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Flipping the iPad Enabled Classroom (Part 1 of 2)

by Kelly Walsh on October 6, 2013


Schools with iPads Programs are Flipping the Classroom too!

The Flipped Classroom doesn’t necessarily require any special technology in the classroom – but it does require students to be able to consume digital learning content outside of class. One of the factors that propelled the iPad to the level of popularity it enjoys today is that it is a fantastic content consumption device, so it clearly lends itself to flipped learning. But there is so much more that the iPad can do, making it a powerful partner in the flipped classroom.

flipping the ipad classroom

In this article we begin to explore applications and ideas for ways in which the iPad can play a role in flipped teaching and learning. I hope that you – the reader – will offer up some of your ideas (in comments) about the intersection of flipped instruction and the iPad equipped student and teacher. I know many readers of EmergingEdTech either use iPads or other mobile learning devices in their classrooms or are leveraging flipped teaching techniques (or doing both), and your feedback and ideas can help to spark inspiration for others!

In my online flipped class workshops and the Flipped Classroom Workshop in a Book, we learn about the things we need to do to flip lessons and course content and important considerations for succeeding in the flipped classroom. This week I will delve into a few of these key consideration and requirements, and next week I will follow up with some ways to use the iPad to facilitate other important aspects of flipped instruction, such as Using Class Time, Reinforcement and Assessment, and Organization and Productivity (this last topic being a big help in any classroom!).

Finding and Creating Digital Learning Content

An essential aspect of the flipped classroom is digital learning content. Students will consume content outside of the classroom, and class time will be used to review and reinforce learning (there are many ways to approach this – more on that next week).  Teachers have the choice of taking advantage of the wealth of learning content available on the Internet today, creating their own content, or using a mix of both.

Finding Content
One of the best sources of a wide range of quality learning content on the Internet today is the Khan Academy. If you access the Khan Academy YouTube channel and search for the topic you are teaching, it is quite likely you will find some good material. When it comes to other sources of quality teaching content, it can be very helpful to use vetted reviews of sources such as those in this article, Seven Online Classrooms Teachers Can Use to Augment Their Own.

Creating Content
When it comes to content creation, there are some unique tools available for the iPad platform. But first it should be noted that most Internet based non-platform-specific content creation tools should work fine. If you like tools like Glogster, Vuvox, Fotobabble, or many of the other countless cool Internet based content creation applications available, you can still use them (on the iPad or on another platform if you find it easier to do it there and have student consume it on the iPad). While these are not traditional tools for flipping, they are fun, free alternatives (to screencasting) that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Screencasting is the most common content creation approach for flipped teaching. While Apple does not permit apps that capture all iPad screen activity like traditional PC and Mac screencasting tools, there are ways to work around this, and there are lots of good tools for doing a more limited form of screencasting (more like “white board casting”) on the iPad. Apps like Educreations let you bring up a digital white board on the iPad, record whatever you do there, and save and distribute it for play back. Lots of teacher like to use this type of approach to illustrate things.There are three more whiteboard screencasting apps for the iPad discussed in this article.

Full blown, traditional screencasting is possible with the iPad, by combining a few apps and a PC or Mac to accomplish it. This video from Screencast-O-Matic explains how to do this.

There are also plenty of apps that let you approach the creation of content for the iPad in ways other than screencasting – this topic could easily be a series of articles in and of itself. Nearpod is one example of such an application – this free app enables you to create enriched multimedia presentations with interactive features. Do you have others you like to use? Tell us about them!

Delivering & Consuming Learning Content

So once you found and/or created quality learning content, you need a way to deliver it so that your students can consume it outside of the classroom. Many of today’s content creation tools provide methods for storing and delivering content. It is also increasingly common for teachers and schools to have a central class repository for learning content. In higher education, the Learning Management System is the standard tool for this. In K-12, more and more schools are starting to provide platforms for this, such as learning portals or apps like Edmodo. Teachers can also take the initiative themselves if their schools do not provide such tools, and put up a Wiki (Wikispaces is very popular for this) or get their own Edmodo license.

None of the above approaches is iPad specific. When it comes to content consumption on the iPad, one unique twist is the way in which a growing number of apps allow for a very interactive experience while consuming content. This approach certainly makes the most of digital tools. Apps like iBooks and Subtext are examples of this growing trend towards much richer interactive experiences while reading and viewing digital learning content.

Another avenue worth exploring when considering effective learning while students consume content is notation tools – ways that students can capture thoughts, highlight content, note a question, and so on, while consuming digital content. iBooks offers tools for highlighting text in different colors for example. What other types of apps are there that allow highlighting or note taking on the go? Please offer your insights in a comment below.

Ensuring Content Consumption

I am often asked about approaches to ensuring that students consume learning content before they show up to class the next day. There are many techniques that can be helpful in this regard and I’ve included a chapter about this in the Flipped Classroom Workshop in a Book. I also shared some of these in this recent guest post on

When it comes to the iPad however, I believe it offers some interesting possibilities that I am only just beginning to consider. The increased options for integration lend themselves to more opportunities to ensure content consumption because they make is even easier to build in applicable types of interaction. For example, if I teacher could easily review what text was highlighted in a reading assignment, this could provide some insight into the student’s perspective on the material and some evidence that they read it.

Another application that I advocate in my flipped classroom workshop and presentations is the tool set, which allow you to flip a YouTube video, and embed questions, related content, and opportunities for feedback. While this is not an iPad specific app, it is a powerful flipped teaching companion. This flipped content can be privately delivered to email addresses you provide (removing the clutter of the standard YouTube interface). By building in short quizzes and questions requiring feedback, this tool offers a great way to require students to act on the material, helping to ensure content consumption (especially if there is a credit/no credit check associated with it), and reinforcing learning.

Learning more
Please come back next Sunday when we will explore Using Class Time, Reinforcement and Assessment, and Organization and Productivity in the iPad enabled classroom.

I’ll also be exploring these tools and ideas and more in a breakout session in November’s Teaching and Learning with the iPad summit in North Carolina. I hope you will consider joining us! After the conference I’ll be writing and sharing more of what I learned about the intersection of flipped instruction and iPad equipped students and teachers while networking with the many teachers who will be attending, and participating in the many great sessions being offered.




Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer at The College of Westchester, in White Plains, NY, where he also teaches. In 2009, Walsh founded He frequently delivers presentations and training on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. His eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book is available here. Walsh became the Community Administrator for the Flipped Learning Network in June of 2016. In his "spare time" he also writes, records, and performs original music ... stop by and have a listen!

[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, or those of other writers, and not those of my employer. - K. Walsh]

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Halbert October 17, 2013 at 12:11 am

Add Verso to the list. Use just one app to completely flip your classroom.

K. Walsh October 9, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Looking forward to it Anthony – see you there!

Anthony DiLaura October 9, 2013 at 11:35 am

Kelly, thanks for sharing this. I do believe the iPad offers the flipped classroom teacher and learner compelling reasons to leverage the iPad in delivering instruction via the flipped model. I am excited to share at the iPad Teaching and Learning conference in November the use of iBooks Author to move Flipped instruction beyond the video.
Keep on sharing great stuff.

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