The LectureTools Blog

6 Easy Tips for Flipping Your Classroom the First Time

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Sun, January 27, 2013

You already know the norm. Students trudge to class, passively sit and feign attention while the professor lectures. After class, they sit down to do their homework or review for exams and have no idea how to start solving problems.

Enter the flipped classroom. Students watch videos and do reading outside of class, and valuable class time is used to solve problems and apply concepts. The instructor and fellow students (i.e. peer instructors) are thus present when students need the most help, enabling more active, hands-on learning.

flipped classroom stanford
Photo credit: Stanford EdTech

It sounds daunting. But if you are just looking to get your feet wet, here are six pointers you can follow to flip your classroom and see how it works with your teaching style:


1. Plan a gradual change

If you aren’t sure whether you are ready to change every aspect of your teaching, or if you are trying to make improvements to your course with limited time to edit or create materials, think of smaller changes you might be able to implement first.

Which things can be changed this semester? If there are topics you cover that you could record a short lecture of or find an online resource, could they be substituted for what you have used in the past for lecture? Better yet, are there questions that will get your students thinking more in-depth about how to apply concepts that you haven’t had time to cover in class in the past? Think of engaging problems that can test students’ understanding, generate useful dialogue, and facilitate peer instruction during class.


2. Stick with technology you know

The flipped classroom inherently requires the use of technology, as students must access videos, readings, and practice material online. It might sound complicated, but chances are that you are already using some technologies that can help you flip your class.

We’ve already talked about using LectureTools to flip your classroom because it allows you to share slides, videos, and practice quizzes with your students. But you can always share instructional material with students with lecture capture tools like Echo360 or even your LMS.


3. Share the goals of the flipped classroom with your students

Chances are, your students have been trained over the years to expect nothing but lecturing. Especially at first, some will be resistant to the flipped classroom – after all, life was much easier when they could just sit back in lecture without being held responsible for paying attention or the needs to engage with the class.

Their participation during the in-class sessions is dependent on them doing the assigned reading, watching your videos, and trying practice problems outside of class. The goal of the flipped classroom is, in its most basic form, to provide a more active learning experience during the face-to-face class sessions. This means students have access to you and their peers when they are working through problems. Once they realize the benefits, most students should buy-in to your new teaching method – after all, if you give students the opportunity to participate, they will.


4. Keep an eye on data to structure your class sessions

Robert Talbert, professor of mathematics at Grand Valley State University, notes that the flipped classroom requires more agility:

"In a traditional classroom setup, you prepare a lecture, and that lecture does not change between making it and giving it. Whereas, with the flipped classroom, I'm not really sure what my students are going to need to know once I get there. It doesn't make sense for me to prepare a lecture that covers the entire set of material. They may be really good at all of it and can jump right into the problem solving, or maybe they're stuck on one point that we really need to drill into."

Providing online assessments for students outside of class, whether option or mandatory, should provide you with some data on what students are struggling with, and which concepts they are having no trouble understanding. Even moreso than with “traditional” lectures, watch students’ performance to make sure class time is distributed between concepts appropriately.


 5. Have students complete midterm course evaluations

Most institutions provide course evaluations at the end of every semester. But, if you are trying this new approach, it is advantageous to solicit feedback from your students before it is too late and the semester ends.

If you usually give midterm course evaluations, compare the results to feedback from students in previous semesters. You might even consider moving up the evaluations earlier in the semester or even adding a second midterm evaluation to make sure you are on the right track.


6. Reflect and Prepare for the Next Semester

When you’ve finished your first flipped class, take the time to examine the results. Student course evaluations, grades, and even your own impressions will be invaluable to determining how successful your flipped class was and what to try next. Keep the components that seemed to be effective, and find ways to improve the things that didn’t. Try to think of technologies you are less familiar with that could improve the experience further.


Have advice for newcomers looking to flip their classroom? Leave your tips in the comments!


lecturetools flipped classroomLearn more about how to implement a flipped classroom with LectureTools

LectureTools is a cloud-based active learning platform that enables your students to practice with interactive activities, see and take notes on your slides, watch video lessons, and ask questions digitally. We'd love to show you LectureTools and discuss how it could be used to flip your class!

Topics: emerging technologies in education, Teaching with Technology, Student Participation, The Flipped Classroom

LectureTools Acquired by Echo360

Posted by Chelsea Jenkins on Wed, November 07, 2012


An Active Learning Platform

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In 2005 Dr. Perry Samson started LectureTools at the University of Michigan as a research project with one goal: to revolutionize the classroom and to engage students with their laptops and cellphones, regardless of class size. 

LectureTools launched commercially in August 2011 and has since been adopted by professors at over 30 universities and colleges across the United States, Canada, and Asia. Today, we are excited to announce that we are joining forces with Echo360, whose lecture capture technology is in use at over 600 schools across the globe and backed by Steve Case's Revolution Growth.

LectureTools: An Active Learning Platform on Vimeo.

Echo360 provides not only resources, but also a like-minded vision and talented employees that will help us achieve our long-term goal of building an active learning platform that revolutionizes the way people teach and learn using technology in and out of the classroom. This is not the end of LectureTools, rather, a new beginning, and current accounts will not be affected. LectureTools will always exist and it will continue to improve as a stand alone product. It will also be developing an integrated solution with lecture capture and other active learning features. 

We would like to extend a special thank you to our early adopters, who have given us amazing feedback and their continued support. We look forward to continuing our work with you and the Echo360 team.


To a new beginning, 

The LectureTools team.


Samson is also a co-founder of the Weather Underground, which sold in the summer to the Weather Channel, with a group of former students. LectureTools also sprouted with a dedicated group of recently graduated U-M students including Jason Aubrey, Bret Squire and Sharanyan Ravi. Aubreyco-founder of LectureTools, joins Echo360 as a product manager while Squire and Ravi join as developers. 

We would also like to say thank you to a few key players in the LectureTools story – University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship, University of Michigan TechArb, University of Michigan Office of Technology Transfer, The National Science Foundation, our advisor Jim Sterken, and the instructors and students who have helped us grow.



Make your class more interactive: click below and become the next addition to our team!




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Topics: Online Education, LectureTools News, New Features, classroom engagement strategies, emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, enhance student engagement, Teaching with Technology, Student-Instructor Interaction, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, instructor interaction, instructor communication, student engagement, student engagement strategies, Student Response Systems, student response, Flipped Instruction, educational networking, The Flipped Classroom

A Supplement of a LectureTools Testimony

Posted by Chelsea Jenkins on Tue, October 30, 2012

LectureTools: An engaging presentation tool to use in the classroom

Jim Barbour, associate professor of economics, uses LectureTools in his introductory-level courses.

Jim Barbour, chair of the economics department and associate professor of economics, uses LectureTools in his introductory-level courses.


While searching for an alternative to clickers to use in his classes, Jim Barbour, chair of the economics department and associate professor of economics, stumbled upon LectureTools.

Run by a five-person team in Ann Arbor, Mich.,LectureTools is an engaging, web-based program that allows instructors to create interactive presentations.

“I was looking for something that was more robust,” Barbour said. “Think of [LectureTools] as a combination of clickers, Facebook and Twitter all rolled into one.”

Special Features

By uploading preexisting PowerPoint presentations to LectureTools, instructors can enhance classroom materials by incorporating multiple-choice, short-answer or ordering questions, as well as images and videos onto slides. Students can access presentations on their own devices by logging in to the program.

“All of this is like a clicker on steroids,” Barbour said. “But now, you don’t have to keep track of the clickers, and you don’t have to charge them up.”

Instructors can incorporate multiple-choice, short-answer or ordering questions, as well as images and videos onto slides.

Instructors can enhace classroom materials by incorpoarting multiple-choice, short-answer or ordering questions, as well as images and videos onto slides.


LectureTools is free for instructors, Barbour said, while students must pay a flat $15 fee at the beginning of the semester.

LectureTools works best on laptops, tablets and smartphones, Barbour said, though students can still participate if he or she has a mobile phone with texting capabilities.

Barbour said out of the seventy-odd students he has had in his LectureTools-based classes, only one did not have a laptop, tablet, smartphone or phone with texting capabilities. Because of this, Barbour is lending his Kindle to the student.

“There are places [students can] checkout [laptops] from the school, so I’ve run into that once out of 74 students,” Barbour said. “It’s probably going to be a problem less and less as we go forward.”

Students can control the view of their individual screens, take notes on slides, mark slides as confusing, bookmark slides to review later and direct questions to instructors by typing inquiries into a comment box.

 Students can control the view of their individual screens, take notes on slides, mark slides as confusing, bookmark slides to review later and direct questions to instructors by typing inquiries into a comment box.


While logged in to LectureTools, students can control the view of their individual screens. Students can take notes on the slides, and because the program is web-based, students’ notes are saved online and can be accessed later.

Freshman Michelle Rich, a student in Barbour’s introductory-level economics class, said she likes the flexibility of LectureTools in that it allows her to control what slide is displayed on her screen. She said she likes the interactivity of the technology too, because it helps her to better learn the material.

“LectureTools is helpful, but I am still adapting to this new way of learning,” she said. “I really like how my professor asks us questions through LectureTools because it tests us while we’re learning.”

Students can mark presentation slides as confusing, and they can bookmark slides to review later. Further, students can direct questions to instructors by typing them into a comment box, and professors receive those inquiries instantly.

“It’s another way for me to communicate with the class, and that’s really what I’m interested in because at the core, we are storytelling creatures,” Barbour said. “This allows me to tailor the story as I go to match what the class seems to need. Any good instructor always does that.”

LectureTools records all student activity and converts the data into a report, which is sent to an instructor approximately 20 minutes after class is over.

Students in Barbour's economics class collaborate on a short-answer question.

 Students in Barbour's introductory-level economics class collaborate on a short-answer question.

By Sam Parker 



To use LectureTools and start increasing engagement in  YOUR classroom click here:



Topics: Mobile Devices for Education, classroom engagement strategies, emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, enhance student engagement, Teaching with Technology, Student-Instructor Interaction, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Large Class, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, instructor interaction, student engagement, student engagement strategies, Student Response Systems, Student Participation, educational networking, Enriching Scholarship Conference, Laptops in Education, Learning Outcomes, The Flipped Classroom

The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Flipped Classroom

Posted by Chelsea Jenkins on Wed, August 29, 2012



The "flipped classroom" has been making waves in the educational world for some time now. With the introduction of the Khan Academy, the concept of the flipped classroom has become one of the hottest debates in the academic world among primary educators, professors, and administrators alike. As education-based technology and online platforms continue to grow and improve, more and more devices, programs, and concepts are entering the educational world and shaking things up. Where at one time the concept of online learning, computer-based assignments, and the virtual classroom were scoffed at, today online education and technology in the classroom are top priorities for schools, teachers, and researchers.


Within our increasingly digital world, most of us agree that education and academia must respond to the changing atmosphere of society. By and large, we accept that online learning and certain academic technologies are worthwhile. However, with all the hoopla over the Khan Academy and the flipped classroom, there remain both positives and negatives to the approach.


The Advantages

Many of the advantages of the flipped classroom have been covered throughout the blogosphere and elsewhere. There are many things to praise about the concept of the flipped classroom. With positive results from many teachers and school districts throughout the country, there's no denying that the approach can (and has been) successful in certain cases. Students are able to approach material and take it in at their own speed. By covering lecture material at home and from a video-based platform, students can privately view the material. This allows them to approach things at their own pace without worry of peers noticing them moving slower or faster. Students can stop, pause, rewind, and fast forward material so that they can examine things in their own way.


By taking the lecture portion of the classroom home with them, students are able to utilize their teachers' one-on-one attention more successfully in the classroom. Students sit through lecture, gather questions, and prepare themselves for the day with the teacher to tackle "homework". Because the actual exercises are done in the classroom rather than at home with this model, students have their teacher available for questions with problems when they occur.


The flipped classroom also allows teaching to adapt more easily to the different teaching styles that individual students may be most successful with. By putting lectures in a video format, students can listen to the lesson and watch the video illustrate the lesson. Of course, this largely depends on how successful the actual video lecture is. You want a lecture (like the Khan videos) that explains concepts verbally, but also draws them out in images and pictures. This provides adequate learning opportunities for verbal learners and for visual learners. With in-classroom lecturing, the visual aspect of lecturing can be significantly more difficult to accomplish.


The Disadvantages

Of course, as with anything, there are going to be some disadvantages to the flipped structure of learning as well. Just as classroom lecturing works better for some and doesn't work for others, the flipped classroom method is not going to accommodate every individual perfectly. The biggest set back today to the flipped classroom method is that not all students and schools have access to technologies that can really work for this method.


Students from lower income areas and lower income families may not have access to the computers and internet technologies that the flipped classroom requires. The structure really hinges on every student having personal access to his or her own personal device. This simply is not the case for every student and every school district. Students who do not have personal home computers or access to the internet would be forced to use public computers at a library or at the school. This, to some degree, eliminates the personal and private experience of taking in the lecture. What makes having lectures as homework so powerful is that students can do it on their own time and in their own way. At a library computer or school computer time limits typically exist and access can be limited if it is busy. This is problematic.


Another downside to the idea of the flipped classroom that many people bring up is the fact that students would be spending all of their "homework time" plugged-in in front of a computer screen. Not only do not all students do well with learning from a screen, but this also adds to a student's time in front of a screen and sitting sedentary. While this concern isn't singular to the flipped classroom, the teaching concept doesn't help our young students to get up and get away from their computers, televisions, and iPods.

Flip your classroom with LectureTools! Check out one of our flipped classrooms by signing in as a student:


PW: 2012

Mariana Ashley is a blogger and freelance writer who often writes for about online college life. Mariana is passionate about all things education and loves writing about the latest trends in the world of academia. She welcomes comments via email at

Topics: Learning Styles, classroom engagement strategies, emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, enhance student engagement, Teaching with Technology, Student-Instructor Interaction, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, instructor interaction, student engagement, student engagement strategies, student response, Flipped Instruction, Guest Blogger, Learning Outcomes, The Flipped Classroom

3 Modern Trends in Education and the Web

Posted by Jason Aubrey on Mon, July 23, 2012

For the past several years now, our digital worlds and our physical worlds have collided in many ways. As technology and the internet become ever more prevalent in our everyday lives, we continue to blur the line between the digital and the "real". With our dating lives, our friendships, and our professional lives taking place largely in the online realm, it's no surprise that our education and academic lives are also turning to the web. Online education has been around for some time now. Where at one time the online classroom and the online degree carried some form of negative stigma, today they are more widely accepted among academics, employers, and the general public. It was the first online educational realms that have paved the way for so many other online educational innovations and resources that we have today.


On Modern Trends in Education and the Web Image resized 600 


While the online world is often discredited in one way or another—social media is seen as frivolous and social networking a distraction–there's no denying the relevance and significance of many modern online tools and techniques that have cropped up in recent years. The online world has so much to offer for its sheer accessibility and reach. With educational tools available at the simple click of a button the possibilities are endless. These three modern trends in web and education tools are major movements for the online learning community and wonderful insights into the future of education and academia.


TED Talks

The TED establishment has been around for some time now. Launched initially in 1984, TED, standing for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, originated as a global conference for "ideas worth spreading". While the TED slogan hasn't changed, the program has evolved significantly throughout the years. Today, TED provides thousands of videos online on subjects ranging from the United States healthcare system to lessons from death row inmates and mineral mining in seawater. Students, teachers, parents, business people, artists, and everyone alike have something to gain from TED talks and the TED agenda. What TED communicates overall is that innovative and inspiring things are happening every day and we should explore them. By creating a platform where people can explore and openly discuss their thoughts and ideas, we create the potential for a better world and a stronger human community.


Khan Academy

The Khan Academy has received a lot of buzz in recent months in the both the education and technology fields. Created in 2006 by MIT and Harvard Business school graduate Salman Khan, the Khan Academy seeks "to accelerate learning for students of all ages". The flipped classroom was covered by LectureTools recently and is a concept spearheaded in many ways by the Khan Academy. Khan provides over 3000 video tutorials on academic topics from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history. The videos teach hundreds of skills to practice to help students learn what they want to learn, when they want to learn it, and at their own pace. Khan communicates a complicated and exciting transition in the world of education—free world-class education for whomever wants it.


Open Courseware

As an evolution of the online learning world, many of the best and most renowned colleges and universities throughout the country are offering open courseware opportunities online. Schools like MIT (linked to above), Stanford, Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, and many more offer access to actual classes taught by their professors. These courses vary in how much they offer, but most provide a real class syllabus, assignment list, readings, lecture notes, and more for free online. The open courseware initiative put in place by these institutions for higher learning display a new and exciting concept in the world of higher education. While at one time college was in many ways the world of the privileged, these open courseware initiatives invite anyone and everyone to access collegiate level learning. Something that technology and academia have come to agree on and work toward is that a solid education should be available to any who seek it.


The Author 

Melissa Miller spent many years working odd jobs like street pantomime and burro grooming before finally admitting it was time to get her associate degree. Now she has sworn her life to helping others do the same by explaining the often tricky world of online education. Direct any questions or comments to


Click here to learn how to use LectureTools and the cloud to flip your class!                          

Topics: classroom engagement strategies, interactive classroom technology, Flipped Instruction, The Flipped Classroom, Cloud Computing

The Flipped Classroom: Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century

Posted by Katherine Pfeiffer on Fri, February 17, 2012

Have you heard of the flipped classroom? Imagine inverting the way instruction and homework is assigned. Instead of students passively learning during class time, students learn at home receiving instruction at their own pace. Class time is then open for an active learning approach where students get access to valuable time with the instructor. The instructor’s role changes from presenter of content to learning coach. 

Jon Bergmann and Jerry Overmyer discovered this solution when students were frequently missing class for school activities. They began by recording and annotating their lectures and posted them on-line for absent students.  Not only did the absent students use these materials, but, many students who did not miss class used the on-line materials to reinforce the classroom lessons. 

There is no one exact model, but a flipped classroom typically includes:

  1. Resources like videos and PowerPoint presentations that take place of direct instruction
  2. Time outside of school where students watch videos, follow lecture slides, take notes, and create questions.
  3. Class time for working on group projects, homework where they can have the teacher’s immediate assistance.

Providing students with videos of instruction and PowerPoint presentations to be reviewed outside of school allows them to learn at their own pace.  They may pause the video, take notes, write questions, re-wind the video, review for clearer understanding, or perhaps fast-forward.  The lecture material is always available for review allowing students to return and use these powerful resources to study and prepare for exams.

While in class, the once "home" work assignments become much more meaningful and have a greater potential of sticking in their memory.  Flipping the classroom gives students the chance to first study at home and then use class time to really learn and understand through doing.  Think of the science class. Instead of spending 3/4 of class time lecturing and only 1/4 conducting lab experiments, students can spend nearly all of class time in the lab!

If you would like to provide more in-class learning experiences give the flipped classroom a try.  There are many on-line resources available.

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Topics: Online Education, classroom engagement strategies, emerging technologies in education, Educational Technology, Flipped Instruction, The Flipped Classroom

Greetings From the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas!

Posted by Jason Aubrey on Wed, January 11, 2012


It's LectureTool's first visit to Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (CES 2012) and so far so good! Higher education reps and corporations were excited to see the education offerings of our presentation, student response, and note-taking tool. It's also the first time we've publicly displayed our LectureBook etextbook product and our upcoming iPad application. 

CES Photo resized 600

(From left to right, Rich Boys (Director of Customer Experience), Zach Wick (Software Engineer), Bret Squite (Software Engineer), and Jason Aubrey (Director of Sales of Marketing).

Our team knows the competitive nature of CES and what's being presented, so we thought we'd play along and show the world how cool education can be, too.

We took this opportunity to show a sneak peak of the first student response and note-taking iPad application. The app allows students to use the Apple iPad to respond to activities, swipe through lecture slides, ask questions, and the other things students can do on LectureTools. The plan is to allow for online and offline access to LectureTool's materials for students. As long as they have their iPads, they have their course materials. 

Stay tuned as we'll be officially launching our iPad application in the near future, available for all students with LectureTool's subscriptions. 

From Las Vegas,

The LectureTools CES Team!

Booth 73305 in the Venetian Ballroom

Topics: classroom engagement strategies, emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, Teaching with Technology, student engagement strategies, ipad application, The Flipped Classroom

Guest Post: Dream Big - You Can Be Whatever YOU Want to Be When You Grow-Up!

Posted by Erin Klein on Fri, August 12, 2011

matt damon sosAfter viewing Matt Damon's speech (and follow up interview), I was so thankful about the positive press surrounding the support of teachers... especially considering the amount of chatter that isn't always so positive regarding our pay and dedication. Sitting here on Sunday afternoon, my husband, Jason, and I engaged in some rather interesting conversation surrounding today's current economic state. Like most, we were concerned when our nation's credit rating was lowered. We've been wanting to watch Inside Job - so we did.  Interesting enough, Matt Damon narrated this documentary.

This film got me thinking... who is to blame for our nation's financial crisis?

Then I began to think... who is to blame for our nation's educational crisis?

Is it the Teachers?

It only seems right that if students aren't performing well, it must be the ones directly teaching them, right?

If a bridge collapses, who is at fault?  

  • The ones that drive on it
  • The ones that constructed it
  • The ones who supplied/manufactured the faulty materials in which the bridge was constructed

What if you were given the assignment of teaching piano lessons... However, you are governed by the following:

  • You have to use certain sheet music (not the materials in which you prefer)
  • You have too many students to get to on a personal level
  • Some of your students have handicaps yet you don't have tools to accommodate
  • And most importantly... your success isn't going to be measured on how beautiful the students play the instrument nor how much growth they've made from the time they've entered the class but rather how well they perform on the standard sheet music exam

Honestly, ask yourself, how many hours will you:

  • Spend on teaching how to read sheet music
  • Spend on actually playing the piano 

Some people (myself included) will argue that if you teach in an authentic fashion, the students will naturally perform well on whatever test is given to them. True.  So, we don't have to teach test preparation and drill and kill methods 180 days a year - and we shouldn't test this way either!

So, how do we reach students when classes are overcrowded and students are at so many different levels?  I believe technology is a tool that can help in this situation. Many have discussed new methodologies such as The Flipped Classroom where student's homework consists of viewing lectures at home so that the 'homework' becomes classwork where the teachers can facilitate a more hands-on model of instruction. Certain software companies have created Learning Management Systems that help to make this an easy transition.  

I certainly do not believe that teachers are to blame. In fact, I believe teachers are the thread holding the system together. I do think that the system needs to change, though. Times have changed; however, much in our practice has not. In my opinion, teaching is evolving - and the field of education needs to catch up.  Teachers are ready; they simply need the tools and the training to incorporate these new methods into their classrooms. 

In closing, I pose a question: are we going to continue to prepare our students to become proficient at shading in bubbles, or are we going to prepare them to be able to use their resources, analyze information, think critically, and connect globally?

Erin Klein is a mother of two, a wife, and a teacher in Michigan. You can find her on Twitter @Mimadisonklein or read more of her writing on her blog, Kleinspiration. Like all guest posts, views expressed in this article belong to the author.

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Topics: Teaching with Technology, Large Class, Educational Technology, Guest Blogger, The Flipped Classroom