Platform Preferences for Video Content in a Flipped Classroom: Students' Perceptions of YouTube as a Platform for Learning
Research into using flipped classrooms to present new information prior to a lesson has shown this to be an effective technique for increasing flexibility for students while providing similar or even improved results as compared to a traditional classroom approach. As many teachers were forced to teach online by the Coronavirus pandemic, this kind of lesson became increasingly common and for some teachers this will continue to be a useful format. With so many platforms available to teachers, it is important to consider the platform preferences of students when deciding to use a flipped classroom. To investigate this preference five classes of English Debate were instructed using a flipped classroom combining teacher created videos, provided both on YouTube and Blackboard, and online Zoom lessons. 70 of the students consented and answered three surveys throughout the 14-week semester regarding their opinions of YouTube as a platform for sharing the video portion of the lesson as well as their perceptions of YouTube as compared to Blackboard, the platform shared across the university. Students reported finding the videos helpful for preparation and generally had positive views of YouTube as a platform for learning. Data about reported usage showed no significant difference when investigating which platform was used more frequently, but responses about platform preference showed a clear preference for YouTube. However, a sizable minority of students did prefer Blackboard. Qualitative data showed that convenience and ease of use was a driving factor in students’ preferences, regardless of which platform they preferred. One can conclude that using platforms students are likely to enjoy and be experienced with may be a popular choice but that accounting for a variety of use cases likely means that providing videos on more than one platform will benefit more students.
Revisions: The subjects for this survey were first year students at a Japanese university in an EFL context. The students were all at an intermediate proficiency level, ranging from B2 to C1 on a CEFR scale.
While the focus of the survey did not directly address the impact of the use of the Zoom platform on student preferences and opinions about the flipped classroom, some observations can be drawn on. While it was clear that some students did appreciate the safety and convenience of online classes, others did take advantage of the flow of Zoom lessons to engage less in the class and as such may have found the shortened classes appealing as a way to spend less time working in the class. This can be supported by the varied quality of homework between students. While one may speculate on the fact that the classes were taught on Zoom may have influenced the students' preferences of platform for video content, the qualitative replies did not suggest any relation.
The students were given the opportunity to provide qualitative feedback and it was mostly positive. They generally provided few negative comments other than one student requesting subtitles as a change for future classes. Observations of behavior and performance in class can also provide insight into the challenges with the flipped classroom paradigm. While most students did well with the split class, some students did struggle to adequately complete out of class assignments, leaving them less prepared for class than expected. The reduction in class time also made it more difficult to correct incorrect assumptions and to help scaffold the skills required for a debate for students who may have struggled with the flipped class structure.
Jonathan Hennessy is a Lecturer in English Education at Rikkyo University in Tokyo.