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The Art of Curation: Flipping Your Science Class Using Someone Else’s Videos

By Aaron Sams


Welcome back to the Flipped Corner!

We’re embarking on year three of bringing you practical flipped learning techniques and sample lessons you can use in your science class. Last year, we explored ways in which inquiry techniques could be used in conjunction with flipped learning and found that the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

This year, we’ll explore something a little different. Although I usually recommend creating your own video content for students, I know this isn’t always a practical reality. I often refer to this as the “create vs. curate conundrum”. Teachers are busy, and you may have neither the time nor the skills to create your own video content.

In light of this reality, the Flipped Corner will be featuring ways to flip your class by curating video content that is already freely available online.

Here are three things to consider as you begin to develop your curation skills:

  1. Know where to look and what to look for

    With an increasing number of professional YouTubers, professional teachers, and amateur scientists posting science content on the site, YouTube is the obvious choice for finding freely available video content. However, there are other options. Many teachers are posting their content on TeacherTube, Vimeo, and other video platforms. Regardless of where you find your content, be sure to know what you’re looking for and looking at.

    Are you looking for a video to engage students, to give them an introductory overview of a topic, to take them on a deep dive into a topic, or to summarize something they’ve already learned? Different content creators are producing videos to accomplish different tasks. For example, a TED-Ed video is generally used as a high-quality introduction to a topic. The videos are professionally made, entertaining, and usually provide just enough information to begin a conversation about a given subject. Alternatively, Paul Anderson at Bozeman Science and Tyler DeWitt at Chemistry Video Textbook provide more comprehensive content delivery.
  2. View the video yourself

    I know this sounds obvious, but a surprising number of teachers select a video by title and topic without appropriately screening the video before distributing it to their students. Take some time to watch all of the video to be sure it actually accomplishes your objectives.
  3. Ensure curricular alignment

    As a teacher, one of the main arguments for creating your own content is that you know what you’re required to teach and what your students need. If you choose to curate your video, be sure the content is aligned with your state standards, or with NGSS. Additionally, be sure the video creator is using language and vocabulary similar to yours and your course materials. You don’t want to confuse your students by introducing one set of vocabulary only to correct and modify it in class.

At this point, you may be thinking that if you have to go through all that, you might as well make the video yourself, and that may be true. It takes almost as much time to curate your content as it does to create it. However, the curation process saves you from having to learn how to produce your own videos. Curation can also be an enriching and eye-opening process that can expose you to alternate ways of communicating material. Truly amazing producers of science video content continue to emerge, making science exciting and understandable for students. Find those individuals, invite them into your class by clicking the play button, and enjoy this year’s series on flipping your class by curation.

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