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Part Two: Flipping the Classroom – The Role of Video

February 14, 2012 - 0 Comments

In Part One, Flipping the Classroom – Is it Really All About Technology?, I promised to return in Part Two to discuss the actual technologies that can be used to flip the classroom.  This technology is, in a word: video.  The capture of lectures via video, the dynamic management of video assets, and the ability to share, store, and retrieve lectures are all critical components of any strategy to create a flipped learning environment.

As you’ll recall, Part One covered one of the best and most innovative high school teachers I know, Steve Hammack, a science teacher at Los Gatos High School.  He fully flipped his classroom this year, and his students continue to perform well above-average both on standardized tests and in semester grades.

While Steve credits his stellar AP Biology test scores to “The Testing Effect” an article penned in the journal Science (Karpick and Roediger, 2008), the flipped classroom model is gaining enormous momentum and is probably one of the hottest topics amongst education cognoscenti today.  A recent Economist article, “Flipping the Classroom,” highlights this new phenomenon.  Many schools are flipping the classroom to provide students with an opportunity to review class materials and lectures at their own pace, as many times as they’d like, before class takes place the next school day.  This model then allows for class time to be used in active dialogue, for lab or project work, and in helping students to develop stronger critical thinking skills.

Still convinced that video would help augment Steve’s audio postings, I started digging deeper into the potential impact of video plus audio in delivering information to people.  One reader directed us to The Center for Non-Verbal Studies, whose goal is to “promote the scientific study of nonverbal communication, which includes body movement, gesture, facial expression, adornment and fashion, architecture, mass media, and consumer-product design.”

One study showed that “To study language by listening only to utterances, say [University of Chicago professor of psychology and linguistics, David McNeill] and those who subscribe to his theories, is to miss as much as 75 percent of the meaning” (Mahany 1997:E-3).

I’m convinced that in education, as in business, to see a person’s face, to witness their hand gestures, to experience the full range of human emotion is to experience full human communication, to capture the nuances of the spoken word, and to feel the complete impact of the message.   In the flipped classroom, video is critical in that it delivers what pure audio cannot: the entire spectrum of communication between human beings, a way for students to connect in a more meaningful way with their teachers and with the content.

But to embrace the flipped classroom, educational institutions must develop and implement a fully thought-out strategy to capture, transform, share, store, and manage video.  Otherwise, with every teacher flipping classrooms, video assets will quickly, and deleteriously, spin out of control, like many pancakes flipped half-cooked into the air, without any pans waiting to receive them.  This will be the next big nightmare that will keep entire IT staffs up at night.   For every teacher or faculty member who wants to flip the classroom, they need a simple approach to capturing video, sharing it with their classes, and managing that content for the long-run.

Many lecture capture solutions today focus on only one part of the equation: the capture of lectures on video.  But there is a whole work flow associated with flipping the classroom:  the ability to capture video on any device (iPhone, iPad, video camera, web conferencing session, TelePresence) and then to edit, publish, archive, retrieve, view, distribute, and display those videos.  In the best lecture capture solution, students and teachers are able to view videos in a social media environment and carry on a dialogue about the lecture, start a chat session, or launch a virtual web conference.  Luckily, Cisco has a solution to address these requirements with Cisco Lecture Vision.

Flipping the classroom would have been impossible years ago, and challenging as few as three years ago.  Today, we’re able not only to imagine, but to realize, what is possible in making learning more accessible for all students.  The flipped classroom does just this; it increases access to the best learning experiences possible, providing students with an opportunity to view a lecture multiple times, to rewind, fast forward, pause, and absorb the knowledge.  But the technology to create this type of environment needs to work effectively: it needs to be simple, scalable, reliable, and flexible.  As we reach a technology tipping point in education, the time is right to pursue these types of strategies and implement new approaches in the most meaningful way possible.

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