In traditional approaches to learning, shown on the left of Fig. 1, students might read learning materials individually before class, listen to a lecture during class, and then complete homework activities after class. In a flipped classroom approach, shown on the right, students gain knowledge before class. During class, the teacher can guide them to ‘actively and interactively clarify and apply that knowledge’ (University of Texas 2013, n/p), enabling them to extend their learning after the class has finished.
Fig. 1: Traditional (left) vs. flipped classroom (right) approaches to learning design (University of Texas 2013)
How does the flipped classroom approach work in a blended online context?
In a flipped classroom approach, the ‘before’ and ‘after’ stages typically take place online, while the class itself takes place in person. However, the approach can also be applied to a blended online class, combining synchronous and asynchronous modes. Before class, students can complete activities asynchronously online to gain knowledge of the subject content, actively apply and deepen their knowledge in a synchronous online lecture or tutorial, and then continue to develop their knowledge online, perhaps through discussions or an assignment.
The important thing is that learning does not only happen during a synchronous class: it should also take place before and after the session.
Table 1 shows suggested learning activities for the different stages, together with the types of interaction they each promote: student-content (S-C), student-student (S-S) or student-teacher (S-T).
read an online document or presentation
||brainstorm ideas using the chat or whiteboard
annotate an image using the annotation tool
respond to or check understanding of subject content using the feedback icons, a poll or a third-party quiz tool
discuss subject content using the chat or in a breakout room
take part in a role play or debate
create and edit a shared online document or presentation
give an individual or group presentation using their webcam, microphone and shared screen
carry out in peer assessment
continue editing the online document or presentation they worked on during the session
Key learning points
- design educational experiences with a balance of student-content, student-student and student-teacher interaction
- promote student-content interaction by making learning materials meaningful, structured and varied with opportunities for students to engage with content and reflect on their learning
- promote student-student interaction through online socialisation, collaboration and communication
- promote student-teacher interaction through announcements, emails, a general discussion forum and meaningful feedback on student learning
- plan for learning to take place before and after a synchronous lecture or tutorial, not only during the session.