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Flipped on a Budget

My article on the Flipped classroom in Legal Education was published by EdTech Magazine and received so many comments that I wanted to talk about the major aspects that prevent people from making Flipped Classes.

Cost and time.

If you’re new to making flipped classroom videos or don’t have the support from your administration, you may find that you have to choose between quality, cost, and time. The old Project Management adage is that each project takes Time, Quality, and Cost, but the paradigm states that you can only truly focus on two of these values.

I recommend focusing on the Quality of Content:

Low Production Value-

Use a Webcam and headset with a lecture capture system to record your lessons. Your school  may already have access to Web conferencing or lecture capture systems such as Panopto, Wimba, ATT Connect, Blackboard Collaborate, or any Web conferencing system that records.

Focus on Content-

Spend your time working through your lectures and creating visual graphs and illustration of the ideas you plan to present during your recording. Remember, if the content is worthwhile, your students will be willing to watch it. Remember to leave all dates and times out of the script so that you can reuse the videos for future classes, doing so will save you valuable time in the future.

Audio-

Make sure your voice is being recorded clearly. Mute all telephones in your office. Turn off or mute all other applications that may make noise through your computer speakers, and hang a sign on your door stating that recording is in progress.Testing the audio and minimizing interruptions will reduce recording time.

No Post-Production-

Save time and cut costs by eliminating post-production. As long as the content is clear and can be understood by your audience, don’t worry about editing. Your learners will understand that the message is what’s important, not the quality of the video.

Once you find the value in flipped classes and are comfortable with this teaching pedagogy, you can spend more time and money creating professional videos. But I recommend that you take a low-cost approach to create flipped classrooms in order to mitigate the risk. You can also convince your administration to fund future high value video production projects if they see a pilot flipped class has succeeded.

Start somewhere- start with a low budget and great content!

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The Mini Flip

A New Approach to the Flipped Classroom

Flipped classroom is a trending pedagogy in classroom instruction. Flipped classroom has two essential components. The first component is pre-recording a class lecture in its entirety for students to listen to before they attend class. The second component, an in-class activity and discussion, takes places during normal class meeting times. The idea is to let students complete their homework during class time so that instructors can address any difficulties and questions in person. It also allows more time for discussion and debate; students contribute to the conversation instead of being passive listeners.

A similar approach was studied at Pepperdine University School of Law (Malibu, CA). The law school recently conducted a study to determine if anxiety felt by first-year law students was reduced if the students knew what to expect before attending each class.

The goal was to provide each first year law student with a pre-recorded video “primer” that briefly outlined the upcoming class meeting, including the class meeting’s learning objectives. The primer highlighted how the student should prepare, what is expected of the student, and what the student can expect to achieve from the class meeting.

The video primers were recorded by a small group of law school faculty members with the lecture capture recording software, Panopto. Faculty recorded the primers in their offices using a webcam and microphone. The software captured the desktop applications, audio, and Webcam. I provided faculty with an Instructional Design Document (view pdf here), a storyboard document, and a scripting document to help create the primers. These documents were used as templates to guide the recording process. No post production was used, so faculty scripted what they wanted to say. If they were not satisfied with the recording, they re-recorded.

An example was also created to show the faculty what they needed to create:

It was important that the primers were short, visual, and specific. The primers were three to fifteen minutes long. The primers included PowerPoint screens with specific keywords transitioning across the video to provide specific information in a visually appealing way. In addition, the primers included a thumbnail image of the faculty as a subset of the main screen. Capturing the faculty provided a personal touch to the primer; students who viewed the primers recognized their professor and started a friendly rapport even before classes began.

The primers were disseminated before each of the first five (5) classes.  Students viewed the short primers before preparing for each class and completed a series of survey questions to provide feedback regarding the usefulness of these primers.

Of surveyed students, 61.5% believed that not knowing what to expect from the course causes anxiety. During the primer video program, 72.3% of students believed that knowing what to expect from the course reduced anxiety and 63.3% thought the primers were useful in preparing for their classes. 55.4% of students would have liked primers for every class meeting, not just the initial five and 64.1% said the primers would be useful for every course.

The study results and video recording process were shared with Pepperdine University’s School of Law Faculty. Since the student survey results were average, the decision to create video primers will be on a case by case basis decided by the faculty member and department.

I applied this approach to the class I personally teach by creating a video syllabus for my online students:

This article was also published by EdTech Magazine.

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