Free and Cheap Resources for the Flipped Classroom

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 -- Scott Sterling

The flipped classroom concept has reached the sort of critical mass that makes even non-techy teachers consider the idea. And while the teachers who are more likely to read Wired in the teacher’s lounge have a home-grown bag of tricks in which to make their flipping dreams come true, those teachers who still require some tech help need some guidance on software and sites that can help bring their classes into the 21st century.

The state of education being what it is, if those resources could be free or cheap, that would be even better.

The typical flipped classroom needs three programs or sites to make it work: a bank of usable content, a way to create your own content, and a place to keep all of this content organized and accessible.

Content banks

Some topics need to be approached via video, either to demonstrate a concept or to access a leading mind in the field. iTunesU, from Apple, comes first to mind. It’s free and has a lot of in-depth resources for topics throughout grade K-12. Also check out TED talks and their educational division, TED-Ed, to hear brilliant minds speak about a wide variety of fields and topics that can really make learning come alive.

Create your own content

Of course, the best way to make sure students receive the material you want them to receive is by creating your own content. The cheapest and – for some people – easiest way to make this happen is with a camera, a tripod, and you at a whiteboard. Then just post the video. If you want to get a little more fancy, Jing or SnagIt allow you to upload videos of your computer screen to screencast.com (more on that later). A great web-based solution is Screencast-o-matic. Educreations offers a free online whiteboard that can be used for lectures as well.

Content depositories

If you just want a place to keep your own videos for student access, Screencast.com offers 2 GB of free storage and hooks into some of the screencasting solutions mentioned above. Of course, if YouTube isn’t blocked at your school, use that.

If, however, you are looking for a place to not only host videos, but also serve as a Learning Management System and organize other forms of classroom content and quizzes, we’re now talking about Moodle (which has to be hosted on a dedicated server by your district) or a social classroom site on Edmodo, Schoology, or Lore. Check out all of the options to see what meets the majority of your needs.

Flipping your classroom doesn’t have to be expensive. With a strong commitment to the concept, your students will be experiencing the benefits in no time!