Flipped Primer – Part 3

Over the last two weeks, I have looked at what exactly it means to flip a classroom and a couple of flipped learning models.

Today, let’s look at the benefits and challenges of flipping.

Flipped learning can be really awesome!

Higher levels of engagement

If you’ve read my previous posts on flipped learning, you already know that instructors are able to spend classroom time on application and higher level learning rather than on lecture and other lower level thinking tasks.  So, rather than lecturing or even discussion time, students are solving problems, communicating 7230341756_6e05a567fa_babout the new material, and trying out new skills. Creativity is encouraged. By definition, passive learning cannot exist in a flipped classroom and therefore all students are actively involved in the learning process.

Support for every student

Flipped learning supports diverse learners more than most classroom settings. Instructors are able to provide multiple resources for pre-class time instruction such as videos and print materials, allowing students to gather information in a way that works best for them. Learners that are not native English (or other language) speakers, with little background in the subject area, or with learning disabilities are able to review the materials repeatedly and reflect on the information well before they are asked to use it in class.  Once in the classroom, an educator can utilize active learning techniques that allow students to move at their own pace and offer individualized support while floating between groups of learners.

boredomLess frustration and boredom

Learners are less likely to become frustrated or bored since they can consume lecture type materials at their own pace and instructors can revisit concepts, support learners as needed and offer instant feedback in the classroom.  Most students will benefit from a reduction in cognitive load by learning basic material in advance, instead of learning that knowledge in the same class where they are expected to apply it.  Advanced students are less likely to become bored if an instructor can offer advanced challenges or if they are used to assist students who need extra support.

Reduced costs, increased ROIone-69528_640

In a corporate setting benefits such as reduced travel costs, reduced opportunity costs, and increased practice time are possible. Both employees and managers may see an additional return on training time for employees if they are able to solve real problems in the training environment.

Ok, but there must be some downsides…


It’s not always appropriate

Just like every other tool in existence, flipped learning is not always the answer and a flipped classroom does not need to be flipped 100% of the time. Not all material works well in a flipped learning classroom and instructors must know when to use this model. AGreuter_Socrates flipped model works best when you need skill mastery or behavior change, it’s not so great if your course is inquiry based with little factual content, or if you’re Socrates.

Instructor time and skills

Flipped learning instructors need to be confident enough in both their subject and facilitation methods to flexibly respond to each unique classroom situation. Flipping a classroom often means that existing instructors may need to learn new skills. They will also have to spend a good amount of time, especially in the initial stages of flipping the classroom, in order to convert lectures to a format that can be used by students outside of class and to prepare in class activities. For this reason, Sams and Bergmann suggest starting out slowly when entering the flipped learning world.

Dog_ate_my_homework_SEO_promo_imageUnprepared students

With increased student responsibility comes the concern that students will come to the classroom unprepared. For mandatory or compliance related learning events, this concern is amplified. However, some solutions exist.

Course prerequisites that ensure completion of pre-work can exist in several forms. Learners may be required to participate in an online discussion or complete a quiz during meaning-making. Alternatively, if the pre-work is in the form of a video or online tutorial, completion may be required even before the learner can register for the in-person portion of the course. An LMS can assist in enforcing these prerequisites.

If possible, a change in culture can be a more effective way to ensure that pre-work is completed by students. In this case management, individual managers and trainers all need to be on the same page in reinforcing student responsibility and accountability.

Access to technology 

64501_c8ce881022_oThere are many options if access to technology or learner unfamiliarity are an issue, or if you’re just a luddite. First and foremost, highly produced videos and online courses are not required for a flipped course. While significant preparation is necessary, the initial information given to students does not need to be flashy – it can simply be some prereading. If videos and online resources are desired, they can be loaded on to a DVD or flash drive. In addition, smart phones are often available when other technologies are not.


Next up: Handy dandy tools for flipping the workplace

In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions about flipped learning you’d like me to address in this series! And here are some resources for a little extra reading.

Educause. (2012, February 7). 7 things you should know about flipped classrooms. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7081.pdf

Gilbert, S. (2013, January 26). Flipped classrooms webinar. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://melearningsolutions.com/2013/01/26/flipped-classrooms-recorded-webinar/

Hamdan, N., McKnight, P., McKnight, K., & Arfstrom, K. (2013). A review of flipped learning. Retrieved from http://www.flippedlearning.org/cms/lib07/VA01923112/Centricity/Domain/41/LitReview_FlippedLearning.pdf

Lee, B. & Recker, J. (2013, May 23). How to apply the flipped classroom model for buisiness learning. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.elearningguild.com/olf/olfarchives/index.cfm?id=1051&action=viewonly

Partridge, A. (2013, August 28). What is a flipped classroom and how can it help me? Rapid eLearning: Adobe Presenter Blog. [Web log]. Retrieved from http://blogs.adobe.com/presenter/2013/08/what-is-a-flipped-classroom-and-how-can-it-help-me.html

Sams, A. & Bergmann, J. (2013) Flip your students’ learning. Educational Leadership, 70(6), 16-20. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar13/vol70/num06/Flip-Your-Students%27-Learning.aspx


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