Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
University of Groningenfounded in 1614  -  top 100 university
EDU Support Blackboard Instructor Course Design & Organization Collaboration & Group Work Facilitate student preparation⠀

Facilitate student preparation⠀

Class preparation

Good class preparation by students is essential for any lecture or class session but is often cited by teachers as a common struggle. Whether lectures are mainly focused on information delivery or more interactive strategies, proper preparation is important for students’ learning and engagement during these sessions (Miller et al. 2018). Often, however, this preparation is only assumed, but not organized. In an active (blended) learning design, preparation for class is an essential part of a sequence of learning activities where one activity is aligned with the next. Just one example of this is the flipped classroom.

Flipping the classroom

“Flipping” or converting the classroom means repurposing the time spent with your students. Rather than using lectures for knowledge transmission, students are given ways to study materials outside of class, for example by collaboratively annotating an online text or watching a video lecture. This way, teachers are able to use valuable class time to facilitate and enhance students’ learning process by offering active learning methods, interaction, and collaboration. Class time becomes a time for inquiry and application, which has been shown to increase student engagement and deep learning.

Discussion, argumentation, and reflection

Pre-class activities can also be focused on collaboration, discussion, and argumentation. When students learn through these principles they are encouraged to share and discuss knowledge and arguments. It focuses on their learning and enables them to learn from peers through discussion or reflection. This process of reflection goes two ways: in (online) discussions students reflect on their peers’ contributions and, being forced to contemplate their own argumentation, also reflect on their own knowledge and thought process (Laurillard, 2009; Woods & Bliss, 2016). The use of IT-tools can play an important role in organizing these pre-class learning activities, even in large groups. 

Some examples of IT tools that help organize and stimulate good pre-class learning activities and collaborative discussion are:

  • Social annotation tools such as Perusall and FeedbackFruits Interactive Document

  • Creating and using knowledge clips (video)

  • Using Interactive Video Tools such as H5p or FeedbackFruits Interactive Video. 

Social annotation tools for collaborative learning.

 Social annotation tools, such as Perusall and FeedbackFruits’ Interactive document, are online platforms that offer groups of students a medium in which to discuss and learn about academic texts or educational videos without the limitations of space and time. Students perform assignments by writing annotations (comments or questions about the text’s content) while reading academic texts or watching educational videos online. These can both be ‘new’ annotations, with comments/ questions students have about the text or video, or responses to the annotations of peers, enabling (asynchronous) interaction (see Figure 1). This encourages students to engage in discussions while developing skills in arguing, critical thinking, and reasoning.

Figure 1. Example of an assignment and student interactions in SA tool Perusall (screenshot).

Figure 1.Example of an assignment and student interactions in SA tool Perusall (screenshot).

Using Knowledge clips (video) for class preparation

Recorded videos or knowledge clips (such as those found on YouTube or screencasts recorded by yourself) can be used in a flipped classroom scenario. Knowledge clips are educational video clips of short duration (usually just a few minutes). You might create your own video or make use of videos already available. For creating your own video, you can use a recording studio, but you could also create videos from your home. It often works best if you have a learning activity connected to the video assigned prior to class to guide students on how to use the video. This can be anything from providing students with specific questions or points of attention before watching a video to having them do a pop-quiz after watching the video. If you want to know more about why and how you can use video for your course, please go to our page on video in education.

Using Interactive Video Tools such as H5p or FeedbackFruits Interactive Video. 

One way to connect using video or knowledge clips with active learning activities is by using an interactive video tool such as H5p or FeedbackFruits’ Interactive Video. Both enable you to implement learning activities like questions and quizzes into your video and allow students to annotate (write comments and questions) on the timeline of the video. This way, using a knowledge clip is turned into a more structured and (inter-) active learning activity your students do prior to class. To learn more about these tools, you can visit our pages on H5P or FeedbackFruits Interactive Video.

Whom to contact?

Contact EDU Support or your faculty's Embedded Expert from ESI for tailored didactic advice in using these suggestions in your teaching. For technical assistance please contact Nestorsupport.


Laurillard, D. (2009). The pedagogical challenges to collaborative technologies. International Journal Of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (ijCSCL), 4, 5-20. Retrieved November 5th  2018 from:

Miller, K., Lukoff, B., King, G., & Mazur, E. (2018). Use of a Social Annotation Platform for Pre-Class Reading Assignments in a Flipped Introductory Physics Class. Frontiers in Education, 3 (8), 1-12.

Woods, K., & Bliss, K. (2016). Facilitating Successful Online Discussions. Journal of Effective Teaching, 16(2), 76–92. Retrieved October 25th 2018 from:

Last modified: 18 November 03:37 pm
In need of immediate support? 050 - 363 82 82
Follow EDU Supportfacebook instagram twitter youtube