What Is a Flipped Classroom?
The flipped classroom is a blended approach to teaching and learning that includes face-to-face class time and online components.
In a flipped classroom model, the traditional order of lecture and homework are reversed. In a flipped class, students watch lecture video, view demonstrations or access other course content outside of class then use face-to-face class time for more interactive activities.
Example: In her Introduction to Child Nutrition flipped class, Maya Adam recorded videos that she posted online for students to watch at their own pace outside of class and then used face-to-face time to engage students in real-life applications of topics.
Why Teach a Flipped Class?
Moving basic content online (e.g., introduction to foundational concepts, definitions, theories) as out-of-class activities that students can do at their own pace provides more opportunities for active learning and collaboration during in-class time.
A flipped class approach can:
- enhance instructor-student and student-to-student interactions
- help to foster a sense of community (especially in large lecture courses)
- allow students more control over when, where, and how to engage in the learning process
“I had the ability to engage the students more because I wasn’t worried about getting these really difficult physiological concepts across to them in the lecture because they came in with that background” Maya Adam commented about her flipped classroom teaching experience. Her students reported that the “the use of online mini lectures [was] amazing. It is infinitely more engaging than reading from a textbook."
How to Communicate with Students
Flipped class instructors have a variety of ways to communicate with students and facilitate student-to-student interaction. It’s important to consider what’s best communicated face-to-face and what is better suited to an online environment. Some of the most valuable uses of in-class time include, giving advice, focusing content, brainstorming, pacing of studies and enhancing community.
- In-Person Interactions
- Learning Management System (e.g., CourseWork) or Platform (e.g., OpenEdX)
Developing a Flipped Class
Rather than flipping an entire course, you may want to experiment with just one class session. Here are some tips for getting started.
- Why are you doing the flip?
- Who are your learners? (What prior knowledge and skills do they have?)
- What do you want students to know and be able to do as a result of the flip?
Identify the parts of your course that would be the best fit for a flip.
- What are the most common student misconceptions?
- Where do students consistently get stuck?
- Which processes or procedures do you need to demonstrate more than once?
- What activities make sense to do online and which are better suited for in-class time?
- How will you assess student learning?
Determine what type of out-of-class content to develop that would best support student learning.
Some examples include:
- Short videos (under 5 minutes each) focusing in-depth on one concept at a time
- Lab demonstrations
- Worked examples of problems
- Create brief online quizzes to check for comprehension and help ensure that students are prepared for in-class activities
Set clear expectations for students about how the flipped class will work and what they’ll need to do to succeed.
Ideas for In-Class Activities:
See the Tools for Flipping section for additional ideas for in-class and out-of-class activities.
In a VPOL (now part of VPTL) flipped and blended course survey, case studies, discussion, and group projects were the most popular face-to-face activities among Stanford faculty.
Survey results showed that the most common out-of-class time pedagogy used was video lectures. Respondents reported that new content was delivered either through videos alone or a combination of videos, readings, and handouts. Historically, flipped courses have used videos as their main content delivery tool, attempting to provide students with a class-like lecture outside of class. For gauging student understanding or providing students with an opportunity to practice the new content, respondents deployed quizzes and assigned exercises or practice problems on the online platform.
Incorporate the input and feedback from the previous version(s) of the course to enhance what’s working, explore options for modifying or removing what did not work and experiment with new activities, innovative approaches and tools to address any gaps and to improve the learning experience.
Schedule a Consultation to Get Started
Interested in exploring options for flipping a class? We’d love to meet with you.
Tools for Flipping
Here are a variety of resources for teaching a flipped class. The links will take you to other pages where you can learn more.
- Stanford Teaching Commons Course Profiles
- Flipped Classroom FAQ (Center for Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning)
- Flipping the Classroom (Teaching Guide from the Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University)
- Recommended Practices for Use of In-Class Time
- Flipped Classroom Example (Stanford School of Medicine)
- Resources for the Inverted Biology Lecture (Biology Education Research Program, University of California at Irvine)
Resources from Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Texas at Austin: