Friday, May 11, 2012

Goal of Flipped Class Videos: Content Delivery or Skill Development?

It recently occurred to me that since I began flipping my world history course in January, each of my screencast lectures have had one overarching goal:  content delivery.    This has proven tremendously useful and the early results, considering both assessment scores and student feedback, are encouraging.     Transitioning some of my direct instruction (content delivery through lecture)  to video has helped students understand some of the major events and themes from world history, but I realized what I should shift my focus towards:  building social studies skills!

Since most of our class time is now spent working on such skills, I now have a better understanding of their ability to engage in such learning experiences.   In sum, I overestimated many of their abilities.   For example, we recently worked on evaluating the historical significance of cold war events.   Many students had little trouble telling me what happened, but few could clearly articulate the importance and global implications of these events and historical developments.  

Then, it dawned on me.   Why not model these social studies skills through screencasts in a similar way that I have been delivering content?   When I mentioned this idea to colleagues in my district, they agreed that modeling of these skills is essential before we expect them to develop them in class.     We quickly brainstormed some skills that we could begin developing screencasts for: 
  •         Historical Significance
  •         Evaluating Validity / Bias in Sources
  •         Developing a Research Paper
  •         Writing (we could go on an on here…)

We also realized that there were several other benefits to creating skills based screencasts…
  1.  If each department member uses the same screencast to introduce a skill, there will be a clear expectation for students across subjects and grade levels within you department.    (For example, students will no longer be frustrated with situations where one teacher has vastly different expectations regarding writing a research paper. ) 
  2. This will be a great way for teachers to start working together making screencasts. 
  3.  Different departments could collaborate on screencasts.   For instance, the English and Social Studies departments could develop a common research format and show students through a model screencast.
Of course, flipping your class is not simply about the videos.  I do believe, however, that modeling skills through screencasts will improve the performance of students as they engage in often challenging in-class learning experiences.