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Flipping the Classroom

Lately we’ve talked with many faculty who are ready to take the first steps toward experimenting with flipping the classroom, an inverted approach to teaching and learning in which traditional lecture and “homework” are moved online, while the classroom becomes a place for active learning, collaborative learning, and hands-on practice. In response, we created a web site called “A Guide to Flipping the Classroom,” containing several resources for flipping the classroom. Please visit that site if you’re interested in flipping the classroom. We also encourage you to contact the IDEA Shop instructional-design consultant assigned to your department for assistance in implementing flipping in a way that works for you and your students.

But first . . . what does it really mean to “flip the classroom”?

Some people believe that a flipped classroom results from simply putting videos of lectures online and then having students do homework during class time. Flipping the classroom, however, can encompass so much more.

At its best, in the flipped classroom:

  • The instructor makes thoughtful decisions about what kind of content to share, when to share it, and in what media.
  • Students engage with content they accessed before coming to class. This content might be textual, visual, audio, or multimedia.
  • Students work together on activities that deepen their understanding of the content—for example, by applying core principles of course content to a “real-world” scenario or challenge.
  • The instructor works with students during the class period. For example, she may circulate among the students, conducting on-the-fly formative assessment so she can better evaluate students’ growing understanding of the topic.

The goal? A dynamic, interactive learning environment where students help each other creatively apply and engage with the instructor, with the course content, and with one another.