Last month the University hosted ‘The Flipping Conference’ which began with an opportunity to experience flipped learning at first hand with the pre-conference materials being delivered online prior to the conference. You can read them here: Pre-conference Materials. Delivered as part of the pre-reading was a range of links giving information and examples and exploring the key ideas behind flipped learning, and including some useful advice from seasoned flippers such as Erik Mazur of Harvard and Chris Millet of Penn State: 6 Expert Tips for Flipping the Classroom
What is Flipped Learning?
So what is flipped learning all about? The Flipped Learning Network offers the following statement on the real potential benefit of flipping when it is carefully planned and executed, namely the personalisation of learning:
Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter. Flipped Learning Network.
Importantly then the choice of tool used to execute the pedagogical approach is completely flexible, depending on what particular issues or learning outcomes the lecturer is targeting. The University’s Flipping Project website makes the following suggestions:
Flipping is an approach that inverts the traditional way of teaching by delivering content outside the classroom and using face-to-face time for tackling the more difficult concepts, for problem-solving, discussion and other application of the material.
Content might be delivered using short videos or texts, with quizzes and other online activities to ensure independent learning takes place in preparation for scheduled contact time. The key feature of a flipped lecture or classroom is that this material is provided and studied before face-to-face contact time (lecture). Thus, rather than using time with the academic for simply receiving information, the students are given the opportunity to really benefit from the lecturer’s experience and expertise through focusing on the more difficult concepts, and through problem-solving, analysis, evaluation and synthesis of material, and other higher level activities.
If students are able to access materials outside the lecture, they can work at their own pace. ‘Flipping’ provides the lecturer with an approach for dealing with large classes, where students may be at different stages of understanding and skill, and provides time in lectures for more personal support. In-class activities might include individual problem-solving, group discussion, role playing (e.g. a discussion is staged as two or more sides of a debate), quizzes posed by the lecturer (using an electronic voting system), quizzes designed by the students and so on. http://flippingproject.wikispaces.com/Flipping!
Flipping then is a very flexible approach to curriculum design with the potential to realise huge benefits. I was interested in hearing how colleagues had gone about realising some of these benefits.
The Flipping Conference
At the morning workshop entitled ‘Classroom Activities’ Dr Helen King talked about possible approaches to pre-lecture materials. Students might be assigned reading or videos or other media to watch. But do the students always do the pre-session work? Yes, they do, as long as they are told that they have to, and as long the resources are made available in plenty of time for the lecture, allowing sufficient time for the students to engage properly with the content. Helen also advised the use of formative testing via Moodle to encourage students to engage with the materials and to enable the lecturer to see how students are progressing.
The afternoon strand that I attended was an interesting ‘Swap Shop’ involving a joint presentation from Dr Jane Setter and a colleague of the University of Reading on their experiences of flipping modules in 2013 that had been taught in traditional style in 2012. The students were studying modules in 'Linguistics' and 'Practice of Entrepreneurship' respectively. The presenters noted that assessment results suggested that students who have English as a foreign language, and dyslexic students, seemed to have particularly benefitted from flipping. English phonemic transcription from dictation test scores improved across the board on the 'Practice of Entrepreneurship' module, and increased numbers of EFL's achieved a 2:1 of higher when the module was flipped.
The same module also showed a significant improvement in overall student satisfaction with the flipped module, over the standard delivery in, even though the content and lecturer were the same. Both presenters also noted high levels of engagement (albeit not in the initial sessions) with the percentage of students viewing the pre-lecture videos rising from 10% at the outset of the flipped programme to 100% once the students realised that they were missing out if they didn’t participate.
On the 'Linguistics' module pre-lecture videos were delivered to the students via YouTube, and the presenters noted that the YouTube analytics tools were useful in measuring student engagement with the videos and that video content should not be too long (20 mins is enough) in order to keep students engaged.
Some examples of Jane’s flipped lectures can be viewed on YouTube:
* If you’re interested in exploring flipping in the School of Management or would like some ideas on how you might use technology to flip a class or part of a unit you can get in touch via: firstname.lastname@example.org