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7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms

EDUCAUSE’s 7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms (PDF) describes how professors are taking an “upside-down” approach to teaching. And it seems to be working.

Though some professors have been using the flipped model to teach their large lecture courses in order to facilitate better learning outcomes, the term “flipped classroom” is fairly new. Picture this scenario: Professor Z teaches a large seminar on Subject X. Instead of lecturing three times a week in a large lecture hall to 100 students, half of whom he may not even be able to see, and many of whom may not “get” half of what he says, he records a video on the contents of the next day’s lecture and posts it to the course learning management system (LMS). He expects the students to watch it before class and then use it as a heuristic for the short-answer questions to which he wants them to respond. He also assigns a short reading assignment to which he expects written responses that students will then share in class. When students come to class, they convene in small groups to discuss their responses while Professor Z circulates around the room, answering questions, clearing up any confusion, and using class time to help students master the assigned work.

The idea of the flipped model is learning- rather than teacher-centered. The “sage on the stage” has morphed into a learning coach who spends more time interacting face-to-face with students. This just-in-time approach to teaching has enabled professors to spend time on material with which students are struggling, and it allows students to spend as much time as they need digesting the online lecture within the constraints of their busy schedules.

It is important to note a few things about the flipped model. First, this relatively new mode of teaching has enabled professors of all subjects at all levels to transform their instruction, but it works only when those whom they are teaching have access to the necessary technology outside of class. Second, though sound pedagogically and embraced by many, it is not a simple process and those new to it should start small. Begin by putting a small amount of content online and perhaps not for each and every class. Test it out. And third, keep in mind that this approach takes time and commitment. Recording quality videos and podcasts requires careful planning and execution as well as knowledge of the technology being used. Though many of these tools are available freely online, it pays to spend the time learning how to use them in order to make the most of them. Students will appreciate it and the entire learning experience will be enriched as a result.