A New Way to Learn: Flipped Classrooms

Take your online degree program a step further by learning about the newest education concept of flipped classrooms.

professor helping students

More college and universities are embracing the "flipped classroom" model and plan to implement it in the next year, according to a November 2013 survey by the Center for Digital Education and Sonic Foundry.

Several factors have contributed to the popularity of flipped classrooms. The survey found that students retained information better and faculty saw an improvement in grades.

This has created a more positive outlook from professors and instructors. Research showed that 83 percent of faculty surveyed felt the model improved their attitude about teaching.

What is a flipped classroom?

The flipped classroom model reverses the traditional method of teaching and learning with the help of the latest technology.

Traditional Classroom Flipped Classroom
Instructor lectures in front of students Instructor provides video lectures online
Students take notes in class and complete homework on their own Students watch lectures on their own time and prepare for class discussions
Students learn passively, instead of actively Class time is used for homework, projects and in-depth discussoins with instructors

An instructor's video lecture, which is usually short in length, essentially becomes the homework assignment. These videos explain concepts to prepare a student for a discussion or project in class.

Instead of spending class time on questions some students already know the answers to, instructors provide coaching and guidance to individuals or groups. According to the November survey, faculty said one of the biggest advantages is their "ability to adjust instruction styles on a per student basis."

The overarching belief is students gain more by discovering information on their own. Proponents believe students who are engaged more deeply tend to absorb more information.

Technology's role

This latest generation of students is accustomed to accessing just about anything online. While online video lectures aren't brand new—professors have been doing this for several years—it's how they're being used that's different. In the case of flipped learning, they are the basis for a more interactive classroom experience.  

Although the lecture videos add an online element to education, it shouldn't be confused with an online program where all coursework and discussions with professors are done remotely. Students are still required to show up to a traditional classroom to continue their work. In fact, some professors administer a short in-class quiz to ensure students are absorbing the lecture content.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Students can pause a video to process information, saving time in class
  • Instructors have more class time to tackle advanced topics and guide students
  • More material can be covered in a semester

Cons

  • Students may not comprehend video material
  • Not all students have the tools, such as a home computer, or technology
  • Not all courses can be taught with a flipped classroom method

Flipped classroom courses

Certain classes and course work lend themselves to a flipped classroom model, while others may seem less appropriate.

Business and economics, engineering and natural sciences were the most popular course types taught with a flipped classroom, according to the survey. However, some instructors believe they can make it work for all types of disciplines.