The classroom lecture. It’s been criticized, despised, even lampooned. An entire generation  can probably recite the lines to Ben Stein’s dead-pan, droning lecture in the 1986 film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (“Anyone?… Anyone?”)


But lectures aren’t necessarily bad. In fact , they can be an efficient way to help students acquire new knowledge. The problem with lectures, though, is often a matter of pacing. For some students, the information may come too slowly or repeat information they already know. Result: boredom.

For others, a lecture may provide too much information too rapidly or presume prior knowledge students don’t have. If students zone out for a moment, they may miss important content and be lost for the rest of the lecture. Result: confusion.

After a hit-or-miss lecture, teachers often give homework assignments, which students perform in what may be a private hell of frustration and confusion. What did my teacher said about cross-multiplying? Comma use in compound sentences? The Laffer Curve?

A new generation of enterprising teachers is beginning to turn this classroom model on its head, creating what are called “flipped” or “inverted” classrooms. Using simple web software, they record and post their lectures online, creating mini-lectures similar to what Salman Khan has created with his Khan Academy collection of more than 2,000 online lessons. (Click here to view Khan’s recent TED talk).

In these inverted classrooms, students watch the lectures at home, where they’re able to speed up content they already understand or stop and review content they don’t get the first time around (and might be too embarrassed to ask their teachers to repeat in class). The online lecture also incorporates visual representation, such as animated graphs or photos of important historical events.

Now, when students come to class, they can ask their teachers clarifying questions about the previous night’s lesson and engage in guided practice on problems they might otherwise have struggled with at home in tormented isolation. During class time, teachers can provide students with real-time feedback and correct misperceptions before they become deeply ingrained.

Jamie Yoos, last year’s teacher of the year in Washington state has created his own “inverted classroom” (see below).

Click here to view some of Yoos’ lectures on TeacherTube.

Similarly, two Colorado teachers, Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams, have also “flipped” their classrooms with vodcasting (i.e., online broadcasting of videos).

Students of these innovative teachers say they love the new format and are more engaged in class. Sure, there may be a few students out there who still delight in a 50-minute lecture, but for the rest, inverted classrooms just seem to make … anyone? … anyone? … perfect sense.

38 Comments

  • D Rease says:

    Bryan,
    I love reading your entries. Please, keep ’em coming!

  • Lauren Mofield says:

    Because students are so motivated by technology, posting a lecture is a wonderful idea. Of course the length and topic of the lecture would need to be geared towards and appropriate for a specific group of students, but, done in the right way, I feel that this could truly improve student learning. Students would be held accountable for their learning and given an opportunity to go deeper in class with hands-on learning that involves verbally communicating and thinking about their thinking as they learn with other students on particular topics.

  • Ann says:

    I love the idea of a flipped classroom. Doing this would allow so much more time for students to apply and go deeper in the content material.
    What do you do to make sure all students are receiving the information since it is not being delivered directly in class? Also, what do you do about students who do not have internet access?
    Thanks for sharing- this is a great idea!

  • Luke Fabry says:

    I was just watching the Colbert report and khan was doing what this teacher is also doing. This seems to be a really good idea. I will help student review and also move at their own pace.

  • Kimberly Moore says:

    I love the idea of inverted classrooms. It such a logical and practical idea. I would be curious of how it is being carried out from a technical stance.

  • Ann says:

    I like how this would make students take ownership in there learning. The problems I see are the students who are content in doing the very least possible. How would you know that everyone watched the video? Also what about the students with no internet access?

  • Lisa Terrell says:

    Is there a place for this in the elementary school setting?

  • Mary Schwartz says:

    I first learned about this concept at the TIE conference in Copper Mountain, CO this summer and it intrigues me. I can see the immediate applications at upper elementary, middle and high schools, but I am wondering how to transfer the idea to a primary classroom….specifically what elements would provide for an avenue to gain background knowledge for my kids of poverty. We’re working toward integrating technology at school and at home (with access to local library Internet with school provided laptops) but I would welcome any ideas for our youngest learners. Perhaps I just need to do some more sleuthing myself!

  • Cathy says:

    I think parents could make great use of these videos, as well. They could learn content that their kids might not be able to explain very well and clarify weather their child actually did ‘nothing’ in class all day.
    Maybe a child’s allotment of computer time at home could be lengthened if they’re watching their teacher’s videos.

  • Corina says:

    This sounds like a very effective way to incorporate technology into the classroom. It is also a great way to differentiate for students who may need things repeated or more time to process. Students are very motivated to use technology, I believe this would be very useful for students. I have not had many good experiences with lectures because I am a hands-on learner, this would have been a great thing for me to have in college!

  • Bill Duncan says:

    I appreciate the fact that lecture is recognized as a viable teaching method. It is a great idea to use video broadcasts as an acceptable way to present material in a manner that today’s students can relate to and use well.

  • Bryan Goodwin says:

    Lisa, that’s a good question. Most of the examples I’ve seen are at the high school level (presumably because older students have more access to the Internet). That said, I could see some uses for it in the elementary classroom, perhaps to explain difficult to understand concepts. I’ll put the question out to blog visitors … has anyone seen “flipped” classrooms at the elementary level done well?

  • We’ve had several questions about implementing this idea in elementary. I’ve seen lots of exciting examples at the elementary level, many of them utilizing tools such as VoiceThread (http://voicethread.com) for the teacher to create tutorials or using pre-made video resources such as BrainPOP, BrainPOP, Jr., etc.
    One tool that I’m experimenting with right now is an iPad app called ShowMe (http://www.showmeapp.com/). If students had access to iPads or iPod touches, I as the teacher could create brief introductory lessons or quick “how-to” reminders so that students could listen at anytime and as often as they needed.
    Other ideas I’ve seen are on Apple’s website here: http://www.apple.com/education/profiles/escondido/#video-escondido

  • Nicole says:

    What a great strategy! I have tried something similar with posting powerpoint presentations online and having students review them as homework, but it would be much more effective to post the lecture. Students seem to be motivated by the use of technology and and would be able to use the 21st century skills necessary for their futures.
    I can see going one step further and having students post lectures themselves. Teaching others is the best way to understand a concept.

  • Crystal House says:

    I Love this blog! I am very fond of this teacher’s entire “Open” classroom concept as well as the “flipped” model. When will the education system conceptualize the benefits of a multi-expressive, hands-on environment? A few noticeable elements of the classroom was students were relaxed (some sat on desk, a portion stood, and others sat) while all were engaged in the teacher’s lecture. So, why do we make our students sit for hours at a time when some of us are standing in the back of a Professional Development Conference after about an hour and a half? Yes, we need to teach manners and structure, but why not have a healthy balance? Well, what if the children are rowdy and the classroom is overcrowded? This is when it’s our responsibility to find ways like this one to engage students.
    I teach school at an inner city, low-income school where the students have made several teachers cry and lose their jobs. There are approximately thirty-three 5th graders in a class with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. After several teachers were unsuccessful with this class, I entered that classroom in the middle of the school year (January) at five feet in height (most of the students taller than me) and many were amazed at the success I’ve had for the past seven years. What was my secret? Engaging them, allowing them to move around and be expressive! Also, remembering how I felt when I was their age, connecting lessons and activities with their interest, and creating a positive environment where students learned to complement and encourage one another, help one another, and resolve their differences through their own conflict resolution sessions. Students are taught that we all operate on different levels and they begin to embrace that and help each other more. Low achievers begin to blossom and when I allow certain students to fiddle with a stress ball, stand in the back or sit on the floor, the other students are not looking for a way out of their seats, they are sitting, but all are engaged. They must definitely learn structure and sit in their seats but I gauge when it’s time to get them up and moving.
    Thus, this video and blog has opened my eyes to other strategies to engage my students and provided another strategy to cater to their learning styles. I am always looking and brainstorming strategies that will keep my students interested. The list and line of students and parents requesting my classroom at an elementary level is amazing. There are even first and third graders showing interest. This amongst other things keeps me on my toes and searching for engaging/expressive ideas that provide my students with more opportunities to connect with information and grow as learners.
    Last, images such as the students’ faces and responses in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off are often my motivation as well. That clip has always been hilarious to me because I remember being that child at certain times in elementary, middle, high school and college. In college, I had an interesting science instructor who sparked a love and interest for science in me that I’m positive would have turned my I hate for science inside out in elementary, middle, or high school. Also, one of the community colleges I attended had math video tapes that I checked out and played over and over until I understood it. I love math more now. I am a learner who has to connect with information immediately or need time to connect with it by hearing, seeing or reading it over and over. Thus, since I need more time to conceptualize or learn a topic and I may respond at a slower pace than other at times, many may label me as retarded or other fancy names. However, I am a highly requested educator who was able to burst through these adversities after many failures. As I have learned to embrace my own learning techniques, I am here to allow my students to learn their own techniques as well as others so when their classmates are weak in an area, their compelled to jump right in and assist. My students embrace this concept because they understand that there are times when they are weak and they need someone else’s strength, knowledge and assistance as well. If anyone else has strategies or activities that work well, please share them with the world. Thank you in advance!
    A few comments from the students that stood out in this video are, “He’s got such a great energy and he connects with students really well; he does what he can to fit his teaching to how you learn stuff; he’s very human about it so if he makes a mistake, he evaluates why he made the mistake, he doesn’t pretend like he knows everything, he really works through it with us, he doesn’t have all the answers on a sheet of paper; it’s interactive; the teacher doesn’t talk a lot; he teaches in a way that we discover on our own the real kind of ah ha moments..I couldn’t pass up taking AP Chemistry.”

  • Arlene says:

    This is a great blog! I am encouraged now more than ever to integrate more technology in my lessons. Even though this blog discusses lecture on the high school level, I believe this strategy can also be incorporated on the elementary level. Technology is the wave of the future, it enhances lessons and keeps students learning inside the classroom as well as outside. The idea of creating “flipped” or “inverted” classrooms is brilliant. Kudos to the teachers who have already created this type of classroom. In addition, thanks to Elizabeth for posting the links for elementary level. I am intrigued with the idea of my 5th graders utilizing voice thread. This would really bring life to our classroom.

  • Mrs. Richard says:

    This is a great idea. It would definitely assist those students who did not quite get the lecture in class. It would serve as a good way to reach students who were absent from class.
    Has anyone tried it in an elementary setting? If so, how did it work?

  • Candice Myers says:

    I can see the benefits of a flipped classroom. Reviewing the lectures for clarification and supplementing the lessons would help every student. However, one problem of having a flipped classroom is students in a low socioeconomic area may not have access to computers at home. Any suggestions on making this work?

  • Maria says:

    I like this idea because it will provide valuable insight to parents and will let them know exactly what is taught on the topic. It would be a great idea for elementary grades as well. Posting the PowerPoints, etc. that were used in class could become a great study aide for them to use at home. I think we will continue to see more and more ways that technology is being integrated into schools. Great idea!

  • Tina Broussard says:

    We are in competition with the gaming competition. This idea will help students as well as parents because many times parents don’t have the knowledge to help their child. The parents will be able watch the lecture to help if the child is having trouble with assignments.

  • Julie' says:

    I would love to incorporate this within my own classroom. This would give me more time to do labs that I would not otherwise be able to perform. The problem that I have is that not all my students have internet access at their homes. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to address this problem?

  • Sherri says:

    I have the same question as Ann. We live in a low poverty area where computers are sometimes not accessible to the students in their homes. Unfortunately they are the students who need the on-line lecture to help strengthen their academic skills. What do you do with those students?

  • Grace Randazzo says:

    Great idea. I have used recorded lecture to assist students who are absent.

  • John Hammond says:

    This is a great idea. The pressure of trying to get through the course content has meant that I have been guilty of the boring lecture. I see the students eyes glazing over yet I continue, trying to get through the topic. I know that some students get lost along the way and this usually means that I spend more time going over content already covered. I really want to try this.

  • Don Pozzuto says:

    I like the idea of inverted classrooms. A great teaching tool as well as a somewhat confronting reality of what ‘you’ as the teacher are really like in the classroom. A great learning tool for teachers as well. A bit like listening to your recorded voice for the first time, ‘do I really sound like that?’A way of keeping ‘lecturers’ plying their trade! Why not have expert lecturers who do it well doing only that.

  • Julie says:

    I like the idea of inverted classrooms. It would be beneficial to tape lectures for not only those who want extra review but also for students who were absent.

  • Jaylene says:

    That is an incredibly innovative idea. I don’t use a lot of lecture in my classroom, it is mostly discussion based, but I do have to do lecture at times. I often see kids tune out. I have found that if I stop every 7 minutes and do a hands on activity or a check your understanding I can get kids re-involved. However, I think I would like to try this. This would be a great way to help kids who are absent, or even help kids review concepts in class, and also introduce new ideas. The only problem I might come up against is not all of my students have internet access at home to watch the videos. I know that is shocking in this day in age, but it is the truth I have to deal with. So I would need to find a way to make that work for my students who are lacking technology in the home. Thanks for the food for thought.

  • @ Jaylene. Thanks for your comments. I’d love to see what videos you come up with as well as solutions for ensuring that all of your students can access your “flipped” lessons.
    Best wishes.
    Bryan Goodwin

  • Aimee says:

    I am really excited about this concept. I have been hearing much about this recently and am in the process of doing research to implement the idea into my Year 12 classroom.
    I do worry however that students will not use the videos and will come to class unprepared to which I then need to cover the content in detail in class anyway, creating a nuisance for those students who have read the videos.
    Any thoughts on this?

  • Jason says:

    Bryan – this was a very interesting article as the concept of videoing classes have been discussed at our school for a number of years and to be honest this scares me outright.
    My key question is how do you manage the situation when students do not view the lesson before entering the classroom? Are they simply behind and have to catch up later.

  • Rachel Barney says:

    I really like the idea that students can revisit content especially approaching exam time. I teach VCE Classes where it is difficult to avoid lecture style lessons due to the overwhelming amount of content that we are required to get through. I try to engage students in interactive notetaking to keep them engaged and understanding but some students struggle to keep up with the notetaking pace and some get frustrated if I wait for the slow writers.
    Is it better to tape as you teach or tape yourself outside of the classroom?

  • CSmyth says:

    This sounds like a fantastic idea. As a senior Biology teacher, it’s often difficult to fit practical classes into class time as there is so much content to get through. Having a Vodcast pre-made could possibly get rid of this pressure and time constraints. My only concern would be how would I make sure my students actually watch my Vodcast?

  • Emily Hawes says:

    The idea of the inverted classroom is a great one. Allowing students to watch lessons and home and complete experiential learning in the classroom seems like a win win.
    However, I worry that a shift in student culture would also be necessary. I teach in a low socio-economic government school where getting students to complete any kind of work at home is struggle. To be honest, at times getting them to complete work in the class can be trying. We have a 1:1 netbook program but many students still find ways to not have or use them. We use a lot of technology in my curriculum to improve motivation and connectedness but it is still a battle.
    This is definitely something I would like to explore, but a successful and effective implementation would require a massive shift in our school culture.

  • Jem Kolber says:

    I really like this idea of the flipped classroom but I have a question very similar to CSmyths. I’m just wondering how this would work with disengaged students who don’t normally complete homework. Any tips on how to bring them into this and monitor who would watch my videos?

  • Matt says:

    I would really like to try this idea, as it sounds like a strategy that would enable me to meet the needs or more students, more of the time. It would then allow the exploration of ideas and concepts in a deeper, more thorough way.
    However, my concern is that some students will not view the lecture before coming to class. Would those students simply be asked to watch the lecture during class time, and if so, would this defeat the purpose of the exercise?

  • Nick says:

    A great concept. I know that for my Drama classes, there are plenty of practical activities/lessons/concepts that could be recorded in this format. If students are part of these presentations, are there guidlines or privacy issues that need to be addressed?

  • Fantastic concept, but as in previous comments, this may be difficult to implement in some circumstances. I have attempted to ‘flip’ my classroom in the past and have had mixed responses to the concept. Id like to continue to explore this idea in the future though, as I believe more and more families are realizing the potential of learning through the internet.

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