The flipped approach to teaching, or reverse instruction as it is sometimes referred to, is intended to create a more active and student-centred class than is possible with the traditional instructivist approach. The prevalence of educational multimedia allows new information to be disseminated at home before each class thus alleviating class time from the burden of content delivery. Instead, with students coming to class prepared to build upon their knowledge, valuable class time can be used to encourage the cultivation of higher order thinking skills such as analysing, evaluating and creating, in line with Bloom’s revised Taxonomy. This reversal of activities between home and the classroom also allows the instructor to take on a new role as facilitator of student inquiry while peers become collaborators and useful sounding boards for new ideas.
The Flipped Classroom approach has ties to two main teaching theories; peer instruction and Just in time teaching (JiTT).
Students can benefit greatly from sharing their understandings with their classmates who, in turn, can challenge their interpretations. This follows the social constructivist theory proposed by Vygotsky and has been used by Eric Mazur in an approach he terms ‘peer instruction’. By flipping the classroom, more time is available for serendipitous interactions as well as structured collaborative activities which help to reinforce student understanding. Mazur relies heavily on the use of clickers to informally quiz students in his large undergraduate physics classes and actively encourages them to seek out peers with different perspectives on a question to debate before telling them the correct solution. As well as leading to a higher level of understanding, this may also help to create a more engaging and student-focused class.
Just in Time Teaching
On top of the advantages gained from ‘humanising the classroom,’ as Sal Khan, a pioneer of flipped classroom resources, put it another benefit from the flipped approach is the ability to adapt instruction more easily to the interests and needs of the student cohort. In the role of facilitator, instructors can work more closely with students during class to gain more feedback on areas where they struggle in order to allocate time accordingly. Additionally, with students encountering new material at home, a short diagnostic assessment before class can act as formative evaluation indicating students’ misunderstandings and allowing them to quickly seek out help on those issues. If this assessment is delivered online, for instance through QMplus, teachers may also analyse this data before coming to class. This is known as Just in Time Teaching (JiTT) and, although time consuming and challenging for the teaching staff, has been shown to enhance student engagement.
A wide range of tools may be used to facilitate the flipped classroom approach from low-tech options such as preparatory readings to more high-tech interactive resources.
In recent years online video has been a very popular flipped classroom resource. Generally these videos are kept short so that they can be easily digested by students hearing about the material for the first time. Many instructors source high-quality video by prominent speakers online through websites such as TED, TED-Ed and YouTube.
Make your own video
You may choose to make your own video for students to view before coming to your class.
- The Q-Review personal capture software, which is downloadable once logged in to Q-Review, allows instructors to make recordings using their laptop and add them to the relevant QMplus page through the Q-Review block.
- Camtasia is available in the E-Learning Studio and allows instructors to create and edit recordings and add interactive content.
On QMplus the quiz or forums could be used to assess student understanding before class.
You may wish to read about clickers and Turning Point.