their classroom

  • Embed or link to videos on content management systems.
  • Create an account, and assign students videos and assessments using Khan Academy.
  • Consider creating your own learning objects by creating screencast videos easily.
  • Flip your own professional development (Truss).

Tools to easily create Screencasts

These are just a few of the tools that teachers can use to create flipped lectures. Instead of developing elaborate videos using external video cameras and tripods, consider using your computer’s built-in webcam, or a screen-capturing software.

Bozeman Biology –

Screen-capture Software:

  • Screenflow $99 – This software, the favorite of many bloggers and podcasters, allows you to “record the contents of your entire monitor while also capturing your video camera, microphone and your computer audio.”
  • Jing free (limited)/$14.95 per year – TechSmith, the makers of Camtasia, created this lightweight, easy-to-use screen capture software with both free and paid accounts.
  • Screenr free (limited)/variety of paid options- This web-based video recording system allows you to make webcasts without downloading any software.
  • iShowU $29.95 – This Mac-only screen-casting allows you to easily record your screen, as well as your video camera and microphone.
  • Camtasia $99 – One of the first screen-capturing tools, TechSmith’s Camtasia offers versions for both Mac and PC and is ideally suited for your screen-capturing and editing needs.
  • ScreenChomp (for iPads) – This app by TechSmith allows you to turn your iPad into a screen-capturing tool.

Other Editing Software:

Many of the screen-capturing softwares listed above also include editing features. These resources allow you additional editing tools
  • Skitch – This Mac and Android app allows you to easily annotate images and other still-pictures for learning.
  • WeVideo – This cloud-based video editor allows you to collaboratively edit videos online.

Host your Resources Online:

Share your screencasts and other learning resources with your students using these tools

  • Present.Me free(limited) / various paid accounts (for PowerPoints and Video) – If you don’t want to deal with screen-capturing software, consider uploading a PowerPoint to Present.Me, and then film yourself going through the presentation. Present.Me displays your video next to your PowerPoint so students can follow along.
  • Slideshare (for PowerPoints) – Don’t have time for videos? Share your lessons as PowerPoints using this resource. Consider using Slideshare’s Zipcast feature to schedule an online meeting.
  • Vimeo (for Video) – Create a Vimeo account to house your screenshots. With Vimeo you can privatize videos so that they can only be accessed with a password.

Best Practices: Resources for Flipping the Classroom:

Related Trends:

Bring your Own Tech, Mobile Devices, 1-to-1

Sources Cited:

Other Articles For Further Research:

For more resources on Flipping the Classroom, check out my Diigo account:

Bring Your Own Technology – Learning With Personal Devices

14 Nov

Across the country, students are walking into classrooms with personal computers in their pockets.  These devices have more computing power than NASA when the first astronauts walked on the moon, but instead of allowing students reach for the stars, many school policies demand that the devices remain turned off, out of sight in backpacks or lockers.

A growing number of educational technology specialists are advocating that students should make use of these high tech machines. They argue that schools should implement “Bring Your Own Technology” or “Device” initiatives (referred to with the acronym BYOT, or BYOD.) A BYOT program encourages students to bring their own mobile devices, tablets, and laptops to use in the classroom.

About BYOT

Like most technology initiatives, there are many ways to design a BYOT program.  Some educators focus on “devices,” particularly mobile smartphones. Others focus on more robust “technology,” including tablets and laptops.  Both focuses emphasize slightly different skills, and may require an enhanced infrastructure.

Source for Tablet group photo: Flickenger, Brad. “Student iPad 014.” Flickr.


Many educators believe that student-owned mobile devices lead to better understanding of 21st Century learning skills.  They argue that personal ownership of technology devices will foster a greater engagement with learning (Roscoria). Others look to BYOT as an ideal budgetary solution. Instead of building the cost for a 1-to-1 program into the operating budget, the cost must be carried by students and their parents (O’Hagan).

Some wonder if BYOT is not a solution, bur rather  another piece to the edtech puzzle. In our information-saturated culture, forcing students to choose one device is limiting in its own way. In order to successfully manage information, students need to be familiar accessing information from multiple devices and contexts (Blake-Plock).

Why Not?

Even proponents of BYOT agree that there are strong arguments against the use of personal technology in schools.

Proper Use of Mobile Devices

There is a reason that mobile devices are banned in many schools; they have the potential to exacerbate behavioral issues. In order to effectively introduce mobiles into the classroom, teachers must design lessons to teach proper use. Students must learn to view cell phones as professional tools, and not just sources for social entertainment (Robinson, Keenan).

Security & Infrastructure Concerns

If the BYOT vision includes allowing students to access the school’s wireless network, that network must be prepared to handle the additional cell phones or laptops. If the school’s network is unprepared to handle these devices, it may cause access problems for the rest of the school. The cost of upgrading a wireless infrastructure may negate the cost-saving benefits of having a BYOT program (Roscoria).

Also, the security issues of managing personal devices are an issue.  How can schools meet CIPA requirements when students are accessing the Internet through personal mobile devices, bypassing the school’s security controls? (Gardener, Stites).

Equity Concerns

Some argue that BYOT initiatives will reinforce inequity between the haves and have-nots. Students from wealthier families may be able to easily afford high-tech solutions, while poorer students may be left with cheaper, less functional equipment (Stager).

Final Thoughts

In order to effectively implement a BYOT program, many issues must be considered:

  • What is the instructional purpose of the program? – The goals for a BYOT initiative needs to be written into the larger technology vision.
  • Have the administration and faculty bought into the program? – Professional development must be available for teachers to figure out how to best teach with these devices (Roscoria).
  • Will existing policies regarding cell phone use need to be rewritten? – These concerns may need to be addressed at an administrative level.
  • Is the infrastructure able to handle additional devices? – More importantly, what will enhancements to the infrastructure cost, and are these enhancements financially feasible?
  • How can the school address issues of equity? – Consider soliciting local businesses for discarded equipment and plan fundraisers for the purchase of devices (Nielsen).


  • “Bring Your Own Technology Empowers Educators to Facilitate Learning.”
    Roscoria, Tanya.
    Converge. Aug 30, 2011.
    The Forsyth County Schools district in Georgia has implemented a vast BYOT program that focuses on both infrastructure and instruction. As part of the program, teachers are changing their roles to “facilitators of learning.”
  • “BYOD – Worst Idea of the 21st Century?”
    Stager, Gary.
    Stager-To-Go. October, 2011.
    In this blog post, Gary Stager, a proponent of 1-to-1 programs, outlines a variety of reasons why Bring Your Own Technology initiatives are a bad idea. The author argues that these initiatives foster inequality, decrease funding for 1-to-1, and force students to use limited technologies.
  • “BYOC: Bring Your Own Context”
    Blake-Plock, Shelly.
    Teach Paperless. October 26, 2011.
    In this blog post, Blake-Plock suggests that BYOT initiatives present some ideal solutions, but in the end, they don’t solve the entire puzzle. Instead, students should be learning on a variety of devices: laptops, smartphones, laptops and desktops alike.
  • “Ideas for Bringing Your Own Device (BYOD) Even If You Are Poor”
    Nielsen, Lisa.
    The Innovative Educator.. October 28, 2011.
    Nielsen outlines a variety of ways that educators might fund a BYOT program at their schools or districts.


Mobile Devices

Using Digital Portfolios to Enhance Learning

18 Apr

Many educators require student portfolios because they are an ideal way to get students to reflect upon their learning.  To create portfolios, however, students must spend a lot of time managing their projects and assessments.

But when portfolios go digital, particularly online, the process can be streamlined and made more meaningful to students.  By literally clearing away the clutter associated with paper-based portfolios, the initial collecting of files can be more easily accomplished.

Even more, using digital portfolios could also be a way to integrate bleeding edge technologies into the classroom.  The growing number of online content creation resources can make the organization, reflection, and presentation of student learning easier than ever.

About portfolios

There are many reasons why educators use portfolios in education, but the biggest reason is “to support reflection that can help students understand their own learning and to provide a richer picture of student work that documents growth over time.” (Helen Barrett 2003.)

By having students collect their work and actively reflect on the process of their learning, students can understand their education in a greater context.

Process vs. Product

Speaking Silhouettephoto © 2008 George Laoutaris | more info (via: Wylio)Dr. Helen Barrett, an expert on the subject, argues that there are 2 distinct faces to portfolios: the workspace – which focuses on the process of learning, and the showcase – which focuses on the end product that can be assessed.

To effectively develop the use of portfolios, these two aspects must be kept clearly in mind, and in Barrett’s words: “balanced.” (Helen Barrett, 2010.)  Understanding the school’s essential learning objectives will help educators as they introduce portfolios into the classroom.

The Key Levels of Portfolios

According to Dr. Barrett, there are three key phases to the portfolio process:

  1. Collection – Student gathers all educational artifacts in one location
  2. Reflection/Feedback – Student creates a journal that focuses on the process of learning, and shares it with teachers or other students to gather feedback.
  3. Selection/Presentation/Evaluation – Student selects prime examples of learning, and creates a presentation to show how this sample highlights the process of learning from their reflections. Teachers evaluate this process.

Why go digital?

Girl at Computerphoto © 2004 San Jose Library | more info (via: Wylio)It will make everything easier!

One of the most cumbersome aspects of maintaining a portfolio is the organization of physical copies of your work, particularly if your portfolio is meant to culminate through multiple years.  By using digital artifacts online, it can be easier to collect and access your material from any computer with an Internet collection.

Even more than this, by using blogs, wikis, or social networks, the process of actively reflecting and gathering feedback becomes an essential part of the learning experience throughout the process.  This can help ease the selection phase, when materials are chosen to be included in the showcase portfolio towards the end of the year.

One of the great things about the social web is that its easier than ever to reorganize content. Although a digital portfolio requires a collection of resources, these digital assets could be managed on a different website and simply embedded in the digital portfolio page.  For example, students can store video presentations on Youtube and simply embed these videos on their portfolio site.

For a great example as to how the digital portfolio process can work, take a look at the image below, and make sure to read Dr. Barrett’s article: “Balancing the Two Faces of e-portfolios.”

Balancing the Two Faces of Digital Portfolios

Balancing the Two Faces of Digital Portfolios - Dr. Helen Barrett

Potential Problems with Implementation

To effectively create and prepare digital portfolios, students must begin to work in a digital space.  This will be a great shift for many teachers, particularly when introducing elements of the social web into the process. However, if every hand-made student project needs to be scanned and uploaded to a server, the process of collecting artifacts won’t be easier, but much more cumbersome!

Teachers and students must begin working in a digital environment in order to make the digital portfolio process effective.

Examples of Digital Portfolios

Digital portfolios don’t need to be bundled into one specific software, although there are many softwares available (such as the open-source Mahara).  Instead, many schools are using free web resources to have students easily create digital portfolios. Google-Sites, Blogger, WordPress, Wikispaces or even Google Docs are some examples.

Various Templates for ePortfolios:



  • “The Research on Portfolios in Education.” Barrett, Helen C., 2003.
    This article provides an excellent overview of why to use portfolios in the classroom.
  • “Balancing the Two Faces of e-portfolios.” Barrett, Helen C.
    Educação, Formação & Tecnologias, 2010.
    This article “focuses on the two major purposes for developing ePortfolios, and how to balance both approaches to enhance learner engagement with the ePortfolio process.”
  • “Wrapping My Mind around Digital Portfolios.” Tolisano, Silvia.
    Langwitches Blog, Aug 4, 2010.
    This blog post provides an essential overview and synthesis of research on various aspects of digital portfolios. A perfect introductory post on the topic.
  • “Process Vs. Product.” Sprankle, Bob.
    November Learning, Mar 5, 2011.
    This blog post doesn’t deal with portfolios explicitly, but makes an interesting argument regarding the importance of the learning process is education, not just the final product of a perfect presentation.
  • “Digital Portfolios: Documenting Student Growth.” Cramer, Matthew.
    Coalition of Essential Schools, 2009.
    An article by the Coalition of Essential Schools about the use of digital portfolios at the Camino Nuevo High School in Los Angeles.
  • “Authentic Assessment Toolbox: Portfolios.” Mueller, John.
    North Central College, Naperville, IL., 2011.
    A great, practical article for teachers on how to begin thinking about, and then practically implement portfolios in the classroom .

eTextbooks: Trend Overview

8 Mar

The Elements App, Amazon Kindle, Kno Tablet, Smarthistory website

Even though ebooks are becoming a regular part of our daily lives, educators have struggled to implement them at the academic level. But soon that will all change. According to the Horizon Report, the time to adoption for ebooks in education is one year or less.

Why etextbooks?

Digital text, especially when accessed online, greatly influences how we access and process information. Students no longer want static text, but rather information that is:

interactive, customizable, mashable, social, easy to share, and easy to annotate

with multimedia features including

embedded video & multimedia, 3D models, collaborative notes and comments, quizzes to gage understanding.

Textbooks are expensive and heavy, and many educators hope the etextbooks will provide cheaper and healthier solutions for their students.

Common features of ebooks and ereaders


Amazon's Kindle

Before looking at etextbooks, it’s helpful to address some common features of ebooks and ereaders.

While there are many different ebook formats, most of them are only designed to replicate the experience of simple pleasure reading. The popular Amazon Kindle let you define words, search the text, and even highlight and take notes, but most students do not prefer to use them for textbook content.

In fact, according to the Book Industry Study Group:

Nearly 75% of students … said they prefer printed texts, citing a fondness for print’s look and feel, as well as its permanence and ability to be resold.

The reason students don’t like ebooks is likely because the software and readers available for e-reading are not suited to the nature of textbook-reading. While basic ereaders are ideal for lite reading, they are not currently suited for the complex layouts of educational content found in textbooks.

In order to meet student concerns, many dynamic educators are rethinking the textbook by either moving towards more enhanced etextbooks, or replacing the textbook with increasingly reliable educational content available online.

Coursesmart App

Coursesmart app on the iPad

Enhanced etextbooks

More and more “enhanced” etextbooks are coming on the market. They have more dynamic features, including robust note-taking tools, embedded multimedia, and more.

Because of the market shift towards tablets such as the iPad and Xoom, we may be seeing more and more captivating educational content. The unique interactive functionality of tablets are ideal to enhanced book apps.

Many educators argue that as etextbooks are adopted more in the classroom, even more features will be demanded by students.

From the Horizon Report:

As the electronic book moves further from a digital reproduction of a printed piece, some writers are seeing it become something far richer, allowing journeys through worlds real and imagined, undertaken not alone but in company with other readers.

Enhanced ebooks will have greater customization & personalization including the ability to choose from various vocabulary settings.

They will be adaptive & mashable with content that can be continuously updated by publishers and rearranged for greater understanding by students.

They will be interactive & participative allowing students to share group comments, interact with virtual experts and take quizzes.

They will be living & connected with website-like interactive features and robust social networking tools.

(Source: “Forget the Future: Here’s the Textbook I Want Now.” David Wees. 21st Century Educator.)

Enhanced etextbooks are complicated to create, particularly if they will be accessible on every device, from a laptop to a smartphone, which is something students prefer. They may be expensive, and currently publishers seem to be primarily focusing on the collegiate market, not on the K-12.

Open/Online Educational Resources

ck12 Flexbook

CK12 Flexbook

If K-12 educators want to use more interactive, personalized, adaptive and connected content in their classroom, they may need to replace or supplement their textbook with open educational resources available online.

Open educational resources can take the form of shared, customizable online textbooks (see CK12 Flexbook or Flatworld Knowledge) or online courseware (see MIT Open Courseware or Connexions).

Teachers can collect these resources and then make them available to students on a Learning Management System (LMS) (for traditions LMS see Moodle or Blackboard; for a more social LMS see Schoolology or Edmodo).

Open or online resources can be made available to students through alternative publishing methods, such as chapter-based purchasing, or the more theoretical concept of selective printing of copyrighted material for use in mashed-up textbooks.


For more information on the trend of etextbooks, take a look at this Prezi presentation, created for the annual conference of the DC/MD area independent school bookstore managers on March 2, 2011:

21st Century Textbooks: Implications for Independent Schools

%d bloggers like this: