For the past year or so, the term 'Flipped Classroom' has become all the rage in educational circles, particularly in the field of ESL. Just in case you are unfamiliar with the term, it is the idea that teachers can record their lectures or lessons and upload them to the web, so that students can follow them at home. This way, teachers and students have more time at school for practicing and applying the subject they are currently working on, rather than the teacher spending most of his or her time instructing from the board.
To be up front, this post is not about whether or not the 'Flipped Classroom' educational model should completely replace the more traditional one we have now, but simply that, if you are excited about using technology in and out of the classroom, it is a wonderful time to be a teacher. Almost weekly, it seems that there are new 'Flipped Classroom' apps being developed and launched, and already there are some favorites among teachers, such as Ask3, Educreations and Knowmia.
While these are indeed great apps, Touchcast has recently become my absolute personal favorite, as it allows the user to include so many different real-time apps and effects as you are recording a video. In other words, you can interact with anything on the web in real-time while making your video tutorial. For example, lets say that you are making a video for a writing assignment where you want your students to use a certain website for research. While giving the directions for the assignment, you could also show your students where and how to use a website in real-time.
This is only a simple example of what you could do with Touchcast. The possibilities are endless. Just to give you a sense of what I mean, check out the following introductory video for the app made by one of its founders...
Our First Touchcast Project
After my colleague and I discovered and began playing around with Touchcast, making a few videos of our own in the process, we decided that we wanted to again 'flip the classroom' in a sense. Instead of us, the teachers, making all the videos, we wanted to get our students involved straightaway. With 23 lessons with the same students per week, it is understandable that they get tired of seeing our faces. So, we thought it would be even more engaging if the students could see a different one of their peers in a video each week.
What we decided to do is to make a news-like video each Friday to tell the students about the program and activities for the upcoming week, something we call 'A Peek at the Week'. We write out a short script for a student to read, and include some pictures of the upcoming activities. Then, Touchcast allows us to make it look and feel like a real newscast. We can include a 'Breaking News' title across the bottom of the screen. In addition, we can make the pictures pop-up on one side of the screen as the student talks about it. We can even add audio effects like laughter and applause.
Finally, after making the recording on a Friday afternoon, we get the video ready to show all our our students first thing Monday morning. It gives them an engaging way to learn about the activities of the week. Furthermore, it gives the student being recorded a wonderful opportunity to practise his/her speaking, as well as help build his/her self-confidence in English.
To wrap it all up, have a look at this week's video featuring Kaan, and check out Touchcast for the Ipad...