What is flipped classroom teaching?
It is a form of blended learning in which students learn new content during their preparation time at home, e.g. by watching video lectures or other material, and what used to be homework (assigned problems) is now done in class with teachers offering more personalised guidance and interaction with students to deepen understanding, instead of lecturing.
“Lectures” in the students’ preparation time
The students review and study the material at home before coming to class. You can choose to make your own material or use existing content from the internet. Content can be found in OERs (Open Educational Resources), on iTunes U or conference recordings. It doesn’t have to be a “talking head” video – there are lots of wonderful animations, simulations, infographics and other material out there. You can frame the existing material with your own explanations, texts or exercises. Or if you want you can choose to produce your own material, for example in the form of videos, a recording of your last guest teacher, or a screen recording of a good paper from last term.
Jan Halborg Jensen on how he teaches a flipped classroom
Teach for active learning
The really important part of flipped classroom teaching is not the alternative preparation – it’s what you can do with the class time. Flipped classroom teaching is really about freeing up class time to do the things you’ve always wanted to have time for: exercises, tasks and activities like discussion, analysis and peer feedback. Using the time in class with the students to create deeper understanding and reflection and to put theoretical knowledge into practice.
Maria Andersen on the benefits of activating students
The teacher as facilitator
When teaching with a flipped classroom, the teacher’s role in class becomes one of facilitating learning and ensuring that students understand the new form of preparation – being “the guide on the side rather than the sage on the stage”, as the saying goes.
Time! Many teachers are worried that flipped classroom teaching means their workload will double: that they will first have to prepare and record the lecture, then prepare once more for the class. And there is a danger of this, of course, but it does not have to be the reality of flipped classroom teaching. You do not need to produce everything yourself. The active learning in class means the teacher has to run the activities and keep students on track, but beyond preparing good problems that students can work on in class, preparation should be minimal. The task is mostly to be there and be available to the students.
Student expectations! It is easier to just sit and listen to a lecture than having to work while in class, and there is always a risk of resistance to change – so make sure the students understand what you expect from them in terms of preparation and what they can expect in terms of learning outcome from a flipped classroom course. Giving students specific tasks to prepare for can also be a way of ensuring that they watch the video or read the text before they come to class.
Change! It is a different way of teaching, and for the students a different setting for learning, and that requires adjustments on both sides. It can be a good idea to start small so both the teacher and the students can adjust to the change.
Study after study has shown that students learn more when they have to engage with the content and use their theoretical knowledge to solve problems (individually or in groups). Another advantage is that students can revisit the material and watch supplementary material – i.e. a flipped classroom can be a way to provide good teaching to students at different levels. Students also appreciate being able to go over the material again in preparation for exams.
Jan Halborg Jensen on the effects of teaching a flipped classroom
For an introduction to the research on peer learning and the other teaching methods that flipping makes time for in the classroom, see this article, which provides an overview and references to relevant research: Brame, C., (2013). “Flipping the Classroom”.
How to get started
Start by just flipping a little! You don’t have to flip an entire course – try just flipping one exercise in a lecture, or one lecture in a course. This is also a good way to get the students used to the new way of teaching.
Contact your local e-learning unit, who can advise you on how to get started.