While flipping the classroom is still one of the hottest trends in education, it’s got nothing on time-saving and downright useful apps and web tools. In an effort to provide a quick look at some of the best web tools for flipped classrooms, I thought it would be useful to poll the @Edudemic Twitter followers.
POLL: What are your favorite apps and tools for flipped classrooms?
— Edudemic (@Edudemic) April 5, 2013
Including the tweets, I also got at least 40 emails from friends, colleagues, and administrators from around the world. One thing stood out to me: there were a lot of repeats! Many folks who have tried the flipped classroom model or are currently deploying it have leveraged a lot of the same web tools. Nearly all are free and most are actually tools you’re probably already using.
Below is a simple list designed to help get any educator, administrator, student, or parent a bit more familiar with some of the most popular web tools for flipped classrooms. They’re useful for a lot more than that, of course. But they are all recommended to me by others and not just picked randomly out of a hat. Although that would be quite a hat.
About The Tool: Wikispaces is a free and useful web tool designed to give students (or ‘users’ of any kind, really) the ability to share their thoughts, reflect on the work of others, and edit a body of work together. It’s a powerful wiki service that is in use around the world.
Using In Flipped Classrooms: Many teachers who wrote into the ol’ Edudemic account say they use Wikispaces to power their classroom blog. In order to do so, the teachers task students with the responsibility of keeping tabs on what their various projects (many use PBL situations too) are doing. Others wrote in saying that they use Wikispaces as a means to pose questions to a flipped classroom where students must determine the answer in an online collaboration space. Wikispaces has been a solid go-to web tool for many and it’s no surprise it’s being leveraged by flipped classrooms!
About The Tool: By far one of the most popular educational web tools available, Poll Everywhere is being used by classrooms, conferences, and with audiences large and small to get instant feedback. From presentations to keynotes to question-and-answer situations, it’s a useful (and free) tool for any classroom.
Using In Flipped Classrooms: The tool makes itself a perfect method for garnering feedback from students, by students. The teacher doesn’t even need to be involved. According to what we’re hearing from our friends who wrote in, flipped classrooms use Poll Everywhere to enable students to keep track of the learning process among their classmates. Giving students control of the tool has proven to be quite effective.
About The Tool: Edmodo may very well be the most-used web tool in education right now. So it’s no surprise that it’s popular among flipped classrooms. In case you haven’t tried it out, Edmodo is a classroom management platform designed to facilitate learning in all directions. By that I mean it lets students ask questions to other students, teacher to student, parent to teacher, etc. You get the idea.
Using In Flipped Classrooms: Students continue discussions online, run polls, and can ask questions of classmates and others. It’s easy to see how Edmodo can be used in a classroom where the student controls their own pace of learning. Edmodo provides an always-on learning location that flipped teachers are really embracing.
About The Tool: Screencast may not seem like a prime example of a flipped classroom tool, but it’s evidently quite popular. I’d say about 25% of all respondents to a few polls done by myself (not scientific, quite informal) recommended Screencast as one web tool to definitely try out. It lets you make your own (duh) screencasts and then gives you the full license to the product you just created.
Using In Flipped Classrooms: Designed to work with Jing and Camtasia (other popular products by TechSmith), Screencast is great for students looking to learn from each other, record their thoughts and share on a classroom website (see the Edmodo tool above!) or just submit homework by showing how they did something online. Long story short, many teachers say their flipped classrooms use Screencast because it’s so simple. Sounds good to me.
About The Tool: Used by many teachers who wrote in in southeast Asia and parts of Australia, Celly is a hit with schools with limited network reliability and availability. It works by letting groups of people (classrooms, student groups, etc.) create a ‘cell’ using the app. A cell is a mobile social network that works with any mobile phone or device. Members can join instantly with one text and exchange group messages, polls, reminders, and web alerts.
Using In Flipped Classrooms: Students use Celly to connect with one another at any time, anywhere. They use the text-based social network to pose questions of each other, direct learning, and even create assignments based on where students want to go in their learning next. Amazing stuff!
About The Tool: Dropbox enables students, teachers, and parents to work off the same set of information at the same time. It’s a popular cloud storage service that is free (for basic version) and lets you have a classroom folder that every student can pull and place data in.
Using In Flipped Classrooms: The big method of implementing Dropbox in flipped classrooms is for homework and exit slips. Assignments can be turned in, handed out, and reports can even be peer reviewed. Exit slips can be safely delivered to parents and teachers by utilizing specific folders that people are ‘invited’ to. Once invited, you can place any document, link, photo, or other media file in and share it with anyone around the world. So it’s great for online learning too!
About The Tool: It’s YouTube. C’mon. Okay, you’ve never heard of it? Seriously? It’s an online video site where you can watch just about anything. At last count, a bazillion videos were uploaded every second. Most are not useful for education but many are. They’re in the YouTube EDU and a few other related search-based queries. Like, let’s say, flipped classrooms!
Using In Flipped Classrooms: YouTube is being used to help students learn from people like Sal Khan and other YouTube educators to augment and add to their own learning. Many flipped classrooms use YouTube as a means to have students learn at their own pace, on their own time, and with each other. It’s a collaborative learning process where the teacher acts more like a ‘guide on the side’ rather than a ‘sage on the stage.’
About The Tool: One of the most powerful tools in education, Twitter is by far the most popular tools among educators. It dwarfs most of the other web tools that teachers are using (aside from YouTube) and lets anyone build their own personalized learning network or professional learning network (PLN).
Using In Flipped Classrooms: Teachers use Twitter to learn about new and exciting learning models, apps, tools (hey that’s like this post!), and to connect with others. Students in flipped classrooms are, according to respondents, using Twitter to build out their peer network and endeavoring to work in a more collaborative fashion. This is done mostly using hashtag chats and dedicated classroom Twitter accounts, it seems.
About The Tool: Evernote is simply a tool that lets you take all your thoughts with you. It’s like having an infinitely more powerful memory. Who needs a brain when you have an app or tool like Evernote? All joking aside, it’s a useful tool that lets you access your notes and other documents anywhere. Useful for all kinds of teachers and very simple to use.
Using In Flipped Classrooms: Many respondents say they use Evernote as a means to help their students in a 1:1 device environment. Mind you, they’re not all 1:1 iPad environments, many emphasized that they have a 1:1 ‘device’ classroom that’s flipped. So that could mean anything. Luckily, Evernote works on just about every single platform out there. Students use it to sync their thoughts and ideas as a group and separately.
About The Tool: Teaching Channel is a video showcase—on the Internet and TV—of inspiring and effective teaching practices in America’s schools. We have a rapidly growing community of registered members who trade ideas and share inspiration from each other.
Using In Flipped Classrooms: Like YouTube, the videos on Teaching Channel are specifically designed for education and useful for anyone of any age looking to learn more about topics like flipped classrooms. One of the most popular ways of using Teaching Channel in flipped classrooms seems to be students finding their own favorite videos and then trying to make their own similar to the ones they like.
What are your favorite web tools for flipped classrooms? Do you absolutely rely on anything in particular or are you more of a ‘whatever I have time to use’ kinda teacher? Weigh in down the comments and I’ll update this list!