Rethinking Learning Using a Flipped Model

Flipped Learning

The Flipped Learning Model describes a reversal of the traditional teaching model. Instead of students first being introduced to concepts for the first time through lectures in a class, students are first introduced to concepts through material outside of the class, such as by readings or short videos. In the flipped model, class time is primarily used for analyzing, discussing, and working with content.

Jonathan Bergmann, a former teacher, pioneer of the flipped model term, and co-founder of the Flipped Learning Network presented at this year’s BBWorld Conference along with his Flipped Learning 3.0: The Operating System for the Future of Corporate Talent Development co-author, Errol St. Clair Smith. The two described the flipped model as consisting of the following:

  1. Instructors create “micro” videos and shares course resources
  2. Students watch the videos and class resources, noting questions
  3. Instructors use class time to answer student questions
  4. Activities such as labs, quizzes, and discussions groups allow students to use class time to interact with each other and better understand course concepts
Flipped Learning
Traditional vs Flipped Class


Bergman describes the flipped model as a reverse Bloom’s Taxonomy pyramid. Traditionally, educators spend the bulk of their time on the understanding level, presenting and introducing concepts and theory. In the flipped model, students work more in the application, analysis, evaluation, and creation stages. This allows instructors a chance to provide guidance and one-on-one assistance while students work collaboratively to solve problems. Proponents of the flipped model outline the benefits as promoting active learning and collaboration.

The face-to-face and hybrid course modalities can use technology to facilitate a flipped model easily–utilizing the online environment to enhance in-person class time. This blended approach was specifically designed for instruction on these modalities, where physical face time is supplemented with outside work and technology. With this in mind, is flipping an online course possible? While many elements of the flipped model are considered best-practices in online courses, such as supplementing the course content with videos and other resources, the real essence of the flipped model is its focus on student engagement and interaction. Fully online courses tend to have limited or no face time and do not have specific class meetings times, but the core principles of the flipped model can also benefit online courses. The Flipped Learning Network recommends the following four pillars to achieve flipped learning. These are listed below along with ways they can also benefit your online course.

Four pillars of F-L-I-P:

  • Flexible Environment: Students choose when and where they learn. Class expectations and assessment timelines are flexible. Online courses are great at helping meet this as students are able to log-in at their own schedule, even when following set due dates to keep them on track. Content and assignment submission is done within the Learning Management System, but keep in mind that learning and application of concepts does not all have to be confined to the LMS.

  • Learning Culture: Instruction is shifted to a learner-centered approach causing students to be involved in the construction of knowledge. The instructor is not seen as the primary source of information. Online, this can be achieved through organizing content in increasing difficulty, with basic material in the course leading to harder concepts, and allowing students to collaborate on assignments to create presentations, analyze information, or discuss course concepts.

  • Intentional Content: The instructor curates resources that students can handle on their own and creates content and/or lectures for material students may need guidance on. In online courses, much of the material is accessed by students on their own. Providing multiple formats for content can help meet accessibility requirements and provide students with additional methods to review material. Instructors can create detailed instructions and provide student feedback for more complex material or assignments. Synchronous meetings can also be used to answer student questions.

  • Professional Educator: While the focus in the flipped model is less on the instructor, this role is still vital for the course’s success. Instructors guide learning, observe activity in the course, reflect on student outcomes, and provide timely and relevant feedback. Online students, who may never see their instructor in person can benefit from an active instructor presence. Analytics tools can also assist instructors in monitoring activity and setting up alerts for students who are falling behind.

Flipped learning can be valuable in traditional face-to-face and hybrid courses, but fully online courses do not have to miss out on the benefits of the flipped model. In essence, the flipped approach promotes student engagement with instructors, peers, and course content. These benefits can be helpful to student success in any learning modality.

Resources:

Erika Huezo is a Senior Instructional Designer at FIU Online, Florida International University’s online learning unit. She joined FIU Online in 2010 as a Course Developer, helping to create an introduction to online teaching course for faculty and assisted with the department’s implementation of the Quality Matters (QM) program standards. Erika works closely with faculty to create engaging learning environments and keeps current with instructional theories, tools, and trends.

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