Monthly Archives: August, 2013

Do you have a flipped out story?

If you have a story about a class or even a lesson that you have flipped I would love to hear about it. Good examples will encourage others to try flipping a lesson or two and experiment with the process. You can submit your example by clicking on the “About” button and submitting through my contact link or by sending an email directly to me at:



Video of the Week

Each week I want to try to highlight one video which has merit in a discussion about flipped classrooms and blended learning. Hopefully you will find these videos useful for yourself but may also be helpful for some training you may be doing yourself.

The one I chose this week is a basic video on the basics of flipped classrooms or Flipping the Classroom – Simply Speaking”. This video is as clear and concise as you can get in a very general discussion of what the flipped classroom is. Hope you find it useful.

Active learning and combating learner zombies

OK  Today I get on my soapbox. Not that there is anything in particular that I want to rant about or protest I just have some things which occasionally bother me about distance learning in general. I get concerned when people start talking about virtual courses as a if they are something special because of the technology. Yes, sure I get it. Virtual courses are delivered with technology, but really, what are we doing? Aren’t we just teaching, isn’t that what we all do? Why is it that it has to be so difficult just because we have used technology?

Good teaching engages the student in his own learning, it makes them active learners. As a teacher for many years I learned that my students did much better when I got them involved in questioning, learning by participate in learning activities, in collaborative projects, experiments, and discussion. It was the interaction of the student with other students, with me as the instructor/facilitator, and with the content that I saw real learning taking place. Sitting passively reading textbooks, answering textbook questions, and writing essays is not engaging and certainly no fun. Engaged learning can be fun! I think of all these things this is the one that just kills me about virtual learning. By allowing students to be passive learners we have taken all the fun out of it.

Let’s think about these questions for a moment:

  1. When you create a course are you so concerned with the technology that you have taken the fun out of the course?
  2. Do your courses actively engage the students in the learning?
  3. Are your students responding with a lack of enthusiasm to your course?
  4. Are your students dropping out or “disappearing” form your course?
  5. Are you constantly having to threaten your students to get them to stay on pace in your courses?

If you answered yes to most or all of these questions then your courses may suffer from BOCS “Boring Online Course Syndrome”. Courses which have thrown good teaching practices out the window and creates passive learner zombies.

What this blog is about is creating active learning conduits for students and making it fun again. No more dry reading-writing-essay assessment courses. These are just not fun and they go against what is considered good teaching practices. Assess your own courses and see where you have taken the fun out of it and lets see where you can go with better teaching techniques.

Believe me, I do not have all the answers but what I can do is challenge you to try some new ideas and extend yourself to reach and challenge students in your classes. I would love it if you would share some ideas about student engagement with me.

The setup

In a flipped class, the work which is designated as pre-class work helps the student to prepare for the face-to-face (F2F) sessions with enough knowledge to participate at higher cognitive levels on Bloomberg’s Taxonomy. The F2F activities should actively engage students so they can develop meaning about the content. This is the inversion of the traditional lecture-based model where students hear a lecture and then do work on their own away from the classroom. The student is in most need of an instructor when he or she begins us to use course material and is posing questions or is in the need of direction. In a flipped classroom the instructor provides just-in-time attention or provides critical guidance. In this role the instructor is more like a guide or mentor through the process.

In many ways this appears more as student centered or collaborative approach with the students and their instructor. Keeping in mind this is a blended learning situation we are moving the collaboration to the classroom.


Max your class time

One of the main purposes of the flipped classroom is to max out your class time in a way that makes the best use of the collaboration time you have with your students. This means that you need to structure your out of class online time in a way which will engage students in activities, lectures and readings that will lead them to the class experience. The online time becomes the bridge between the content and the student – instructor and the student – student interaction that will take place. Properly structured there will be questions and problems which will be presented in class that will lead to a robust discussion.