Flipped Classroom – Changing roles of Instructors and Students


Flipped classrooms (FC’s) are changing the roles of the instructor as we increase the use of technology throughout the world.  Much of the early work for FC’s was developed in the K-12 environment and is applicable in adult education as well.    Bergmann, Sams, and Overmyer, (n.d.) define a flipped classroom as “a model of teaching in which a student’s homework is the traditional lecture viewed outside of class [through video instruction]. Then class time is spent on inquiry-based learning which would include what would traditionally be viewed as a student’s homework assignment.”

Flipped-Definition Chalk Board

The instructors initially prepare lecture or demonstration videos that (with internet connections) can be viewed anywhere, anytime.  Flipped classrooms help free up class time for hands-on work. Students learn by doing and asking questions. Students can also help each other, a process that benefits both the beginner and advanced learners.

2014 Horizon Report

The New Media Consortium (NMC) Horizons Report: Higher Ed Edition  (began publishing in 2002 & the K-12 version in 2009) tracks Important Developments in Educational Technology.  I was very intrigued by the  NMC 2014 report.  Previous annual reports did not even mention “flipped classrooms” and suddenly it has moved to the top of their list of “Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less”.   This may be due to the huge number of learners that are flocking to free websites like Khan Academy.  At the Ted conference in March 2011, Salman Khan presented “Let’s use video to reinvent education”.  At the time there were an average of 1 million unique users per month on the Khan site.  Now, according to the Stanford Research Institute, as of February 2014, there are around 10 million unique users per month on this site.  The SRI Research Brief shows a significant increase in student and instructor satisfaction and double digit percentage improvement in student test scores.

In their Dec 2013 article FLIPPING FOR MASTERY Bergmann and Sams (p24) mention that [those who first start flipping their classrooms] “often focus on making videos for students to watch before class, which provides more one-on-one time with students during class”. This more focused class time results in higher student achievement and increased engagement.  Bergmann and Sams suggest that once an instructor has created the videos they should move to a “flipped-mastery model” of education. In this model, students work through course content at a flexible pace, receiving direct instruction asynchronously when they’re ready for it. When students get to the end of a unit, they must demonstrate mastery of the learning objectives before they proceed to the next concept.  The Khan Academy requires their students to answer ten questions in a row to demonstrate mastery and advance to the next level.

Researcher Enfield (2013 November) identified three challenges in an examination of flipped classrooms.  First, sufficient time must be spent developing the videos or finding pre-existing materials that sufficiently cover the content.  Second, instructional materials need to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and other legislation protecting the rights of people with disabilities.  Finally, students expect instructional videos to be edited so that there are no errors or unneeded pauses (they are less forgiving than a face to face lecture).

According to Alex Usher (2013 November), a Higher Education Strategist in Ontario, quality higher education videos are expensive and often produced through providers of Massive Open Online Courses MOCC’s.  In his article Usher explains that the MOOC Udacity, (founders from Stanford) recently moved from producing higher education content “to focus on [more profitable] contract training”.  He predicts that the MOOC Coursera will continue in higher education until early 2015 when their venture funding is depleted.  Usher expects the endowments from Harvard & MIT will help establish EdX as the main player, for years to come, for post secondary MOOC’s.

Many of the studies and articles I examined concerning Flipped Classrooms (FC’s) have taken place in the past year.  FC’s holds significant potential for instructors and learners.  I expect that our roles to produce high quality content to inspire our students will continue to accelerate.  In my role as an adult educator, I will continue to examine FC’s and the potential they have to improve our learning environment and our lives.

*Works cited in this blog entry are fully referenced HERE – many are available in full text


About bobmccar

I have a B. Ed. from UBC. After teaching in private schools, I started instruction of business applications at BCIT evening courses. I later began a business development role, specializing in technology solutions for the education market. Over the past 15+ years I have done business development and consultative sales for IBM, Sun Microsystems and other large high tech companies. My focus has been on small, medium, enterprise and educational organizations involving current technology solutions, disaster recovery and information security. I recently completed the Consulting Research Group (CRG), Assessment Systems Certification Course. This has given me the ability to assist clients understand themselves and improve their communication with executive leadership, co-workers, family, and friends. My consulting services include Executive Coaching, Leadership, Management, Team-Building, Sales, Customer Service, Career Planning and Personal Development. I am currently enrolled at Vancouver Community College in the Provincial Instructor Diploma Program (PIPD) to better understand the rapid changes underway in the world of education.
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