Author Archives: Katie Sabourin

Book Review: Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

Book review written by Dr. Caroline Critchlow, Assessment 
Coordinator for the Wegmans School of Nursing & Ralph C. 
Wilson, Jr. School of Education & Dr. Cathy Sweet, Assessment 
Coordinator for the School of Arts & Sciences. 
Drs. Critchlow and Sweet have over 40 years of experience in 
teaching K-16, including a decade teaching undergraduate 
and graduate students. 

In Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning (2014), authors Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger, and Mark McDaniels contend that a great deal of what we think we know about how to learn is taken on faith and based on intuition but does not hold up under empirical research. They claim that much of what we’ve been doing as teachers and students isn’t serving us well, but some comparatively simple changes could make a big difference.

Relying on ten years of research in the cognitive sciences, the authors apply their knowledge of cognitive science and psychology to the process of learning – not education – but of human learning; how we acquire knowledge and skills in order to have them accessible for future use.

With chapter titles like “Get Beyond Learning Styles” and “Embrace Difficulties” the authors lace anecdotal stories with scientific research in order to offer new strategies to improve how we support student learning. For example, one story recounts how medical students are taught surgical procedures, a process that must be learned outside of the actual environment in which it will be applied. The chapter, “To Learn, Retrieve” explores the process of reflection in the attainment, retention, and retrieval of knowledge. “Reflection can involve several cognitive activities that lead to stronger learning: retrieving knowledge and earlier training from memory, connecting these to new experiences, and visualizing and mentally rehearsing what you might do differently next time.” Practice at retrieving new knowledge or skill from memory is a potent tool for learning and durable retention.

Other chapters address misconceptions such as innate learning styles and massed practice, and are followed with strategies to improve the learning process like delayed feedback, interleaving of different but related topics, retrieval and blocked practice.

We think you’ll enjoy reading this book as much for the summaries of recent research studies as for the practical teaching strategies. The book contains extensive notes as well as a list of suggested reading that includes the articles and books referenced throughout the book.

By Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel
313pp. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. $27.95

Please note this book can also be loaned from the Teaching & Learning Book Collection found in the Educational Technology Instruction Room in the lower level of Lavery Library, room L109.


Dealing with Student Resistance to Changes in Teaching Strategies

As we start another academic year, there are many faculty on campus who are trying new teaching strategies in their courses. These may include many forms of the flipped classroom style of teaching, incorporating more active learning activities during class time, encouraging more collaborative and team-based projects and assignments, or maybe using student polling for the first time. Some of these techniques may involve a new technology and some may just be an adjustment to the way class content is designed or delivered. Regardless of the type of change you might be making to your course, it is very common for some students to show resistance. Change in itself is not easy and students have very clear expectations on how learning should happen, mostly based on a long history of their previous experiences in educational settings where they have been exposed to what they would consider the “norm” or traditional style of learning (Johnson, A., Kimball, R., Melendez, B., Myers, L., Rhea, K., & Travis, B. 2009). In most cases, the expectation is to get to class on time, sit in your seat quietly and listen to the instructor unless directly asked a question. Though this passive participation in class is what might be most comfortable for students, it does not mean it is the most beneficial to their learning and growth.

If you are experiencing this type of resistance to change in your courses, don’t give up! This issue is a common occurrence for many faculty and there are things you can do to respond to student concerns and reinforce your intentions with students to make the transition easier for everyone.

One of the main strategies to address this issue is to confront it head on early in the semester. Talking with students directly about your plans for the course and how it will work, what will be expected of students in this new course style and the reasons why you have made the changes are all important points to discuss as a group. The changes made in the course may require students to take more ownership of their own learning. Clearly identifying this change and examples of how that might be seen in student actions should be outlined. Felder and Brent (1996) provide the suggestion “to minimize resistance to any student-centered method, try to persuade the students from the outset that you are neither playing a game nor performing an experiment, but teaching in a way known to help students learn more and understand better.”

Another key strategy is to collect feedback on how things are going periodically throughout the semester. This may be done in the form of a mid-course survey to all students, anonymously asking how the techniques used in the class are helping them learn the material of the course. It is a good idea to share with students the feedback you are receiving and the specifics on how you plan to use it. It may be that the resistance to the new style of teaching only comes from a minority of the students and sharing overall survey results with the group will allow those student to see it is working well for others and possibly be more open to the change (Felder 2011). Creating an open environment of communication will provide you with insights that will allow you to improve your technique with the new teaching strategy and its overall impact on students.

In the article “Sermons for Grumpy Campers”, Felder provides a series of possible responses to common student complaints related to the transition to more student-centered teaching methods. The student remarks might be very similar to those you have heard in the past from your own students. Felder’s responses are helpful if you struggle to find a response to these kind of comments. He always shares with students his motivation to improve their overall learning experience. Just as an example, here is one of my favorites:


“Those group activities in class are a waste of time. I’m paying tuition for you to teach me, not to trade ideas with students who don’t know any more than I do!”


“I agree that my job is to teach you, but to me teaching means making learning happen and not just putting out information. I’ve got lots of research that says people learn through practice and feedback, not by someone telling them what they’re supposed to know. What you’re doing in those short class activities are the same things you’ll have to do in the homework and exams, except now when you get to the homework you will have already practiced them and gotten feedback. You’ll find that the homework will go a lot more smoothly and you’ll probably do better on the exams. (Let me know if you’d like to see that research.)

Even Jose Antonio Bowen’s, a strong advocate for active learning and the author of Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning has experienced the phenomenon of student resistance to changes in  course delivery strategies. “The biggest resistance to Mr. Bowen’s ideas has come from students, some of whom have groused about taking a more active role during those 50-minute class periods. The lecture model is pretty comfortable for both students and professors, after all, and so fundamental change may be even harder than it initially seems, whether or not laptops, iPods, or other cool gadgets are thrown into the mix” (Young 2009).

Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning also happens to be the Book of the Month in the new Teaching and Learning Book Collection located in the Educational Technology Instruction Room in Lavery Library, room L109 (Yes, that was a blatant plug!) and is an excellent resource for those of you looking for ideas on how to create a more active and student-centered course experience. His book includes both the research on why these kinds of teaching strategies work to improve student learning, as well as practical tips and ideas that are easy to apply in a variety of content areas.

It is important not to give up too soon on the new strategy, technique or technology you are trying to implement in your courses. It takes time and practice and even a few failures to learn what works best for you and your students. Teaching in a new way requires a willingness on the part of both instructors and students to work outside your comfort zone, but can result in great outcomes and increased engagement with students.

What other techniques have you found to be helpful when dealing with student resistance to change in teaching strategies? Please leave your ideas in the comments section.


Bowen, J. A. (2012). Teaching naked: How moving technology out of your college classroom will improve student learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Felder, R. M., & Brent, R. (1996). Navigating the bumpy road to student-centered instruction. College Teaching, 43(2).

Felder, R. M. (2007). Sermons for grumpy campers. Chemical Engineering Education, 41(3).

Felder, R. M. (2011). Hang in there! Dealing with student resistance to learner-centered teaching. Chemical Engineering Education, 45(2).

Johnson, A., Kimball, R., Melendez, B., Myers, L., Rhea, K., & Travis, B. (2009). Breaking with tradition: preparing faculty to teach in a student-centered or problem-solving environment. Primus: Problems, Resources & Issues In Mathematics Undergraduate Studies, 19(2), 146. doi:10.1080/10511970802409164

Young, J. (2009). When computers leave classrooms, so does boredom. Retrieved from:

Digital Badges: What Are They & What Can We Do With Them?

Have you heard of badges? No, I don’t mean those that are worn by police or military officials, or even merit badges collected by boy/girl scouts and displayed so proudly on the child’s uniform, though digital badges are somewhat modeled after these badging systems. According to the MacArthur Foundation, “a digital badge is a validated indicator of accomplishment, skill, quality, or interest that can be earned in many learning environments.” Similar to the physical badges that signify the completion of a task or acquired skill level, digital badges can be used to visually display a wide variety of skills and competencies online, including both physical and virtual skills, as well as hard and soft skills. Digital badges also take some principles from video game design as they can be used as a reward for completion of a task or a means to unlock additional tasks that must be completed in a sequential order.

So, now that we know a little more about what digital badges are, why would we want to use them in an educational setting? In general, digital badges are a relatively new educational technology so the answer to this question is evolving. However, there is a significant amount of research on topics that overlap with the use of digital badges like the effects of student motivation, both intrinsic and extrinsic, on achievement, as well as the use of rewards and recognition within virtual communities. These techniques can be implemented in a variety of ways, but digital badges have become a new option to incorporate these strategies into educational settings. Digital badges really started to get attention in 2011 when the Mozilla Foundation announced the Open Badges Project, which provides a set of standards for creating, credentialing and displaying badges of all kinds. Without this type of underlying infrastructure for badges there would not be the attention from the education market that we see today. Digital badges also overlap with ePortfolio technology, as one of the main components of collecting badges is to display them to others as evidence of your skills or accomplishments on given topics. ePortfolios can be a useful place to display this type of information for academic and professional reasons. Digital badges have also generated discussion around the tracking and credentialing of informal learning. With the increase in MOOCs and other non-credit educational experiences and the issue of how to assess and award credit for these types of learning experiences, the use of digital badges have been suggested as one of many possible solutions.

Please take a few minutes to watch the following video to learn more about digital badges and how they may be used within education.

Source: MacArthur Foundation (

Below are a few examples of those using digital badges in higher education:

University of California, Davis – Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Program

“Instead of being built around major requirements and grades in standard three-credit courses, the Davis badge system is based on the sustainable-agriculture program’s core competencies—”systems thinking,” for example. It is designed to organize evidence of both formal and informal learning, from within traditional higher education and without.”

Read the full article here:

Purdue’s Passport Project

“In one early example of Passport’s use, instructors are giving out badges for students who pass an 8-week MOOC-like course in nanotechnology that doesn’t have credit attached. In another example, the provost’s office has created a badge related to intercultural learning that students can earn for their work in different disciplines and departments.”

Read the full article here:

Carnegie Mellon University – Computer Science Program

“Carnegie Mellon University has included badges in the Computer Science Student Network (CS2N), which provides a distributed learning infrastructure for computer science and STEM skills. Learners participate in a scaffold environment and work on achievements ranging from entry-level skills to industry certification. Badge pathways provide a clear view of progress, as learners can clearly see how lower-level competencies lead to higher-level competencies. Creative competitions provide additional motivations and opportunities for peer review and learning from others’ work. Learners can progress to the levels of achievement that tie into industry-accepted certifications and entries to employment.”

Read the full article here:

As well as the above examples, Blackboard has also recently released a tool to allow faculty to create badges and award them to students directly within their courses. The Blackboard Achievements tool connects with the Mozilla Open Backpack project, so that students can display badges acquired within a course on a public page for individual use. Here at Fisher, the Achievements tool was part of the recent upgrade to Blackboard that was completed over the holiday break. If you would like to know more about the Achievements tool, please contact me directly and we can discuss your own badging ideas together.

Would you like to learn more about digital badges and discuss their use in education with other interested faculty at Fisher? On behalf of the Educational Technology Roundtable and the Fisher Geeks Blog, we would like to invite all interested faculty to participate in the following webinar sponsored by Pearson and hosted by The Chronicle of Higher Education, as well as participate in an open discussion following the webinar.

Designing Your Own Open Digital Badge Ecosystem

Thursday, February 6, 2014
 2:00 p.m. in Nursing 209

For a full description of the webinar, please click here.

Did You Miss Christmas in July? What’s New in Blackboard for the Fall

Thanks to the upgrade to Blackboard around the Fourth of July holiday, there are now a few new tools and features available in your courses. As you begin to prepare for the fall semester, I thought it would be helpful to share a little more about each one.

My Blackboard Notificationsbbnotification

When you log in to Blackboard you will now notice your name in the upper right corner, as well as small number indicating notifications available for your review. Notifications like these are available for faculty and students and include a list of all courses you are enrolled in, a view of discussion posts across all courses, general updates on course activity, as well as retention center notification (which we will discuss in greater detail below) and calendar items across all courses. The notifications area also provides a quick way to navigate from one course to another within the system. Another new feature available through the My Blackboard Notifications area is the ability to add a photo to your Blackboard profile. The profile picture next to your name in the upper right corner is nice, but the real benefit of this feature is that the photo will also be visible through interactions within a course. For example, when a student authors a blog post, discussion board message or a journal entry, you will not only see their name, but their profile photo will be visible as well next to their message. Especially for courses that spend a significant amount of time communicating within Blackboard, this provides a personal touch to the course that was not previously possible.

New Content Editor

The new content editor is an improvement over the previous content editor and will perform much better with the copy and pasting of text from outside sources, like Microsoft Word documents. You will see in the image below all of the same functionality is available in the new editor so hopefully this change won’t be too significant for most, but might relieve a few formatting headaches that we have had in the past.


Improved Calendar

As mentioned above, the calendar will appear as one of the options in the My Blackboard Notifications area. The new calendar view will now display calendar events across all courses and each item will be color-coded based on the course with which it is associated. This view of the calendar is extremely helpful for students who want a single place to view the deadlines in all of their courses at one time and any possible overlaps. The overall look of the calendar is now similar to the look and feel of other modern calendar tools and includes many common features that you are probably used to already, like viewing the calendar by day, week or month and the ability to drag and drop items from one day to another. Faculty and students can also add personal items to their Blackboard calendar that are not associated with any specific course, but private to the individual. It is also now possible to import the Blackboard calendar into other outside calendar tools like Gmail or Outlook if desired.

Improved Discussion Features

In general the discussions tool will look the same as previous versions, but a few new features really change the flow of conversations that are possible. The most significant improvement is that all posts within a discussion thread now appear on one single page. This makes it much easier to read a conversation without having to go back and forth between pages for each message that you are trying to read. As well, it is now even easier to reply to a message of another class member and the message can be written directly in-line with the conversation. Another new feature in the discussion area is the ability to restrict student access to discussion responses from their peers until they have already posted an original response of their own. This feature will cut down on the issue of students only replying to the comments of their classmates instead of posting their own responses to the question directly. The usability enhancements and new features in the discussion tool will make a real difference in courses that rely heavily on the discussion tool for course communication, especially online and hybrid courses where instructors and students spend a significant amount of time within this area of the course.

New Assignment In-line Grading

If you use Blackboard for the electronic submission and grading of student work in your courses, this is the feature where you will most likely notice the biggest difference. Blackboard has incorporated totally new functionality within the Assignment tool. The creation of a Blackboard Assignment is the same and is still done from within a content area of your course. However, once students begin to submit their work and you visit the Grade Center to review it, you will quickly notice the changes. All documents submitted by students will be immediately available for viewing from the View Attempt window directly in the browser without downloading the files to your own computer. Comments and annotations to the student’s work can also be done directly on this screen. This method of providing feedback to students on their written work is an alternative to using the track changes functionality available within Microsoft Word. However the track changes method is still available for those that prefer that process. Both the original student submission and the document including annotations can be downloaded to your own computer for archiving. This new functionality should make the process of grading and providing feedback on student papers faster since you will no longer need to download and upload documents for each student.

New Retention Centerretentioncenter

The new Retention Center features are an improvement to what was previously available in the early warning system within Blackboard and is available under Evaluation in the Control Panel of every course (shown to the right). The Retention Center is only available to instructors and allows for the identification and communication with students who may need further assistance in the course. A number of rules are added by default to identify at risk students, including students who have not accessed the course for at least five days, students whose overall course grade is at least 25% below the class average, students who have missed assignment deadlines and students who are at least 20% less active overall in the course than their peers. These rules are completely customizable and additional rules may also be added.

Click here for the BB_WhatsNew PDF,  a short summary handout on all of the new features.

Please remember to visit the Educational Technology website for more information on Blackboard, including documentation and tutorials for faculty and students, as well as a list of upcoming events and workshops. Also, I am always available for 1-1 training sessions on any specific tool in Blackboard you would like to learn more about.

Best of luck with your fall semester classes!

The Power of Learning Analytics

In the digital world we live in today, we all know the endless amount of data that is collected throughout the many interactions that occur in our daily lives. You can see the evidence of this type of data in a variety of ways, including Amazon’s recommendation feature that suggests what products you might find interesting based on your previous purchases and what similar customers also purchased, as well as the Netflix movie recommendations that are created based on your ratings of previous movies you’ve watched. You probably won’t be surprised to know that even one of the large, local companies (where I know I spend too much time and money) uses this technology as well. Wegmans uses the data from Shoppers Club Cards for a variety of purposes, including sending out coupons and making sure the right products are stocked based on store locations. In at least one case, Wegmans even contacted shoppers who purchased a certain brand of soup to let them know about a recall on the product. We all create these kind of data points every day without even noticing it. Companies have found a way to utilize this type of data for marketing, advertising and to create better products and services based on what they have learned about their customers. This strategy of data mining for business purposes has been going on for many years.

With the increased use of technology and web-based tools in education, students have also left data footprints as they travel through their educational activities online. This data often goes untouched by many educators; however, there is a growing trend to make better use of this data to increase student learning. Many educational technology companies are beginning to focus on better utilization of this data and enhanced reporting to allow educators to use the data in more effective ways.

When we hear “Khan Academy”, most people immediately think of a short video with a black background, annotated colorful text and someone talking through a complex math theory. This is a large part of what Khan Academy offers, but a key component of their overall design is the tracking of student progress through a series of these short videos and accompanying activities over time. This data is collected while the student watches videos and completes short practice questions and concept quizzes during and after each skill checkpoint. The data collected includes not only the answer to the quiz questions, but data on how many times a student has viewed a certain video, how long they spent on it, what time of day it was viewed and more. Check out this Khan Academy data reports page for a full list of the reports they offer to educators to track the progress of students.

Knewton is another company innovating new ways to utilize the vast amount of data created by students throughout their learning experiences online to create tailored and more personalized learning environments for each student. Check out the below video from Knewton’s website.

Many publishers, including Pearson, Houghton Mifflin and Wiley, partner with Knewton in order to apply their adaptive learning technology to the large amount of content that publishers have created over the years. The combination of resources, on one side focused on the analytics and the other on high quality content, create innovative, data driven tools that can quickly be used by students and instructors in a variety of course and content areas.

Now that we have discussed the type of data that is tracked and how it has been used in a few examples to create personal learning environments for students and valuable reports for instructors, you might be wondering, “How can I apply this idea to my own courses?”

First of all, both examples listed above, Khan Academy and Knewton, provide content that utilize this type of data collection and reporting to instructors in many disciplines. Check to see what might be available for you. Also, check with your publishers if there are other resources that might give you this type of information. If you are using other technologies in your courses, check to see what type of statistics the tool is tracking already on student usage and if the reports of this data might be useful to you.

If you use Blackboard in any way, even just to post a syllabus document, there is already data available at your fingertips. You can quickly see the last time a student has logged into your course, as well as if they clicked on the file that you uploaded for them to read before the next class. The amount of data available for you to view in reports increases with your use of the variety of Blackboard tools. For example, you can view how many times a user has clicked on a specific content area, as well as other tools like activity in discussion forums and groups. These reports provide the specifics on each student, as well as the common days and times that content is most used in your course overall. Combine this data with the results of a short quiz activity and you would be able to acquire similar data that is made available to users of Khan Academy resources.

Blackboard also provides tools for early warning messages based on predetermined rules. If a student meets a certain criteria identified by the instructor as “at risk” on a certain assignment or overall in the course, the instructor is notified and is prompted to send a notification to the student directly. Blackboard also provides adaptive release tools that allow instructors to control the release of certain course material based on the successful completion of previous items.

A variety of other commonly used tools at Fisher provide similar types of data and reporting features to instructors. Echo360, for example provides instructors with a easy to view report that includes data on how many times a video recording has been viewed by unique viewers and overall, as well as a heat map of the video indicating points that have been viewed most frequently by all students. These points may indicate areas of confusion where content was viewed multiple times. These statistics can be very handy if you are teaching with the flipped classroom model, which we discussed in a previous post, in order to know who is viewing each recording prior to class and to identify areas that might need further clarification in the next face-to-face class session with the larger group. Below shows an example of the Echo360 statistics.

Echo360 stats

The data provided by a variety of educational tools can be used by instructors to paint a more accurate picture of where students are spending time, where they may be struggling with content and students who may not be fully engaged with the course. The ability to access and utilize this data can help all instructors make more informed decisions in communications with individual students, as well as for course development and planning overall.

Quick and Easy Polling Tools


Do you Doodle? No, I am not referring to those silly drawings that start to appear on your notepad during long meetings. Have you ever found yourself sending a meeting request to a large group for the availability of each person and working diligently to find an overlapping time that will work for all? We all know this task is almost impossible and even if you can find a time, your inbox is now cluttered with the messages associated with the conversation among the group. Doodle makes this process so much easier and efficient. Doodle allows you to send a specific kind of poll to a group for the intended purpose of finding a common meeting time. Each person responds to the poll by selecting the options that will work for them. Based on the responses, you identify the preferred meeting time for the group. And best of all it’s free to use this tool! This tool is great when you need to schedule sessions with students, especially a group of students at once. Watch the below clip to get an idea of how it works.

The academic uses of this tool are endless. I have seen faculty use the tool most commonly for the scheduling of events that happen outside of the normally scheduled class period when the availability of each student is unknown and for academic advising sessions that are often difficult to schedule. The great thing about the tool is that you can provide the group with a variety of options that they must choose from, so their choices are already limited to options that you know will work for you. Also, there are some settings that are really useful for academic purposes, like confidential polls where the name of each participant in the poll is kept private. The names can still be seen by the originator of the poll, but not by others. You also have the ability to limit the number of people that sign up for each time slot and to restrict participants to only choose one of the available options. These settings are really useful when trying to schedule 1-1 sessions with students. This tool is also great for students who need to schedule times to meet outside of class for a group project or to study for an exam. Share the link with them and they can set up a Doodle on their own. Next time you think you have a scheduling nightmare ahead of you, give it a try.

Polling with Qualtrics in Blackboard

Qualtrics is the online survey tool used frequently on campus for a variety of purposes by faculty, staff and students (if you would like to know more about Qualtrics, start here). In addition to the survey functionality, Qualtrics also offers polling functionality. These polls are really easy to create and distribute to a class through Blackboard. You can create a poll on any topic, but the question must be in multiple choice format. They are great for quick questions in which you would like to gather a response anonymously from a group. These polls can be created and then embedded into your Blackboard course to allow responses to be collected over a period of time or live during class.

Follow these three quick steps below:

1. Log in to Qualtrics and create a poll using the Poll tab.


2. Click the Qualtrics button button and copy the HTML code.

3. Within a Blackboard content item paste this code into the Text Editor in HTML mode (<>) and click submit (if you have not used the HTML model in Blackboard before, I would be happy to walk you through this step).

Below is a screenshot of what the poll will look like in Blackboard with results. Student can respond directly within the Blackboard course and the results will be shown to all immediately. As more students respond, the results will continue to update. The results could then be used in the following class session as a great discussion starter.

Qualtrics Poll

Are there other tools that save you time during the semester or just make life a little easier? Please feel free to share your tools and ideas with others by adding a comment to this post.

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 (

“7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms.” 7 Things You Should Know About. Educause Learning Initiative, 7 Feb. 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <>.

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.

Kachka, Pamela. “Understanding the Flipped Classroom: Part 1.” Faculty Focus. Magna Publications, 23 Oct. 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <>.

Kachka, Pamela. “Understanding the Flipped Classroom: Part 2.” Faculty Focus. Magna Publications, 24 Oct. 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <>.

“The Flipped Classroom Infographic.” Knewton Infographics. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012.

Walsh, Kelly. “Education Technology Success Story – Carpe Diem Collegiate High School.” Emerging Ed Tech. Kelly Walsh, 16 Sept. 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. < >.