Increasingly, educators are experimenting with a “flipped” format for their courses. In a flipped classroom, the emphasis is shifted from a teacher-centred, to a student-centred approach. The material that was previously presented in lecture format is available online, and face-to-face class time is used for more interactive student-centred activities. Bergmann and Sams (2012) coined the phrase ‘flipped classroom’ for this teaching approach, also called inverse instruction methodology (IIM). Recounting how the flipped classroom approach began, Bergmann & Sams (2012, p.5) asked this question:
In the past, a problem with any non-classroom or distance learning in general, was the consumers’ hardware and software requirements. Fortunately, in 2017 this hurdle has been largely overcome and most students can access sophisticated online multimedia content away from the classroom. In fact, many students are already using this ability to look at funny cat videos during a lecture.
The flipped classroom is the best of both worlds and has potential benefits for professors as well as the students. Most professors would gladly exchange lecturing for meaningful interaction and dialogue with their students. Classroom activities will vary depending on the course subject but the online content should not be neglected. We need to recognize that the nature and quality of the online content in a flipped classroom course has a significant impact on the student experience and outcomes.
In reality, a flipped class room is not merely the swapping of two existing pedagogies. Switching to an IIM typically creates two distinctly new and different teaching methodologies; in, and out of, class.
Recent advances in technology have enabled new ways of presenting course material outside of the classroom. Using mobile devices, students can access high quality, multimedia course content almost anywhere, anytime; on the bus, at the gym, on the couch. Educators should recognize and seize this technological opportunity to improve their students learning experience. There is great potential to make the out-of-class multimedia pedagogy superior to a traditional lecture.
How can educators best take advantage of the technological opportunity to replace the classroom lectures? The quality of the lecture replacement is important and in 2017, it’s possible to go beyond merely home movies of the instructor reading power point slides, and recognize the potential for well-produced online multimedia presentations. The technology has matured to the point where educators can create and present material, using modern multimedia techniques, that is not just equivalent, but superior to a traditional lecture. The combination of text, sound and graphics provides a richer educational experience with greater pedagogical opportunities. For example: consider the work of Vi Hart , RSAnimate whiteboard videos or infographics.
Have a look at Vi Hart’s video on Fibonacci numbers from Vi Hart’s Doodling in Math series on YouTube. In the video, Vi seemingly doodles with pen and paper to explore how the Fibonacci sequence shows up in nature. She later uses glitter glue on a pine cone to illustrate the Fibonacci sequence. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahXIMUkSXX0[/youtube]
There’s something about RSAnimate’s use of a time-lapse whiteboard that grabs your attention. If it was just the narration it wouldn’t be nearly as effective. Close your eyes and see what I mean; [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U[/youtube]
Using pictures, sound and text together to present an idea is not new, Hollywood and Madison Ave. have been perfecting multimedia for over 100 years and the combination of text and visuals goes back even farther;
Few teachers were hired for their ability to produce sophisticated multimedia presentations and many have little experience in this area. To fully realize the potential of online course content, inexperienced educators could seek existing online multimedia resources, like the textbook model, where creation is left to content experts. If creating their own curriculum, I believe educators could benefit from collaboration with technical and artistic partners. Many campuses or school districts will already have these resources available and there is potential for mutually beneficial partnerships between faculty, students, and personnel from Visual and Performing Arts and IT in the collaborative creation of diverse online content.
I’d like to hear from you about your experiences, opinions, and ideas on the use of multimedia in the flipped classroom. Here are some questions to get things started:
- What form of lecture replacements have you used or seen?
- Do you have any examples of interesting online resources you’d like to share?
- What resources are available to you in creating online content for a flipped classroom?
- Would your students be able to access a variety of online content?
- What are some best practices when considering/creating online content for a flipped classroom?
- Wouldn’t creating online content for a flipped classroom be a good opportunity to implement UDL?
Mayer, R. (2014). Multimedia instruction. In J. M. Spector et al (eds.), Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology, pp 385-399. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614- 3185-5_31
Bergmann, J. & Sams, A. (2012). Flip your classroom: reach every student in every class every day. Eugene, Or. Alexandria, Va: International Society for Technology in Education ASCD.