Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Forget Flipping. Think Maximizing. Conference Presentation Links

"Forget Flipping. Think Maximizing" -- Links and Resources!

This summer (2016), I have had the honor of talking about my Maximized Classroom concept at both the International D2L Fusion Conference (in Washington DC), and the D2L Ignite Asia-Pacific Conference (in Gold Coast, Australia).

Presenting at the D2L Fusion Conference in D.C.

The following are the links, slides, and resources I reference in that presentation:


References and Resources:

Crowd-Sourced Info:

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Great "Flipped Classroom" Debate

Flipped Classrooms
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Virtually ever since the term was coined in 2007 by a couple of secondary STEM teachers in Colorado, the “Flipped Classroom” has been a topic of buzz, hype, and contention in the education community, with that debate escalating exponentially in the early/mid 2010s. 

Just take a look at this chart that tracks the number of articles on Google Scholar with the phrase “flipped classroom” in the title since 2007:

From 2011 to 2015, this number jumped from almost nothing to over 500 published articles a year.  A search I made on on reveals 134 separate book titles related to the “Flipped Classroom,” with the majority of those being published in 2014 or later.  However, despite all this buzz -- or perhaps because of it -- not all of the opinions being published about the Flipped Classroom concept are positive ones. 

In fact, some of the more recent headlines are downright nasty:



Could it be that this wunderkind teaching method has totally fallen out of favor as quickly as it rose to fame and glory?

To try and get a “health check” of public opinion regarding the value of the flipped classroom, I did a rather unscientific study of current opinion in the educational blogosphere.  I did some neutral Google searches - for phrases like “does flipped classroom work,” “flipped classroom opinion” and “flipped classroom good or bad,” and catalogued the first 20 opinion-based articles and blog posts I found.

The overall tone of the 20 articles fell into 4 main categories:  For, Neutral, Moderately Against, and Strongly Against. (Though I suppose it is worth pointing out that together the 2 “Against” categories contain over twice as many articles as the “For” category.”)  In the rest of this post, I'll be letting these various articles have a friendly debate regarding the nature of the Flipped Classroom.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

40 Ways to Digitize Instruction

In a previous post, I told you how to "Be Wise, Digitize, Maximize," and I promised that I would share a list of strategies you can use for the "digitize" step.

Here is that list, sorted into my 6 Categories of Instructional Activities:


  • Curate (find) digital presentations of your course content (YouTube Videos, TED Talks, podcasts, online articles, etc.), and share electronically with your students.
  • Create short videos of your lecture material for students to view outside of class.
  • Provide your students with PowerPoint slides for a topic, but rather than providing the lecture, ask them to record a mini-lecture based on one or more slides.  Then combine the students recordings, and post the cumulative lecture video series for the entire class.
  • Create a "lecture blog" (kind of like this one), in which you write up blog-style lectures on various topics (preferably including images, video, and links).  Share individual posts with your students for out-of-class viewing.
  • In lieu of a lecture, create a virtual scavenger hunt for students, leading them through various sources and types of information they need to read/view... or have students create their own scavenger hunt!
  • Create a lecture podcast (make sure to either work from a script/outline, so that you have have a transcription, or use the Speech-to-Text option on your phone/tablet to create a decent transcription on the fly), and post both the audio and transcription for students in your LMS.


  • Provide video/audio feedback to your students on individual assignments.  (The Turnitin iPad app is great for this, as is PDF Expert 5!)
  • Create/curate digital rubrics to simplify the grading process for you, and make it more transparent for your students.
  • Hold an "asynchronous master class" by posting an anonymous sample of student work, then providing your critiques and suggestions on that work, either in writing or via video.
  • After an in-class discussion, post or send out to students a summary of the items discussed (a la meeting minutes).  You can also assign this task to students!
  • Post regular "reflection" videos or blog posts, in which you share with students your thoughts on the overall class progress, your current thoughts on the subject matter, and your suggestions for the class.  This could be done either in writing or via video.
  • Post video or written tutorials that explain exactly WHERE assignment feedback is located within your LMS (because students always have a hard time finding it!).


  • Assign low-credit or pass/fail quizzes in your LMS that require critical thinking.
  • Provide "thinking questions" along with online lectures or readings.
  • Set up discussion board assignments that require your students to choose a side in a content-related debate, then defend their position.
  • Play "20 Questions," with your students using the discussion board -- your students must determine what course-related object/event/person you are thinking of, by asking yes/no questions in the discussion board (which you -- or a board moderator -- will promptly answer).  Students submit their guesses via the Dropbox or email, with a possible prize for the student who guesses correctly first.
  • Play "Devil's Advocate" on the discussion board -- either by taking an oppositional stance yourself, or assigning one or more students to do so.
  • Create an online, Buzz-feed style quiz (the online tool Qzzr works great!) for your students that relates to course content.  Ask students to share their results via a Discussion Board or in class -- or have them create their own quiz!
  • Show and Tell Discussion Board Assignment -- students come up with one question they still have about the current course topic, find a video or article that answers that question, and post the link to the resource in the discussion board.
  • Have students keep a digital journal (either video, audio, or text-based) throughout the course. Provide them with journal prompts that encourage higher-level thinking.


  • Provide students with an online library of supplemental materials (in a variety of digital formats) that connect course content to current events or other areas of student interest.
  • Use social media to connect your students to individuals and current events in your field.
  • Use a class hashtag to connect/share information on the web.
  • Have students use an app like Vine to record a quick video in which they connect a topic they learned to their lives or interests after each class.  (Instructors can do the same!)  Then use hastags and a website like VineViewer to share all the class vines.
  • Use online mind-mapping tools to share concepts with your students (and consider having them submit mind maps as assignments).
  • Use Prezis to create presentations that show students the relationships between concepts (and have them use it, too!)
  • Give students brief "Experiment" assignments, in which they must form a hypothesis, test that hypothesis, and report on their results.
  • Have students spend time outside of class, finding photograph evidence of a course topic in the "real world," then share those photos with the class.


  • Use online sign-up services to allow students to sign up for one-on-one sessions or to reserve group work spaces.
  • Post an editable "Google Doc" in your online classroom where students can "call dibs" on research topics or create collective study guides.
  • Have students keep a Group Work log in a group discussion board, so you can monitor their group progress outside of class.
  • Instead of spending class time discussing the requirements for a specific assignment, create an FAQ page, discussion board, or video, where you answer common student questions and explain the assignment.
  • Make video/audio recordings of in-class performances or presentations; post in an online platform/classroom where students can evaluate themselves and/or their classmates.
  • When facilitating individual/group presentations, keep a current presentation schedule in the LMS, along with ready-made quizzes for student feedback on each presentation.


  • Use automated feedback systems within your LMS to provide students with immediate and personalized feedback on their online quizzes and assignment submissions, even on their overall course progress.
  • Post regular encouraging/inspiring messages and images for your students within the LMS.  (If you've never heard of the tumblr page "Skeletor is Love," I highly recommend it as a source of inspiring memes.
  • Use chat tools or video conferencing software for digital office hours.
  • Use screen capture tools (like Camtasia or the Explain Everything app) to create short demonstrations that walk students through tricky problems or tasks.
  • Provide steps, scaffolding, and checkpoints to help students complete big projects online -- have students research possible final project topics early in the class, or have them submit practice assignments throughout the course if the "big final project" is to be in a non-traditional format (such as video).
  • Gamify various classroom elements, awarding students with digital "badges" when they have completed various tasks.  Or have students choose "screen names," so that you can post results and badges semi-anonymously.

Got more suggestions?  Please feel free to share them in the comments below!

Also, check out these great websites for more suggestions on how to digitize elements in your classroom: