Flipping Out over the Flipped Classroom workshop summary

Our Flipping Out over the Flipped Classroom workshop is co-facilitated by members of eLearning and Faculty Development (both units in our Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning unit). It’s one of my favourite workshops to facilitate, partly because it’s a workshop about flipping, which is itself flipped!

One thing faculty quickly realize when they get our reminder email about the workshop (one week in advance of the face-to-face component), and the instructions for how to access the online component of the workshop (which they MUST complete before the face-to-face component…and yes, I have turned people away if they don’t complete it!), is how challenging it is to be self-directed enough to complete activities before coming to the face to face class. And this is what I love most about this workshop – it puts the faculty in the shoes of their students, making them think about why they would flip their classes, and how to encourage students to engage outside of the classroom.

While this time we didn’t have to turn anyone away, several of the attendees noted that they had put off completing the activities until the last minute. It was a good first discussion as we did our initial check-in around the online component. It was great that  everyone ‘fessed up!

After checking in around the online experience, we engaged the participants around the readings they were to have completed, compiling a list of pros/benefits and cons/challenges of flipping the classroom, as well as some ideas for mitigating some of the challenges. This time around, here is what participants came up with:

Pros/Benefits of Flipping the Classroom

  • Active learning
  • Less boredom
  • Controlled pacing
  • Relevance: learning comes to life
  • Addresses multiple learning styles
  • Moving up Bloom’s, can get multiple perspectives to unpack in safe environment
  • Encourages critical thinking
  • Students are more likely to come prepared
  • More engagement with content – “it sticks”

Cons/Challenges of Flipping the Classroom

  • The time it takes an instructor to distill content to the basics, and develop material
  • Need to create small marking rewards (clerical)
  • Accountability (for students)
  • Students resist – they have ideas about the roles of the student and the instructor
  • Students have busy lives, and may lack a good study environment and access (to technology)
  • Interest in topic – how to “hook” the students in

Ideas for Mitigating the Cons/Challenges

  • Collaboration (between instructors)
  • Institutional support
  • Sharing resources between/among faculty to mitigate workload
  • Scaffolding to mitigate student accountability and resistance (e.g., teaching them how to watch videos)
  • Transparency (re: expectations) – why are we doing this?
  • Check-in with students re: their resources, (safe) space, etc.
  • Create more learning commons on campus
  • Find out what’s available to students and let them know
  • Advocate for more resource and support access (evenings, weekends) – writing and learning skills, etc.
  • Scalability – do one thing
  • Create guides for new/term/sessional faculty – shared resources
  • Use flipped activities as formative feedback

We integrate a bit of a lecture into the workshop, discussing how flipping can maximize effectiveness of teaching using Bloom’s taxonomy as a guide. But the real fun in the workshop comes with the Troika Consulting (one of my favourite Liberating Structures activities) where participants work in small groups to get advice on ideas for flipping components of their classes, or for challenges they have faces when flipping. We always mix the groups so they are working with people NOT in their School or discipline, so they can have the joy of discovering new ideas and suggestions.

Main takeaways

  • Networking and sharing and collaborating as a flipped activity and to create flipped activities
  • Don’t need to flip a whole class – can flip a topic or an activity
  • I am not alone – can pull on resources around the college (colleagues, etc.)
  • Need more opportunities for multi-disciplinary things – hear different kinds of creativity when not too silo’ed
  • Don’t always have to be f2f – web lunch meetings – Community of Practice and sharing what they’ve tried and make suggestions – ongoing opportunities?
  • Finding help when you need it is a challenge sometimes – when trying something – need ongoing connection and conversation
  • Is there research that shows flipping works better with certain audiences, topics, etc.?
  • Doesn’t have to be everything, and it’s not just about technology
  • You need to be prepared!
  • It takes courage and preparation
  • Flipping as a Program approach – built into all courses with support for all faculty, collaboratively created activities/resources, build it in gradually so students understand its value

What I was happy to see this time was an emphasis on the collaborative and programmatic approach to flipping, so it is not just one instructor in isolation. When all instructors in a program are flipping, students get used to it, they potentially will engage more, and see the benefits. Something to think about in the grand scheme of things at our institution!

If you are interested, I am including links to the resources participants were required to read/view during the online component of the workshop. If you have questions or comments, please post them here!

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