Alternative Use of Video in The Classroom – It’s Not Just for Homework Anymore

Guest post by FLN executive director, Kari Arfstrom.

Flipped Learning Network logoRecently, you may have heard about flipped learning. If you read any professional journals or education publications over the summer break, most of them have written at least one story on this new ideology. Every education blogger seems to have an opinion on the topic as well. National news organizations like CNN and NPR have covered it, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, which has done multiple stories. Your local newspaper or TV station may have run a story on a school in your area. Maybe you are a member of the Flipped Learning Ning and follow a group. So you’ve read about it, but have you tried it?

Survey says: Flipped learning boosts grades, attitudes, satisfaction

You may have decided to flip your classroom (or are thinking about it) to increase student interest and learning, to stave off doing the “same thing day after day,” and to utilize past technology purchases that can finally be realized as increasing satisfaction for both teachers and students. In a recent survey conducted in conjunction with the Flipped Learning Network™, 88% of almost 500 flipped educators said they have improved job satisfaction, with almost half (46%) indicating they had “significantly improved” their job satisfaction by utilizing a flipped learning approach.

The vast majority of educators who responded to the poll have more than 7 years of experience (85%) and have flipped their classroom two years or less. Most are high school teachers in science (46%), math (32%) or English classrooms (12%), but all subjects and grades are doing the flip! Teachers also indicated that student attitudes have improved (80%) and that test scores had also increased (67%). Every one of the nearly 500 respondents (except for one) said they would continue to use flipped learning in their classroom. Read more or take the survey at

Where and how to use video: 6 styles with examples

Infographic: Flipped classroom improves student learning and teacher satisfaction

Whether an emerging or experienced flipped educator, where the video comes in your lesson is up for discussion. Depending on your style of delivery, grade level, subject matter, or comfort in using technology, these various examples may benefit you as you dive into flipped learning and consider placement and other uses for video.

Below are links to just a few examples of when to use video – at the beginning to transfer basic knowledge, in the middle of the lesson to deepen the learning cycle, or to give your students their assignments. Videos can be interactive and address audiences other than students. You can post a video every day or once in a while. The options of when to use video are endless and it’s up to you – there is no right or wrong way to flip your class, it is what works for you and your students.

Style 1: Video introduces topic, class time expands on it

Many flipped educators record their lectures and post them for students to review prior to coming to class. Use of video in a “traditional” flipped classroom may look like this: the teacher first prepares the daily lecture, records the lesson, edits it, posts it, and then gives the URL to the students to view as their homework. And for some teachers and schools, this is exactly what works for them — the transfer of basic informational in a lecture format. This is the memory most of us have from our K-12 education. It has withstood the test of time as the main method of knowledge transfer, but this is changing quickly.

Don’t think of this new style of lecture capture and delivery as “talking head” lectures; more than likely the video is of a whiteboard or hand-held tablet where the teacher is explaining the equation or in a laboratory setting where an experiment is being conducted. Many videos are not even set in a classroom environment, but may occur outdoors, at museum, or other public setting.

Videos used to introduce new concepts, give instructions, or explain the rules are often assigned to students to watch prior to coming to class. For instance, watch Jason Hahnstdat as he explains the rules of Pickleball to his junior high physical education students before they come to class so they are ready to play. This is one of many examples of when video is best used prior to the class to convey instructions or knowledge.

Once a classroom has been flipped, educators may take this ideology to the next level of flipped learning. Working off the premise that Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams espouse in the book Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day (ISTE, ASCD, 2012), flipped teachers can explore other uses of how video may be used in the classroom (or outside the school) besides transferring foundational or basic knowledge to students.

Can’t see the video? Watch it on YouTube!

Style 2: Video interlude introduces a problem or challenge

Sometimes the videos works best in the middle of the lesson, particularity for Inquiry- or Problem-Based Learning. Inquiry-based learning starts with a question, not a statement. Students are more actively engaged in their learning and tend to conduct their evaluative and analytical work in group settings.

Here are a few examples of videos by science teachers Brian Bennett in Indiana and Marc Seigel in New Jersey and how they teach nucleus structure and kinetics and collision theory respectively. Or how high school English teacher Troy Cockrum, upon visiting the Indiana Museum of Art, saw a graph outlining plot structure where most people saw a modern sculpture. These videos are part of an overall unit and are building on previous knowledge or instruction. It also allows for teachers to personalize or differential instruction based on the needs of small groups of similarly situated students or each student.

Can’t see the video? Watch it on YouTube!

Style 3: Video introduces homework

Sometimes the video conveys the homework assignment so all the students get the same instructions whether they happen to be in class that day or absent. In New York, elementary math teacher Heather Mooney uses video to give assignments to her deaf and hard of hearing students, such as this one on Literal Equations and Converting Rates. Her dog Bishop plays the starring role!

Can’t see the video? Watch it on YouTube!

Style 4: Video prompts reflection

Videos can be interactive. California flipped teacher Lisa Highfill reads out loud to her students and asks them to pause the video so her elementary readers can reflect and write. In her Reading is Thinking: Nothing to Do assignment she asks her students to listen, look and ponder. And then has three writing prompts for them to do right there online in the middle and end of her lesson. Students can see each other’s work as they were asked to explain their answers, expound on a deeper meaning of the message, and “write long” on how the story relates to them as individuals.

Can’t see the video? Watch it on YouTube!

Style 5: Students teach with video

Other times the students create the video, either as part of their homework or a student-led project. Catholic school teacher Cockrum’s students often make videos to add to his online video library. Here is a high school student talking to her peers about Reading Genres—Types of Biographies. Other times, teachers may require students to conduct a final project, which may involve making a video. Rochester School for the Deaf teacher Mooney interprets as a student presents a summary on Right Triangles.

Can’t see the video? Watch it on YouTube!

Style 6: Video engages parents

Videos can convey messages to other audiences, such as parents. Or they can explain what flipped learning is to a general audience. Watch Crystal Kirsch from southern California as she offers this message to the parents of her Algebra I math students in this video called Introduction to the Flipped Classroom for Parents. Maryland private school teacher Stacey Roshan describes how videos help parents and students deal with anxiety they may have regarding AP Calculus: Ditching Anxiety: Flipping for lowering anxiety and increasing AP calculus scores.

Can’t see the video? Watch it on YouTube!

Explore flipped learning with video

Flipped learning pioneers, chemistry teachers, and Flipped Learning Network board members Jon Bergman and Aaron Sams have made a number of videos discussing flipped learning. Here are links to just a couple of them: The Flipped Classroom with Sams and Flipped-Mastery Classroom with Bergmann. A quick search on the terms “flipped classroom” or “flipped learning” yields thousands of videos for you to explore. By further refining your search by grade level or subject will help you to focus on what you need to assist you!

So make a video, record a lecture, ask students a question they can explore, let the parents of your students know what you are doing, or share your work with others…the limits to using video are endless.

To learn more about the Flipped Learning Network™ visit where you can join the online community of users and post your videos to share with other emerging and established flipped educators.

Kari ArfstromFLN executive director, Kari M Arfstrom is the founder and principal of Arfstrom Consulting with two decades of experience with K-12 education membership organizations (CoSN, NYLC, AESA and AASA). Prior to that, she worked for the U. S. House of Representatives and is a licensed language arts teacher in Minnesota. She is a current board member for the Rural School and Community Trust and a former board member for the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training (NCTET), the Education and Libraries Network Coalition (EdLiNC), and the Organizations Concerned about Rural Education (OCRE). Dr. Arfstrom has a degree and licensure in secondary education from Augsburg College and is a former language arts teacher in Minnesota. Her Master’s degree is in Library and Information Science from the Catholic University in Washington, DC. Her Ph.D., from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, is in Educational Leadership and Policy. Additional information can be found at