You already know the norm. Students trudge to class, passively sit and feign attention while the professor lectures. After class, they sit down to do their homework or review for exams and have no idea how to start solving problems.
Enter the flipped classroom. Students watch videos and do reading outside of class, and valuable class time is used to solve problems and apply concepts. The instructor and fellow students (i.e. peer instructors) are thus present when students need the most help, enabling more active, hands-on learning.
Photo credit: Stanford EdTech
It sounds daunting. But if you are just looking to get your feet wet, here are six pointers you can follow to flip your classroom and see how it works with your teaching style:
1. Plan a gradual change
If you aren’t sure whether you are ready to change every aspect of your teaching, or if you are trying to make improvements to your course with limited time to edit or create materials, think of smaller changes you might be able to implement first.
Which things can be changed this semester? If there are topics you cover that you could record a short lecture of or find an online resource, could they be substituted for what you have used in the past for lecture? Better yet, are there questions that will get your students thinking more in-depth about how to apply concepts that you haven’t had time to cover in class in the past? Think of engaging problems that can test students’ understanding, generate useful dialogue, and facilitate peer instruction during class.
2. Stick with technology you know
The flipped classroom inherently requires the use of technology, as students must access videos, readings, and practice material online. It might sound complicated, but chances are that you are already using some technologies that can help you flip your class.
We’ve already talked about using LectureTools to flip your classroom because it allows you to share slides, videos, and practice quizzes with your students. But you can always share instructional material with students with lecture capture tools like Echo360 or even your LMS.
3. Share the goals of the flipped classroom with your students
Chances are, your students have been trained over the years to expect nothing but lecturing. Especially at first, some will be resistant to the flipped classroom – after all, life was much easier when they could just sit back in lecture without being held responsible for paying attention or the needs to engage with the class.
Their participation during the in-class sessions is dependent on them doing the assigned reading, watching your videos, and trying practice problems outside of class. The goal of the flipped classroom is, in its most basic form, to provide a more active learning experience during the face-to-face class sessions. This means students have access to you and their peers when they are working through problems. Once they realize the benefits, most students should buy-in to your new teaching method – after all, if you give students the opportunity to participate, they will.
4. Keep an eye on data to structure your class sessions
Robert Talbert, professor of mathematics at Grand Valley State University, notes that the flipped classroom requires more agility:
"In a traditional classroom setup, you prepare a lecture, and that lecture does not change between making it and giving it. Whereas, with the flipped classroom, I'm not really sure what my students are going to need to know once I get there. It doesn't make sense for me to prepare a lecture that covers the entire set of material. They may be really good at all of it and can jump right into the problem solving, or maybe they're stuck on one point that we really need to drill into."
Providing online assessments for students outside of class, whether option or mandatory, should provide you with some data on what students are struggling with, and which concepts they are having no trouble understanding. Even moreso than with “traditional” lectures, watch students’ performance to make sure class time is distributed between concepts appropriately.
5. Have students complete midterm course evaluations
Most institutions provide course evaluations at the end of every semester. But, if you are trying this new approach, it is advantageous to solicit feedback from your students before it is too late and the semester ends.
If you usually give midterm course evaluations, compare the results to feedback from students in previous semesters. You might even consider moving up the evaluations earlier in the semester or even adding a second midterm evaluation to make sure you are on the right track.
6. Reflect and Prepare for the Next Semester
When you’ve finished your first flipped class, take the time to examine the results. Student course evaluations, grades, and even your own impressions will be invaluable to determining how successful your flipped class was and what to try next. Keep the components that seemed to be effective, and find ways to improve the things that didn’t. Try to think of technologies you are less familiar with that could improve the experience further.
Have advice for newcomers looking to flip their classroom? Leave your tips in the comments!
Learn more about how to implement a flipped classroom with LectureTools
LectureTools is a cloud-based active learning platform that enables your students to practice with interactive activities, see and take notes on your slides, watch video lessons, and ask questions digitally. We'd love to show you LectureTools and discuss how it could be used to flip your class!