Saturday, June 9, 2012

Reflections on a Year of YouTube and Flipping the Classroom

This past summer, I was fortunate to be selected to participate in a full day of training in screencasting and flipped teaching at the YouTube Teacher Studio at the Google offices in Kirkland.  It was a fantastic day of learning and connecting with other educators doing great things to improve learning.  Many thanks go to Will Houghtelling, Jim Sill, James Sanders and Ramsey Musallam for the fantastic professional development they offered.  And also to excellent new colleagues like Karen Mensing who contributed heavily to my personal learning network.

Often times when we go back to the realities of our regular jobs, the excitement of our new learnings fade, and we don't follow through with those big plans we had.  I was determined to really make an effort to incorporate YouTube and Flipped teaching into my work with teachers this year.   Each month I contributed playlists to YouTube/teachers - and about half the time I teamed up with a content specialist to on this partly because I don't have any specific classes of my own, and partly to promote the use of YouTube.  Additionally I teamed up with a fantastic Physics teacher and co-led two 45 minute Flipped Teaching Salons (designed to spark interest amongst other teachers) during a Professional Development day.  The sessions were well received by the 25 attendees.  These salons were the spark for many 1 on 1 follow up sessions where I worked with teachers to be able to use the tools on their Mac to record instruction then post to YouTube.  Two teachers I work with have really gotten into the method.  The Physics teacher I mentioned with YouTube channel "druceisp" (although it is still private) has uploaded 294 videos to date, and is completely restructuring how he organizes his courses.  Our guitar teacher is getting started on recording EVERY lesson for his beginning guitar classes (tonyackermanguitar). He only has about 10 public at this time, but will be "releasing" them as appropriate, timed with his classes next year. I've really enjoyed the thoughtful conversations that have come about while supporting teachers in this methodology.

Wanting to use YouTube to host some excellent, creative, student content, I helped the European Student Film Festival design a channel and get all of their student submissions and "24 Hour Challenge Films" online for viewing by a larger audience.

I also made a commitment to do more screencasting myself.  When ever I was asked a question that was best answered by showing, I tried to take the time to do it with a video so that I would have it to use again the next time I was asked.  Similarly, when working with teachers on longer projects, such as an interview project in Psychology where the final product was a podcast, I used video to record instruction that could be accessed at anytime, making the instruction so much more meaningful to the various groups of students.  My screencasting skills have improved over the year, and I'm much quicker now (although it is still difficult to listen/watch my own videos).

Looking back, I'm so grateful for the training I received at the YouTube Teacher Studio, and thankful for the connections and friendships made.  YouTube is an extremely flexible and relevant tool that is easily adapted for use in the educational realm.  Screencasting and YouTube are now just part of my daily work flow.

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