Long Over Due...

Posted by ADAM JOHNSON on 12/4/2015 10:15:00 PM

Wouldn’t it be nice if our ideas came fruition as easily as we conjured them in our heads?

Well, this is where we pick up on my latest installment for my Institute for Innovation. It is important that we first recall the goal of the “Flipped Kit.” The goal is to:

  • provide students a way to easily and efficiently record/document their learning process
    • by record/document I mean the student will essentially create a flipped video lesson (it is easier to think of it in this way)
  • help students create digital portfolios that show their growth throughout the course of the school year
  • provide students opportunities to share their entire thinking process to their classmates (not just a written snapshot of how they problem solve)
  • give students the opportunity to analyze/critique students’ entire thought process of how their classmates apply algebraic reasoning when problem solving (there is more to how a student approaches a problem than what they write on a piece of paper)
  • use technology to make creating digital math script as easy as it is to write on a piece of paper
  • provide teachers a way to digitally create and distribute personalized assignments
  • students should be able to easily record their work using the same technology that the teacher uses to create and distribute assignments
  • provide teachers with a way to provide personalized feedback to every single student in an efficient manner

In short, it is easiest to think of this as the students will create their own “Flipped” video lessons. They will share these lessons with classmates, their teacher and even their parents. By doing this, they are able to receive feedback from a variety of sources. The student created “Flipped” video consists of audio recording of how they think about a problem and a screencast of how they work to solve a problem.


The issues for the “Flipped” kit are:

  • there is no ONE piece of software in which a teacher can create, share and collect an assignment all while allowing the student to use this same piece of software to create a screencast of him/her solving the problem
  • the students will be expected to do this without the teacher sitting next to them to assist with any technology issues that arise
  • the student will expect to be able to complete their work without the technology interfering with their ability to demonstrate mastery of the material
  • if this is to be scalable, it must be affordable and mostly free of frustration

Where we are currently?

The first issue I attempted to tackle was the issue of making math script digital. If you are accustomed to creating handouts/quizzes/tests that require a lot of math script/type, then the process is somewhat second nature. However, students typically do not have any experience with equation editor so the easiest thing for them to do is simply write on paper and show their work. My solution to this was the use of the Wacom Pen and Touch tablet. The device is supposed to be somewhat of a “plug and play” type device. We have learned that this is not the case and, when the student takes the device home and tries to install it on their home computer, the process is not always quick and/or easy. As a result, I employed the creative skills of J. Brandt and he made an instructional video for students to use when they are attempting to install the device on their own. More on that a little later…

So… to this point I have attempted to use Office Mix to address the assignment creation/completion issue. Office Mix is an add-on for PowerPoint 2013 and above. Since Office Mix was created with Flipped Educator in mind I chose to begin here to try to accomplish most of the above goals. The thought was that since students/teachers are already familiar with PowerPoint it will be user friendly and less intimidating. Also, since the video capabilities are built-in to the add-on, the students will not have to use additional pieces of software to create their digital portfolio (Side note: when I make a Flipped lesson I use a minimum of 5 pieces of software and have used upwards of 8-9 in order to make the full video lesson… this is far too much to ask of a student). After trying Office Mix several times and using a few different approaches, I have learned that Office Mix is not quite ready to be used the way that I am trying to use it. Office Mix has all of the elements I am looking for but it falls short in the efficiency/ease of use category. The process of installing the necessary version of Microsoft Office and Office Mix and then using it to create a screencast is not as easy as I had hoped (if a student does not already have Office 2013 is lengthy and can be frustrating). Also, getting the personalized assignment to each individual student is time consuming to say the very least. Another issue I run into is how the students share their completed assignments with me so that I can provide quality feedback on their work.


Currently I am working on using Google Classroom, Google Docs and the TechSmith Snag-It Google Chrome extension to: make the assignments, assign specific tasks to individual students, have the student create a screencast of their work and thought process, sharing the videos back to me and then out to their classmates. I currently trying to solve the issue of being able to write on a tablet and have it show up in a Google Doc. There is “scribble” feature under the “draw” tab in Google Docs. Unfortunately, the scribble feature attempts to interpret your freewriting into common shapes/letters. This makes the scribble feature nothing at all like being able to write on paper. The other hiccup is Snag-It. The add-on is unreliable and the video feature does not always work.


As Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”