Flipped Teaching Tools, Resources, How-Tos

The Flipped iPad Classroom – Delivering Content, Engagement Required!

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Delivering Flipped Content, and Tools and Techniques to Help Ensure That Your Students Engage With it

This is the second in a 3 part series about flipping the iPad equipped classroom (but these techniques apply to any flipped class really).

In the prior post we examined apps and resources for creating and finding great flipped content. Here we focus on delivering that content, and the challenge of working to ensure that students engage with the flipped content you expect them to watch, read, or otherwise explore outside of the classroom.

Delivery Platforms and Approaches

Once you have developed or curated and possibly customized flipped learning materials, you need to be able to deliver it digitally so that your students can access and consume it. Many of today’s content creation tools provide methods for storing and delivering content, and this can be a functional solution. However, with the vast array of apps and resources available, this can often mean that students might have to wander about the web while consuming content and this can be inefficient and distracting.

It is quite common for teachers and schools to have a central class repository for learning content. In higher education, the Learning Management System is the standard tool for this, with Blackboard, Moodle, D2L’s Brightspace, and Canvas from Instructure being key and up and coming players in that arena.

In K-12, more and more schools are starting to provide platforms for this, learning portals and tools like Google Classrooms and Edmodo. Teachers can also take the initiative themselves if their schools do not provide such tools, putting up a Wiki (Wikispaces is very popular for this) or getting their own Edmodo license for example. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind …

Important considerations for content delivery tools

  • Make sure the tool you select is accessible from your classrooms (since most schools block some web sites), and it generally performs well.
  • Seek to limit the different sites that students need to have user names and passwords for. Good sites will let your students use an existing email address to log in and that helps to reduce complications and ease adoption.
  • If you want to consider Google Classrooms, reach out to your tech support team and ask if they have signed the school up for Google Apps for Education – it’s free, and once central administration is established, it can ease adoption of the platform.
  • While I appreciate the rebel in many of us, going off on your own path here can have a lot of drawbacks. It really is best, when possible, to select a tool that others are using successfully and that has the backing of your technical team and Administration.

Tools and Techniques to help Ensure Engagement

One of the first concerns that consistently arises early on in the Flipped Classroom Online Workshops that I offer several times a year is how to encourage students to “do their homework” and spend quality time with learning content before they show up to the next class. There are many techniques that can help to make sure this happens, and the iPad offers a variety of unique apps that can be helpful in this regard.

I believe the key to this is to require engagement during or immediately after they watch, listen to, or read content. Having a quiz at the start of class can be helpful to assess how well students have absorbed and retained content, and identify gaps, but it is not the best way to encourage students to do the work. Requiring engagement that coincides with content consumption is simply more effective at getting more students to engage (IMHO) and it has other benefits in terms of actually exploring and learning the materials.

Interactive iPad Apps

A growing number of apps allow for a very interactive experience while consuming content. This can certainly help to encourage engagement. Apps like iBooks and Subtext can provide for rich interactive experiences while reading and viewing digital learning content.

Another avenue worth exploring when considering effective learning while students consume content is annotation tools – allowing students to capture thoughts, highlight content, note a question, and so on, while consuming digital content. iBooks offers tools for highlighting text in different colors for example. GoodReader is a popular PDF reader and annotation tool (that I learned about at my first TLIPAD conference). Skitch from EverNote is another tool that let’s students annotate web pages, images, and more.

Digital Portfolio tools can also provide a great platform for creating interactive engagement (and much more). By requiring students to mark up or reply to content with tools like SeeSaw or Showbie, you are requiring engagement. Of course, these types of tools have much wider ranging applications as well.

Another approach to creating interactive content is to get creative with “Whiteboard Casting” apps like Educreations and Explain Everything (see the prior article in this series for a few more of these). When you create your own content with these types of tools, you can ask students to take specific actions, like look up a word or research a concept, thereby creating “interactivity”.

General Techniques and Web Apps to Help Encourage Content Engagement

In addition to iPad apps like these, there are some great general techniques to help to ensure content engagement. There are also a variety of web apps that can be used to require engagement. Here are some of these tools and constructs, and resources for learning more about them:

  • Note taking: This age-old technique is a great one for getting students to engage with flipped content. Whether you provide a notes outline to be completed, require students to create their own from scratch, or have them using techniques like Cornell Notes, this is a good option. It it also worth considering having some sort of credit associated with the completion of these notes (and not doing so can give some students a great reason to ‘blow it off’).
  • Embed questions in videos: This  is an excellent way to ensure that students are engaging with the content and not just absentmindedly letting videos play while they multitask. Two good tools for this are EduCanon and EdPuzzle. This 3 Minute Teaching With Technology Tutorial introduces EduCanon.
  • The ‘WSQ’ (Watch, Summarize, Question) technique: Discover this simple yet powerful construct, one that I use regularly, in this article: “Getting Students to Watch and Engage With Flipped Videos with Crystal Kirch’s WSQ Technique.”
  • The K-W-L (Know-Watch-Learn) Grid: This long-standing instructional strategy can be applied to flipped teaching and learning. Explore it further in this article, “Using the K-W-L Method to Help Ensure Content Engagement in the Flipped Classroom.”
  • Creating interactive lesson content with web apps like ed.ted.com, Tackk, or Movenote. Ed.Ted.Com let’s you build questions and a discussion, Tackk provides a discussion/comment mechnism, and Movenote allows students to respond via text or video. Requiring feedback, perhaps to a specific question, is a great way to get students to engage (especially if there is credit associated with it). Look for quick introductions to these tools on this 3 Minute Teaching With Tech Tutorial page.
  • Hidden “Easter Eggs”: This can be fun for students of all ages. Tell students that need to find where a specific statement or visual is, or answer a question or two by listening for specific facts in the content.
  • Use Assessment tools: Any tool that lets you do assessments or take polls (like Socrative, Kahoot, SurveyMonkey, to name a few) can be a straightforward way to require engagement and get a sense of gaps that need to be addressed as you head into the next class session. Of course, this idea also applies to several of the tools and techniques above as well (i.e. ed.ted.com, embedding questions in videos, etc.).

Our last installment in this post series focuses on using the valuable face-to-face class time that you’ve made available by pushing some of the learning content outside of the classroom.

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