Saturday, February 8, 2014

Have You Flipped Your Classroom Yet?

Guest Blogger: Safro Kwame

Have you flipped your classroom or, rather, class – not physically, by rearranging the furniture, but conceptually -- yet? If not, why not; if you have, what are the results? I would like to know.

Here are some news reports on the flipped classroom:

Flipped Classrooms Provide a New Way of Learning, by Dean Reynolds, CBS News, January 19, 2014
There’s a new way for school kids to do their homework -- and perhaps, a ray of hope for the parents who frequently get called on to help. Check out the flipped classroom. At Warren Township High School in Gurnee, Ill, science teacher Collin Black helps kids do homework in class and sends his lectures home. Black and others who've embraced what's called the flipped classroom condense their lectures into a brief, homemade and often light-hearted video.  Students can digest the information outside of class whenever they like. The next day, they get their questions answered and apply the lesson with the teacher in the room. Educator Jon Bergmann, along with partner Aaron Sams, came up with the flipped classroom concept. It was originally designed for football players who missed class while on the road. Three percent of teachers are flipping classrooms now, 18 percent have expressed interest and 28 percent of school administrations want to do it, according to Project Tomorrow, a national education nonprofit group. (read more...)
The Condensed Classroom:"Flipped" classrooms don't invert traditional learning so much as abstract it, by Ian Bogost, The Atlantic Monthly, August 27, 2013
 This year, more university students and professors will encounter a trend that has come to be known as "flipping the classroom." It's been largely associated with massive open online courses (MOOCs), that edu-tech vogue committed to delivering classes to large numbers of students all at once via video lectures and automated assessments conducted over the Internet. (read more ...)
Turning Education Upside Down, by Tina Rosenberg, The New York Times, October 9, 2013
Three years ago, Clintondale High School, just north of Detroit, became a “flipped school” — one where students watch teachers’ lectures at home and do what we’d otherwise call “homework” in class. Teachers record video lessons, which students watch on their smartphones, home computers or at lunch in the school’s tech lab. In class, they do projects, exercises or lab experiments in small groups while the teacher circulates. Clintondale was the first school in the United States to flip completely — all of its classes are now taught this way. Now flipped classrooms are popping up all over.  (read more...)
Flipped Schools:Homework At School, Lectures At Home, by Tom Ashbrook, On Point, NPR, November 5, 2013
Some teachers, even whole schools, are now “flipping” their days — doing homework in class, watching lectures at home. Is this the future of school? (read more...)
More Teachers 'Flipping' The School Day Upside Down, by Grace Hood, NPR, All Things Considered, December 7, 2012,
Welcome to the 21st century classroom: a world where students watch lectures at home — and do homework at school. It's called classroom flipping, and it's slowly catching on in schools around the country. (read more...)


  1. I have not “flipped” my class per se, but I have incorporated some techniques that might be considered part of a flipped classroom. I am big on the writing process at all stages, so I incorporate various classroom activities that allow student writers to write in the classroom as well give and receive some peer (or instructor) review. In my advanced composition class (ENG 311), we have built a working day into our normal schedule where students bring a draft of their assignment in process. We talk about the assignments and can give each other help. We also design a rubric together using primary trait scoring (a concept for another blog post). The learning becomes very constructivist and fun. However, I have noticed that students don’t always respond well when the traditional classroom structure is subverted. Many seem institutionalized by a teacher centered classroom and have a hard time adjusting to a different pedagogy.
    So, Kwame, have you flipped?

  2. Bill, thanks for your comments and observation: "students don’t always respond well when the traditional classroom structure is subverted."

    As to whether I have flipped yet, my answer is "not yet, but I am thinking about doing it."

    Safro Kwame

  3. I have never participated in a flipped classroom. However, it sounds like a great idea, especially if you are using a problem-based learning approach. In some instances, I think the class will be more enjoyable for the students. I tend to fall asleep when I have to watch a movie. Yet, if I were to watch it at home, I could watch it for a while, take a nap ☺, watch the rest of it, come to the next class, and discuss it with my peers or work in a group setting to solve a problem-related assignment. The only problem with watching movies is making sure everyone has access to the movie. I think you would see improvements in students integrating, retaining, and transferring the learning. LHML 309 is set up specifically for a flipped classroom environment.

    Bill, have you seen improvements in the students' learning with the techniques you have incorporated?

    Kwame, I think you should try it, and write another blog on how it worked out ☺!

  4. Thanks Brenda! I wonder how "LHML 309 is set up specifically for a flipped classroom environment," conceptually and not just physically.

  5. Kwame,
    "how "LHML 309 is set up specifically for a flipped classroom environment," conceptually and not just physically. "

    I will post my thoughts on this tomorrow. I am swamped today with assignments and a b-day party.


  6. Kwame,

    I think the flipped classroom helps to promote lifetime learning by helping the learners to become more confident in their ability to learn independently. In my opinion, LHML 309 is designed for group work in a flipped classroom. (My boss may have other ideas.) However, the tables are moveable so individual work is possible if the learners bring their own device or if the instructor borrows iPads for use in that particular class.

    You can video your lectures and upload to YouTube or Creative Commons. I know my boss is working on devising a convenient method for professors to video their lectures.

    Professor Barba in the following website agrees that the challenge is designing class activities.

    I read about a flipped classroom where the students were given a video or several short videos to watch along with quiz prep questions. In the class, the students were given a short quiz based on the prep questions. The quizzes were incentives for the students to prepare for class. Then, the learners were provided with activities to reflect on, discuss, and practice. This could be instructor led or student led or students completing assigned tasks with guidance from the instructor as needed. This study implemented the following in-class activities: instructor led demonstrations of new concepts or previous concepts, group activities, and open lab time to work on projects.
    (Looking at the Impact of the Flipped Classroom Model of Instruction on Undergraduate Multimedia Students at CSUN. By: Enfield, Jacob. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning. Nov2013, Vol. 57 Issue 6, p14-27. 14p. DOI: 10.1007/s11528-013-0698-1)

    Another option besides a quiz is to start the class with a question and answer period. The student must come to class with a question related to the readings/video/s.

    Here is a concept I think would work in LHML 309, which promotes problem solving and creativity:

    Give the learners a problem to solve based on their readings or video or lecture. You may have them create a mind map, word cloud, or blog to present the solution. The students can collaborate at the workstations in that room. I think there are four in that room. The presentations, created at the workstations, can be projected on the main screen in the front of the room for further collaboration with the whole class. The professor facilitates the learning.

    Links to tools I like and use:
    Word Clouds

    Mind Mapping Tool
    (This tool has to be downloaded to the computer, which will require IT assistance.)


    The learners can collaborate by using a wiki outside of the classroom.


  7. Thanks, again, Brenda!

    Safro Kwame


    We learn from a textbook, a video, classroom questions and explanations presented by a person as traditional sources of knowledge. Learning from these sources, anywhere, anytime, or place is a very good idea if it is combined with an external examination to test what was learnt.

    All of the certification programs such as the medical association, the bar examination, the CPA, nurses exam, etc. have this requirement. Excellence is their goal. Students must learn and pass those testing requirements to claim success in what they have learnt.

    The British have had similar learning arrangements. You study at home or anywhere else and take externally supervised examinations. The materials and textbook you study from tends to make a big difference. The teachers are mere facilitators, who share wisdom and explanations. Learning then becomes the responsibility of the student.

    I recall studying Wolseley Hall Correspondence course and various examples on the University of London external examinations in mathematics, statistics, physics, chemistry, biology, and English. I studied these materials for exams, did high school laboratories, and read a lot before taking written external exams.

    I can see the value of flipping if it involves studying high quality materials in print or electronic form delivered anywhere, anytime. However, I believe that we must pay close attention to testing what was learnt from flipping or we may end up just ‘learning or teaching to the test’. Yes, ‘learning only what is necessary.’ I do not see how flipping promotes lifetime learning if the authoritative source of learning is not a major part of studying during the flip, an old version of British external exams.

    I am glad that no one has dared to inform our readers that we learn from a smartphone, an iphone, an ipad or a computer without textbook subscriptions. I see many students all wired up with these devices and I wonder how many have the appropriate textbook access. Perhaps one of these days all courses will be movies, all knowledge will be songs, and all laboratories will be dances.

    Finally, I would like to thank Kwame to host this blog, Bill for emphasizing his writing process in the classroom draft, and Brenda supporting for independent student learning. I believe in teaching a student how to teach oneself through writing. ‘Writing is Learning.’

    Ganga Ramdas

    1. I think it is a great idea because it will utilize the professors time wisely. Students can easily read a book and power point slide on their own, however if they were able to use teachers direct insight, it could avoid frustration. Students tend to disregard homework when they do not understand or feel overwhelmed, and having the teachers present to assist with assignments would eliminate that problem. Students are indulged when participating in hands on, not just being "talked" to you in the forms of lectures. Additionally, it would show if the students understand the content read instead of demonstrating it when they fail a test (when its obviously too late). If this method is being used, it crucial that students still remain balanced and not dependent on assistance for everything. The current generation is a smartphones and technology based generation. Teachers should utilize that to their advantage, like "hash tagging" their opinions on a social network, or figuring out how their peers on social media feel as well about certain topics. This could be a great happy median for both professors and student engagement.

      Amani Clark -

  9. Great points, Ganga and Amani. Thanks for your input!

    Safro Kwame

  10. As a student, in my senior year, and as a student who was also attended classes in China, I would suggest the following; whilst flipping the classroom gives a new spin on the way students are taught from a professor, it should not entirely replace the traditional methods. I believe a balance of both is required in order to achieve maximum effectiveness. The traditional method of teaching is losing it touch as our generation it high technical, in my opinion to continue teaching in this style is not only a sure fire way to lose the attention of the students, it is not plausible to expect generations upon generations to hold onto "the past." Most students in our generation view everything online, as an example, music we listen to is downloaded, we watch movies, or read something online during and in between meals, we are connected to Facebook 24/7 with social networking apps that allow us to stay connected without a log off. Since we are connected to technology without pause, teaching should reflect that. If classes are flipped to the extent where I can listen to my material in the confines of my room, I am more inclined to access the information.
    Another thing, our generations idea of school is not that of classes on a strict schedule, we are a highly social generation, solo individual work is like oil and water to us, we constantly need to interact with other, or else our attention span wavers during an instructional period, this results in excessive cellphone use, conversations with others while the professor is lecturing etc. If the classrooms are more so, teamwork based during class time, with projects, group activities, something engaging I believe that more productivity can be expected. Our generation is often described as "narcissistic," in my Business Law class, taught by professor Powell, he often tells us, hearing and listening is not the same thing, we have to be able to hear the details in keywords in a phrase or sentence. If a professor is lecturing and we missed something, we will hardly ever raise our hands to ask the professor to repeat what he or she said. In fact, we hardly even raise our hands, if were tuned out of a lesson, and tune back in, were most likely lost at that point, and not going to let it seem as such, so we simply, wait the class period out. If the classroom is flipped, I can simply rewind something a processor said in an audio or video file until I truly understood what is said.
    My last point, I believe a classroom overhaul and restructure, is almost demanded. Traditional go to class, sit in for the lecture and do homework is not befitting of us, homework in and of itself is rather a lost method of teaching. Things such as sitting at a desk is too traditional, in China, I sometimes had language class outside the classroom, we went to the Mao Zedong statue to interact with other students, for finance class, we went to a lounge to discuss what we read, what we heard, what we thought, we even had lunch at the school with the professor, and as a result, our bond with the professor was more personal, we need variety, I personally loathe to repeat the same patterns every Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Movies are something that add a variety, why not assign a movie then discuss? We students are great debaters why not debate a topic? the classroom will liven up, perhaps even a trip if it was plausible, my point being, it takes a lot to keep a student attentive, it is just how our generation is. If the professors cannot relate to us, how can we relate to them? We need variety, something new to the classroom, less homework, more teamwork, less lecturing, more supplementing with other sources.
    Daniel Cooper, senior

    1. And for professors that call on students for cellphones, even though the student is wrong, that is something needs a different method than shouting about it. Embarrassing the student, since again, we are referred to as a narcissistic generation will only anger us, while I am not the target of which, I observe and can say, doing such only causes the student to become spiteful to the professor for the public embarrassment and will either resort to our venting against the professor which affects class time, or increases the use of the phone since we are more prone to tune out the professor and everyone else, in an escape from the situation. We have an "I am an island" mentality and a student can go as far as not caring to be dropped from the class, even from a major, in an effort to keep ones image, and not suffer the embarrassment.
      Daniel Cooper

    2. I am just eager to learn what is best for the student. I will make changes after midterm based on the feedback I have received:

      A: Come to class with cell phone only and no text subscription of the textbook to show proof of purchase--no investment in course?

      B: Just a cell phone - that distracts and engages the student, as well as other students.

      C: A textbook plus a notebook (simplest learning-See Gardner and Jeweler-Course FYE 150: 'A textbook is the notebook', page 87.

      D: Student draft - work in progress and questions etc. [Like Bill's comments in ENG 311 above.

      E: Other - please specify

      Same questions for other equipment and wireless devices, including a computer

      G. Ramdas

    3. Reply to Mr. Cooper Senior and the China experience etc.

      Make the centerpiece the course reading materials, videos, assignments, and work in progress drafts, notwithstanding the benefits of social media and its high communication value to the individual student.

      Timeliness is of the essence-a student readiness to join a class to make sure that everyone is on the same page etc. I am sure the new ways can point to a common timeframe for participating.

      I like Mr. Cooper’s distinction between ‘hearing,’ a feedback that student reaffirms when asked individually if that student understands what was just said. I am not sure whether or not students understood or listened to advice on how to prepare course materials and be able to enter the world of work as a competitive scholar.

      The comment on varieties of environments by moving to different locations could be factored in student fees for transportation etc. This is not the same as ‘flipping’ students in this blog. The flipped refocus is on the materials for that particular course.

      Some courses are quite rigorous and mathematically based, especially business applications courses, such as Finance as referenced above. Other courses are on the more communication side. Debates could be factored in through discussion question posed in the classroom. Few students are ready to share their content knowledge in the classroom when asked a question based on the material, such as a PowerPoint presentation or what students were supposed to have read before coming to class.

      The tradeoffs, less at home, more during one hour teamwork in the class. I am sure that there are writing assignments that could qualify. Ten minutes discussion. Thirty minutes writing and posting to D2L at that time. Mr. Cooper has a great point here!

      G. Ramdas

  11. I think this would be a good idea because it would use the professor and students time wisely. It would use the students time wisely because the students would spend class time actually putting what they learned to use so they can get a deeper, clear understanding of what they learned. The students would be able to ask questions that they have about homework and what they are learning. Also students learn in different ways. Therefore being able to have the lectures before class would give students the ability to learn in the best way possible for them. Overall the students would get a better understanding of the topics because they can do the work at there own pace and have time to ask questions in class. The benefit for the professors is that they would not just be talking to a class full of students not paying attention. A lot of students don't pay attention because teachers repeat everyday that they have posted the PowerPoints online or the students will be emailing themselves or the teacher will email them the PowerPoint. Therefore the students feel that they do not have to pay attention because they can just look at the PowerPoint on their own time and learn then. Another benefit is that teachers will be able to go more in-depth about topics and be able to ask the students questions in class. This is due to the fact that each student learned in the best way for them giving them a better understanding of the topic.

    Nicole Wallace

    1. Interesting comment Nicole.

      The PowerPoint is not a substitute for the textbook. We should make the centerpiece of learning the textbook and possibly articles and journals in the field in which authors have stored society's cumulative knowledge.

      Of course, there are other learning objectives that could complement and enhance textbook knowledge, such as videos and fieldtrips. We should continue to create a knowledge based society and allow wisdom to flow from recognized experiences.

      G. Ramdas

  12. Well the whole concept of flipping the class is more of a mental thing. I believe that you can not rearrange a class before you rearrange the mind set of yourself. In saying this, I believe in order for me to flip my class I have to flip myself. I think that it starts from the teacher on down to the students. If the students feel as though the teacher is not giving them the material to learn then they are not going to want to embrace the classroom as such because they feel they are not getting the material needed. This is just my opinion why I haven't flipped my classroom yet.

    1. I endorse your comments ShaDonna.

      We must focus on knowledge and experience in order to internalize high values in a competitive graduate.

      G. Ramdas

  13. "Flipping" the classroom could definitely be a more effective way of getting students to learn. As long as the student is able to understand and accept that he/she is responsible for listening/reading to the lecture BEFORE class. This method becomes ineffective if the student comes to class without any preparation and expects the professor to teach them the entire chapter over again.

    The same thing goes for the professors as well. If the professor is not an expert in the subject matter (as he should be), then he will not be able to help the student understand his homework.

    -Daniel Mammah

  14. “The lecture-style classroom is itself a product of industrialism, a tool meant to train students to sit quietly and conform to a single set of processes and ideas. No matter the learning content deployed in a classroom, its form embraces a disciplinary practice purpose-built for the factory or corporation who might later hire its compliant graduates.”

    I believe flipped classrooms still rely on the lecture as their principal building block. In a typical classroom students listen to lectures. In a flipped classroom, students still listen to lectures - they just do so as homework, edited down into pleasurably digestible chunks. The lecture is alive and well, it's just been turned into a sitcom.

    But the question is, “How many students are going to listen to that lecture online, when they can’t even pay attention in the classroom (in front of the professor)?”

    In reality, digging deeper than hearsay is a hallmark of university education. Classes in all disciplines ask students to engage with primary and secondary materials beforehand.

    First exposure to material is to come from doing the reading that is assigned for that day's class. The problem is that students in some classes don't do the reading. The students who aren't doing the reading will watch the videos? Anyone have any evidence?

    I have always felt that often we don't need technology or anything fancy to improve learning. Just teach kids how to study:
    1. Read the chapter before class, and do some assigned review exercises.
    2. Go to class, listen, and ask questions.
    3. Go home and reread the chapter and do the hard and synthesis exercises.
    4. Seek help for whatever you can't do at office hours.
    I think reading decent textbooks, solving problems, and learning from those who have mastered a subject, combined with a student's desire to learn and strong willingness to work, are all that is needed, and these latter resources are far more widely available than are specialized electronic ones.

    However, I believe the flipped classroom works well with upper courses where the students are presumably more motivated. In lower courses, students are less likely to watch the videos and the professor ends up spending class time lecturing anyway.

    Stanford Ganyo

    1. Obviously this is a good topic, to judge by the conversation it has sparked! Thanks, Kwame, for bringing it up.

      The concept, it seems to me, is one that is worthwhile investigating. I've always thought that students have to do the bulk of their learning outside of class hours, even though that doesn't always happen. Or maybe doesn't usually happen.. Perhaps the value of the whole "flipping classroom" idea is the fact that it causes teachers to rethink what class time should most effectively be used for and what kind of learning materials we can give students to help them learn more independently. I suspect that the answers will differ according to subject matter and to age and maturity and motivation of students. But it has made me think about how best to spend the limited face-to-face time I have. That could be lecturing for some, it could be demonstrations for others, it could be Q and A, group activities, the list goes on. That would make a good topic for another week's blog discussion: what do teachers do during class time that they think has the most positive effect on student learning?

  15. Thanks to everyone for the insightful comments and observations!

    Safro Kwame

  16. As the Flipped Classroom refers to a new innovative method of providing students with the best learning styles in today’s society. In a typical class setting, one would read their textbook or listen to the instructor and practice simple procedures during school hours and complete assignments and data analysis afterwards on their own time with no assistance from professionals. Meanwhile, in a flipped classroom the delivery method is different, students work during class hours reviewing information and analyzing data with assistance from peers and professors and listen to the lecture or read the textbook at home, working at their own speed and understanding. Although it appears as though the student may be teaching himself, it is advantageous in numerous ways. You are privy to the lecture first hand to dissect it, reword and understand what you will, formulate questions on what it is you do not understand and then provide your professor with your concerns to better understand the material. Another thing is once this is done, you will always have access to lectures to review rather than the notes you would have scribbled in class while listening to your teacher dictate.
    How would you test a student’s knowledge from watching videos and movies? Well, one way I see fit would be to discuss the presented information in the classroom and lead students to various ideas so that they may pinpoint problems and solutions to see if they truly process what is being taught and then provide them with a paper to write or a quiz to take to develop and elaborate these issues. At the end of the day however, not every student learns the same so for some the flipped classroom may be advantageous and the “normal” approach may be more appropriate. Considering the worlds gravitation to a technological world, allowing students to learn via the internet or gadgets are all relative to teaching as you should always try a new approach if it proves beneficial to students, the main cause for a teacher’s existence, because sooner or later students will be able to literally teach themselves with the use of a mere search engine.

    T Fountain

  17. Having flipped classrooms is a great and innovative way to teach. As time progresses, we as humans must progress with it. Students today are not going to retain information the same as students in the year 2000. With so much new technology surrounding us each day, it is important that we utilize to its full potential. By taking advantage of our resources we could create a more effective system of learning. If we as a generation are able to create new systems of educating our youth, it would be a crime not to do so. Using this new technology to create educational systems could be very beneficial. This type of social change could be the difference between students memorizing information and actually retaining it. This would be a huge help to students and teachers across the nation. If students are retaining information while teachers are doing less work, then everybody wins.
    -Aaron Bennett

  18. From a student's perspective I do think that flipping the classroom is a great idea and should have happened years ago. I think this because I learn more visually and when the teacher talks non stop I tend to zone off and then not know what the teacher was talking about.This is also great because we live in a technology era and while doing homework I can admit I usually go on YouTube or other websites to clarify what the teacher taught in class especially when the teacher has to rush through certain topics in order to fit the whole curriculum in the allotted time. The only negative to flipping the classroom is the student may not actually read the lectures and just wait for the teacher to do a brief summary. But overall this is a great idea and it should be something more teachers should do more especially for students that are like me and learn more visually or at their own pace

    Ziane Mensah