Nothing seems to polarize my students more than their opinion of ‘flipped classrooms’, in which course content is consumed primarily outside the classroom, with instructional time devoted to application or mastery of the material. Though the term is often used loosely, a flipped classroom should have four key components (via Brame, 2013):
In my experience, students who endorse the flipped structure often do so because they prefer the ability to move through content at their own pace or find it particularly helpful to talk through ideas as they work on assignments. Those who dislike it frequently report having trouble staying engaged with the material or prefer to do their work in a more controlled and private environment. The experience of students at other schools seems relatively similar.
The efficacy of the flipped approach in promoting student learning is still very much an open question; in the past three years alone, hundreds of empirical studies have examined outcomes associated flipped courses with a wide range of conclusions. Ultimately, it may be the case that some topics allow for greater success in flipping than others, or that particular flipped structures are more effective in for some fields than others.
Even in the absence of more definitive data about student outcomes, I decided to flip both of my research methods courses. In part, this was to relieve the significant time pressure of teaching a laboratory class that did not actually have a lab section associated with it, but mostly because it allows me a chance to spend substantially more time with each student. In a course with 25 or 30 people, that extra contact is invaluable; by the end of the semester, I have a much more nuanced understanding of the strengths and abilities of each student than I would in a more traditional class.
Later this semester, the TLC will be hosting a panel discussion about flipped classrooms. The goal is to both highlight the individual experiences of instructors who have flipped their courses and to develop a set of recommendations and best practices for faculty who might be considering flipping in the future. Stay tuned to the TLC website for more details.
Let’s face it: In Portland, we’re very used to mild winters. When freezing temperatures bring snow and icy roads, those who commute tend to go into what could politely be called “panic mode”. When Old Man Winter strikes during the last two weeks of a term, “panic mode” is not an option.
Knowing what technology resources are available to you as a teacher can help to find effective alternatives when travel is difficult or impossible. Here are three examples I’ve seen these past few snowy weeks.
With the threat of weather looming, many meetings on campus become uncertain. Luckily, with modern online meeting tools there’s no need to cancel or reschedule. On a snowy morning, I was able to connect via Skype video see the other participants and I could see each other’s faces. This really helps to achieve a sense of presence in a meeting. I needed to give an overview of a project and get feedback. By sharing my screen, all attendees were able to have eyes on the relevant content and discuss in real time. It was the next-best thing to being in the same room hooked up to a projector. At UP, we have Skype for Business, which makes connecting with colleagues or inviting in those from other organizations super easy.
If the weather is wreaking havoc with your end of term presentations schedule, consider allowing students to create a video version of their final presentation. While they won’t get the experience of presenting to a live audience, they will get a chance to develop digital literacies and be able to self-asses their own recorded presentation skills. The technology to create digital presentations is readily available. Students can create, edit and upload video directly from their mobile devices. If they need to present slides or use a computer screen, they can utilize UP MediaSpace’s built in screen capture software. The finished products can be shared via link, embedded in a Moodle forum, or uploaded to a Moodle Media Assignment activity.
Teachers and students unlucky enough to have a final exam scheduled during weather events face some tough realities – canceled exams are often rescheduled weeks later, well after the last review session. One alternative to cancellation is to offer an online exam through Moodle. Moodle quiz activities can be restricted by date and time, so students simply login at the specified time and begin their test online. Now, obviously, online exams aren’t the right fit for every class and every test. A Moodle quiz is a defacto open book, open note quiz. I’ve written before about some easy methods, such as setting time limits and randomizing questions, that can help limit academic dishonesty. Ultimately it’s up to each instructor to decide if a non-proctored online format can support the learning objectives for their curriculum. Therefore, it’s important for faculty to know and consider the options that technology can provide.
Icy roads and snow getting in the way of your teaching goals? Let’s chat! You can always contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org to brainstorm (hopefully not brainfreeze) ideas about how to beat the weather winter!
Two popular desktop capture tools, Snagit & Camtasia, have recently received major updates and improvements in the form of new versions. These are tools that can be very useful for educators and support staff in higher ed. The University of Portland has a site-license to make the newest apps available to UP faculty and staff for use on work computers (both Mac and PC).
Snagit is a great tool for quickly capturing images or short videos of your computer screen. You can use it when it in situations when it is simpler and more effective to communicate visually rather than trying to describe something over the phone or in an email. Snagit also includes an easy to use image editor to allow you to quickly tackle working with your images. Just a few things you can do are:
When it’s time to share you can save your image or send it to straight to Word, PowerPoint, email, Dropbox, and other services.
The new Snagit versions get an updated and modernized user interface, improved customization, and several new features such as the capability to capture an entire scrolling web page. One new thing that stands out to me is the ability to record a short video and create an animated GIF image. GIFs, aside from being popular with “the kids” these days, can be really useful for showing simple animations and workflows and are easy to add to a website or share through email, chat, or social media.
Camtasia is a tool that’s designed to let you capture any combination of video from your computer screen, narration from a connected microphone, and video from connected webcams or mobile devices. One may then edit the video into a professional quality “screencast” with transitions, effects, animations, call-outs, etc. You can do one quick take or edit many tracks of video, audio, music, and effects together. The final product can be anything from a video tutorial to a commercial or PSA, to a voice-over-PowerPoint style lesson. Camtasia is a special tool for teachers because it’s in the “sweet spot” of complexity-to-capability. It’s relatively simple and easy to use but is much more powerful than basic video editors like iMovie or Windows MovieMaker.
Camtasia has been overhauled and improved on many levels. In past versions, there have been significant differences between the Windows and Mac versions. With the latest releases, there is finally feature parity and a consistent user experience across Mac and PC. Moreover, the designers did a great job of merging the best features of both versions. Whether you are on Mac or PC, Camtasia now has a modern and simplified drag and drop interface and a much-improved library of video effects and animations to play with. TechSmith’s new marketing line is that Camtasia allows you “to create stunning videos, without needing to be a professional video editor”, and this rings true. It’s impressive how straight-forward it is to add high production values to your videos with Camtasia.
I’ll be diving into the new software and posting tutorials on UP’s MediaSpace video site and on Youtube. All in all, I’d say the new versions of Snagit and Camtasia are well worth the time to upgrade – and if you’re new to creating images or videos for instructions, this is the perfect time to jump in!
If you are a UP faculty member that would like to learn more about screen capture, screencasts, or video lecture, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line at email@example.com.
Want to learn Snagit and Camtasia at your own pace? Lynda.com has fantastic video tutorials you can check out (free for UP faculty; just login with your UP username and password). The series on Camtasia 3 is especially well-done and covers all the technical details you need to understand to screencasting, while also making great practical suggestions for creating excellent screencast presentations that will connect with your learners.
CaptureSpace is the simplest way to turn a presentation into a video to share with students. Faculty can use this tool to capture video as part of a flipped classroom or use screencast videos to provide feedback to students. Also, CaptureSpace makes it easy to record audio as part of podcast lectures for online, hybrid, or technology assisted courses.
In this video Ben Kahn, Academic Technology Services, provides an overview of screencasting with CaptureSpace.
To get started with CaptureSpace visit https://sso.up.edu log in with UP credentials, and click on the MediaSpace icon.
To learn more about CaptureSpace visit
For more information contact AcademicTechnology Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Faculty can also follow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/upacademictech or IS at https://twitter.com/upinfoservices.
Phone: ext. 7000
Phone: ext. 7774
Academic Technology Services & Innovation