Course flipping: An overview and resources

by Ashley Grantham and Daniel Davis

Course flipping is becoming increasingly prevalent in K-12 and higher education learning environments. At its most basic, flipping a course means that the relationship between lecture and homework is reversed. In other words, course flipping is a way of using technology tools outside of the classroom to support a more engaging atmosphere inside the classroom. Students gain a basic mastery of course content using videos, articles, or other instructor-provided materials and come to class prepared to discuss the concepts with others and engage in active learning activities such as small group work, problem sets, and case studies. In the flipped model, the faculty member is shifting his or her role in the physical classroom from that of lecturer to facilitator of ideas.

Preparing to flip a class can be time-intensive; however, the benefits of course flipping to students are numerous. Recent work by Russell Mumper (2013) of UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy on the flipped classroom showed gains in test scores and student satisfaction when a basic pharmaceutics course was flipped. While traditionally students study and practice on their own outside of class, in the flipped class, students benefit from working with peers with the support of the classroom instructor, hopefully reducing confusion about course content and anxiety about learning the material.

When planning the flipped course, it is important to focus on outcomes rather than putting your energies primarily toward video creation. First, determine your learning objectives and decide what interactions and projects would support students in achieving your targeted outcomes. Then, ask yourself how your online activities can support your in-class activities and vice-versa.
Creating assignments that begin online, then carry over into the face-to-face classroom and then back again are a powerful way to keep students engaged in a process. You can also think through what is currently working well in your non-flipped, or traditional, classroom. Of those activities, which would work best online (preparation, reflection, organizing, etc.) and which activities would be best in the physical classroom (feedback, debate, synthesizing, collaborating, problem-solving)? Having the online and physical classrooms complement each other is the single most important part of the flipped design model.

You’ll additionally want to consider what tech tools to use. Keep the number of tools limited and make sure that any learning curve that might be involved for students acclimating themselves to the tool will pay significant dividends in what it allows them to learn.

Finally, reflect on what went well. This can mean just gathering some anecdotal data from your observations during the course; however, consider using a survey instrument at the end of the course or throughout. Similarly, you can ask your colleagues for feedback. Remember, DELTA is always available to assist in assessment and redesign.

You are not alone in your journey, whether you are experimenting with a flipped model for the first time or have taught a flipped course for several semesters or years. You can always call upon the instructional specialists at DELTA by requesting a consultation for your course. Members of the DELTA team will sit down with you to learn about the goals for your course and help you achieve those goals through a variety of methods depending on your needs. DELTA staff can support you in everything from creating an overall design for your course to suggesting technology tools to providing examples of the many activities they have seen be successful in the past.