Reflection: Flipped Course Design 101 workshop

by Adrienne Gauthier with content provided by workshop participants

Last week we had a well attended and fully engaged workshop on flipped course design. Thank you to all the faculty and staff who attended and brainstormed challenges, opportunities, and sample activities in our small group discussions. Additional thanks to the June 2013 workshop participants! I’ve combined thoughts and ideas from both sessions below, as well as adding more “instructional designer” perspectives.

Workshop participants:  In the comments please answer, “What skills/attitudes does an instructor need in a student-centered classroom? What are some shifts in your own perspective that you might be going through as you think about flipping your class?”

What does “flipped course design” mean to you? What are your definitions and expectations?

  • —when students more engaged, they learn more — how to do this in my class?
  • best class I took as an undergrad was a flipped design, it was effective to practice the course concepts together in a group with the instructor there…I want to try this as a teacher
  • how to make discussion more fruitful in a high enrollment social science class
  • how to do it. (when asked what is wanted from this workshop)
  • what are the pitfalls?
  • present lecture materials ahead of class-time, shortens overall lecture time
  • during class students can ask questions or present issues
  • problem sets during class, reading/lecture before class
  • small video lectures with a quiz before class, during class working with case studies, problems, etc.

Flipped classrooms can take on many different flavors. Some instructors will “flip a week” during the term here and there or run the entire term in a flipped framework. “Flipping” is really about making the most of the face to face time you have with your students and the organized time students have with each other. Ideally that is time spent actively learning and thinking critically about the concepts. They can work through novel situations and authentic scenarios collaboratively while analyzing and applying the “base” concepts of the course, functioning at a higher level.

What are some benefits to a flipped course design?

  • gives students an opportunity to apply and practice course content
  • get quicker feedback from professor
  • students get confidence boosting by working with other students, sense of community
  • less lecture time saves the professor time
  • in-class students have more time to process the info
  • more engaging/interesting]
  • flipped classroom is more like the real world, analyze and apply authentic scenarios
  • gives a professor more of a chance to see where gaps are
  • students can go at their own pace with material
  • students can take ownership of learning, more responsible in active learning environments
    the number of exposures to content can be increased
  • opportunities to problem solve, critical thinking – in person with the instructor
  • raise the level of the class, raise expectations of student performance
  • just in time teaching, immediate feedback
  • social/collaborative/cooperative learning — learning from each other

What are some challenges you can foresee? Can you think of any solutions?

  • how difficult it is to evaluate all student responses/questions
    • —assign only a few students each time to submit questions/etc. and rotate through semester to get through all students
  • how to most effectively use time in class
    • this depends on your learning outcomes for the course and how you will assess your students
  • —how do you make sure students get out of the reading what you want them to (loss of control compared to lecture)
    • offer reading outlines
    • ask students to submit ‘salient points’ prior to class
    • low-stakes “readiness” quizzes
    • handout questions they have to answer/think about during the reading
  • —existing materials usually come from traditional lecture resources
    • frustrating, right? Instructional designers can help you use existing content and resources creatively!
  • —balance of lecture vs active time in class—
    • bring all of your “lectures” online and into shorter chunks (no more than 8m), deliver through Blackboard
    • use our Dartmouth supported Camtasia Relay to screencast/record audio
    • summarize at the beginning of class and maybe give a low-stakes quiz, then jump into your activities
  • dept facilitated syllabi and time limits, how to break out of the mold
  • students living up to their accountability, not being prepared
    • set expectations in your syllabus and on the first day of class
    • students may need guidance and mentoring to take full advantage of an active learning classroom, help to learn more and reflect on the way they are learning
  • —students might resist the ‘extra work’ (meaning, homework + “working” during classtime instead of being passive)
    • describe and discuss your high expectations of your students
    • ask students to articulate expectations for the course
  • large lectures and active learning in small groups is challenging to manage/facilitate
    • assign roles to groups, create a leader or facilitator role to keep groups on track
    • TAs and undergrad TAs are very useful in large lecture active classrooms


Pre-workshop reading:

Extra resources:

Posted in Active Learning, Blended Learning, Blog, Ed Tech, Instructional Strategies
3 comments on “Reflection: Flipped Course Design 101 workshop
  1. Emma Chiappetta says:

    Some skills and attitudes required by an instructor in a student centered classroom include patience, open-mindedness, dedication, leadership skills and an authoritative demeanor. Patience and open-mindedness are required because it may take students time to adjust to a flipped classroom design. They may have trouble learning to read properly for information, work things out for themselves, etc. The instructor will have to adjust constantly for her students. Dedication is required as planning for a flipped classroom design may require a lot more work the first few times. The materials for this design will likely be sparse and lectures will need to be recorded outside of class time. Leadership skills and an authoritative demeanor are required because a flipped classroom naturally gives a lot of control and power to its students. The instructor will need to be able to gain the control back when necessary.

    The flipped classroom style is very in line with my teaching philosophy and with my own positive learning experiences. Because of this, I don’t expect my perspectives on good teaching to change much. However, if I decide to flip my classroom, it will take adjusting and courage for me. Oftentimes, for graduate student teachers in my department, graduate students themselves do not have much control over the pace of the course or of the syllabus. We team teach and students in one section do the same homework and take the same exams as students in another section. If I decide to use a flipped classroom design, I will have to ensure that students will learn just as well and as quickly as students in another section which may be taught in a more traditional lecture format.

  2. Brian Reid says:

    When med school instructors assign work in preparation for a class meeeting and then proceed to review the material in class, students object to the instructor wasting their time. This may be something to avoid.

    On a side note: although “flipped class” seems to be the most popular phrase/buzz word used to describe this approach/ideology, I think “shifted” might be better. In the cycle of learning activity, instead of starting with a lecture in the classroom, the approach “shifts” the start to before the class meeting. The cycle continues from there without really being “flipped.”

  3. Adrienne says:

    Thank you for commenting Emma! You have a really good grasp of what it means for an instructor to ‘flip’ or have a more active/collaborative classroom environment.

    Brian – thank you for adding the perspective from the med school, it is very important to design the classroom activities to be useful to learning and to engage students. And true — “flipped” is a buzzword (and actually comes from K12). I do like describing it as ‘shifted’. Thank you!

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