All in with

I’m doing it.

Next semester, I’m going all in with

For those of you have not heard of, it is a website that hosts thousands of training videos on hundreds of topics.  For a monthly fee, a user can watch as many of those training videos as they want. Recently, ECU has subscribed to the service, offering all the videos to all of our students for free.  ECU is encouraging professors to use the videos in their classes.

That’s where I fit in.  Next spring, I plan on chucking my existing textbook and instead require students to use the training videos in my web development class to learn HTML, CSS, and PHP.  This should complete my initial forlay into the “flipped” classroom.  I am done lecturing in the classroom for this course.  Instead, all the materials are available online, either through or through my own videos.

So what am I good for?  Am I marginalizing my own role in the classroom? I’m good for a lot and, no, I am not marginalized.  Instead, I get to focus on more useful activities.  Three in particular.  First, I will have more time to develop and refine evaluation materials to ensure students actually learn the stuff meaningfully.  Second, I have more time to develop support materials that better guide students in their learning.  Third, I will have more time to directly engage students in the classroom and more quickly identify problems in understanding or confusion with materials.  The ultimate objective is to help students learn better.  By moving the lectures outside of class, I can move their assignments into class so I can give them immediate feedback.

That’s not to say I don’t have concerns.  Number one is that students will not like listening to the videos outside of class.  I know how few read the book.  What makes this different? Well, nothing specifically.  For those students how prefer to read, this might annoy them.  For those students who prefer to listen to an instructor, this might be better.  In the end, the presentation format will likely make little difference to students motivated to learn.  But I still plan to hold them accountable for watching the lectures.  To do this, my current plan is to require weekly progress reports.  This should give students the freedom to learn at a pace comfortable to them, yet allow me identify problem areas so I can help them.

I’m sure I will learn some valuable lessons along the way, but if any of you would like to share your experience with (or other video tutorials), please add them to the comments.

4 Responses

  1. Hi John,

    I’m one of the staff authors at and I loved this article plus the interview on our site. I primarily teach the JavaScript classes and I was wondering if you could use some help.

    I’m a teacher at Seminole State Community College in Florida where I’ve been an Adjunct for over 12 years. I’m also pursuing a masters, so I understand some of the challenges in flipping the classroom and combining online education with the classroom. I’m not sure what I could do, but maybe we can figure something out.

    I’d be happy to do a video interview, Skype into your class, do a hangout or something else if you’re covering one of my topics. I can also try to contact some of the other teachers if you need something. Anyways, let me know. You can DM me via twitter @planetoftheweb, or email me to

    — Ray

  2. John says:

    Thanks, Ray. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

    Thank you for your offer to help. That could come in handy. I’ll let you know.

  1. December 5, 2014

    […] begins a recent blog post by John Drake, a web development professor at East Carolina […]

  2. December 6, 2014

    […] John Drake, who teaches web development at East Carolina University, says he will assign videos to be watched outside of class. These videos are paced to the individual student — they’re not boring group videos. Then in regular weekly class periods, John plans to guide collaborative discussions and provide one-on-one coaching to students. […]

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