Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Worst Screencast Is Better Than The Best Lesson.

What a deliberately inflammatory statement!


But I think you can understand the sentiment.

The worst screencast is always available. It can be paused, re-wound, and fast forwarded. It can be re-watched over and over.

The best lesson happens once. If you blinked - you missed it. If you were sick - or away at a Sport Carnival, or a Music lesson, or Peter-Pan production practise, or Choir group, or whatever innumerable reasons students are not in the classroom - you missed it.

Of course the comment is a bit of an exaggeration. An indecipherable screencast is probably pretty useless to anyone.

But a half-decent screencast? One that can be accessed over and over again - in innumerable ways?

I contend (that as far as content is concerned) the half-decent screencast, beats the PERFECT lesson.

(Of course you can't have a gripping class debate if everyone is watching a screencast separately. So for class debates you might really all need to be there. Unless people watch the content separately, and then debate via on online forum. And furthermore - I have seen some great discussions occur when students who are watching one of my screencasts together, pause the cast, discuss the content, sort something out, and then resume watching the cast. So...that's something to consider.)

I know I have changed 'worst' to 'half-decent'. I have no regrets. I just wanted an eye-grabbing title. I think you probably get what I am trying to say...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Turns out my students like my videos better because I made them

(it's sports day - normally I wear a tie)

Hey there Flippers! I'm sure you can tell I’m not great at this this blogging business. It’s only been about eight months or so since my last post.  But here I am again! Let’s focus on something I have learnt.

Turns out my students like my videos better because I made them.

I know. I know. Grammatically it’s poor. But I’m going for catchy instead of correct.

If you're an educator and you've been in a cave on Mars then you probably haven't heard about the flipped classroom. But if you have wandered out of that cave then it’s probably come across your attention. 


Brief recap – the flipped classroom is where a teacher uses screen-casts (lesson videos) in order to supplement the students learning.

To that end I, there are companies out there now that are selling their specially made screen-casts to the public. Schools can purchase access to these sites and then students can download the screen casts.

My school invested in such a site this year. I’m not going to fib. It has been useful. But – guess what:

Turns out my students like my videos better because I made them.

And I’d suggest it would be the same for you.

I started using this purchased site a bit at the beginning of the year to share Maths screen casts with my students. I like in the site because it actually links the screen cast directly to relevant mathematical activities, which I still think is pretty useful.

This had been my approach with Mathletics anyway. I would make a screen cast, upload it to my website and give instructions to my students to watch it, and then to go on Mathletics and complete an associated task.

This new website did all that for me, except it wasn’t my screen cast.

And guess what:

Turns out my students like my videos better because I made them.

In three years of flipping the classroom I have not felt the students move away from me one tiny bit. But I did after using this website. I trusted my instincts and ask the children about it. Did they prefer the videos I made for them or did they prefer the videos from the purchased website. I asked them to be brutally honest. Because they are 5th graders – they were.

In fact, we completed a survey. Here is the survey link. This one is just graphs:

And here is two more. These links have plenty of comment data:

 I like to learn by a teacher that teach me and the videos heeeelp me learn to.

i like using you and videos because if i do not get the video i can speak to you i also think i like your videos more because you know what is in them

I think that the "Maths Online" videos just give a million examples plus the guy can't answer any questions you may have because he doesn't address them, where as you can in person and your don't give as many examples. Bronson

I like using the real live teacher and the videos because its keeps a balance of using one or the other. I especially like having the teacher because you can ask questions.

Well, most of my students like my videos because they are me. Some (a few) liked the professional videos. Good for them!

Which leads me to this conclusion:

I think we should use mostly our own videos, but mix it up with a few others as well.

(Also interesting to know a clear 80% of children indicated they preferred using the real live teacher and the videos in the classroom instead of just the videos or just the teacher.)

So keep mixing it up!

If you haven’t started using screen cast in your classroom could I please encourage you to? I'm a Year Five teacher and I've been doing it for three years and it is fantastic! It has improved my student results - the effects are measurable.

I have also started to consult in NSW primary and high schools with regards to flipping (or blending) the classroom. If you are interested in having me come along to speak to your staff, details can be found here:

cave image:

Sunday, January 18, 2015

6 month delay...(it was worth it)

Dear flippers,

I have been busy - and so have not been blogging as much as I'd like to.

Reasons why

1. My wife and I had a baby. He is awesome - but means that blogging has taken a serious hit.

2. I started a Masters of Educational Technology at Wollongong University. A great course - fantastic research - but again - not much time for blogging.

I am aware that I had data to post re: last years flip experiment?

I hope to post that more formally shortly. For now - the results of the 'flip out' were (roughly) as follows.

Here it is:

The students performed as well Multiplication and Division (fully flipped) and they did in Addition and Subtraction (partially flipped).

But worthy of note: Multiplication and Division is typically a more difficult area of study.

And furthermore - qualitatively, the students FAR preferred the flipped method.

So did I. FAR more time could be spent assisting individuals and groups of students with problem-solving or other learning challenges.

In fact, I have taken the flipped learning model and applied it to as much of my classroom as I possibly can - including Science, HSIE and English.

I aim to go into more detail about this shortly. For now - please remember  - if you want to talk flipping I am at or can be reached at @BurnsMatthew on twitter.

I have also started to consult in NSW primary and high schools with regards to flipping (or blending) the classroom. If you are interested in having me come along to speak to your staff, details can be found here:

Keep flipping!