Flipped: Trends, Tips, Tools, and Myths

Based on colleague recommendation and personal interest, I checked out many great resources offered at ISTE that were related to the flipped classroom. The concept of having students learn the material on their own in preparation for a class discussion is not new; I’m sure everyone can recall having to read chapters of text ahead of a college class. flipped definedHowever, the flipped classroom is a change in teaching practice, shifting the focus of the classroom to in depth practice and application, allowing more of the rote learning (if necessary) to take place outside the class. The new flipped classroom harnesses the power of technology to make the learning anywhere, anytime, with the ability to re-view the lesson on an as needed basis.

I have had my doubts about the flipped classroom. I previously wrote a blog post Flip or Flop? Because of some of my pre existing doubts/a healthy dose of questions, the perfect session was the Future of Flipping by the godfathers of the flipped Classroom Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann. The session gave a background of the trials and error that took place with their own practice, and most importantly for me, explained some of the misconceptions of the flipped classroom. Below are the myths, conversations, resources, tools, and reflections gathered at ISTE for the flipped classroom.

1. Must use video for direct instruction. Most people do use a video for the flipped classroom, but it is not absolutely necessary. Having pictures and audio is more powerful than one alone. If I class does not need direct instruction, flipped learning is no reason to start. Only use videos of direct instruction if it will enhance the time in class.
2. Videos are given as homework. This is where most teachers start. The videos are given as homework so the students are prepared for the in class activities. The purpose of the videos tends to evolve as teachers play and personalize the flipped learning. The videos are just-in-time trainings meant to help the students where they are in their learning. Questions were raised about students who did not or could not watch videos on the Internet. For those who choose not to watch, the teacher needs to look at what they are doing with the class time. What happens in class needs to be so engaging that students are unwilling to miss it because they need to make up the video. For students who do not have access to the Internet, an easy solution is to copy all the video files for a unit on to a USB drive or a DVD. The only challenge with this is having a units worth of videos done before starting the unit.
3. Flipped is the best teaching philosophy. Flipped learning is not a philosophy. Two of the best analogies during the Flipped Future session:

“Flipping is a tool in the toolbox, not a pedagogy.”

“Flipped class is the glue that holds different learning methods together (UDL + inquiry + PBL + Mastery + PD + AFL + 21CL) . Flipped class is also like glue because it is messy”

4. Each lesson needs a video before hand. Flipping can happen on a range (based on teacher comfort and student need): one for every individual lesson, one per unit, once in a while. Some subjects need an introduction in class before the students watch the video, it does not automatically have to be viewed before a topic. There is also a range of teachers: sometimes it is an individual, or a department, or an entire school. Sims and Bergmann did recommend creating the videos with someone else. If no one else in your department is creating flipped lessons, use Google Hangout as the space to record. They did say that the students connect better when it is their own teacher. You would miss that connection if you just found videos from other people.

5. The videos must be perfect. Perfection will just result in frustration. The time frame you need it done often dictates the level of perfection – or the level of good enough. The audio quality is more important than the video quality for students to be able to understand.

On Twitter there is a #flipclass chat on Monday nights 8 pm EST. Another hash tag that is used for flipped classroom resources is #flipped.

The Flipped Learning Network has a list of events for teachers to either meet face-to-face or online to delve deeper into Flipped Learning. Aaron Sams mentioned that he was moving to Pittsburg in the near future, so there will be more North East events after that happens.

The Flipped Class Network Ning also provides opportunities for teachers to collaborate, discuss,  and has a schedule of events where educators can actually meet face-to-face.


I already mentioned two sites that will help educators connect with other teachers flipping their lessons: Flipped Learning Network and Flipped Class Network Ning.

Sims and Bergmann published a book (which I happily got a copy at the conference): Flip Your Classroom Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day. I also downloaded the eBook Flipped by Wayne Feller.

Sophia.org offers Flipped training and webinars. Teachers could become their version of flipped certified and earn credits through Capella University. The site looks worthy of exploring.

There are great blogs to follow relating to flipping: Flip Teaching, Flipped-Learning, Educator/Learner, and a whole list of individual blog posts can be found at Flipped-Learning. The benefit of the individual posts is the many different individual perspectives.

There are many different tools that can be used to record lessons. First a teacher has to decide if they want a screencast on a computer, an iPad app, a video, or a Interactive Whiteboard recording. All are possibilities and there are many possibilities for each method of recording. Techsmith has two paid applications that work great for flipped lessons: Snagit and Camtasia. If I had money to spend – these would be contenders. A free screencast tool is screencast-o-matic. What it lacks with bells and whistles it makes up for with lack of cost. For iPad apps I have four to choose from: Educreations, ShowMe, ScreenChomp, and Explain Everything. Educreations is my favorite of these and I use it frequently. Explain Everything has more options and I just barely justified paying $3 for it. For recording video, there is the obvious movie functions that almost everyone has in their pocket thanks to cell phones. At ISTE Cisco allowed people to play with their Show and Share product. This would be a great solution for an entire district that wanted to host their flipped videos. The cost does not make it practical for an individual. The final option for recording a lesson is using an Interactive Whiteboard. Students have used the Promethean Board and a mini-microphone to record lessons for their classmates. This was more successful than anticipated and should not be overlooked as an option.


All of the sessions at ISTE were inspiring and thought provoking. I did not easily buy in, but the title of the Sims/Bergmann  book justified the shift: Flip Your Classroom Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day. That matches our school motto of every child, every day. However, the flipped lessons actually provide a structure and method to achieve the ambitious goal. The classroom success still requires good teaching and best practice. The direct instruction is just modified to open up class time for exploration, inquiry, and authentic engagement. Most students probably do not understand a lecture the first time. Real life doesn’t offer a pause or a re-view option. The videos allow students to pause when they want to write something important down and to replay a portion that they did not understand the first time. They also have access to the videos later for just-in-time lessons within the lesson occurring in class. It is not taking away the value of the teacher, but enhancing the accessibility to the teacher’s mind to improve learning outcomes. It was mentioned multiple times through the conference: flipped learning is not for everyone (or every class). But it is valuable enough that every teacher should honestly reflect on it and their own teaching practices before writing it off.

About Lisa Butler

Middle school geography teacher, tech trainer, Flocabulary MC, Nearpod PioNear, and Edcamp Hershey Founder. I have embraced the power of purposeful technology and am creative with their application. If I am not doing something with ed or tech, I am probably reading children's books, baking with a toddler sidekick, running around, or dreaming of traveling.
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6 Responses to Flipped: Trends, Tips, Tools, and Myths

  1. Pingback: Flipped: Trends, Tips, Tools, and Myths | Flipped Classroom in Education | Scoop.it

  2. Pingback: Flipped: Trends, Tips, Tools, and Myths | Adventures with Technology | ClassroomFlipping | Scoop.it

  3. Pingback: Flipped: Trends, Tips, Tools, and Myths | Adventures with Technology | The Flipped Class | Scoop.it

  4. Jan Minnich says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Seems as if this new strategy could be the next educational “buzz” concept. Really enjoyed reading your summarization of this concept from ISTE and your first hand experiences from listening to and meeting Sams and Bergman.

    First heard of this notion with the popularity of the Khan Academy and it seems to make the most sense for maximizing learning….if we can get the buy-in from our learning stakeholders, including students’ parents. That could help to promote this shift in approach.

  5. Pingback: Edmodo Spotlight: Lisa Butler, Hershey Middle School | Edmodo – Safe Social Networking for Schools

  6. Pingback: RE: Summer Institute | Adventures with Technology

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