I’ve been interested in the idea of the flipped classroom, or more specifically, lecture flipping for some time. For anyone who is wondering what I am talking about, it’s the idea that the students watch a video/screencast of all or part of the lecture in advance, enabling the lecture time to be used for more active learning, (like problem solving, etc). Last year I took my first steps by recording introductory screencasts for my Quantum Chemistry lectures, but everything in those screencasts was repeated in the lectures. The most extreme approach is to record the entire lecture; others produce screencasts covering material which is then built on in the lecture. For me, I suspect that a balance between these two would work best, if the module content is appropriate.
I see two main advantages of lecture flipping. The first is that it frees up time for more problem solving, which students generally don’t do enough of, and the second is that it encourages active learning and engagement. But that assumes a degree of engagement on the part of students which is by no means universal! In discussions with some of the main exponents of the method, the view tends to be that you have not to worry about those who don’t engage, since the responsibility is with them. I have to say that I am not entirely comfortable with that view.
Whether or not lecture flipping can work is arguably subject and content specific. For example, the lectures I’ve been doing recently for the final year Forensics class on Arson are very content-intensive, and it’s not clear how the lecture time could be beneficially used if the students watched the lecture in advance. However, some of my Chemistry courses could benefit more, and I am considering extending my initial foray into Quantum Chemistry with some more extended screencasts next semester.
There are lots of sources of information on the flipped classroom, and on individual lecturers’ experiences. I found Kelly Butzler’s blog (Kelly’s 24 hour Classroom) very interesting, especially her recent post, in which she discusses an improvement in test score results for some students from a flipping approach. But in a subsequent discussion, my concerns that students who need a lot of help and support don’t always do so well as when taught in a more traditional way were confirmed. The use of flipping puts much more onus on students, which is a good thing, but I’m not sure how well it sits in our brave new world where the student is the customer!
Comments as ever are welcome!