Interactive teaching

Column 1

Distance Learning
Professional Development Online
Videos for a Post-Lecture World 

In a provocative article ("Twilight of the lecture"), Harvard Magazine featured Erik Mazur's "interactive teaching" techniques in its March 2012 issue.  Mazur uses phrases like "peer instruction" and "active learning," which the distance learning community will recognize as standard procedures for online courses.   

The recent Harvard University articles/webpages related to Mazur's work are found with key words "Mazur harvard magazine twilight" at

For teachers who are comfortable with the traditional lecture format, Mazur's thesis may appear unsettling. Some targeted professional development can reduce the anxieity of "sages on the stage" who see the need to become "guides on the side." The videos listed below have been culled from Youtube and make a virtual course about "how to re-engineer the lecture."  The links can be found by searching on youtube with the key words listed next to each link or by going to the list of links at under "Profesional Development Online." 

The videos are listed by type:

a)  Lectures about the "flipped Classroom"; b)  Examples of how universities are using videos to make lectures more engaging and asynchronous; c)  Videos posted by teachers showing why they ask students to view videos asynchronously and come to class prepared for discussions; and d)  Examples of videos used by teachers. 

a)  Lectures about the "flipped Classroom" 


There is a five-minute summary of Mazur's procedure for "peer Instruction."

Note the examples here

To highlight the stages of his method, Mazur has an edited version posted on the Harvard Magazine site:

(8 minutes)

There are several versions of 80-minute presentation by Mazur with the title "confessions of a converted lecturer"

For further information: look for Facebook pages related to interactive teaching. The microcosmic view uses phrases like "reverse instruction" and "I flipped my classroom" and "interactive teaching." The latest collection of "like minds" comes from Harvard University in, coordinated by Eric Mazur. As of March 13, 2012, only 44 people are connected to that site's email list. Join the future majority.

b)  How universities are using videos 

One of the leading examples in blended learning (using videos to foster later discussion in face-to-face classes) is Stanford's "faculty collaborate" video (2 minutes, 1,412 views as of March 2012)  

Key words "Faculty collaborate Stanford"

The video features computer science professor Daphne Koller who shifted classroom time from lectures to "more engaging activities."

c)  Videos by teachers to explain "Flipped Classrooms"
The following links show Katie Gimbar's description of her evolution from recommending videos to her students to shifting to making her own videos.  

Professional development for traditional lecturers...

why I flipped my class   math teacher (2 minutes)

what if students don’t watch video (2 minutes)

Katie Gimbar's flipped classroom (2 minutes)

shift of responsibility (2 minutes)

why is it called flipped? (2 minutes)

Why each teacher needs to make a video (2 minutes)

Look for FIZZ and "LIKE" their page (this is a collection of videos hosted by Friday Instruction, organized at University of North Carolina). Dr. Lodge McCammon has organized a group of teachers to give examples of how they "flipped" their classes.

too much lecture in the classroom (2 minutes)

Dr. McCammon calls it "better than a front row seat."

This video gives his suggestions about how to organize a good series of videos for the "flipped classroom."
d)  Examples of "live" videos used by teachers 

"Visual and active --  with paradigms part 1"   by Dennis Yuzenas captured a teacher in a live classroom setting (10 minutes)

This "engaged teaching" is what progressive online professors have been doing for years, since their lectures are posted for the students to view at their leisure and the students are asked to become engaged actively by reflecting on the lecture. Online professors are more like to have created visually interesting and graphically organized powerpoint slides (using the design guidelines of marketing pushed by Seth Godin and others who advocate fewer words and more graphics). The result is that many online professors are at the forefront in providing "equivalent learning experiences" (Simonson (2005), p. 284) and ready to show professors in traditional face-to-face classrooms how to "reverse instruction" by having students work in virtual peer groups on exercises that are designed to engage students actively in the process of learning (not sit back and passively receive information from the lectures).

Dr. Fischler said, "That's how a teacher can organize a classroom" after watching this video

That's the essential message of Abraham S. Fischler, Eric Mazur and the Stanford faculty who are using terms like "flipping the classroom" -- they ask students to arrive at the discussion space (classroom in face to face) ready to discuss. That's what happens when students are online, posting by Wednesday and visiting the discussion forum daily to respond to each other's posts.

Although his book, The Art of Changing the Brain (2002), has inspired teachers to "lecture less," James Zull does not have a prominent video on youtube highlighting his work (as of March 2012). He wrote compellingly about "the stupor" that his student sank into whenever he started lecturing (p. 127).

For "scaffolding" procedures in middle school:

Go to "Yuzenas Dennis" and look at the visual and active teaching segment.  It lays out step by step the method that Yuzenas uses to get students to take over with projects (9 minutes). These steps can be duplicated in the online environment.

To view how private enterprise has adopted the asynchronous method of presenting information, see, which advocates "copy universities and make videos part of your training."

This collection of videos and websites could be used to retrain teachers and create a paradigm shift making the student the center of the classroom:, as Dr. Abraham S. Fischler points out in his blog.

For a macro view of how interactive teaching can lead to a "transformation of education," called systemic change in parlance, visit (which will be the subject of the next column's collection of videos).


Simonson, M. (2005). Trends and Issues in Distant Education, Charlotte, N.C.: Information Age Publishing.

Zull, J. (2002). The Art of Changing the Brain. Stylus Publishing.

Steve McCrea is a graduate student at Nova Southeastern University. Suggestions for videos that promote professional development for the distance learning community can be sent to

Just in case the article gets moved somewhere else, I'm posting the Harvard Magazine article here... I believe it shows the need for the online community to respond and share what ITDE does so well -- fostering asynchronous learning and peer interaction to promote digestion and reinterpreting what is presented in lectures.