Robert L. Martin Creative Consulting, New Media Design, Photography, and Printing

Robert L. Martin
Flipping the Classroom: Video and agency

SchoolNet now allows instructors to “flip” their classroom by assigning online resources for students to view outside the classroom. I’ve been using online instruction, supported by video resources for over a decade, and I still question the efficacy of that methodology.

Agency is defined as “a persons capacity to act”, specifically engaging with a social structure. Students engaging with video are subject to certain cultural norms that can make it difficult for them to break their habits and view the video as a text. In other words, when presented with a video students simply sit and view that video rather than engage in note taking or choosing what portion of the video is most important to them.

With a text students will flip back and forth, engaging with the linear structure of the book, and break out of that structure when they need to repeat information. Observing students with video instruction they tend to watch the video in linear fashion, rarely “scrubbing” back and forth as needed.

This has been my secret issue with video production for quite some time. The viewer is held captive to the timeline of video. My own work often undermines this, creating sequences from algorithms, or re-sequencing video based on input from sensors observing the audience. Breaking the traditional timeline creates an experience separate from a video, encouraging the viewer towards agency in acting to affect the outcome.

Instructors using video in a flipped classroom need to specifically train students to view video as a non linear medium by asking them to only view parts of a video, or to scrub back and forth in the timeline. Students who engage in altering the linear progression of video are more effective at note taking, and at seeing video as simply a database of information they can access as needed. Creating viewer agency gives them power to use video as they would a book, but it does mean undermining years of training that video is to be “watched”, not be interacted with.

Leave a Reply