George Lucas Educational Foundation
Flipped Classroom

Low Budget, High Quality Videos for the Flipped Classroom


Kid using a smartphone
YouTube videos are a popular way for audiences to quickly search then learn how to use a product or information about a topic. It is a perfect place to store your clips for a flipped classroom. More than a billion internet users access YouTube on a daily basis (Luscombe, 2015). For anyone wanting a cheap effective way to get video information to a targeted audience, YouTube is simplest most cost effective mode of delivery. With flipped classrooms becoming more popular, teachers are wanting to create their own videos as well. The costliest part of videos is the equipment to film and edit them. However, by knowing a few tricks and where to get low cost tools, creative videos can be made on a miniscule budget.

Get the best of Edutopia in your inbox each week.

The Tools

Most people begin looking at the prices of video equipment and automatically become discouraged. They feel that it would be more cost effective to outsource their How to Videos, or classroom teachers give up on their idea to create videos all together. Stop that thinking! Many of you have the tool you need to record right in the palm of your hand. You may even be reading this very article using it. Modern smartphones have a video camera option that surpasses the flipcams that started the YouTube craze. iPads and other tablets can also replace a high definition camera to record videos. The key to making a quality video is using the chosen recording device on its highest video setting, mounted on a tripod. A tripod, the second piece of equipment for those of you counting, is a necessity for anyone wanting to create high quality videos. 

The third key piece of equipment is a microphone. Amazon has hundreds of microphones that can simply plug into the recording device to isolate and pick up the intended voice. Prices range are from $5 to $100. I have found that the $35 Movo PM20 Dual-Headed Lavalier Lapel Clip-on Microphone found on Amazon works great when used with an auxiliary extension cable. My students are able to record in pairs with excellent sound quality.

Tips for a Quality Piece

Once all the tools to record are gathered it is time to begin filming. With a little creativity, some hard work, and dedication, professional quality videos are within anyone’s reach. Start your piece with a plan. Professionals often storyboard their films to help everyone understand how the film will flow. Once you have your storyboard done, go out and film!

Always use a tripod. There is nothing worse than watching a video and getting motion sick because of the camera work. (Remember The Blair Witch Project?) Once the camera is recording, remember, do not touch the tripod! Sometimes it only takes a small bump to make a huge movement on screen. Frame your shot nice and tight. Most cinema photographers follow the rule of thirds, which is basically imagining a tic-tac-toe board on the screen and placing the main person or object on the lines or intersections filling about 80% of the screen.  Film your shots by turning your device to landscape framing. Most video displays are preset to this format. 

Avoid backlighting and silhouettes. Choose well lit areas to avoid hard to see footage. Plan on editing your footage after filming. iMovie is free video editing software on Apple devices. For Android platforms, I use KineMaster. There is a free version available, but as you do more with your video, you may want to pay the small fee (around $5) to upgrade. 

No matter how you chose to edit your film, be selective when using special effects. Many special effects can affect the lighting and can be distracting, making the film difficult for some viewers to enjoy. Allow the camerawork and scripts to speak for themselves.

No matter who your audience is, you can make creative and informative videos on a budget. Teachers can flip classrooms using their own videos. So get out there and film! Create unique and inventive pieces to teach and share ideas. 

Luscombe, B. (2015). You Tube's View Master. Time, 186(9/10), 70-75.

This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we've preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer's own.