Flipping the classroom

In previous posts I have written about my motivation for and experiences while making a MOOC. One of the reasons to make a MOOC of course is also to then use this material in traditional, on-campus education. That is what I did this year in my university course IN4400, I “flipped my classroom”. Too lazy to read? There is a video of me explaining this too.

What is flipping?

Flipping the classroom is where you flip the activities traditionally done at home with those done in the classroom. So homework goes from home to the class, while listening to the teacher goes from the class to home. Because teachers cannot visit all students at home, this lecturing is typically done with videos. But if you have given your students stuff to read and discussed that in class, you have been flipping a bit already.

I have three tips I found useful while flipping, but I think they might be useful for other contexts too.

Tip 1: Be a spy

So, if you give students assignments to read, view or do, how do you know they have done it? Well, you can check. If you run your own MOOC, this is easy. My MOOC had deadlines before class every week, so students just had to do it, because failing the MOOC meant failing the course. But, you can also do this via BlackBoard:

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Tip 2: Let students ask questions

Okay, so they have read your book or watches your videos. But, did they really understand? To test this, I let students submit a question every week, and I went over them in the lectures. This made the lectures interactive, fun for me and I made sure I explained things students actually wanted to learn. It is a bit harder than using the same slides every year, but I think it is worth it.

Tip 3: Let the students be teacher

I think it is not motivating for students to make assignments that no one will read but me, so I had students make YouTube videos about material. Useful for anyone, including me for my MOOC, I can use this as extra background material.

There is even scientific research that says that retention is higher when students think they will have to explain the material when they listen to it. Plus, I think it is a lot more fun to watch videos than to read assignments.

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