Flipped or inverted learning involves introducing new concepts to students in “individual learning spaces”, that is, outside of the classroom. Traditionally this was facilitated through textbook readings though more recently online tools such as videos, presentations, slides, podcasts, transcripts, formative assessments, and brief learning activities have taken hold. Once students have achieved a basic understanding of the material, the classroom, or “group learning space” then becomes a dynamic, interactive learning environment dedicated to the exploration and application of concepts. There are obvious benefits to this approach including optimizing valuable face-to-face time between students and faculty. Classrooms become active learning environments where the instructor is the guide or mentor inspiring curiosity amongst students.
**The concept of a flipped classroom can be applied to a fully online teaching and learning context. The individual learning space exists outside of live class time. The group learning space is the live webinar-based class experience.**
There is a large body of research investigating the effectiveness of flipped learning, often focused on the design of active learning (i.e. in the group learning space). Though the concept of flipped learning is decades old and the body of research is vast, there is variability in the quality of these studies and much depends on the specific context of the investigation. Freeman, et al. (2014) conducted a meta-analysis of 225 existing studies of flipped learning effectiveness in STEM subjects. Their results concluded that students in traditional lecture-style courses were 1.5 times more likely to fail compared to those in active learning courses. Additionally, exam scores were measured to be 6% higher in active learning courses versus traditional ones.
Individual Learning Space
Rotman’s AV department and LMS (Quercus) are well-equipped to create a variety of online learning vehicles:
Group learning happens in the classroom and often does not require sophisticated technology. The slide below lists several Active Learning activities organized on a continuum from simple to complex, most of which require no digital technology at all.
Perhaps more important than the various technologies available for content creation is our institutional attitude toward flipped learning. For this method to succeed we need to foster a culture that supports and encourages flipped teaching and learning.
Students are not accustomed to learning so extensively on their own and often find it frustrating to be asked to teach themselves concepts online. Students need to be encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and should be motivated by both intrinsic (e.g. love of learning, interest in the topic, etc.), and extrinsic factors (e.g. grades tied to preparation, being able to speak intelligently on the topic in class, etc.) to ensure they are prepared for class. Students sometimes raise concerns about flipped learning. Several objections are outlined below alongside ways to address them.
· What is the role of an instructor? To effectively pass on knowledge and prepare learners for employment, or simply to lecture?
· Ask student(s) whether it’s possible to learn concepts on their own.
· Ask student(s) how they learn. Via curiosity and trial & error, or via lecture?
· There is an increased cognitive load to learn actively (in the individual space) versus passively listening to a lecture.
· Define learning goals: facts and simple tasks versus higher order thinking
· Avoid “course-and-a-half syndrome.” Reduce classroom hours.
· Emphasize the importance of efficient study habits.
· Self-teaching and self-regulation include seeking help.
· Instructors must offer varied opportunities to ask questions.
Similarly, faculty who have invested significant time and energy into creating online learning materials can be frustrated by students’ lack of preparedness when they get to class. There are at least three ways to address this phenomenon:
Instructors of multi-section courses have an opportunity to AB test the flipped model, employing it in one section and keeping to traditional teaching methods the other(s).
Freeman, S. et al. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111 (23) 8410-8415. https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/111/23/8410.full.pdf (Links to an external site.)
Talbert, R. (2017). Flipped Learning: A Guide for Higher Education Faculty. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.