What Are the Common Technical Challenges to Flipping A Classroom?

Adopting a new approach to teaching is never easy.

Flipping the classroom asks educators to change their approach to lectures and classroom time, and requires buy-in both from students and administration in order to take root and succeed.

University of Birmingham Case Study - Panopto Flipped Classroom PlatformThese challenges are well-documented — and educators at the forefront of the flipped classroom movement have already uncovered many potential answers.

We’ve written extensively on the latest developments in classroom flipping — you can find some of our latest reports on the thought behind the strategy on our website, including:

Beyond these conceptual challenges, however, there is another equally vexing hurdle that catches many first-time flippers off guard:

The technology.

Sample Flipped Class Lecture - Panopto Video PlatformFlipping calls on educators to share lecture materials in advance for student review. Practically speaking, for the majority of flipped classrooms, this means creating some form of short video lecture — sometimes called a “microlecture”— that may be composed of a screen recording of slides, a webcam-recording of the teacher, video of a demonstration, or some combination of the three — and then sharing the resulting recording in a way that makes it easily available for students.

As the inverted classroom’s early adopters have discovered, that simple mandate can add up to all kinds of technical issues. And without a system or a plan in place to manage them, those issues can quickly derail even the most enthusiastic flipper.

So what are the key technical considerations that educators need to manage when setting up a flipped classroom?

While every institution’s needs are different, we’ve found five big categories of technical difficulties that schools and universities should prepare for when planning to flip:

  1. Consistent, accessible, secure video storage
    Too many schools fail to plan for where to save their video content, and how to make that content available to students. Video files can be large, and without some planning, they may consume a significant amount of network space and bandwidth capacity. Some educators attempt to work around this problem by using public YouTube pages or file sharing services like DropBox. This however, can create a disjointed experience for students, and may also pose problems for data security or copyright issues.
  2. Support for recording video from any location
    Hardware-based solutions designed to be installed a classroom for capturing lectures simply don’t cut it for flipped classrooms. Flipped classrooms need to be flexible and enable teachers to record any kind of video, from anywhere, at any time.
  3. The ability to capture anything and everything in a single video
    Great teachers know that the classroom exists everywhere. Whether it’s experiments in the lab, out “in the field” conducting remote demonstrations, or simply sharing one more concept from a home office, instructors need the ability to record video from anywhere.
  4. Watching videos anytime, anywhere, on any device
    A professor’s flipped classroom lectures may be worthy of an Academy Award, but they’d be all for naught if students can’t actually watch them due to file formatting issues. This is a problem that gets more complicated with every new recording device and every new viewing platform — if students aren’t able to watch a video on the devices they have (and that’s no given: as just one example, Apple’s iPhones and iPads famously don’t support Flash video), they won’t be prepared when they get to class.
  5. Searching video files for specific content
    Nothing builds up an extensive video library quite like regularly recording classroom lectures — most flipped classrooms record dozens or even hundreds of hours over the course of a semester. But video is notoriously difficult to search, meaning that as finals draw close and students start studying, they’ll be left with few options for finding the exact content they want to review.

Failing to account for any of these challenges can limit your success with the flipped classroom. Fortunately, early adopters are already uncovering best practices to answering each of these questions.

Find Out More!
ICONx - Flipped Classroom - 5 Technical Details to Consider - White Paper - Panopto Video PlatformTake a deeper look into the flipped classroom evolution, including the foundational strategy and early results that have so many teachers excited, in our latest white paper, So You’ve Decided To Flip Your Classroom.

In it, we discuss the five most important technologies schools should consider when researching or implementing the flipped classroom, including:

  • How to make videos easily available, consistently and securely
  • How to enable teachers to record video in any location
  • Ensuring instructors can record anything, no matter how complex
  • Ensuring students can watch videos anytime, anywhere, on any device
  • Ensuring students can find any topic in any video when needed

Download your free copy today!

Published: August 27, 2014

Recommended Articles