Flipped Teaching is NOT about making videos

I was chatting with a History teacher this week, who like most history teachers, was discussing how much content he had to get through and how some students just couldn’t handle the load. I naturally turned to my spiel about flipped-teaching offering just about every solution to every teaching problem, I’ve already listed many in a previous post. But it was the next bit that interested me. The teacher explained that he could understand the benefits of videoing one’s class explanations and even had the technical skills to do so, but he couldn’t picture the rest of the teaching practice around such an approach. He asked “so what do we then do? What do I do? what do the students do?”

I can make videos … but then what?

I realised that to help and encourage more teachers to use flipped-teaching as a start to the process of shifting responsibility for learning to the students, I needed to provide a ‘bigger picture’ model and include ideas about class activity and the new role of the teacher. A key thing to note is that teachers continue to have to scaffold but it’s the activity and student roles within it that needs structuring to up-skill young people in the process of learning. Here’s my summary (also available in the poster)


Start by announcing you will not attempt to teach the class as a whole anything from now on. It’s simple fact that the traditional whole-class teaching approach dreams that all students will receive and understand all explanation equally and always fails in the process. Everything they need to understand will be available in short videos to be watched when it best suits each individual. As well as making the videos, the teacher will be introducing learning games and processes to ensure everyone knows how to act alone and with others as they ensure they can tackle problems and prepare for assessment. Note: when asked, students will display the natural fear of change and opt for the classroom’s status quo, be that flipped or traditional. Give flipped a go and improve both grades and the quality of school leavers simultaneously.


The importance of any knowledge or skill is now in constant flux as the world increasingly defines new problems and finds new solutions each year. The information and concepts explained in the videos are only vehicles to the acquisition of skills and processes for students to become masters of their own learning and development. 21st century industries demand that people can work with others to develop solutions and learn as they go. Teachers still need to scaffold, but now it’s the process & routines for learning and problem-solving that need to be explained and practiced. For example, classes are now using design-thinking to compose essays and using project-based learning to understand the nature of science. These behavioural processes are well documented online and empower the students to be more useful and productive individuals as the tackle the existing curriculum as it is. The shift of content to video also means the teacher is also now more free to work directly with individual or teams of students as they learn to collaborate and measure their own progress.


While the students initially practice the scaffolded processes like design-thinking, project-based learning and structured peer-critique, the teacher can gather material and prepare to make the videos that explain the content of the course for students to access when needed or appropriate. Screen-recording or using a whiteboard app to record explanations and then uploaded to a single youtube playlist means a single link can be used by students to access the videos inside or outside the class, at different paces and often multiple times. Two important things to note is that the mindset towards responsibility for learning is shifted to the student and class time is saved and better spent as students decide on structured, collaborative processes to develop and tackle challenges around the material in the videos. The practice in decision-making about schedule and approach is often missing from schools resulting in the average school-leaver not being prepared to be an active employee, keen and confident to input ideas. Note: when videoed, the content of any one-year course takes under 4 hours to explain and demonstrate.


The combination of the 3 steps above leads to students who expect to and are confident to take charge of and responsibility for the learning & decision-making. All this while having the time to develop structured, collaborative learning skills and processes for tackling any challenge. This is a significant change for the majority of students who currently only see themselves as passive receivers of knowledge and skills, while teachers are responsible for any learning success. Our current school population will face pressures and challenges like no generation before them. It is only fair on them to offer practice at taking charge of a situation and working with others to create knew knowledge from strong learning practices.