Twelve Tips for Flipping Learning


Thinking of flipping learning in your school or district? Already doing it but looking for tips on doing it better? Below you will find advice – from me, from Flipped Learning co-founder, Aaron Sams, and from other flipped class pioneers – based on years of flipping experience.

1. Ask the right questions:

Before you begin, I encourage you to answer a number of key questions for yourself. Many of those are touched on in the tips below but a few of the most basic questions to ask before you start:

  • What will you flip?  (A particular lesson? A unit/chapter? A subject? A class?)
  • Who will make your videos?  (Will you curate existing videos, create new ones, or a combination?)
  • How will you reorganize class time freed up by flipping?

This last question is probably the MOST IMPORTANT. One of the strongest arguments for having students watch videos at home is to free up class time for other educational experiences. What will you do with that extra time?

2. Determine What Tools You Will Use:

If you’re creating your own videos, you’ll want to decide what software you will use to make your videos.   There is no right answer here. Choose the tool that works best for you.  Explore some of the choices below (all of them for computers) before you start.  Screen-Cast-O-Mattic (free)  Web-based

Learn one of them and use it.  I encourage you to start out simple, but as time goes on you may want to switch to a more feature-rich (and usually more expensive) software solution.

3. Decide Where to Post the Videos:

Once you have created your video, decide where you will place it so that your students can access it.  We find it best to put these in a coherent place on a learning management system (LMS).  Vendors include BlackboardMoodleSchoologyHaiku LearningCanvasEdmodoMy Big Campus, Info Mentor, etc.  The videos can also be hosted on video servers such as YouTubeSchoolTubeScreencast.comdropboxgoogle drive, etc.

4. Keep Your Videos Short: 

Short-short-short!  When we first started flipping, Aaron Sams and I took our standard lectures and made them into videos.  These videos contained multiple objectives and pieces of content and were way too long.  After that, we learned to make one video per discrete objective.  My rule of thumb is one to one and a half minutes per grade level. For a 4th grader, your videos should be no longer than 4-6 min.  For a 10th grader that means 10-15 min videos.  You will be surprised how little time it takes to clearly communicate a specific objective.  Just try it out.

5. Don’t Assume all Students Have Adequate Technology at home: 

Don’t forget to ask about what kind of access your students have to computers or the Internet at home. Aaron and I started our fipped classes by meeting with each student individually and asking how they were going to access our content outside of class.  Many had their own devices but had limited Internet access so we downloaded the content to their machines while they were at school. For students with no computers at home, we provided DVDs. 

6. Teach Students HOW to Watch the Videos:

Watching an instructional video is not the same thing as watching a popular film.  Students need to be intentionally taught how to watch instructional videos.  I know it is weird to watch a video of you teaching while you are standing there, but we want students to be able to do this at home when we are not present.  One thing we did on the first or second day of school was to watch an introductory video together.  I gave the control of the pause button to a specific student.  As classmates were trying to take notes from the video, they found that the student in charge of the pause button was either going too slow or too fast.  After many minutes of frustration, I informed the students that each of them would have control of the pause button for the rest of the year.  We also used this class time to teach them how to write down questions from the video, which they needed to bring to class

7. Have Clear Consequences for Students Who Don’t Watch the Videos

Hold students individually accountable for watching the videos.  If half of your students don’t watch your video content, don’t rescue them by re-teaching what is already in your video.  All that will accomplish is to tell the students who did do the work that what they did was a waste of time. When Aaron and I first started flipping the classroom we walked around the room and asked students to show us their notes on the video.  Those who did received ten points and those who didn’t went to the back of the room to watch the video content on some class computers with headphones.  The students who didn’t watch the content quickly realized that the only way we were going to (at least initially) expose them to content was through the videos.  And while they were watching videos in the back of the room the other students were getting help on the hard stuff, which they now had to slog through on their own at home. 

8. Network with Others:

One reason that the flipped classroom – and more specifically, flipped learning – is growing is because groups of educators are working together to reflect and improve on the model. Some networks to check out include:

9.  Follow Flipped Blogs

There are many blogs about the flipped classroom.  Here are a few to check out:

10. Read About Flipping

Check out these two books that offer an in-depth look at flipped learning:

Flip Your Classroom, Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day by Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams (2012, ISTE and ASCD)

Flipping 2.0: Practical Strategies for Flipping Your Class by The Bretzman Group (2013)  

11. Flip Your Own Learning with Videos About Flipping

There are quite a few excellent videos about the flipped classroom.  Below are a few that I have used in presentations:

12. Communicate with parents:

When introducing flipped learning, it’s important to help parents understand how their children’s experiences will change as a result. Feel free to modify and use this letter home to parents (with five reasons why they should be thrilled to know their child’s class is being flipped).

Related toolkits

Learn more now with materials from these toolkit and resource collections:

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