How A Flipped Classroom Actually Works [Interview]

What happens when the students have more control in the classroom? Flipped classrooms are being tested out around the world and we’ve featured a few examples in case you wanted to see who is flippin’ out. Until now, we didn’t have an in-depth look at the effects of a flipped classroom or answers to the big questions it raises.

Thanks to Susan Murphy of Algonquin College (check out her awesome blog suzemuse.com!), we have our answers. She was kind enough to answer some of my questions about her experiences flipping her classroom.

She used the flipped classroom model for her First Year Video and Audio Production class which is part of the Interactive Multimedia Developer program. The course was this past Fall and ran from September to December. What follows is my interview with Susan. Enjoy!

What inspired you to use the flipped classroom model?
I first learned about flipped classrooms by watching Salman Khan’s remarkable TED Talk about how he started the Khan Academy (embedded below). I was completely inspired, and eager to try this new model out in my own classroom.

One of the big challenges I was having in my video production class was teaching the required software (Adobe Premiere Pro). I had 40 students in my class, some had hardly ever touched a computer before, and some had been using Premiere since high school. The smallest group fit somewhere in the middle – familiarity with computers but no experience with video editing.

So, when I was teaching the software to the class using the conventional method (in-class lecture and demonstration), I had students who didn’t get it at all, students who were bored, and students who were kind of able to follow along. I ended up not being able to cover things in as much detail as I wanted, and if a student fell behind it was really difficult for them to catch up. It was also hard for me to keep the more experienced students engaged.

My thinking was, if I flipped the classroom, and provided the instructional/demonstration part of the course material as a series of video tutorials, that students could then work at their own pace, on their own time, to learn the software, rewinding, fast forwarding and repeating the lessons as needed – and apply what they’d learned as their homework during class time instead.

I wasn’t sure if it was going to work – but I had to give it a shot!

Have you gotten any feedback (positive or negative) on the video production class?

I have had a lot of great feedback on the class. Students have told me that they feel more relaxed coming to class, because they feel prepared to sit down and do their assignments. Students at all levels – from very beginner to more advanced – were engaged and attendance was at an all-time high!

Since the students now have a lot of time in class to work on projects, I have found that not only do I have dedicated time to spend with the students who really need extra help, but the more advanced students even stepped up and helped out their classmates too.

I’ve had students tell me that, overall, they really like this way of doing things. It’s more fun, less hectic and they really feel a sense of accomplishment.

Will you be using a flipped classroom model in the future? Do you recommend it to colleagues?

I will definitely be using this model in the future, and I do recommend it to my colleagues to try if it fits with their curriculum.

Do you have any videos to share from the class? 

The videos I’ve created are all specific to the projects for the class, but you can have a look on my training blog at http://training.suzemuse.comto get a sense of what we did this term.

Are there any tips you’d like to offer the teachers of the world considering a flipped classroom?/strong>

Flipping your classroom is not a one-size fits all solution. It doesn’t necessarily work for all types of class formats. I have found that for teaching concepts, like software, it works really well. But for more theory-based courses, there’s still a place for lectures. However, for my Web Media class that’s starting in the new year, I will be creating some videos and recording my lectures and making them available online as supplementary information and additional learning resources for students.

My suggestion is to start small – just flip one class or a portion of a class – and see how it goes. Be sure to prepare everything in advance, and test it all out before hand to make sure students can access the materials they need. Take it one step at a time and solicit lots of feedback from your students. And let me know how it goes!

More About Flipped Classrooms

If you’re wondering what a Flipped Classroom entails, look no further than this infographic from Knewton.