What is Flipped Learning?

A photo of a person’s hand on a board with white boxes and arrows drawn on it.

The flipped classroom refers to a model of learning that rearranges how time is spent both in and out of class to shift the ownership of learning from the educators to the students. This student-centered approach takes typical methods of instruction, such as the lecture-based class and turns it inside out. In the flipped classroom model, valuable class time is devoted to more active, project-based learning where students work together to solve challenges, consider real-world applications, and gain a deeper understanding of the subject.

To flip a class, an instructor might do the following before class:

  1. Pick one concept – flip a single concept or idea.
  2. Facilitate a delivery activity by
    1. Assigning a reading, video, or activity,
    2. Soliciting feedback from students on coverage activity, and
    3. Analyzing that feedback.
  3. Prep questions for use in class by
    1. Using an already existing question; or
    2. Writing your own question.

Then, in class, they could:

  1. Implement peer instruction by
    1. Setting the stage,
    2. Posing questions, and
    3. Providing closures.
  2. Repeat cycle with next concept

As you can see, rather than the instructor using class time to dispense information, that work is done by each student before and after class, and could take many forms. Thus, with a flipped classroom approach students can:

  • Learn more deeply,
  • Be active participants in learning,
  • Interact with other learners to increase understanding, and
  • Gain immediate feedback from the instructor and peers.

There are multiple ways to “flip” learning and invert the classroom experience, and flipped learning can be utilized for all course delivery types, including face-to-face, hybrid, or online courses. Thus, it is important to consider a few things before flipping a class.

Learning Space

Is your learning environment and space conducive to flipping? Do you have an appropriate class or online learning platform for interactive class sessions or small-group meetings? Do you have a class meeting location appropriate for discussion or inquiry?

Consider how this physical space or the online environment can hinder or support active learning components of flipped learning such as problem-based learning and collaborative learning. What strategies or ideas might you use in physical teaching spaces where desks and chairs are immovable? How could you encourage your students to make the most of this learning space to collaborate?

Student Participation

How will you know if your learners watch your lecture or review the advance materials? What if they do not “show up” for the flipped learning materials? How will this impact the class or online meetings with their peers? Consider adding an online quiz, in-class assessment, or activity to check for understanding and completion.

Relevance & Meaning

Do your learners have a sense of disconnect between the in and out of class learning experience? Be sure to design activities and assessments for the class or online meeting that are relevant to the flipped learning content you create. Design your course holistically to consider how your learning plan flows throughout the flipped experience. To ensure this is working, consider how you will assess and solicit feedback for learner progress.

Balance & Course Workload

Do you have enough materials for the flipped experience? Are you providing too much or too little pre-work before the class? Consider using a pilot lesson plan with a single lesson or concept to evaluate and understand how your learners progress through the flipped classroom lesson. Does this meet your learning goals? Are students progressing and understanding the course materials?

Access & Expectations

It is critical to remember that not all students will have the same access to basic technologies, including computers, high-speed internet, etc. Ensure that your assignments in and out of class are easily accessible in order to ensure your learners are able to get to the course materials. Consider setting up computer lab times or common learning spaces at the campus library to encourage informal group learning opportunities. State the technological needs and expectations for flipped learning materials at the beginning of the class and on your syllabus.

Instructor as Facilitator

Remember that your role as an instructor has changed in the flipped learning environment. You are no longer the “sage on the stage” – instead of a full 50-minute lecture, consider mini-lectures to address a topic your class might be struggling with from the pre-class work you assign. Think of your role as a coach, guide, and/or facilitator for learning. How can you solicit feedback, check for progress, and share key concepts with your learners? How will you be sure that your students are engaging in the course materials and understanding key concepts?

Technology Considerations

Flipping often requires adding or augmenting traditional learning methods with technology. This will require your own experimentation with technology. A number of flipped classrooms have “micro lectures” or quick demonstrations by video or screencast. Consider testing out what this development looks like with UNT resources such as Panopto or GoToMeeting. Prepare these video learning objects in advance with assistance from your instructional consultant and production team.

Read more about video challenges in the support guide “So You’ve Decided to Flip Your Classroom” by the Panopto blog.

For further resources on evaluating educational technologies, read our articles, “A Modest Case for Teaching with Technology” and “Selecting Educational Technologies: A Checklist.”

References

Center for Learning Experimentation, Application, and Research. (2016). Teaching Resources for Engaged Educators [online training modules]. Denton, TX: University of North Texas.