Summer Reading: Crash Course on Flipped Classrooms

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Biologists at the University of Washington recently released the findings of a meta-analysis on active learning in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) classes: students in lecture classes, across every discipline, are 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in active learning classes, involving discussion and in-class activities.

Similar results, albeit on a smaller scale, have been documented for legal education (see, for example, St. Thomas University). Law schools are experimenting with flipped classrooms: creating online video lectures for students to watch at home and filling class time with interactive, experiential activities. Last week we shared Aaron Dewald’s top five tips for creating online videos. For those considering or planning to flip a course, we rounded up the web’s best lessons about flipped classrooms. While most are not specific legal education, we feel that the lessons learned can be transferred:

Believe It

If you’re not sold on the concept, math professor Robert Talbert counters miscellaneous “flipped learning skepticism”: can flipped classrooms work if students lack access to technology or educators lack technological skill?; is flipped learning just self-teaching?; can students really learn on their own?; and do students want lectures? Likewise, TeachThought’s “10 Common Misconceptions about the Flipped Classroom” shatters the stereotype of STEM teachers creating their own “talking-head” videos because it’s trendy.

Eric Mazur

Eric Mazur

In “Confessions of a Converted Lecturer,” Harvard physics professor Eric Mazur gives a humorous and insightful presentation on his own misconceptions about lecturing and his classroom experience that changed his mind about the value of interactive activities. Mazur developed an early form of active learning known as peer instruction (see page 8) when he realized the shortcomings of the lecture format.

Study It

Recommended by Aaron Dewald, the flipped-classroom guru featured in last week’s post, Richard Meyer’s Multimedia Learning presents 12 principles of learning, abridged here, that can guide educators to craft effective videos. For instance, did you know that “people learn better [from multimedia presentations] when cues… highlight the organization of the essential material”?  To create online videos that meet a foundational level of learning, such as remembering and understanding, Dewald also consults “Bloom’s taxonomy,” which classifies learning into different cognitive processes.

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Bloom’s taxonomy

Rethink It

It seems that nearly every professor who has flipped a classroom has shared a cautionary tale on the web; thanks to them, nascent flippers can avoid the oversights that cause flipped classrooms to fail. Reflecting on their own first flips, Robert Talbert has a better appreciation of time management, communication, “marketing” the teaching method to students, while French teacher April Lynn Burton learned to establish buy-in, emphasize active listening, and keep herself present in the virtual classroom.

Design It

Kelly Walsh of EmergingEdTech.com has published Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book, a teacher’s guide, complete with exercises, that walks educators through the flipping process (see the Table of Contents here). On his blog, Walsh explains how to repurpose for flipped classrooms some tech tools you use in other settings, find a screencasting tool that fits, and borrow existing educational content for your own class.

Similarly, the University of Central Florida has a soup-to-nuts Blended Learning Toolkit, a website full of information on process and effective practices, model courses, evaluation resources, and more.

Lest we forget, flipped classrooms aren’t just about the online videos. Classroom time needs to be designed thoughtfully to dovetail with online videos and develop the faculties higher up in Bloom’s taxonomy, such as applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, a trainer and consultant in Whole Brain Thinking and Learning, explains how to cater to different types of learners, designing a course with a variety of interactive exercises.

Case studies and role plays make a great in-class addition to any flipped course. Want your students to debate the merits of online education? We have a FREE case study for that: MOOCs and Consequences for the Future of Education. Looking for negotiation videos that students can watch outside of class? Consider putting Critical Decisions in Negotiation 3-DVD Set on reserve at your institution.