So, you’ve told yourself this is it, this is the school year you’re going to flip your classroom. Or maybe your department chair asked you to run an online version of your most popular course. You’ve read some books and articles on what makes a good flipped lesson. Maybe you’ve come up with some forum topics to kick off your students’ online discussions. You’re all ready to go … right?
Before you jump in, let’s take a step back. What makes a truly impactful flipped, online, or blended course? The same things that make an impactful face-to-face course: the content, the dialogue, and the connections made between members of the class.
There are plenty of factors, though, that don’t represent the core value of your course, but that can make or break the experience for you and your students. Dealing with big, clunky file transfers, searching through digital storage to find the right content, or having class discussion on a platform disconnected from content distribution can all have negative consequences for your flipped, blended or online class. This is where the tools you use can make all the difference. When they work, they become invisible, blending into the background of your class, allowing the real work, insights, and connections shine. When they don’t, they can flavor every other aspect, leaving a bad taste in students’ mouths.
Swivl Cloud is one of many tools that can be used to set up and distribute your flipped or online class content. Whether you’re using Swivl Cloud, or a different online platform, we’re going to take a look at how you can make some of these tools work for you and your students.
1. GET ORGANIZED
Perhaps you’ve started building out some of your content for the fall this summer. Maybe you’ve been capturing some video, or created some slideshow presentations to use as a base for your video lessons. Before you’re ready to provide this content to your students, first you need to organize it so that you can find it yourself.
How you do this will depend on how you like to find your digital content. If you prefer to search by keyword, you’ll want to develop a naming convention for your files or projects. If you like to create folders to group all of your content, you’ll want to make sure that you know how you want to categorize everything, and take some time to move around your files into their appropriate location. Although it may take some time to name or arrange all of your content, it will save you a lot of time and all of the stress of not finding that one file you need for class that week. Take the time to do this, even if you don’t have all of your content created yet. When you do develop the rest of your course material, all you’ll have to do is save it to the right folder.
With Swivl Cloud, not only can you search through your library for your content, but you can also create private folders to sort and store your content. Even if you want to organize your content differently from how you will distribute it to your students, that’s ok, the folders are all private just for you to see and arrange.
2. EQUIP YOUR STUDENTS
Now that you have your course content (or at least the beginnings of it), and some organizing structure for all of it, now you can start planning to share out your flipped videos and online class materials to your students!
If you’re using a Learning Management System, this will be a great place to start sharing content. Some content management platforms (including Swivl Cloud) will allow you to embed multimedia content so that your students never have to navigate away from your course page on the LMS. In most cases, the services will allow you to embed using HTML, but each LMS is different, so you’ll want to read up on embedding to the one you’re using.
You may discover that you want to take advantage of features outside of your LMS, or you aren’t going to use an LMS for your class. In those cases, you’ll want to do some research on what options you have to share your content. One of the most important factors is ease-of-use, both for you and your students. Swivl Cloud allows you to create groups of users to share with, which you can use to manage which content is available to your students, and allows your students to have a single location where they can find all of the content for your course.
3. READY. SET. ENGAGE!
You know that you want your students to engage with the course material, and you know you want them to engage with each other. But how to get them to engage with each other about the course material? This can be the ultimate challenge when running a class that includes some online aspect.
Some questions to ask yourself before you invest in a system for having your students connect with each other:
- How often do I want them to connect or post?
- Do I want them to write to each other? Talk over the phone/video call?
- Will they talk one-on-one or as a group?
- Will they write or present long messages, or just a few sentences at a time?
- Should I have access to these conversations, or will they be private between the students?
The answers to these questions will help to inform you in your requirements for your students as they begin to access your course content. One feature that you may discover is very important to your online student interactions is the ability to comment or annotate directly on the content you have provided for them. If you are sharing your video content via Swivl Cloud, your students can talk with each other directly on the video using the time-stamped comment section. This allows your students to keep the conversation rooted in the class material, and helps to contextualize any questions they have for you, or areas that need clarification.
If you haven’t already signed up for your free Swivl Cloud account, or if you haven’t started your free trial of our Pro version, get started today! Our Summer Series for teacher and classroom development continues next week, where we’ll be exploring another of the many ways Swivl Cloud can advance teaching and learning in your classroom and at your school.
Sign up for you Swivl Cloud account today!
Swivl is used in over 20,000 schools. Make yours the next.