Flipping… across the globe!

Hello blog world!

As promised, here is a recount of my amazing overseas trip.

In July this year, I was lucky enough to travel to the U.S. to visit the Tyler DeWitt and the Socratic team. I met with the Socratic team in their New York offices and we discussed the future direction of education and the need for a website, such as theirs, where students can access high quality video lesson content from teachers around the world and receive help in answering their specific questions. They have big aspirations for their site and are very enthusiastic. They were most appreciative of my contribution to the site and were interested to hear a perspective of education in Australia. Spending time with the Socratic team was also a very rewarding experience for me. Here is a photo of me and the Socratic team:

Me and the Socratic team

While in the U.S. I was also lucky enough to be invited to visit Tyler DeWitt’s home in Boston. Tyler has just completed a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at M.I.T. and has been making video lessons in his home studio in his spare time. Up until this time, I had only been making video lessons using my iPad and an app called Explain Everything. Although these were of reasonable quality and quite easy to produce, Tyler’s technique uses two video cameras to produce videos with himself in the picture speaking directly to the student. This is the preferred style according to student feedback.

Tyler and me

Tyler gave me a detailed tour of his home studio – it was not as complex as I expected. Tyler was extremely generous and helpful and we discussed his experiences with video lessons at length. While I was there I even had the opportunity to produce my own video lesson in Tyler’s studio. This was a fantastic experience and the best way for me to learn how to do it for myself. Here is the video lesson I recorded in Tyler DeWitt’s studio:

I left the US extremely inspired and within a week of my return to Adelaide, I had set up my own home studio! This is it:

Teacher Recording Studio

I am now producing videos in the same format as Tyler’s which has been fantastic. I produce the videos for my own Biology students, who are finding them very useful. Here are a couple of examples:

The awesome thing about the videos is that because I publish them to YouTube, it is not just my students who I am able to help. I regularly get comments from students (and teachers) in other parts of the world. Comments like:

  • Thanks so much for this video! Its very precise and simple to understand!
  • Thank u so much Jeremy!! I watched all of your three parts from the topic control and coordination. The videos you provided were really very informative and helpful.
  • Man where were you this last academic year? Your explanations are great, would have loved to show your videos in class.

Reading this feedback is very rewarding and affirms the work I do to produce the videos. It is all the motivation I need to keep going.

As much as I love to use video content to enhance my own teaching, I am equally passionate about inspiring and helping others. Recently I have shared my flipped classroom experiences with the 100 teaching staff at Brighton Secondary School. It has generated a great deal of interest and excitement, which has been great. In fact, the response from staff has been so positive that the school’s Principal Team have committed one of the meeting rooms of our brand new 21st Century Learning Centre to be set up as a teacher recording studio. We are also planning a PD program on flipped classrooms/learning that will run on a regular basis in the after school staff meeting time in 2015.

Very exciting times!


Where it all began…

Blogs… hmm.

I’ve ignored this space for a while now. But everyone is doing it! I’m going to have a go. Will it be worthwhile? I guess time will tell.

I’ll begin with a video that started me on an amazing journey:

I can clearly remember the first time I watched this TED Talk. My Dad, a retired science teacher, had seen it and showed it to me. I loved it. It really struck a chord with me. If you are a science teacher then check it out.

So after watching the video, I Googled this guy – Tyler DeWitt. Turns out he has produced hundreds of Chemistry video lessons and published them on YouTube. They were really good. I watched an interview where he talks about his experience in making video lesson content and ‘the flipped classroom’. I was hooked.

I made my first video lesson in May 2013. This is it:

I was a little clumsy in the beginning but I got better. I made them for my Year 12 Biology students. They really liked them and their results were improving, so I kept going. Publishing to YouTube is really great because it is not just my students who benefit. In fact now most of my views are coming from outside of Australia. Places like America, England and India. It is really cool.

This video has had almost 9000 views… Crazy!

The best was yet to come though. I was really lucky last year to be named a joint winner of the Early Career STEM Educator of the Year at the SA Science Excellence Awards. This was most certainly the highlight of my career so far and a night I will never forget. My use of the flipped classroom approach played a major part in my success.

After winning, I managed to make contact with Tyler DeWitt in America. He had just started the website http://www.socratic.org with a group of friends. This website is really cool. A place where students can go and find video lesson content from teachers all over the world. They had started with Chemistry and Physics. I got involved and helped to establish a Biology topic list. My videos are now starting to pop up here.

And so we get to now. Winning the award last year has enabled me to head to New York in July to meet the Socratic team. I am very excited. No doubt a future blog post will tell the story of this visit.

So there you go, I wrote a blog. Not so bad I guess. I could have been marking though! Haha.

How do you finish a blog? Do I need some sort of tag line? I’ll work on that I think.

Until then.. Have a good one.