Playposit is a great tool for tracking whether students have watched videos you’ve assigned in a flipped classroom

I started using a modified flipped classroom for my introductory broadcast journalism class last year. What I’m doing in that class is probably a series of posts in and of itself, but the short of it is that I’ve turned my direct instruction lessons into 5-10 minute videos that students are supposed to watch and take notes on as homework and then I get to work with them on the hands-on work in class at their own pace.

Early on as I was exploring this, I wondered how I was going to be able to make sure students watched the videos and how I was going to hold them accountable for the information. After a little digging I learned about Playposit.com.

It’s a great site that not only allows you to monitor whether or not students have watched the videos you have assigned, it also allows you to engage them within the video with questions or comments that pop up throughout the video. Here’s how it works:

  • I make a video about a lesson I’m wanting to give. If you want to see some examples of what I’ve done, you can find some of them here on this playlist. If you’re looking for more examples, I have some others on that Youtube channel. If you’re exploring this as something you might be interested in doing, don’t get hung up on making the perfect video. It doesn’t have to be perfect. There’s lots of other things I’ve learned about making the videos through my exploration of the flipped classroom.
  • After I make the video, I upload it to Youtube. While I have chosen to use Youtube, Playposit offers other hosts from Vimeo and TeacherTube to SchoolTube and Shmoop.
  • I then login to Playposit and create a new Video Bulb. They call each lesson/video you assign a “Bulb.” Here, you basically input the Youtube URL, give the lesson a title and a brief description and then begin building.
  • In the building phase, I add questions or comments. I play the video next and add questions in at different points. Maybe I was just explaining something in the video and I want to check for understanding. I can add a question. It stops the video and the question pops up. This can be short answer or multiple choice or a few other options. I can even just go in and provide a comment that they have to read and click through.
  • After I get done creating the video, I save it and then assign it to the class. I collect student email addresses, add them to a class on Playposit and then assign the video to the whole class with a due date.
  • Students then login and watch the video. On the backend, I’m able to see who has watched it and when. It also grades the multiple choice questions for me, I have to grade the short answer questions. In a 7-minute video I might have 4-6 questions/comments embedded.

Playposit has worked great for me. It’s free with some paid bells and whistles that you can add. I have chosen to stay with the free version and it’s worked just fine. The thing I love about it is I can work with the students now at their own pace with assignments. They can even go back and watch the videos if they didn’t understand something the first time. You can’t do that with a direct instruction lesson to the whole class. In my intro class, some students are ahead of where they need to be and not sitting around waiting for the others to catch up, some are on track, and others who are struggling with the material aren’t getting further behind by me pushing them ahead too fast. It also has allowed me to help that latter group more and get them caught up to where they need to be.

If you have questions about Playposit or the flipped classroom, feel free to ask them in the comments below and I’ll be glad to do what I can to help you out.

Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 20th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He created The Next 26 and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on Twitter and Instragram @manfull and on Snapchat as aaronmanfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

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