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Sapling Learning had its beginnings with Macmillan in 2012 when it was acquired by Macmillan Science and Education, a technology and innovation division of Macmillan Publishers, Ltd. We are excited to announce that Macmillan Science and Education has been renamed as a united team of educational imprints: Macmillan Learning. The launch of Macmillan Learning will unite a formidable legacy of content and technologies to deliver unparalleled options to students and instructors.

 

Sapling Learning will continue to provide you and your students with the quality of content and support that make us the premier online homework system for STEM and problem solving disciplines. Our partnership with Macmillan Learning will only enhance our ability to support your instruction and improve your students' learning outcomes.

 

To learn more about Macmillan Learning and its imprints, click here.

How to start flipping your course: part 2

Originally posted by Rebecca Celik, Ph.D.

 

Video is, of course, the preferred medium for delivering flipped lectures, but creating one from scratch can seem intimidating. Amanda Brindley, Ph.D., a faculty lecturer at the University of California, Irvine, has recently flipped her class. In part two of our blog series, we asked her to pass along some advice for curbing your video anxiety.

How long does it take you to make your videos?

 

Video lectures took me a ridiculously long time to make initially. I think it took me about 8 hours per 20 minutes of lecture for the first couple I created . . . and they still weren’t as good as I’d have liked. I’ve gotten much better, though, largely because I’ve learned how to edit much faster.

 

What do you use to make your videos?

 

I use Camtasia with the PowerPoint add-in for everything. For non-math topics, I just use PowerPoint as a slideshow. For math-based problem solving, I actually do the writing on my surface tablet as I record. I can’t write on an iPad, though my colleague uses her iPad with Doceri. The pressure-sensitive pen with my surface tablet works much better for me. It’s more like the Wacom tablets that artists have been using for a while.

 

Do you script your recorded lectures?

 

I learned that I absolutely have to script my lectures before recording. Recording a couple of unscripted lectures made me aware of all of my annoying little speech habits that go unnoticed in a live lecture but seem to become more pronounced when I don’t have an actual audience to interact with. It  prevents me from falling into those bad habits, like saying “so” too much.

 

Scripting also helps keep the videos short and relevant. Putting objectives at the beginning and end of each video has also become a must for me. It keeps the expectations for the students clearer and keeps the video much more on task, which also shortens the time and makes it more apparent if [a lecture] needs to be broken into multiple videos.

 

How do you make the editing process more efficient?

 

Scripting makes the editing process go much more smoothly and saves time by preventing a lot of editing from being necessary in the first place. My approach is to record until I make a mistake; then I stop the video and restart the recording. That way, when I piece everything together, I know that my mistakes are right at the end of each clip; so it’s easy to find and cut out that portion. And editing in Camtasia is great. It’s extremely intuitive.

 

My colleague, who has been doing a flipped classroom in her organic lectures for longer than I have, does things a little bit differently. She keeps a running list of timestamps where she makes mistakes or wants to redo something, and then she just re-records the parts she needs and replaces the old segments with the new ones. Both ways seem to work well!

 

My biggest problem with recording right now is sound quality; there is a lot of background noise in my office and in my home. I find that [recording in] my office with giant blankets around me to dampen sounds in the background works best . . . but it’s not ideal, obviously. I’m working on finding a better place to record before I start the videos for my other course.

Three years ago, the Sapling Learning physics team began working on a project to add conceptual questions to our physics library. These questions are designed for use in courses for non-science majors, and focus more on understanding physical concepts than on calculating physical quantities. Although these questions are written with conceptual physics courses in mind, they have proved to be just as valuable in algebra- and calculus-based introductions to physics.

 

Today there are more than 500 conceptual-level questions in our library, covering a wide range of physics topics. We continue to add new questions regularly, giving particular attention to content requests submitted by instructors.

 

We have also added over 80 new quantitative problems to the physics library in the past academic year. These include simple one-step computations, as well as multi-step analytical problems. During the same time period, our astronomy team has added and updated more than 180 fantastic questions—some of which feature brand-new images from recent NASA missions.

 

Future newsletter updates will spotlight our favorite new content in each of these areas. Join us as we dig deeper into specific topics, answer modules or question types, and explore how Sapling Learning can enhance student learning in your courses.