eLearning Technology Blog

What is the Flipped Classroom: Part II

by WSU Online 21. October 2013 10:52

“The provost is coordinating a university wide effort on student retention and success… We know that 1 in 5 freshman leaves after freshman year. That is completely unacceptable. We have to do better than that … we know that some of the reasons that students don’t succeed is that they feel lost in in large classes and flipping classes is one way we can change that around. There is evidence that it really does make a difference… Flipping classes is a way that we can give students a challenging but rewarding experience.” – Dr. Erica Austin

What is the flipped classroom?

Jonathan Gergmann and Aaron Sam, proponents of the flipped classroom, define it the following way:
“In most Flipped Classrooms, there is an active and intentional transfer of some of the information delivery to outside of the classroom with the goal of freeing up time to make better use of the face-to-face interaction in school.” – The Flipped Class Manifest  

If that definition isn’t clicking, check out this quick video that illustrates some basic concepts, and one instructor’s definition here:


Flipping is based on a few simple ideas:

1) An hour long lecture to a room full of silent students is perhaps not the best use of class time.   Higher levels of learning –application, comprehension, analysis, synthesis, and creativity – don’t happen when a student sits quietly taking notes or napping.
2) With the advent of newfangled technologies like the printing press, audio-video recording and the internet, it is no longer necessary to rely on class time as the solitary opportunity to share information.
3) Nobody wants this.

Flipping can include a variety of approaches, but the basic concept requires moving some amount of information-transfer outside the class room so that more class time is available to learn the material. Flipping could also be described as intentionally replacing lower order thinking with higher order thinking in the classroom.  The instructor spends less time as presenter of content and more time as a facilitator, collaborator and guide. Teacher to student and student to student interactions increase as a result.

The following acronym provides an accessible way to think about flipping a classroom and the ways it can provide a re-distribution of information rather than a lack of information. Taking these concepts into account can be reassuring to instructors who fear or worse yet, believe the circulating myths about the flipped classroom.


Don’t be misled by the catchy new term, the flipped classroom is already a well-established idea.  Unfortunately, it has led to a bit of confusion and myth-making in recent years. Some see this concept as the latest in a long line of educational fads but the call to replace information covered in the classroom with guided practice occurred in the 1800’s with the casebook method. * 




•    Flipped classrooms will replace faculty with computers
•    There is only one way to flip a class
•    Students won’t come to class if I don’t lecture
•    You must flip your entire class for flipping to really count
•    Flipped classrooms are primarily about putting lecture videos online
•    Students will love not having lectures in class
•    Flipping a class means no more lectures during class time

But, the most important question isn’t what you move out of class time but rather what you replace it with. This is often the single most daunting task when considering flipping a portion of your course.  In my next post, I’ll be illustrating several different ideas for what to include during your class time, how to decide, and a comprehensive look at the resources and research available to you.

* Developed by Harvard Law School, also known as the Socratic method.

Theron des Rosier


Flipped Instruction: Onward, with caution

by WSU Online 10. October 2013 16:03

At a recent panel on flipped instruction sponsored by the Global Campus, nine faculty members presented their versions of this "innovative" teaching strategy. The panelists agreed that basically flipped instruction means having students access direct instruction (e.g., lecture) outside of class and having interactive tasks the focus of in-class activities. However, the ways in which direct instruction was provided and the types of in-class tasks used varied widely among the panelists. With the differences among implementations to "flipping," it is clear that the term is not easily defined. In fact, this approach is not really as revolutionary as it has been made out to be, but rather it’s an evolution, wrought by the availability of digital technology for student-centered instruction.

For many years teachers have used an understanding of student needs to develop course content, format, products, and evaluation. With the advent of ubiquitous computing, the ability to meet learners’ needs for content and skills can now take on different forms. In short, the term “flip” has caused consternation for some instructors and reluctance by others to take on something “new” that actually isn’t.

This argument indicates one problem with flipped instruction: incremental change doesn't necessarily warrant a new sobriquet, and in fact it may obscure more than it clarifies. With the Provost's office and Global Campus encouraging faculty across campuses to think about instituting this instructional approach, we need to be careful that we address other potential issues and misunderstandings. Some of these, mentioned by the panel, include:

  1. We don’t want to throw out the baby. Much like the push for cooperative learning or Whole Language in the past, support for new ways of doing things has to be tempered with reflection on and incorporation of what has already been working well. Some faculty are enthralling lecturers and should continue to present, to the extent feasible and effective,  in this fashion.
  2. One size doesn't fit all. Student-centered instruction has a lot of research backing. However, the term encompasses a multitude of strategies, techniques, and formats, some of which are effective in specific contexts, and others that work with certain populations. No one approach, however carefully constructed, has been found to work well for all students.
  3. Planning is key. Student-centered instruction, particularly in the resource-rich flipped approach, takes time and thought to prepare well. In class activities must consider students’ content knowledge, backgrounds, learning preferences, and a variety of other variables.
  4. The technology matters. For example, in the Department of Teaching and Learning we tried to use Screencast.com to present videos with embedded quizzes, and the technology failed more often than it worked. Further, we found that PPTs with voiceover aren't the most engaging video format for students who are constantly on YouTube.

Overall the panelists indicated a belief that a student-centered instructional approach, whether we call it “flipped” or not, can be effective for students and satisfying for faculty. With these cautions in mind, we can move forward collaboratively to see where flipping takes our students and us.

Dr. Joy Egbert
Professor of ESL and Education Technology 
Department of Teaching and Learning

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