Flipping the classroom with mini-lectures

I read an interesting article in Inside Higher Ed this week about the story of a marketing professor at Central Michigan University. In this article, Mike Garver, a self-proclaimed great lecturer, explains his process to remove lecturing from his classroom altogether:

“I kind of gave up lecturing in the classroom,” Garver says, adding that he was tired of having to choose between introducing ideas and letting students try putting them into practice. “There was never enough time for both,” he says.

Instead, he creates mini-lectures on his computer to introduce topics students should master.

This is how Garver lectures these days: He gives his lectures alone, at home, on his own time, into a microphone. “I get fired up with coffee, I go into the studio, and I just start cranking out lectures,” he says.

He then uses his class time this way:

At the beginning of each class, Garver uses classroom clickers to quiz students on the concepts covered in the previous night’s lectures. For the rest of the class period, Garver typically divides the students into teams and asks them to apply those concepts to specific use cases. “What we can focus on is the upper end of Bloom’s Taxonomy,” he says — that is, hands-on learning.

The rise of online video

Online video is now so easy to create, edit, store, and access. UD faculty can create them using the self-service UD Capture room in 309 Gore Hall, in addition to whatever free service that’s available, such as Youtube or Jing, and the multitude of cheap recording devices such as Flip cameras, webcams, and smartphones.

Khan Academy is entirely based on one guy recording his screen and narration. Production costs are coming down to nearly zero, but potential impact is global (if you do it right).

Online video works because it’s short. “Chunking” your lecture into short videos seems to work best at making sure you stay focused, and that your students won’t get overwhelmed.

Garver says he believes that even disciplined minds have trouble focusing on something as dense as a lecture for more than 15 minutes. When he first began recording lectures and assigning them outside of class, Garver says his students sometimes found it even more difficult to stick with the lectures amid the distractions of home than in the classroom, where they were at least a captive audience. “They’d say, ‘Oh my God, that hour-long lecture — what were you thinking?’” Garver says.

The School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania has a series they call the 60-Second Lecture, that relies on the same principle. Here’s an example:

So please comment on the following questions:
  • Has online video changed your teaching practices?
  • Can you envision other ways your class could change to take advantage of online video?

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