Here’s a scenario of an innovative educational method that is sweeping through the halls of academia:  Imagine…students are hard at work at home accessing captured lectures, PowerPoint slides, audio or video casts, reference books, or other resources to learn about foundational factual material.  They then go to class to spend the teaching/learning time on applied cases, projects, or problems where they can question the teacher, and work with their classmates on solutions and discoveries.  Sound familiar?  This is an example of “Flipped Learning”.  I’d like to show you that we at Queen’s Meds are way ahead of the curve—we’re practicing “flipped learning” in “flipped classrooms already!”

A brief history of the Flip:

In 2000, J.W. Baker presented on a “Classroom Flip” where he used technology to allow students to read and learn at home, and became the “guide on the side” for them in class.

Formally defined in the literature by Lage, Platt and Treglia (2000) as the “Inverted Classroom”, the authors, from the Economics Department at Miami University, outlined a multimedia strategy for teaching that “appeals to a broad range of learning styles, without violating the constraints faced by instructors at most institutions.” (p. 31). By inverting the teaching and learning that took place inside and outside their economics classroom, the teachers gained more time to address diverse learning styles and challenges.  They allowed groups and individual students to do their “homework” in the classroom, and reserved traditional lectures for outside the classroom.

In 2007, two high school chemistry teachers, Bergmann and Sams, recorded their PowerPoint lecture presentations using then newly developed screen capture software. Bergmann and Sams had built the videos for absent students to catch up, but found that students who had been present accessed the material to study and review.  This left them time to spend in a classroom, on inquiry, and “deeper learning.”  According to Bergmann, the Flipped Classroom “took off like a rocket!”  (Bergmann, 2012.)

In March 2011, at Ted Talk, Salman Khan, spoke about flipping the homework/lecture equation.  A hedge fund manager with multiple degrees in math and science from MIT Khan created the  Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org/), from his original math tutorials for his niece, to a very successful and free source of over 2,600 online tutorials covering everything from math, chemistry and even medicine. (Kahn, 2011). “Khan asserts that teachers in a traditional classroom spend five percent of their time actually working with students, while spending the other 95 percent lecturing, creating lectures or grading. Using Khan’s free online math tutorials, teachers flipped this equation, using technology to “humanize the classroom.”   (Huston and Lin, 2012).

The growth in acceptance of this method is evidenced by, among many things, the best selling Bergman and Sams (2012) ISTE publication “Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day.”

So, that’s what the “flip” is all about.  What are we doing here in Queen’s Meds and what are some of the challenges we have to overcome in our use of “flipping”?

If you’re teaching in Undergraduate Medical Education (UGME), chances are you’ve come across our “SGL’s” or “Small Group Learning” sessions.  With Dr. Lindsay Davidson’s example to guide us, we in UGME have adapted Team Based Learning (TBL) for these sessions.  Here, we provide students with what had previously been the purview of the lecture: foundational facts through readings or other resources, from textbook chapters with reading guides, to online modules, complete with interactive quizzes, videos, etc.  Students are provided with some “homework” time in our Directed Independent Learning sessions and are expected to come to class prepared to engage in inquiry through group work, with cases, or problems where they can apply their learning.  The faculty member, often with a colleague, (other faculty, residents or fellows), facilitates the session, but notes that if he/she is talking more than 25% of the time, he/she is straying into the other side of the flip and not focusing on the student learning.

Why did we do this?  For the same reasons that the flipped classroom is reaching so many teachers and students.

Here’s what Jon Bergmann has to say about this type of learning:

  • Flipped Learning transfers the ownership of the learning to the students.
  • Flipped Learning personalizes learning for all students
  • Flipped Learning gives teachers time to explore deeper learning opportunities and pedagogies with their students (PBL, CBL, UDL, Mastery, Inquiry, etc)
  • Flipped Learning makes learning (not teaching) the center of the classroom.
  • Flipped Learning maximizes the face to face time in the classroom. (Bermann, 2012)

Now, what are some of the challenges? And how can we address them?

  1.  It’s important that the students have prepared before coming to class.  We do this by a.  appealing to students’ sense of responsibility and professionalism, b.  appealing to students’ common educational sense (they have to prepare if they are going to work on the applications) c.  tying the preparation to assessment and grades into the preparation, d.  using Readiness Assessment Process (lovingly known as RATs) which allow for enhanced group learning of concepts.
  2. Flipped Classrooms came about through innovations in technology that allowed for Lecture Capture, Narrated PowerPoint, and other technological tools.  The key is not to get carried away with the technology but focus on the value of what is being offered to students:  on guiding them through the learning and then inextricably weaving it with what is going to happen in class.  One indispensible factor is quality:  the captured lecture, online module, or even textbook chapter must have been carefully selected and/or crafted the way any good teaching tool would be.
  3. There really isn’t anything revolutionary about a video lecture.  A recorded lecture is still just a lecture.  What’s critical here is guiding of the learning.  We are advocating Reading Guides for chapters or articles, quizzes and interactive questions for online modules, and short (5 minute) captured lecture bursts to guide readings, etc.  Can the students learn from a captured lecture?  Yes.  Can they learn better with additional or with other tools?  Absolutely.  Bergmann cautions that flipped learning is NOT “a synonym for online videos. When most people hear about the flipped class all they think about are the videos. It is the interaction and the meaningful learning activities that occur during the face-to-face time that is most important.”(Bergmann et al, 2011.)
  4. Are lectures “bad”?  Absolutely not!  Flipping makes room for another teaching method, or several of them.  But lectures have a place in medical education, especially for introducing a concept, generating excitement in a topic, providing a framework for learning, and other suitable purposes.
  5. It’s still about what happens in the classroom.  I used the word “inextricably” above—the independent student learning must be closely linked to what happens in class.  The class time is used to check on the student learning, clear up any questions, and work through well-thought-out and well-crafted group activities.  Student intra-group discussion, student inquiry, students debriefing to the whole class, and instructors providing feedback to students about their learning are important activities.  There is still a lot for an instructor to do in helping students to learn; it’s just been “flipped.”

Do you have questions or comments about “flipping”?  Write back to the blog.

Sources

Baker, J.W. (2000).  The Classroom Flip’: Using Web Course Management Tools to Become the Guide by the Side. Selected Papers from the 11th International Conference on College Teaching and Learning (11th, Jacksonville, Florida, April 12-15, 2000). Chambers, J.A., ed.

Bergmann, J. (2011). The history of the flipped class: How the flipped class was born [Web log post]. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from http://blendedclassroom.blogspot.com/

Bergmann, J. (2012).  The Flipped Class as a Way TO the Answers. Flipped Learning.  Retrieved March 24, 2013 from http://flipped-learning.com/

Bergmann, J. (2012). Flip your classroom : reach every student in every class every day. Eugene, Or. Alexandria, Va: International Society for Technology in Education ASCD.

Bergmann, J., Overmyer, J. & Willie, B. (2011). The Flipped Class:
What it is and What it is Not.  Retrieved March 24, 2013 from http://www.thedailyriff.com/articles/the-flipped-class-conversation-689.php

Houston, M. & Lin, L. (2012). Humanizing the Classroom by Flipping the Homework versus Lecture Equation. In P. Resta (Ed.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2012 (pp. 1177-1182). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/39738.

Kahn, S. (2011). Let’s use video to reinvent education. Speech presented at TED2011. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from http://www.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education.html

Lage, M.J., Platt, G. J., Treglia, M. (2000). Inverting the classroom: a gateway to creating an inclusive learning environment. Journal of Economic Education.

Team Based Learning Collaborative.  Getting Started.  .  Retrieved March 24, 2013 from http://www.teambasedlearning.org/starting.

Thompson, C.  (2011, August.). How Khan Academy Is Changing the Rules of Education. Wired. Last retrieved on March 24, 2013 from http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/07/ff_khan/

Zappe, S., Leicht, R., Messner, J., Litzinger, T., Lee, H., (2009). “Flipping” the Classroom to Explore Active Learning in a Large Undergraduate Course. American Society for Engineering Education.