Getting Started with Moving the Lecture Outside the Classroom

Technology is making it easier to move lecture content out of the classroom. By providing course content to students before they arrive in class, teachers can use classroom time to more directly engage with students. When “flipping the classroom” in this way, instructors replace in-class lecture time with activities that encourage students to apply, analyze, and evaluate lecture materials. The following are just a few strategies instructors have used to flip the class.

Why Move Lectures Outside the Classroom?

There are benefits for both teachers and learners when you move lectures outside the classroom:

  • Providing access to lecture material outside class time with video technology gives students the ability to rewatch, pause, rewind, fast-forward, and generally match their reception of the content to their needs.
  • Teachers can replace lectures with forms of content delivery more effective at meeting learning outcomes. What do you want students to be able to know, do, or value after experiencing the course materials before class?
  • Class time can now be used for a variety of learning activities that can engage diverse learners and achieve more ambitious learning outcomes. Rather than exposing students to material through lecture alone and expecting them to remember it, you can ask students to use, apply, analyze, and evaluate the materials in class.

What Else can Students do Outside of Class?

You can move more than just lecture materials outside of the classroom. Ideally, you can foster better preparation for class by blending lecture material with other activities. For instance, consider:

  • Creating a space for student Q&A that can be attached to each lecture. Allow students the opportunity to answer each other’s questions but intervene when necessary.
  • Having students work collaboratively on assignments that begin outside of class, continue in the classroom, and are completed outside of the classroom.
  • Assigning students to post their thoughts or reflections about lecture or course topics. Encourage participation by referring to students’ posts in class.
  • Be mindful, however, of how much time you are requiring students to spend preparing for class. If they are responsible for viewing lecture material before class, what else will they be required to do?

Options for Moving Lectures Outside the Classroom

There are many different ways to provide students with the material typically delivered in lecture content. You can adopt a single model or adopt a range of options to match the material to the learning outcomes you hope to achieve. Options include:

  • Videotaping from your desk – There are a number of tools to record you at your desk as you present the material. This allows you to:
    • Present material in smaller “chunks” of five to fifteen minutes, matching your presentation with students’ attention span.
    • Establish a more intimate, direct relationship with the student (learners report feeling a closer connection to professors speaking to them from a video screen than to professors in large lecture classes).
    • Present multiple screens to learners, so they can watch you speaking and see screen captured slides of the material you are discussing.
    • Fit the length of your presentations to the material being taught. Without the constraints of the timed class, you never run out of time. You can present further examples or greater explication for students who might need more attention. More advanced students can skip unnecessary examples.
    • Add quizzes or assignments that allow you to ensure students have completed the assignment before class.
  • Using videos produced by others – The internet houses an extraordinary array of video and for many topics you might be teaching, high quality videos already exist. You can teach what you teach best, and link to the rest. You can also record or write your own introductions to material produced by others.
  • Providing students with materials – You can provide students with video capture of your lecture, and augment it with readings, notes, problems, and other materials that guide them through first exposure, allowing them to arrive in class prepared for more advanced work.
  • Assessing student involvement – You can design assessments to measure how students are responding to content outside the classroom. Assessments can occur immediately after class, at the midpoint of the term, or after the semester.

Engaging Students with Newly Available Class Time

Class time can now be devoted to active learning, or activities that involve students in doing things and being more conscious about what they are doing. When designing your class activities, consider how they help students to meet your learning outcomes.

  • Clarification – Students can be polled on the lecture content before coming to class or at the beginning of class, allowing you to discover what needs greater attention, explanation, and reinforcement.
  • Discussion – Having already experienced the course content, students arrive ready to ask questions, discuss implications, and apply concepts.
  • Problem Solving – Students can work on problems that invite practical application of the ideas or concepts presented in lecture, with you and teaching assistants able to provide hands-on guidance and review.
  • Case Study – Students can work on one over-arching case study, inviting analysis, evaluation, and even the creation of new material.
  • Group Work – Allow students to work on problems or applications in group settings. Research shows that students working in groups learn more and demonstrate greater retention.

Tools for Flipping the Classroom

Do it Yourself

There are a number of programs available to help you create your own video lectures. These include Panopto, Jing, Camtasia, Screenflow, Screenr, and Educreations. Panopto is a no-cost service that allows you to record your computer screen synchronized with audio or video. A webcam and a microphone are all you need to record videos from your computer. The Center can help you determine which tool(s) may work best for you and also offers a self-recording studio.

Finding Content

The Internet is a vast repository of resources. You can supplement your own lecture material with existing sources. Good places to look include: Open Yale Courses, iTunes U, MIT Opencourse,, and Khan Academy.


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Dey, E. L., Burn, H. E., & Gerdes, D. (2009). Bringing the classroom to the web: Effects of using technologies to capture and deliver lectures. Research in Higher Education, 50(4), 377-393.

Ertmer, P. A., & Ottenbreit-Leftwisj, A. T. (2010). Teacher technology change: How knowledge, confidence, beliefs, and culture intersect. Journal of Research of Technology in Education, 42(3), 255-284.

Soong, Swee K. A., Chan, Lay K., Cheers, Christopher, & Hu, Chun. (2006). Impact of video recorded lectures among students. In Lina Markauskaite, Peter Goodyear, & Peter Reiman (Eds.), Proceedings of the 23rdannual Ascilite conference: Who’s learning? Whose technology? (pp. 789-793).Sydney: Sydney University Press.