Video is Not the Answer

The flipped class has been coming up more and more in discussions and blog posts recently. My guess is that it has something to do with Salman Khan’s lucrative relationship with Bill Gates and the media’s attention on their speaking tours. I feel like a broken record with this post, but it is something that needs to be written again.

The flipped class is not about the videos.

Popular media sees the flipped classroom as video being used in the classroom to teach children. I would like to state again that video can be used in the classroom to help differentiate for all learners. The flipped classroom started this way, but it has evolved into so much more than using videos in the class when implemented effectively.

Video itself will not help kids achieve more in your class. The flipped classroom is about making connections with learners and differentiating your instruction. If videos are a part of that multi-faceted plan, great. If they are not, still great. The flipped class is an ideology, not a methodology.

Personally, I use video because it is a tool that helps me meet remediation needs for learners that have missed class or for learners that just need more time with material. For chemistry, I am in my second year using a flipped class, and the video has taken a huge jump to the backseat as I have more time to work on engaging class activities and labs. Again, video is for remediation and review rather than content delivery.

There has been more positive news coming around about the flipped class being used in great ways across the country. For instance, Troy Cockrum was featured in an NPR article that looked at YouTube being used in the classroom. I’m glad Troy brought it around to the connections made with learners, because that is the true power of the model. Another talks about everything except the videos, again, because they are the least important part of the model. Earlier this month, Aaron Sams wrote a fantastic piece of theimplementation styles of a flipped class. Again, none of these methods rely solely on video or even use video at all. It is an idea, not a method.

The video isn’t important. The relationships, the discussions, and the experiences matter. We know that already. Regardless of what methods or ideas you use in your room, let’s continue to focus on what helps learners learn best.


This is mainly in response to the #edchat discussion on October 11, 2011 and David Wees’ blog post about using Khan Academy as content delivery in his class. Both the chat and David are great and I appreciate the challenges and direction they’ve both contributed to my growth.

  • http://www.myalgebra.weebly.com Corey

    Great post Brian. I’m amazed at how often people stop and focus on the video part when I’m explaining flipped-mastery to them. To me…the videos are a way to let kids move at their own speed. Some of my kids this year are flying…while others who need more time can take it. I am essentially running 18-28 different lesson plans in every one of my periods. Its opened my eyes one what is really hard for my math students. Its given me time to diagnose common mistakes they make and really help correct them. The videos…they just allow for all the other GREAT things to happen.

  • http://mistermcintoshsays.org/ Philip McIntosh

    I am learning that videos are not required for a flipped class at all. I have recently been giving learners the choice of watching the videos or getting a basic topic intro anyway they want. Quite a few of the more advanced students skip the videos altogether and do a careful reading of the text book before they try the problems. It seems to work pretty well for them.

  • http://walkerjessyedm310.blogspot.com/# Jessica Walker

    Mr. Bennett,
    I am a student at the University of South Alabama and I am currently taking Dr. Strange’s Edm 310.I did not know what the “flipped classroom” was prior to reading your blog. I watched the video of Aaron Sams on youtube showing how he used the flipped classroom. I am a studying to be an elementary teacher, and I hope to uses the flipped classroom methods in my room. I hope to learn more about it in the future. I will keep reading your blogs!
    Thank you,
    Jessica Walker
    @jwalkaround

  • http://www.elevatedmath.com Scotti Glasgow

    Brian, your view of the flipped classroom and the role of videos in your classrooms is spot-on in my book. Teaching is all about the relationship between teacher and students and the tools the teacher uses to help impart knowledge. Since the 80’s I have stood by my belief that visual aids are just that—tools that can help the teacher increase effectiveness. Yes, I have learned to knit and to create a watermelon baby carriage fruit bowl, but those projects are step-by-step procedures not critical math concepts. Videos can, however, reinforce learning, can provide clarifying auditory and visual explanations, and can remediate. Instructional math videos are an excellent choice for the flipped classroom!

    Also, I enjoyed reading how your blog has affected other teachers, especially the elementary education major, Jessica. Good job, Dr. Strange, and you, too, Brian!

  • http://www.ipodphysics.com Derrick McNeill

    Flipped is just video recording your lecture, blending is more of what you are talking about. That’s why you are so right, Khan is flipped, and it’s ok. But anyone who teaches in a real classroom knows you need to bring more then just a video lecture.

    But loved your post

  • Chris

    It was my understanding of the flipped classroom idea that content/knowledge is set as homework, and what we traditionally call “homework”: answering questions, problem solving, complex reasoning, etc is then done at school.

    I remember my high school experiences copying page after page of content and listening to a lecture during class only to find the help I really needed was with the homework questions which were covered in the first 5 minutes of the next lesson if I was lucky.

    • Brian Bennett

      It depends on the style of flipclass a teacher is using. Personally, I don’t care where the lesson is watched. I work in an urban school, so many kids can’t spend much time at home on schoolwork. So, they watch a lecture in class when they’re ready for it rather than having to keep up with my pacing. Then, they can review it again at home.

      I do have some that listen prior to class, but the power is in the flexibility they have to watch the video where they want, when they want.

  • Jennifer

    Brian,
    I definitely agree – we are constantly looking for new tools that can help us engage the learner and allow us more time for meaningful interaction with our students. Two other AP teachers at my school and myself are looking at how to do the flip in our classes in a way that makes sense for us. I’ve attended a one-day workshop with the guys, and some of what they’ve done I can get on board with, other things I know won’t work. I’m nervous about teachers using this without fully understanding the how and why of it. Their model (like anything else that comes out in education) cannot be used as a magic bullet or “one-size-fits-all” mentality. Good teachers will know this. I’m hoping that it will not backfire on those of us who want to use this as an appropriate teaching tool. I can see it being used to the detriment of both students and teachers if not approached properly. Good post – I know this is a hot topic right now and (again) I’m hoping it’s not a bandwagon that breaks down. What we need (and what I’m hoping to get along with the others) is data that documents how well this is working. And we know – data means numbers. Time will tell in a year :)

  • Guest

    I teach science and ideally flipping the classroom would give me more time for labs. In the past I have assigned readings before I lectured and got poor compliance. When I go over the homework some students would wait for others to give the answers. Also I do not think all topics are suited for flipping. Mixing it up would provide the novelty some students need to keep engaged.

  • Gloria Burnside

    I agree.