[Originally published July 17, 2014]
As a chemistry professor, I am always energized when speaking with other professors about how they teach their classes. What keeps students engaged? What techniques and approaches help students perform better? How can the classroom experience be more fun and rewarding for both the professor and the students? There are a lot of good ideas out there.
This year, I’ve heard one topic over and over: Flipped Classrooms.
A flipped classroom is one in which the traditional lectures are delivered outside of class (usually as videos), and the in-class time is reserved for discussion, exercises, and group learning activities. High school teachers have been moving toward flipped classrooms for several years, and it seems to finally be spilling over into higher education. It seems most of the professors who have flipped their classrooms absolutely love it. They mention the jump in student engagement, about how much more interactive and enjoyable their classroom time is, and how much better their students are performing.
On the other hand, many professors (including me) find the process of flipping a classroom to be intimidating, and full of questions. “How do I find or produce good online content?” You may have seen some lessons posted on YouTube: Sometimes I find an amazing video, but a lot of it is poorly done, not quite at the level I need for my course, or just weird. Creating your own video content ensures that it fits your class better, but it is really time consuming. And how do you make sure your students are watching the lessons beforehand? Finally, and perhaps most terrifying: You’ve taken your beautiful lectures, and put them online…but what do you do when class time comes?
Through this community, I hope we can begin to answer these questions, and share new ideas that will invigorate our teaching and enhance student learning. We will feature interviews and first-hand accounts from other educators who are somewhere in the journey - from those who have flipped their classrooms to those just beginning the process. We will also feature a “Tools and Resources” section where you can share content designed for the flipped classroom, and see how others approach the pre-class and in-class experience. The community is is equally for you to share your ideas and resources, and to draw from others.
This is going to be fun!