Modern technology has triggered spectacular innovation in chemistry education. For instance, computer and internet accessibility has given rise to the flipped classroom. A technique that was popularized by two Colorado high school teachers in 20061, where some of the instruction that would normally occur in the classroom is formatted so that it's accessible at home by way of the internet. Nowadays, most educators are at least somewhat familiar with the flipped classroom model. Since its inception, numerous books, workshops, and conferences have emerged. However, some aspects of the model are still questioned.2 For instance, how is classroom time appropriately utilized within this format? Additionally, how should a video tutorial be structured for maximum effectiveness?
Since 2013, I have been creating video tutorials for use in a flipped classroom setting. Over the years, the format of my videos has evolved as I’ve uncovered the best practices in technique. More or less, a quality video tutorial will follow a similar format to that of a good classroom lesson, albeit somewhat condensed:
- Start with a hook
- Provide an overview of the Learning Objectives
- Engage students in the content
- Evaluate learning with some kind of assessment
- Conclude with a summary of the knowledge that was presented
I’ll explain each of these elements as I use them in the YouTube videos below.
Based on YouTube analytics, I’ve discovered that on average, 15 - 30% of viewers stop watching within the first 10 - 20 seconds of a video (image 1). Alternatively, some of my early videos that were long, poorly formatted, and lacking a clever hook lose up to 50 - 60% in that same amount of time. Starting with a demonstration, an interesting fact or a puzzling phenomenon will whet the appetite and entice students to continue watching, reducing the drop-off rate at the start of a video.
Image 1: A strong hook will increase audience retention.
Just as you post learning objectives at the start of a lesson, you should do the same in a video tutorial (image 2). Teenagers are notorious multi-taskers, often engaged in other activities while doing homework; thus, it's important to direct their focus at the start of a video.
Image 2: Direct student focus with an overview of essential knowledge.
Arguably the most important part of the video, these are the concepts that your students need to learn. It's important to keep it short and stay on point. To make sure that I am brief and concise, I write a script and practice before pressing record (image 3). Generally, videos that are 3 - 5 minutes long have better viewer retention than videos that are 6 - 12 minutes long. Additionally, try to focus a video on a single topic. I try not to put two topics in one video, even if they are closely related. For example, I make separate videos for empirical formula and molecular formula even though they are related ideas. Based on my experience, students are much more likely to pay close attention to two separate 3 - 5-minute videos than to one 8 - 10-minute video.
Image 3: Try to keep the content brief and concise
As you would in class, provide your students with an opportunity to practice and apply the knowledge that they just learned. I usually have 2 - 3 simple questions so that students can check their understanding (image 4). I display the questions for about 10 seconds; however, you can tell students to pause the video to give them more time to solve the questions. After about 10 seconds, I then display the answers to the questions. In the next class period, I can check with students to see if they have any issues with the questions in the video. By revisiting these in class, I can be sure that my students have learned the basics before we dive deeper during the period.
Image 4: Provide an opportunity for students to check their understanding.
Before signing off, it's good practice to review the learning objectives (image 5). That way, students have one more opportunity to check that they learned the key concepts in the video.
Image 5: End the video with a review of the learning objectives.
A flipped classroom is a unique environment that can enable a deeper dive into concepts than with a traditional classroom. However, the effectiveness of this model begins with the quality of the video tutorials. The format presented here provided a strong foundation for my courses; however, I’d love to hear how you structure your videos. So, log into your ChemEd X account, leave a comment and share some of your effective video strategies.
- Tucker, B. (2012). The flipped classroom. Education next, 12(1), 82-83.
- Bishop, J. L., & Verleger, M. A. (2013, June). The flipped classroom: A survey of the research. In ASEE national conference proceedings, Atlanta, GA (Vol. 30, No. 9, pp. 1-18).