Tag Team Tech October 2012

The Flipping Librarian

Joyce Kasman Valenza

October 2012

One of the things I am gearing up for this fall is to help a growing number of interested teachers to flip.

Just in case you’ve missed it, many educators are thinking about flipping.

What is flipping?

Flipping the classroom changes the place in which content is delivered. If the teacher assigns lecture-type instruction in the form of video, simulations, slidecasts, readings, or podcasts as homework, then class time can be used interactively. The class becomes conversation space, creation space, space where teachers actively facilitate learning.  The home becomes the lecture space. The hundred+ year-old frontal teaching model flips.

Flipping frees face-to-face classroom time for interactive and applied learning, activities that inspire critical thinking, exploration, inquiry, discussion, collaboration, problem solving.  So, the classroom and the library become more learner-centered.

According to teachers Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, considered by many the co-founders of the movement, the Flipped Classroom begins with one question: What’s the best use of your face-to-face class time?

In this short video, Sams explains the rationale behind his shift in classroom practice:

The Flipped Classroom by Aaron Sams

For much more information and a conceptual model, read the work of Jackie Gerstein and follow her Flipped Classroom Scoop.it.  See Jackie’s Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture for her illustrated overview.

An Illustration of Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture

Does flipping work?

It’s a bit early for research, but TechLearning recently shared the preliminary results of an ongoing survey initiated by the Flipped Learning Network.

Of 453 flipped educators surveyed:

  • 88 percent said flipping improved their own job satisfaction
  • 67 percent reported improved student test scores
  • 80 percent reported improved student attitude
  • 99 percent said they would do it again next year

Flipping for differences

The Flipped Classroom Manifest explains describes how a flipped strategy allows teachers to meet the different needs of learners:

You could take valuable class time and have everyone get their calculator and follow you step-by-step, with some students bored and ahead, and some students behind.  You need to stop class and get students caught up if they missed a step. Then a day, week, or month later, you will need to go through the steps again to remind kids of the process.  Or you could create a simple five-minute video showing the steps to enter data and run a linear regression. This is a permanent archived tutorial. Advanced students may never need to watch the video again. All students can re-watch the video as needed. Now, there is more class time for data collection, collaboration, and application.

Flipping is not outsourcing

Successful flipped classroom teachers often publish and archive their own instructional content. Though a wonderful array of out-sourced video instruction is available, much of it the form of OER (open educational resources), it may not meet local needs and it may not be as personally relevant as home-grown instruction.  Teacher Katie Gimbar makes a compelling argument for why teachers need to create their own customized content for their classes:

Katie Gimbar\’s Flipped Classroom – why it has to be me!

But what about the librarian?

I’ve done a bit of reading, but I haven’t seen any of the flipped educators discuss the role of their librarian in their practice. But I see flipping as a serious sweet spot for the talents of librarians.  And I believe that school, public and academic librarians can play a role.

1. Who better to introduce the concept of flipping to a school or a department?  We are already (hopefully) trusted tech scouts in our schools. We know our teachers and their teaching styles. We can predict which teachers will best blossom with a flipped approach and help those who are flipping-curious begin with a hybrid approach.

2. Who better to help educators select and curate the best possible bounty of educational content available? Flipping takes advantage of the new wealth of shared educational content and open education resources.  Finding and evaluating resources to support content area learning is already our business.  Knowing the curriculum and the needs of our teachers, we can scan the content of  TED-ed with its new archive of beautifully animation-enhanced and personally flippable TED talks, as well the wealth of content on sites like the OER Commons, Curriki, Khan Academy, SolveforX and MIT Open Courseware. There’s so much more. Check out our guides to open educational resources and documentary and nonfiction film. In our excitement about OER, it may be easy to forget that flipping can also exploit more traditional library content. Flipped teachers should take full advantage of the fabulous content we have in subscription databases containing content in all media flavors–video, print, newsfeeds, ebooks, journals, and more.

3. Who better to provide the professional development for the large number of teachers who need support before they are up to full flipping capability themselves? Who better to help educators discover and use the most effective tools and copyright-friendly media for creating or remixing customized instructional content?  We’ve already taken the lead in introducing digital storytelling, presentation, poster-making, digital publishing, curating, organizational, and documentation tools to students and teachers.  This is the year to provide instruction in creating learning artifacts using screencasting, slidecasting, video lectures, digital stories, instructional posters, and simulations. It is only logical that we introduce the tools that can enhance teachers’ abilities to engagingly create and publish original, personalized instruction. In fact, I think it goes way further than introducing the tools.  What I’d like to do is to work closely with our teachers in producing instruction. Here’s a list of just a few of the slidecasting/screensharing tools available, and my wiki for our teachers and our guide to copyright-friendly media.

4. And speaking of instruction and collaborating with classroom teachers, who better to guide and work with students to create content to contribute to the instructional archive? Take a look at the work of Mr. Marcos and his students on Mathtrain.com.  Take a look at the grammar lessons produced by our library and our video classes and archived alongside available professional material.  Real learning is evident when students are able to teach the content. Archiving their efforts validates student work. Sharing and publishing the work of students models for them the importance of participation in a community of practice.

5. And finally, what better to flip than the library?  Library instruction is ripe for flipping, too. In fact, many of us already maintain a comprehensive virtual library.  And many of those virtual libraries curate learning material from our own video channels, poster archives, slide archives, guides to projects and lessons and tools. We share our professional development, our lessons, tutorials in effective questioning, searching, documentation, thesis building, research strategies, and more.

Perhaps, as a profession, we could be sharing this instruction more effectively. Frankly, I’d like to see an archive like the Cooperative Library Instruction Project (CLIP) for the k12 practitioners.  (Hmmm . . .  I think I see a new crowdsourcing platform on the horizon.)

And physically, if more student research happens at home, should the library function even more heavily as making space?  I’ve said many times, that our libraries are now more kitchen than grocery store–more transformational than transactional. When they are in the library, I want to make sure that learners exploit their opportunities to collaborate and create, not merely access our resources.

I know from our stats that students use the resources of our virtual library heavily when they are not in the library–when they are in classes or at home or on the bench at sports.  I want to make sure that our virtual platform solidly supports instruction, learning and creativity, and that includes its mobile version.

Many librarians and libraries are already flipped, so I thought I’d flip this post a bit. Here’s a learning playlist on flipping.

Flipped Classroom and Flipping Strategies

A list of mostly free platforms for flipping content

Slide narration

1. SlideRocket EDU: part of some Google Apps EDU packages, the presentation platform offers the ability to import presentations from PowerPoint or Google Docs, embed media, publish easily, access Flickr’s Creative Commons search, collaborate, analyze metrics, update presentations without replacing them, and store assets.

2.  MyBrainshark: add voice to PowerPoint, documents, images, speadsheets, or videos.  (MyBrainshark supports nearly 100 video formats.)  Polls may be inserted. Users may add narration with their phones or computer microphones or by uploading a pre-recorded MP3.  Speaker notes may be displayed as a support.  And visual dashboards allow creators to track viewing results.

3. Present.me: upload slides and images, in either .ppt or .pdf formats.  The program converts your files and allows you to record and present into your webcam as if you were presenting to an audience. A basic account is free and will allow you to record presentations up to 15-minutes long.

4. Movenote: offers a similar arrangement of recorded side content accompanied with photos, PowerPoint slides, text documents or even videos. Movenote synchronizes the video and the side content for you when recording the presentation.

5. HelloSlide is a .pdf-only tool that allows you to add computer-generated voice to your documents.  Upload your presentation, type the speech for each slide, and the programs automatically generates audio.  Presentations are searchable, editable, and available in 20 different languages.  An edit feature allows you to tweak the speech without re-recording the audio. Translations are available as a paid feature.  This may be useful for ESL learners.  The English voice reminds me very much of the one used on Xtranormal.  (Note: it is super easy to export PowerPoint and Keynote files as .pdfs.)

6. PowToon: still in BETA, PowToon is an animated presentation tool that offers narration and features cartoon-like graphics, text and effects.

Screencasting tools

1. Screenr:  allows you to capture images from your desktop, select the location and size of the capture, and record your voice over the action on your screen.  A pause button allows you to take a break.  Login through Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo!, Google, Linkedin, or Windows Live ID, and you are ready to record and instantly publish on your platform of choice. Of course, you can also embed elsewhere. You are limited to 5 minutes of recording.

2. Screencast-o-Matic: records screen actions within the chosen dotted border.  After the count-down, you may record and then publish to the Screencast-o-matic site, to YouTube, or to a video file.  The free application limits you to a 15-minute presentation. Registration is not essential unless you choose to save to the Screencast-o-matic site.  If you are registered, you can add notes and captions–a lovely feature for distant or flipped instruction!  A Pro-account offers sophisticated editing functions.

3. Jing:  The free version of Jing requires a download (for Windows or Mac).  Using the docked sun tool, users may record up to five minutes of onscreen video and instantly share using Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or Screencast.com (Jing’s storage area  allows two gigs of space).  You can mark up screenshots with text boxes, arrows, highlighting, or captions.  Jing is also a handy tool for capturing screen images.

4. Camtasia by TechSmith, the makers of Screenr, is not free, but it is a reasonably-priced full-function screen capture tool that allows users to customize and edit videos, record on-screen activity, add imported media, create interactive content, and share high-quality videos.

Assorted other tools

1. Tildee: for creating and sharing web-based step-by-step, how-to-do-it, illustrated tutorials

2. MentorMob: for creating, sharing and collaborating on embedable learning playlists from Web content and all sorts of imported media.

3. Learni.st: create embeddable Learn Boards on topics by pointing to videos, blogs, images and documents on the web. Board creation permissions are granted on a rolling basis.

4. It may be important to realize that PowerPoint and other presentation programs allow for recording of narration and for saving as video files. Mac users with recent versions of QuickTime can also easily record their screens. Files will be saved in QuickTime (.mov) format and may be edited using either QuickTime or iMovie.

5. And then, of course it is possible to use the wide variety of digital storytelling tools as tools for instructional content.

Joyce Kasman Valenza loves her work as the librarian at Springfield Township High School (PA)! For ten years, she was the techlife@schoolcolumnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Joyce is the author of Power Tools, Power Research Tools and Power Tools Recharged for ALA Editions. (PowerTools Remixed is currently in progress.) She currently blogs for School Library Journal. Her NeverendingSearch Blog (now on the SLJWeb site) won an Edublogs Award for 2005, was nominated in 2008, and won again in 2009. She was awarded the AASL/Highsmith research grant in 2005. Her Virtual Library won the IASL School Library Web Page of the Year Award for 2001. She has won her state’s PSLA Outstanding Program (2005) and Outstanding Contributor (2009) Awards. Joyce is active in ALA, AASL, YALSA, and ISTE and contributes to Classroom ConnectVOYA,Technology and Learning, and School Library Journal. Joyce speaks nationally and internationally about issues relating to libraries and thoughtful use of educational technology. She earned her doctoral degree in Information Science from the University of North Texas in August, 2007.Resumé.Full C.V. Contact Joyce at joyce_valenza@sdst.org

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