What makes it a flipped classroom course?
The ‘flipped’ refers to requiring students to learn course content at home and doing assigned problems in class. An advantage of a flipped course is that it allows for increased interaction between instructor and students. Students in science courses typically struggle with mathematically problem solving more than course content. The flipped approach allows me to work more with students on areas where they have difficulties.
How is class time organized?
Students are required to view a Prezi presentation (incorporating slides, simple animation, voice over and video) and review the relevant section of the textbook before class. The students are given the opportunity to identify areas of difficulty on a course Facebook page prior to the class. Class starts with a short quiz to test if students have reviewed the material appropriately. I will then spend a couple of minutes to review material that students identified as problematic and stress important concepts. Students then work through assigned problems in groups of three. Questions are provided on an online platform (Sapling Learning). The instructor circulates to help students and give hints to the class when necessary. Most questions are completed in class, any uncompleted questions are the responsibility of the student to complete before the deadline.
View my prezi presentation about the course here.
Pros and Cons of Flipped Courses
The flipped classroom is a form of blended learning which puts the emphasis of learning course material on the students in order to free up time in the classroom for active learning activities. As with any teaching method, there are pros and cons of the approach:
- Increased interaction between instructor and students. Traditional lectures tend to be passive learning experiences with little interaction between instructor and students.
- Allows more problem solving and active learning experiences. Education research suggests that these experiences improve student learning.
- More effective use of instructor time. Instructors can spend more time helping students with activities they find challenging and less time teaching content students may find easily understandable.
- Earlier intervention. The flipped classroom allows learning difficulties to be recognized earlier, whether class-wide or individual students.
- Develops teamwork. Students can be organized in groups for classroom activities.
- Peer learning. Students help one another which is beneficial for students of all abilities.
- Preparation time. To prepare an effective flipped classroom course can take significantly more time than a traditional lecture.
- Student response. Although I haven’t seen it in my course, the “I had to teach myself” criticism in likely.
- Effectively replacing the lecture. Lectures are effective mechanisms for providing information. The difficulty is how to effectively replace them. Effective use of technology can help here.
- Ensuring compliance. How do we make sure students are completing assigned work in their own time. Quizzes can help. Ultimately students are hurting themselves by not completeting assigned work.
- Class size. My class is relatively small. Effective active learning for large classes may require different strategies
Quick Guide to Prezi
Prezi is cloud-based presentation software using a story telling approach to present ideas on a virtual canvas. The main advantage of prezi is in the ability to present material in a non-linear way (in contrast to Powerpoint). Material can be presented as a concept map and students are able to “dip in” at any point. Prezi allows for voice overs, simple animation, videos, web links and images in addition to text.