The Flipped Classroom Buzz – Part 2: Planning for Change

10 Dec

This post follows up “The Flipped Classroom Buzz – Part 1: Exploring an Ideology that Meshes Well with the Backward Design Methodology,” where we addressed “flipped classrooms” or inverted teaching as an idea that could be aligned with backward design course practices to enhance student learning in and out of the classroom.

In that earlier post, I lauded Edutopia’s “Five Best Practices for the Flipped Classroom” for paring practice (inverting) with pedagogy (backward course design anchored to constructivist learning, for example). And, I explored ideas reflected in this passage of an Educause essay, “The Things You Should Know about Flipped Classrooms”:

The value of a flipped class is in the repurposing of class time into a workshop where students can inquire about lecture content, test their skills in applying knowledge, and interact with one another in hands-on activities.

In today’s post, we’ll focus on practices and tools teachers might draw on as we mindfully restructure / re-design our courses to make room for – and take wise advantage of – flipped learning and teaching practices.

Step 1 – Ask Students

The process begins with students.  So, one caution and then one invitation.

Caution: Not all student are self-directed, indeptendent learners; as often as not, students need to learn ways of being interdependent and independent learners.  We need to design engagement, reflection and information on using technology into the lessons we create.

Invitation:  If you’re among those wondering whether, how and why to “flip” your course, addressing the possibility begins by posing at least one key question to your own students NOW – say, in the “Written Comments/Additional Comments” section on page two of the UMinn Student Rating of Teaching evaluation form:

For what two central course concepts would you have benefitted from having access to online resources designed to enhance your learning related to that central idea?

Or maybe, simply asking this question:

What single course concept was the most difficult for you to fully understand when you first encountered it?

In both cases, you could ask specific follow up questions along these lines to learn more about specifics that might help:

Please (a) List the two concepts; (b) Tell me in a sentence how/why/when learning related to these concepts was difficult. Finally, please share suggestions about the kinds of resources that would have helped you in mastering these two concepts. (For example, supplementary lectures, self-assessment quizzes, next level problem sets, a selection of course-relevant blogs, or a online glossary of course related acronyms/formulae/terms.)

If you want to make use of students ideas sooner than the return of final course evaluations would allow, have students use an index card to answer a question you projected, or provide a half-sheet of paper with the question and room for responding.

Step 2 – Start Smart (aka Start with Backward Design)

Jackie Gerstein, “Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture for Higher Education,” notes two preliminary considerations for a Smart Start to making wise use of “the flip” to increase student active engagement and improve deep levels of learning.  The first –

If video lectures drive the instruction, it is just a repackaging of a more traditional model of didactic learning.  It is not a new paradigm nor pedagogy of learning.

– reminds us that the primary purpose of flipping a classroom is not about changing where we as teachers show up to provide a lecture.  That alone will not change learning in ways required for 21st century learning where new discoveries and applications shape fields of study so that “covering” the content will never again be possible as fields grow exponentially and interdependently to address complex problems.

Rather, as the second consideration Gerstein offers –

Educators need to be re-educated as to what to do with the class time that previously was used for their lectures.

– we are called to understand the primary change in flipping is about how we construct  (or scaffold) teaching and learning so that students arrive at class ready to apply, discuss, develop, extend, test out what they have learned while we are in the room to guide, coach, mentor next learning.

In this way, making decisions about whether, when and how to flip a course begins with reviewing both student feedback (Step 1 above) and the student learning outcomes from a course syllabus.  These outcomes, then, become linked to our new designs of class preparation activities (homework) and planning for class session learning and teaching activities.

Step 3 – Start Small

Drawing on what you hear from students, along the lines of ideas set out in Step 1, and, taking time to review student feedback in the context of the learning outcomes for your particular course, it them becomes time to map out the 2-3 places where you can most effectively (student input in mind here) and efficiently (your learning curve in mind this time) re-design that arc of class preparation and class activities with flipped elements.

To accompany these small steps that will impact teaching and learning, do think about how one more new starting point: How will you mentor students into new learning practices necessary to college-level learning, whether that learning process takes shape before, during or in following up official class times?

Starting Small allows teachers to begin infusing tools and practices of “the flip” into course at a pace that allows for studying the impact: gathering initial feedback directly from students and tracking student learning through assessments and observational notes.

Step 4 – Review Select Resources and Tools to Support the Flip

The resources section of this post includes links to select TILT posts focused on the “backward design” course development process that unfolds by moving from student outcomes to learning & teaching activities to assessments anchored back to outcomes.

For this post, I’ve also winnowed my ever-growing bookmarking file of flip-related resources to just the two you see summarized below.

1.  “Introducing TED-Ed: Lessons Worth Sharing,” compiled by the TED Education team.

A lovely tool, this one.  This TED resources lets you “use, tweak, or completely redo any lesson featured on TED-Ed, or create lessons from scratch based on any video from YouTube.”

Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 17.44.48

In short, a TED video – or any other video that’s uploaded onto YouTube, including those created by you or your students – can be set into an online template that allows you to customized existing videos for your own course.  The template (represented in the screen shot just above) frames the video with

  • a viewing context (Watch),
  • an assessment tool that supports quizzes including open-ended questions (Think), and
  • a section to map out readings and activities for continuing the thinking (Dig Deeper).

In minimally experimenting with this tool, I found it inductive to use, designed to support personalization, and easy incorporate into online platforms I use to support the courses I teach.

2.  “Reverse Instruction Tools And Techniques,” by Kelly Walsh (chief information officer, College of Westchester).

As blog readers, you’ve likely already developed comfort and capacity in using a few web-based tools and platforms.  As part of Starting Small and Starting Smart, these are good beginning places, too, for thinking about how and what you flip.  And this is a good place to remind readers that flipping the classroom need not include use of videos nor be limited to offering only faculty lectures as materials that students will interact with as part of preparing for inclass activities.

  • Part 1 – Using What You Already Have:  Slideshare, GoogleDocs, Moodle, Wikis.  This post addresses “ways to put existing files (presentations in Powerpoint or other slide deck apps, PDFs, Word Docs, etc.)or new content, online so students can access them.”
  • Part 2 – Adding Voice-overs and Other Enhancements:  Reviews popular free screencasting applications and addresses Camtasia, the screencasting tool available to UMinn instructors.  A screencast lets teachers record screen activity and voice-over in realtime on our own computers then to save and share the playback for distribution, including posting for online access.
  • Part 3 – Using Existing Web-Based Educational Content:  What’s already out there – like the Khan Academy, OER Commons, or MOOCs you know via clusters like Coursera?  This post offers ideas on way to effectively frame and merge these already existing resources into your flipped course planning.

A Wrap

A flip does require thinking in new ways.  But then, higher education retains its significance in the 21st century only as we bring the passion for discovery that animates our researching to our considerations of how learning and teaching might just be upended from 19th and 20th century modes to fuel a passion for discovery that can turns students to learners and teachers to learning mentors.


2 Responses to “The Flipped Classroom Buzz – Part 2: Planning for Change”


  1. The Flipped Classroom Buzz – Part 2: Planning for Change | Web Tech News - 10 December 2012

    […] Selected excerpt FROM: […]

  2. Feeling flip? Flipping out? Or Maybe flip-flopping after flipping the classroom? | Techniques in Learning & Teaching - 11 March 2013

    […] has been written about “flipping” or “inverting” the classroom, the practice of requiring students to review content (typically through videos or podcasts) […]

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