Multimedia in the Flipped Classroom

Increasingly, educators are experimenting with a “flipped” format for their courses. In a flipped classroom, the emphasis is shifted from a teacher-centred, to a student-centred approach. The material that was previously presented in lecture format is available online, and face-to-face class time is used for more interactive student-centred activities. Bergmann and Sams (2012) coined the phrase ‘flipped classroom’ for this teaching approach, also called inverse instruction methodology (IIM).  Recounting how the flipped classroom approach began, Bergmann & Sams (2012, p.5) asked this question:

“What if we prerecorded all of our lectures, students viewed the video as ‘homework,’ and then we used the entire class period to help students with the concepts they don’t understand?”

In the past, a problem with any non-classroom or distance learning in general, was the consumers’ hardware and software requirements.  Fortunately, in 2017 this hurdle has been largely overcome and most students can access sophisticated online multimedia content away from the classroom. In fact, many students are already using this ability to look at funny cat videos during a lecture.  

The flipped classroom is the best of both worlds and has potential benefits for professors as well as the students. Most professors would gladly exchange lecturing for meaningful interaction and dialogue with their students. Classroom activities will vary depending on the course subject but the online content should not be neglected. We need to recognize that the nature and quality of the online content in a flipped classroom course has a significant impact on the student experience and outcomes.

In reality, a flipped class room is not merely the swapping of two existing pedagogies. Switching to an IIM typically creates two distinctly new and different teaching methodologies; in, and out of, class.

Recent advances in technology have enabled new ways of presenting course material outside of the classroom. Using mobile devices, students can access high quality, multimedia course content almost anywhere, anytime; on the bus, at the gym, on the couch. Educators should recognize and seize this technological opportunity to improve their students learning experience. There is great potential to make the out-of-class multimedia pedagogy superior to a traditional lecture.  


How can educators best take advantage of the technological opportunity to replace the classroom lectures? The quality of the lecture replacement is important and in 2017, it’s possible to go beyond merely home movies of the instructor reading power point slides, and recognize the potential for well-produced online multimedia presentations. The technology has matured to the point where educators can create and present material, using modern multimedia techniques, that is not just equivalent, but superior to a traditional lecture. The combination of text, sound and graphics provides a richer educational experience with greater pedagogical opportunities. For example: consider the work of Vi Hart , RSAnimate whiteboard videos or infographics.

Have a look at Vi Hart’s video on Fibonacci numbers from Vi Hart’s Doodling in Math series on YouTube. In the video, Vi seemingly doodles with pen and paper to explore  how the Fibonacci sequence shows up in nature. She later uses glitter glue on a pine cone to illustrate the Fibonacci sequence. [youtube][/youtube]

There’s something about RSAnimate’s use of a time-lapse whiteboard that grabs your attention. If it was just the narration it wouldn’t be nearly as effective. Close your eyes and see what I mean; [youtube][/youtube]

Finally, have a look at NeoMams infographic on why infographics are “easy to digest”, “fun to share” and “extremely engaging”;


Using pictures, sound and text together to present an idea is not new, Hollywood and Madison Ave. have been perfecting multimedia for over 100 years and the combination of text and visuals goes back even farther;

“The history of multimedia instruction has involved three major phases—the introduction of instructional illustrations beginning in the mid-1600s, the scientific study of learning with illustrations and text beginning in the mid-1900s, and the scientific study of multimedia learning in computer-based environments beginning in the late 1900s” (Mayer, 2014, p. 386)

Few teachers were hired for their ability to produce sophisticated multimedia presentations and many have little experience in this area. To fully realize the potential of online course content, inexperienced educators could seek existing online multimedia resources, like the textbook model, where creation is left to content experts.  If creating their own curriculum, I believe educators could benefit from collaboration with technical and artistic partners. Many campuses or school districts will already have these resources available and there is potential for mutually beneficial partnerships between faculty, students, and personnel from Visual and Performing Arts and IT in the collaborative creation of diverse online content.

I’d like to hear from you about your experiences, opinions, and ideas on the use of multimedia in the flipped classroom. Here are some questions to get things started:

  • What form of lecture replacements have you used or seen?
  • Do you have any examples of interesting online resources you’d like to share?
  • What resources are available to you in creating online content for a flipped classroom?
  • Would your students be able to access a variety of online content?
  • What are some best practices when considering/creating online content for a flipped classroom?
  • Wouldn’t creating online content for a flipped classroom be a good opportunity to implement UDL?



Mayer, R. (2014). Multimedia instruction. In J. M. Spector et al (eds.), Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology, pp 385-399. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-  3185-5_31

Bergmann, J. & Sams, A. (2012). Flip your classroom: reach every student in every class every day. Eugene, Or. Alexandria, Va: International Society for Technology in Education ASCD.

8 thoughts on “Multimedia in the Flipped Classroom

  1. Hi Rick – an interesting, important, and controversial topic for sure!
    Last year I tried a variety of things to try to get away from lecture and move towards more active student-centered learning. The results were mixed. In my business communications course, I had students “doing the work” most classes. I assigned various questions from the textbook to various groups, gave them class time to discuss and work out their responses, and then had each group give a mini presentation to fellow students to report back at the end of each class. I then provided additional clarification if needed or addressed any important concepts that the students had not addressed. Overall, this seemed this worked relatively well, but it was evident, even after several weeks of this activity, that at least half of students were not doing any of the assigned pre-class readings so their ability to actually discuss and/or apply the information in class was not what it should have been. A lot of additional time also had to be provided. It was also hard because those students who had done the preparation/reading were left to explain it to those who hadn’t prepared – often a frustrating experience. I also noticed how some students who didn’t do any reading felt that they could still get the full picture by just skimming or scanning through a small section of the chapter/textbook in five or ten minutes. Some then drastically overestimate their knowledge, skill, and/or expertise with the subject matter. I even had one student who told me that she felt I should not add any clarification following these student “mini presentations”. This reinforced for me that many students entering post-secondary (not all, but certainly a number of them) secondary are clearly unprepared and do not understand the adult learning environment or the expectations of adult or higher education. It is not always possible for me to check everything each group has come up with before they speak to the class, so if they say something that is not correct, or fail to address something that is very important, then it is my responsibility as the instructor to address that, address misunderstandings, and ensure that all students go away with correct information. I always make sure the clarifications are done in a very professional and constructive manner and keep the focus on the content/concepts not the group who happened to be presenting, yet that particular student felt she was an expert. It is very difficult to understand some of this type of thinking. This fall I plan to spend one class introducing the flipped classroom more formally and clarifying roles (for students, for the instructor) and expectations regarding pre-class/in-class/post-class activity. While video and multimedia can certainly be useful and engaging to present some content, I feel students should still have the ability to read and comprehend text and use textbooks. Even when I have given one or two short videos as homework, most students do not watch them!
    I subscribe to Faculty Focus and they regularly have articles on flipped classrooms and student engagement. From time to time there are also special reports. I just checked back and there is a special report available on Flipped Classrooms . In the summary of the survey it notes that the flipped classroom really depends on student preparedness and motivation. I would strongly agree and it is unfortunate that this is often outside of our control. As you will see on the page link for the Faculty Focus survey, one Canadian university instructor mentions how the flipped classroom “can actually be worse than traditional methods” when students are not prepared”. I too have witnessed this in my economics course. Only 10-20% had done any of the assigned preparation/readings. After several classes of trying the flipped approach, I ended up moving back to in-class lecture combined with videos and other instructional resources. Either way, it can be a no-win. If you don’t lecture, many students complain you are not “teaching”; if you have student-centered activities (and they can’t do them because they are not prepared), then it is the teacher’s fault too. Students need to realize that they must take responsibility for their own learning. If they don’t know how to do take responsibility, then I can assist as an instructor by providing direction, advice, and assistance (which they should follow), but if they don’t want to take responsibility, then perhaps they should look at other options outside of the post-secondary system.
    I’m sorry this post is so negative and I realize it is sounding like a rant of sorts, but I’m really feeling very frustrated these days by students’ unpreparedness. I continually try out different approaches, but there is little improvement. I’m not sure how students come to feel that just showing up in class is all that is necessary for them to learn or be successful. Yes, attendance is important, but what happens outside of the class is equally as important I think. I was recently doing a lot of research on the topic of reading compliance and students’ expectations for classroom activity. One thing that emerged from those studies is that many students do expect the instructor’s lecture to “do it all” – cover all important concepts, cover all important information in the textbook so reading is not necessary, etc. Several studies have shown that a minority of students (only 25-40% of students) do any type of preparation prior to class. Also, while this is more common with first or second year students, the trend continues for students in third or fourth year or even graduate level studies. In the end, faculty end up altering or adjusting assessment so that students can still be “successful”. In my mind, there is something wrong with all of this… it is a downward spiral. My ending thought – I certainly believe in the flipped classroom and I do feel it will work for a few – for those learners who really understand what it is, how it works, and why it can effectively support deeper learning. I’m really interested in hearing others’ experiences and how they are motivating learners to be prepared for the flipped classroom.

    • Hey Kerrie:

      Thanks for your insights based on personal experience, it’s what I was hoping to elicit. I’m sorry to hear of your unfortunate experiences in the flipped classroom and can see how that would be frustrating. It’s funny that in all the research articles I read there was little mention of the problem of student motivation. Of course, students not doing taking responsibility for their work will throw a monkey wrench into any pedagogical plan, not just the flipped classroom.


  2. What form of lecture replacements have you used or seen?
    I am fan of flipped teaching. Students learn and practice before they come. Class time is only used for higher order learning and to scaffold the students who meet some challenges. I agree that students are increasingly showing interest in networked learning. My personal experience is that students learn lot more from internet than from any of my lecture. So I stopped lecturing in recent years and try to lecture as less as possible.

    Do you have any examples of interesting online resources you’d like to share?

    I have put all my resouces on my moodle website for students. They can learn and can even take e-self-assessments to check their learning. Moodle is great tool for that. you can find my site at

    What resources are available to you in creating online content for a flipped classroom?
    Online creative common resources are great and have plenty of stuff for each topic. I mostly rely on cc resources.

    Would your students be able to access a variety of online content?
    UDL emphasize the importance of variety in presentation of information to learners. Thanks to technology, we have contents available in video, podcasts, interactive animation/simulation, text formats. So it offers variety to instructional design.

    What are some best practices when considering/creating online content for a flipped classroom?
    1. clear instructions about expectations of learning .
    2. variety of resources, audio, video, text, animation, simulation etc
    3. Are there any distractions in those resources. For example advertisements on some websites can distract learners.

    Wouldn’t creating online content for a flipped classroom be a good opportunity to implement UDL?
    Definitely. Paper based contents in traditional f2f teaching do not offer that variety, which we need for presentation of knowledge in modern times. Moreover, variety provides personalized learning plan and engages students better.

    • Usman:

      Thanks for sharing your Moodle site and personal experiences with a flipped classroom methodology. It sounds like you have been successful in implementing and building online resources for your grade 10 to 12 students using Moodle and Creative Commons content. Your Moodle site is outstanding and obviously the result of considerable effort.
      Do you have any tips on motivating students to complete the online material before attending class?


  3. Hello All,
    Maybe it is my age, or my style of learning, but I was raised with the flipped classroom model. We were assigned readings for homework and were expected to work with the material the next day…. well, except in math ….
    In my own practice, the flipped model worked best in English classes. I used Edmodo where I posted the reading expectations, videos of terms or analysis, practice games with the Literary Terms, and what the students were expected to work on the next day. Otherwise, I have run into the same problems as Kerri mentioned. North America has developed a very poor work ethic towards schooling/education amongst a lot of young people.
    Question: whether in person or as a video isn’t a lecture still a lecture?

  4. Hey Jo:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences both as a student and teacher with a flipped classroom methodology. Your observation on work ethic in North American students is interesting and sheds light on Kerrie’s experience with students not taking responsibility for their work. It’s clear that for a flipped classroom to work you need the right audience. With my own diverse post-secondary audience, I’ve have great success with clearly indicating expectations, with negative consequences for not acting responsibly.

    A video lecture can be exactly the same as a lecture in person but I see potential for the online version to be superior to what students are getting in today’s classrooms. Just the ability to pause and replay makes even the most basic video version better than the “live” version.


  5. Yes, you need the right audience with the flipped audience. I wonder if it is easier to implement with postsecondary students than elementary or secondary. Usman seems to have done well with it, but perhaps the cultural ethics around education are different for his students.
    I agree Rick; a video lecture does have the benefits of pause and replay which is better that the ‘live’ version.

  6. Thanks to all the seminar participants.
    Your comments and thoughts were diverse and enlightening. It’s always interesting to hear what others have experienced.

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