Flipping the Classroom Upside Down

Have you ever felt like you just don’t have enough class time to cover the topics necessary AND have a meaningful discussion with students that engage them on those topics? There is a growing trend in education that addresses this common issue faced by many instructors. The flipped classroom model is a large movement getting a lot of buzz and media attention lately. We often read and hear about new initiatives and research conducted in the areas of hybrid and online education, which often leaves those teaching traditional campus courses out of the mix.  This model, however, focuses on the use of the same technologies and strategies often used in online and hybrid education to better utilize the time available in class with students and increase their time with the course material.

At its most basic level, the flipped classroom model, as stated in the “7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms”, is “a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed.” This model is also commonly referred to as reverse instruction. The basic idea behind the theory is to utilize precious class time with students to engage in active, problem-based tasks that require students to apply the knowledge presented in out of class lecture videos. Allowing students to watch lecture material outside of class means that each student can view the lecture as many times as necessary. These lectures are typically shorter versions of what may be presented in class, usually around 20 minutes or less. They are created around modular components of the content, so that when a student needs further clarification in a certain area, they can quickly pinpoint the module they need to view again. Student are commonly asked to complete a specific task while watching the lecture material. In many cases this includes the students documenting their specific questions or areas of confusion. Clickers or short quizzes are often used to quickly gauge the understanding of the class as a group after viewing the lecture material individually. The instructor uses this information to then guide where the class time is spent based on the areas that need additional support or clarification and asks students to participate in hands-on activities on those topics, usually in small groups. This teaching strategy requires a high level of ownership from each individual student of their own learning and an increased level of flexibility on the part of the instructor to be able to tailor class activities to the needs of the students.

The phrase “flipped classroom” was coined in 2007 by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, two high school teachers from Colorado, who original designed their classes this way to address the issue of student absenteeism. Check out the Knewton Flipped Classroom Infographic for a great visual description of the model. Bergmann and Sams have also recently published a book on the topic titled, Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day. One of the many great examples of the flipped classroom model in action in a high school setting is the Carpe Diem Collegiate High School in Arizona. They have embraced the flipped classroom model and even extended the use of the video lecture content into individual lab stations at the school that students use throughout the day. Students are allowed to move through content at a pace that works for them while tracking their competency at each level. Instructors monitor the progress of their students and step in when needed for 1-1 or small group support. They have reported 92% of their students performing at a level of proficiency or better.  This is much higher than the average level achieved across the state. Check out this article and the included short video for more details on this example.

Though the model started at the K12 level and is a great fit in many ways for that environment, higher education has also caught on to the advantages this method of teaching can provide. For example, San Jose University was recently featured in a blog post in the Chronicle of Higher Education on their use of the flipped classroom model in some of their most difficult undergrad courses. Students in the flipped class used lectures provided by edX, the non-profit organization founded in partnership by Harvard and MIT, which provides online courses and content freely available on the web . In addition, two sections of students took the traditional version of the course. Though this report does not represent a well-controlled study in any way (variables of different lectures and different exams make the conclusions a little muddy), the initial results show the students in the flipped version of the class scored higher on their midterm exams than the students in the traditional versions. There are many examples from other universities as well, some revising an entire curriculum around the model, some revising a single course, but this technique can also be used for a specific activity or topic within a course that you know often causes trouble for students. This strategy fits well with what many of you are already doing in your face-to-face classes where discussion and active learning techniques are an everyday part of your class time.

Though the flipped classroom model seems to be the latest buzzword in education, it is not necessarily a new teaching strategy. Spending time during class discussing or problem-solving based on prior reading done outside of class is not at all a new concept. As stated by Pamela Kachka in “Understanding the Flipped Classroom: Part 2”, “flipping a classroom is not a new concept to education. Using video lectures to present lecture content as homework, thus freeing up valuable face-to-face class time is the latest trend born out of a years old method.” The main difference in this new iteration of the technique is that it allows for the creation of lecture content to be delivered outside of class in an electronic format. Compared to textbooks and reading assignments which have commonly been the assigned out of class preparation, the recording of lecture content was not previously an easy thing to do for most faculty. However, with the advancement of many recording and screen capture technologies, this is now becoming more and more available for any faculty, often for free, not just those teaching online or hybrid courses.

Here at Fisher there are a variety of tools available to you to create pre-recorded lecture content that your students would be able to view on their own time prior to class. Echo360 Personal Capture is the most commonly used tool for this purpose and is available to any faculty on campus by request through the OIT Help Desk. There are also other tools that may be useful for this type of lecture creation, for example Camtasia, which is now available for use in the Educational Technology Instruction Room (L109). There are also a wide variety of free software packages that could be used as well including Jing, Screenr, and many others. iMovie is also useful for creation and editing of these videos if you use a Mac; Windows Movie Maker on a PC. For additional questions on the tools used to create pre-recorded lectures and to talk further about how to implement this teaching strategy into your own courses, please contact me directly (kmcdonald@sjfc.edu).

Sources:
“7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms.” 7 Things You Should Know About. Educause Learning Initiative, 7 Feb. 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/7-things-you-should-know-about-flipped-classrooms>.

Azevedo, Alisha. “San Jose State U. Says Replacing Live Lectures With Videos Increased Test Scores.” The Wired Campus. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 17 Oct. 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2012.
<http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/san-jose-state-u-says-replacing-live-lectures-with-videos-increased-test-scores/40470?cid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en>.

Kachka, Pamela. “Understanding the Flipped Classroom: Part 1.” Faculty Focus. Magna Publications, 23 Oct. 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. < http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-with-technology-articles/understanding-the-flipped-classroom-part-1/>.

Kachka, Pamela. “Understanding the Flipped Classroom: Part 2.” Faculty Focus. Magna Publications, 24 Oct. 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. < http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-with-technology-articles/understanding-the-flipped-classroom-part-2/>.

“The Flipped Classroom Infographic.” Knewton Infographics. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012.
<http://www.knewton.com/flipped-classroom/>.

Walsh, Kelly. “Education Technology Success Story – Carpe Diem Collegiate High School.” Emerging Ed Tech. Kelly Walsh, 16 Sept. 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <http://www.emergingedtech.com/2012/09/education-technology-success-story-carpe-diem-collegiate-high-school/ >.

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4 responses to “Flipping the Classroom Upside Down

  1. I enjoyed your post, it was quite helpful. You touch on an important shift that must take place at Fisher because we have a really great opportunity to use technology to leverage our student-faculty ratio. A flipped classroom really breaks down the distance between faculty and students.

  2. Ben Hockenberry

    I really like this idea of removing the lecture component from valuable classroom time, while maintaining the content delivery standard that lecture provides. The only worry I have about this model of classroom workhome work flipping is that outside-of-class time for reading and writing, be it of textbooks and articles or forums and comment threads, is also competing with lecture time.

    Say a student has 2 hours to spend in a day on outside-of-class work for a single course (a VERY generous number) — if you take 20-30 minutes out of that time to allow for viewing a lecture, plus time spent reflecting in say a forum or in a comment thread under the video, the student has to account for that loss by reading and writing with less careful attention.

    With one flipped class in a student’s course load, this could be manageable, but what if they have five classes operating in this model?

  3. You bring up a great point, Ben. As you suggested, the portion of time the student spends outside of class watching the lecture may not be all that they are doing during that time. The reading of a textbook, novel, article, etc. still may happen during this out of class time. I would suggest though that the discussion or reflection activities on this material are what would be transitioned back to the face-to-face class time, instead of done outside. This reinforces the need that the students read and review the outside of class material in order to be prepared for the class activities (discussion, exercises, group work, etc.) and that they receive immediate feedback from the instructor and peers on their understanding of the materials during the class activities. In order for the flipped class model to work well you do have to think about the total time the student is spending and by shifting lectures to out of class time means that other work previously done in that time must be shifted back into the class time.

  4. Pingback: The Power of Learning Analytics | Geeking Out at Fisher

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