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Flipping the Classroom

Flipping the classroom is an instructional strategy that leverages a blended learning model to achieve what the name implies: “flipping” the traditional classroom model. Traditionally, live synchronous class sessions have been used for information relay/lecture while independent, asynchronous time was used for activities and homework.

A flipped classroom is structured as the opposite, giving students their first exposure to coursework outside the classroom, often by reading or online video lectures. Once in class, the instructor guides students to get a deeper understanding of the course material through classroom activities which often reinforce course concepts through active learning (discussions, group work, jigsaw exercises, think-pair-share, and more. One of the key benefits of a flipped classroom is the use of class time for direct interaction with the instructor, peer students, and the material rather than passively listening to a lecture. Students are actively engaged in activities that would be hard to do in isolation, or from home.

Consider the following before, during, and after flipping your class:

Before Flipping Your Class: Plan Asynchronous Content

Plan Your Asynchronous Lecture Content

With content delivery moving to primarily asynchronous online delivery, you’ll need to identify the method(s) which work best to represent the subject matter you would historically present in-class through Canvas. While your approach may vary by subject, the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines promote the idea of providing multiple means of representation within your course content. This means that your approach should be a varied one, incorporating a blend of recorded video lecture content, written works (textbook readings, academic articles, slideshows, etc.), and external video content (TED Talks, YouTube videos, films). Consider your learning goals and what combination of the above represents your content the clearest.

Record and Chunk Your Video Lectures

Identify the specific topics of your course you feel are best represented by video lectures, and make a list of how many of those topics you anticipate to cover in each learning unit/module. Information processing and the duration of students’ attention spans in an asynchronous online setting is shorter than an in-person class period. As such, Checkpoint 3.3 of the UDL guidelines identify the “chunking” of information into smaller segments as a cognitive strategy to address these changes.

Applying the concept of chunking to video lecture content means recording lecture videos no longer than 7-8 minutes each, and breaking up content in such a way to accommodate this.

Build Structured Learning Modules in Canvas

Flipping your classroom requires the use of Canvas to organize the lectures, content, and other resources that are shifting online.

This step can feel intimidating if you’ve never used Canvas before. Instructional designers are available to help you navigate the resources available that may enhance your course development and teaching. Technology training is also available for Canvas and many of the additional tools used within it.

The simplest ways to get started with Canvas are to:

  1. Review our Faculty Orientation Course: This course is self-paced and contains all the details you’ll need to know about Canvas to successfully teach online.
  2. Schedule a One-on-One: You may schedule a one-on-one appointment with an instructional designer for assistance with instructional design, Canvas, and other tools and technologies.
  3. Attend a training or workshop: ITDS regularly offers training and workshops on a number of pedagogical and technological topics. Review our training calendar to learn more and register.

Before Flipping Your Class: Plan In-Class Content

Strive for Student Engagement and Active Learning

One of the primary benefits of a flipped classroom is reimagining the in-class experience to be an engaging learning space that makes students active agents instead of passive listeners. To achieve this, plan in-class activities which promote peer-to-peer collaboration and align with the mastery of that unit’s learning objectives. Looking for ideas? See Iowa State University’s exhaustive list of 226 Active Learning Techniques.

Identify Technologies Which Facilitate Learning Goals & In-Class Activities

You may find that some in-class activities are more effectively facilitated with the help of instructional technologies. The selection of a tool should be your last consideration, after you’ve mapped the activity and ensured its alignment with course and unit learning goals.

Here are some of the most popular tools used for active learning lessons:

  1. Kahoot!: Students use their devices to answer multiple-choice questions and polls, while earning points shared on a scoreboard. Great for collaborative knowledge checks, exam review sessions, and more.
  2. Mentimeter: Student responses to a question are visualized onto a word cloud which populates automatically on-screen as responses are submitted.
  3. Google Docs: A familiar, but simple solution where students can collaborate via Google Docs to create documents.
  4. Google Slides: Another familiar staple of the Google Apps suite, used to collaboratively build slideshow presentations.
  5. Google Jamboard: Students collaborate on a cloud-based, digital whiteboard to organize ideas, annotate images, problem solve, and more.
  6. Mindomo: Mind-mapping tool used for brainstorming and sharing of ideas.

While You Flip Your Class

Communicate Expectations

Communicate your intent to flip the classroom in your syllabus and during the first class session. Provide an overview of your Canvas site and explain how your asynchronous, online content is organized and shared in the course site, and share examples of some of the in-class activities students can expect throughout the semester.

Courses with high in-class engagement, interaction, and collaboration may not be the best fit for every learner. Ensure you provide students with your expectations up front so they can decide if this teaching style is right for them.

After You Flip Your Class

Evaluate and Redesign

Pay close attention to your course evaluations each semester where you introduce new strategies such as flipping the classroom and active learning. As the recipients of these learning strategies, our students are the best measure of how successful our implementation was. Use their feedback to gauge which activities were most useful and which may need to be redesigned.

References and Resources