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CUNY Instructional Design

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Flipped Classrooms and Online video solutions

  • I’m not sure how active we are in this group but I had some questions and thought I’d try asking here.

    Some of you may have heard about a teaching technique called “flip teaching”, “flipping” or a “flipped classroom” where the basic idea is that you give the traditional “instruction” online outside of class and then spend class time doing what is traditionally “homework” meaning activities an other things the students actively do. This also follows the “Guide on the side” idea of teaching. Most of what I’ve seen around this done in k12 classrooms but there is no reason it can’t be done in higher ed. Some links:

    My first question is are you or people you know of following this practice at CUNY?

    My second question has to do with technology to support this. Very often this involves students watching video lectures as part of the outside class instruction. Those lectures can be by other people, such as when schools use something like the Khan Academy,, but it’s often common for professors to record their lectures or make screencasts and use those videos.

    I haven’t been doing what could truly be called flip teaching but I have been making screencasts and this semester I’ve experimented with some homegrown lecture capture. I make my screencasts and do the lecture capture by using screen recording software (I have two on the mac, Screenflow and iShowU) and then uploading the videos to YouTube.

    This works OK but there are a number of reasons it’s not very scaleable. As video becomes more popular in all classrooms, not just flipped I’m interested to know what kind of solutions are being used around CUNY to
    record and create video (in general and more specifically lecture capture)
    deliver video
    deal with access and copyright issues (like when a faculty member wants to legally share part of a video with a class but can’t legally just put that on YouTube or some other public site)

Viewing 10 replies - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Here at York we use Camtasia ( to do screen cast and mini-lectures. Then upload them to YouTube or the College web server if the faculty wants them to be publicly accessible. If they want only their students can access them, they can upload the lectures to the course iTunes U site which is integrated with Blackboard.
    Some also use Elluminate, now called Bb Collaborate. We purchased the service a few years ago before It was bought by Bb. So we have a separate link outside of Bb. Here is an example of a recorded Elluminate session:
    It can be converted to mp4 format although the quality is not very good.

    More on Camtasia – it’s pretty powerful and easy to use. It allows one to include one’s video (talking head?) at any moment and any place of the screen. You can also zoom in a specific area of the screen, add call-out text, transition, images, and many more.

    Hi Chris –

    You should check out Tim Owen’s post about, ‘streaming live video without ads for pennies.’

    It’s the setup UMW uses for DTLT Today and DS106. What’s cool is you can basically lend the stream to anyone if they have the software to broadcast (you can use the free Flash Video streamer for example). The only bummer is that archiving of video has to be done locally and then you must choose a solution (Youtube, Vimeo) for asynchronous viewing. We’re planning to experiment with a stream for our Communications Technology program, to broadcast student work, lectures, talks, etc. Once it’s up, if you’d like to try it out I’d be happy to have you use it.

    Copyright is a persnickety issue of course, and since we’re mostly discouraged from using Blackboard for streaming, it’s even harder. I usually try to use as many open-resources as I can find, or try to go the fair-use route limiting the amount of any piece of copyrighted material uploaded.

    But on the flipped classroom front, I’ve recently been using a lot of classroom time (up to 45 minutes) for students to comment and draft blog posts as well. I will often do the same, creating the odd experience of everyone sitting in class together communicating through the blog. This requires being in a computer lab, which we luckily have regular access to.

    I did this for a teaching with technology course for pre-service K-12 teaching candidates on a site I’d built:

    The ‘lecture’ was mostly readings and video lectures from around the web, but the discussion was pretty robust, if not always critical. Twelve students contributed an astounding 1200+ comments across the 20 some days of class. I’m not sure if it had more to do with the compressed nature of the course, than relinquishing the time in the classroom.


    – Michael

    Hi Wenying,
    Thanks for your reply. I haven’t used Camtasia (as I understand it there are different versions for MAC and Windows) but I have heard good things about it. Screenflow,, has worked well for me and does all of the things you mentioned. But it is Mac only; cost $99.

    One of the problems with both of those is that after you do your recording you have to export the video for people to be able to see it. When you want to edit the product this is a good thing. Sometimes I just want to capture something quickly and upload it directly with no or minimal editing. For those situations I use iShowU HD (also unfortunately only Mac). You choose what kind of video you want ahead of time and soon as you hit stop you have a video that can be uploaded or whatever. There is a basic version for $29 which does the realtime and a pro for $60 that adds some features. Also I’ve found it generally uses less ram and cpu than other solutions.

    In terms of delivery I still haven’t seen a solution that does everything. It seems like right now your mixed approach (YouTube, direct uploads to the college site, iTunesU through Blackboard, Elluminate) is the one most people are taking. Each scratches a particular itch. If I had my way there would be a system that would answer the following questions:

    1. Does it automatically allow for different resolutions to video? Like how on YouTube you can opt for 380p, 480p, 720p etc.
    2. Can it be set up to automatically adjust itself to different display dimensions (mobile, tablet, desktop)?
    3. Will it be served from a streaming server?
    4. Is there an automated workflow for uploading video and having it converted to the various formats and ready for streaming?
    5. Can the uploader set security permissions to make the video available (some options might be, password protected, entire course, single section, all college, public)? This also implies that it knows the roles of the people uploading and viewing the video.
    6. Will it be able to deliver HTML5 video and an alternative like Flash video?
    7. Will there be enough storage space to handle possibly large future demands like lecture capture and student generated video?


    Thanks as well. You mentioned that article to me before I think and I’ll have to check it out. I think the streaming your doing with ds106 is very cool. The archiving issue is a bummer and would come into play with a flipped classroom since presumably you wouldn’t be doing anything live. However it seems like you could do a live screencast outside of class for people to watch and comment on real time (of course still you’d hav to archive). I should probably add live streaming as #8 on my list of questions.

    I should say that the “system” I mention in reference to those questions will probably never be a single vendor type of thing. My guess is that it will be more of a process but one that can be relatively easily done and explained to people just getting started.

    Your flipped example with the use of blogging in the classroom is interesting. Are you planning on doing anything similar in other classes? I don’t know either how much the compressed nature of the course had to do with it but I’m guessing that by allowing them to do the blogging in class you definitely got a different kind of discussion than if you had just had a normal classroom discussion. I’m wondering if your success on a compressed schedule has implications for summer and winter session classes in general?


    I’m playing around with similar blogging course for your CT majors that’s senior requirement prep course. It’s only a one credit class that meets every other week, so we’ll see how they do in comparison (if that’s possible). On another blog I made:

    The winter course was the first compressed schedule course I’d ever taught, and it really surprised me how much I enjoyed it. It had a focus and energy that was very different from the traditional fifteen week class. It’s something I’m going to continue to think about.

    Hi Chris,

    Video authoring and streaming is a big issue everywhere in the educational arena. I want to share what we use at Hostos CC, and perhaps we can initiate a discussion about having a CUNY video authoring and streaming solution. We also use Camtasia for most of our recordings, and depending on the nature of the video, we sometimes use Movie Maker, iMovie, Tegrity, SmartBoard screen capture software, and Final Cut or Adobe Premiere for more advanced video projects. Some of our faculty use iShowU as well.

    The biggest problem comes when we want to make these videos available to the students or public in general. Given the risks and copyright issues with third party sites, our faculty’s adoption of rich media usage in the classroom fluctuates enormously. Some are open to share, and some don’t. What we are using is the open source video solution Kaltura, which in our case it is still possible to host it in our own server (small number of video content). Kaltura is very similar to youtube in terms of capabilities and user-friendly interface, hence it simplifies the process for users to upload, and share their videos. I learned recently that they have a Blackboard building blog as well. Video conversion to different formats is automatic, and can also be syndicated to youtube and itunes if wanted. Here is the link

    Thinking about the future expansion of rich media use, we are exploring at Hostos the possibility to get the comercial version of Kaltura, and separate the bandwidth usage to a network that was created for such purpose, rather than using our limited bandwidth.

    I will be glad to talk more about it, if other people are interested to know more.

    I’ve done some early work with our faculty who seemed to really buy into the flipped classroom idea recently when I uploaded a paper about it. A few tried the concept right away- giving a good amount of pre-work-pre-write material for students to cover prior to class and then doing the exercises and having the students lead and initiate the conversations in class. One graduate teaching faculty said it had changed her opinion forever about how to conduct her class – pretty transformational and a cool thing to hear.

    To help the flipped concept along, for the last two years I’ve purchased a 30 class license with Voicethread. The learning curve is shallow- most pick it up in a half hour- The concept is like a multimedia presentation and asynchronous class discussion board all in one. View the video what’s a voicethread? While a few of our faculty have actually become ‘experts’ in their first semester trying it, some are taking to it a bit more slowly. those who swear by it have created a half dozen or more ‘lessons’ (that look a lot better than powerpoint because you can see the professor ‘live’ (if they turn on their cameras and record themselves) or hear them conduct the lecture and then students have full asynchronous discussions surrounding the lesson.

    Thanks Chris for bringing this forum to life… we obviously have lots to offer one another- What fascinates me most is that we are all pretty much cobbling together our solutions some 13 years after online teaching made its earliest strides in video using adobe premiere 2! In any case this information is helpful- we have been in some cases helping faculty to learn and purchase Camtasia too- its got a smaller learning curve and yes, the mac version is not as fully featured. We also just started to publicize our copies of softchalk- I’m sure it works well in Bb and think there may even be a building block for it in the works which might call for some further research by our CAT committee! What softchalk excels in is that it enables faculty to create modules with exercises and examples, like a living textbook. I also think that for the flipped classroom concept that I’d like to look into e-textbooks that you can develop on your mac

    Yes, Blackboard 9, which CUNY will be on this summer, has a building block for SoftChalk. The scores students get for the quizzes on SoftChalk can be recorded in Bb’s grade center. We, at York, have a license for SoftChalk 6. SoftChalk 7 allows to convert the lessons to mobile friendly version. But I do see a drawback when students try to find some information on a particular page in a lesson. They have to first launch the lesson, then go page-by-page to get that information. Of course, it also depends on the design. If the lesson is designed to allow students to jump to any page, it may not be too bad. One of the advantages of SoftChalk is that you can package the lesson to SCORM format, which makes it very portable.

    In case this is of interest, we’re doing a panel on the flipped classroom at the 2012 CUNY IT Conference, John Jay: ; Friday, November 30, 2012, 1:00-2:00 pm

    Panel Description: Flipping the Classroom: Adapting Teaching Strategies to Maximize Time in the Classroom
    Presenters will discuss exciting possibilities of how the “flipped classroom” model can be used in cross-discipline CUNY classrooms in order to best maximize limited classroom time. Alex Berrio Matamoros (CUNY Law) will show a new collaborative video platform, called Academize, used in legal research classes; Dionne A. Miller (LaGuardia CC) will discuss the use of Articulate software to deliver lectures in chemistry courses; and Ian Sullivan from the open education project, Wikiotics, will talk about possibilities in language education.

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