You know, flipped learning is a precarious structure. In some sense, it seems quite progressive, empowering to the student, allowing the student to take ownership of his/her own learning. In another sense, though, it replaces live teacher lectures with video-recorded teacher lectures, which actually seems like a backwards step. Clearly not all instructional models that include videos are created equal.
Now, I have been an advocate of a while of using video to enhance instruction, if for no other reason than that a properly-chosen, properly-timed video can grab students attention really well when they are tired of interacting with me and with each other. However, videos largely have the problem of being passive activities for the students.
I’ve tried a variety of different things to attempt to add some interactivity to videos. There’s the ol’ pausing-the-clip-every-90-seconds-to-engage-the-students-yourself technique. I used this move when I taught physics. “Hollywood Physics” was where we’d watch a clips filled with delicious energy transformations or breakdowns in Newton’s laws. Lots of pausing and discussing.
I’ve also used tools to try to embed questions that break the video up and make the students reflect or predict. This little ditty from 2011, The Bowl Problem, although not my best work, reflects a desire to try to create a video that has some interactive elements to it. That was created with a digital camera and PowerPoint. It was prohibitively time-consuming. There has to be a better way.
And Zaption might be it. I’m not a spokesperson for these folks. In fact, they are not the only service out there that embeds interactivity into videos (Educanon and Bubblr are two others). I just found Zaption to be the easiest to use and the most useful as a formative assessment tool.
In trying to learn how to use Zaption, I made this quiz video. Go ahead and give it a try. (I’ll be able to tell you more about the built-in, free analytic tools if I can get lots of people to take the quiz. So please, give it a try.)
You don’t get to see your results, which will bother some, but the results are tallied and shown in a series of well-made reports that has the potential to inform a teacher about how students engaged the video (it shows how long the video was watched, how many times each questions got skipped, etc.), and give you some insight as to their understanding of the content.
It’s not a perfect tool. If you wanted to use it in an actual quizzing/grading type set-up, the grading of the results might be a little tricky. Additionally, this, like every bit of instructional tech, has a learning curve. Having said that, though, I found that choosing the right video to practice on was the slowest part and that the process of creating the questions to be pretty easy to pick up.
Flipped learning has its critics (I have been among them at times), because there is a demand for instructional technology to get implemented meaningfully. Instructional technology isn’t a savior. However, the effective use of instructional technology does have the potential to make a huge dent in some of the improvements we need to make. We want it to give us a chance to do things that we previously had to work too hard to do. Tools like Zaption help make a previously passive activity, like watching a video, potentially more active for the students and informative for the instructor.
Update on 2 Jan:
Since posting this, I’ve received a tweet about an additional software to embed instructional items into videos. And since I’m mentioning Zaption, Educanon, and Blubbr, I figured it was only fair to add this one. I’ll just show you the tweet.