DigiThing 9: Flipping the Classroom


In this final instalment of the DigiThings course we will be pulling together what we have learnt from our exploration of a range of ‘DigiThings’ to think about how they can be used to support a flipped classroom style of teaching. This taught session, led by Educational Developer Dr Sharon Gedye on Tuesday 18th March, Meeting Room, Floor 2, 3 Endsleigh Place, will explore what flipping looks like and the benefits of flipping for student learning. There will be opportunities to critique flipping practice (What is good practice? Where are the problem areas?) and you will be encouraged to develop your ideas as to where and how you might flip your teaching.


A Little Background:

There is no one model for the ‘flipped classroom’; it simply refers to flipping the traditional delivery approach. Students access the ‘lecture’ and accompanying reading in their own time, at their own pace, prior to a taught session. This enables content to be delivered without using valuable contact time. The contact time is then freed up for advancing concepts, interaction, problem-based learning, case studies, collaborative, peer-assisted learning and discussion. This is not a new concept historically; Literature and Law students have to prepare for sessions by reading and preparing  and the Open University is based on this approach (Berrett, 2012). Before the industrial revolution, books were not mass commodities and lectures were the only way of transferring information. Technological advancements have led academics, especially in the USA, to reflect on current day practice.

‘Flipping’ developed from the work of Eric Mazur – a physicist at Harvard University – following his development of peer instruction (Mazur, 1997, Crouch and Mazur, 2001). Computer-based learning became integral to improving the quality of his programmes (Mazur, 2011; Mazur, 2012). Flipping was further developed by Salman Khan who created the Khan Academy, a free source of over 2600 online tutorial videos. He supports switching the traditional 95% of time in class to 95% of time actually working with students (Houston and Lin, 2012). In 2006 secondary school teachers Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams started to innovate in schools through delivering content through screen, video and podcasting.

Technology allows academics to move beyond the ‘sage on the stage’ style of delivery and enable students to receive the required knowledge through a more personal method (Bergmann, 2012). For many students, a typical lecture comes too fast and is often quickly forgotten. Using technology, students can pause and replay a video or presentation and focus on what they need to know at their own pace.  Students can also save the sessions and use them for future revision. Students can be asked to post their queries and views on a blog prior to a session to enable staff to prepare (Berliner, 2012). The traditional session, where students’ passively listen, daydream or fiddle with smartphones are replaced with increased student engagement through experiential learning activities.  Some students have initially been found to be resistant as they are required to engage and participate – they cannot be inactive (Houston &Lin, 2012). At Stanford Medical School, student attendance increased in a Bio Chemistry course from 30 to 80% as a result of flipping. Researchers at the University of British Columbia in April 2011 found students using flip learning had increased achievement over students taught through traditional methods. http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2012/05/features/university-just-got-flipped?page=all

There are also challenges for staff. These include the time required to review the curriculum, and plan and develop the on-line resources to ensure that lectures are not replaced by poor digital resources.  Many staff need support to enable them to design and develop websites, podcasting, and the use of a variety of software such as Moodle, Voice Thread, YouTube, Slideshare, WINK, Audacity and Xerte. Academics in the USA have found repurposing existing open access materials time saving. Using ‘flipping’ alone does not increase success; it is the increased student interaction in sessions including reviewing and advancing the content, checking student understanding, collaborate activities and peer instruction that is key. For some staff facilitation to large numbers of students is daunting and they need support to develop the skills of participative learning methods.

Bergmann et al (2012) advised staff to initially start small and choose a couple of topics or a short module to flip.  They recommend a structure of 10 minute multimedia presentations with accompanied reading material and questions and/or a blog for questions and discussion to enable staff to prepare for an activity in the whole cohort session. Staff also need to ensure that students without computers or internet access can participate through the university computers or via DVD.

Getting Going:

In preparation for the face-to-face session on 18th March you will need to do some pre-session ‘homework’ (thus modelling flipped classroom practice). Take a look at the following as a minimum (sample more of the resources below if you have the time and inclination).

Educause (2012, Feb). 7 Things you should know about … Flipped Classrooms. http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7081.pdf

Mazur, E. (2011). Memorization or understanding: are we teaching the right thing? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tn1DLFnbGOo  Accessed 09/07/13. This video is enjoyable and thought provoking but it is long. If you are tight for time watch from about 51 minutes to the end.



Bergmann, J., Overmyer, J. & Wilie, B. (2012). The Flipped Classroom: Myth or reality. http://www.thedailyriff.com/articles/the-flipped-class-conversation-689.php Accessed 09/07/2013

Bergmann, J. Sams, A. (2008). Remixing chemistry class.  Learning and Leading with Technology.  36(4) 24-27.

Bergmann, J. Sams, A. (2012). Flip Your Classroom: Talk to Every Student in Every Class Every Day. International Society for Technology in Education.

Berliner, H. (2012).  Inside Higher Ed.   Washington. USA http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/provost-prose/%E2%80%9Cflipped-classroom%E2%80%9D#ixzz252uDrRf2  Accessed 09/07/13

Berrett, D. (2012). How ‘flipping’ the classroom can improve the traditional lecture. The Chronicle of Higher Ed, Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/How-Flipping-the-Classroom/130857/ Accessed 09/07/13

Crouch, C and Mazur, E. (2001). Peer Instruction: Ten years of experience and results. Am. J. Phys. 69 (9). http://web.mit.edu/jbelcher/www/TEALref/Crouch_Mazur.pdf Accessed 09/07/13

Educause (2012, Feb). 7 Things you should know about … Flipped Classrooms. http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7081.pdf

Houston, M., & Lin, L. (2012, March). Humanizing the classroom by flipping the homework versus lecture equation. Paper presented at Society for information technology & teacher education international conference (site) 2012, Austin, TX.

Khan, S. (2011). Lets use videos to reinvent education. TED lectures  http://www.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education.html Accessed 09/07/13

Lage, M., Platt, G.,Tregalia, M. (2000). Inverting the Classroom: A gateway to creating an inclusive learning environment. Journal of Economic Education. http://academia.edu/340051/Inverting_the_Classroom_A_Gateway_to_Creating_An_Inclusive_Learning_Environment Accessed 09/07/13

Mazur, E. (1997). Peer Instruction: A User’s Manual, Prentice Hall.

Mazur, E. (2011). Memorization or understanding: are we teaching the right thing? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tn1DLFnbGOo Accessed 09/07/13. This video is enjoyable and thought provoking but it is long. If you are tight for time watch from about 51 minutes to the end.

Mazur, E. (2012). Eric Mazur shows interactive teaching. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wont2v_LZ1E Accessed 09/07/13.

About Flea Palmer

Flea is a Learning Technologist who aims to inspire and support those who would like to enhance their teaching, learning, research ...and life through using technology.
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