Are you ready to flip?

Preparing to flip a classroom? Here’s what to plan for

For instructors and administrators who’ve never flipped a classroom, making the switch (even on a trial basis) can seem daunting. After all, flipping redefines what’s required of the educator twice. First, it requires that lecture materials be made available ahead of class time. Second, it requires teachers to replace passive in-class time with active learning strategies. Fortunately, the technologies that make the pedagogy possible are increasingly accessible to anyone willing to try.

In addition, faculty new to flipping can learn from the experiments and lessons of thousands of teachers across all levels of academia who have already made the switch. This growing community is contributing an ever-increasing body of knowledge to help other instructors make their first flipped classrooms a success. As with any classroom change, preparation is essential. Establishing expectations for yourself, your students, and your institution will be instrumental to ensuring everything runs smoothly.

Preparing Yourself

In a flipped classroom model, the traditional boundaries between lectures, assignments, activities, and assessments are fuzzier than with traditional teaching. That change will produce a few unexpected challenges, and require a few adjustments to established working styles. To assist in making these adjustments, and to help you plan for a successful flipped classroom, here are a few things to expect: 

Plan to spend more time preparing content and in-class activities

As with any course material, the first step to planning a flipped classroom is to identify what you will and won’t cover. Here, though, the flipped classroom diverges from traditional teaching. Using the traditional model, every in-class lecture has a fixed duration and a common menu of formats, the most common being a slide presentation. 

With a flipped classroom, you aren’t bound by a fixed-duration lecture or by traditional delivery formats that work well in class. Your lecture materials may include a short video presentation, curated recordings, podcasts, pointers to other websites, or virtually any other resource you choose. Class time is no longer built around one-way presentations, and instead can be dedicated to conversations, experiments, activities, and demonstrations. Remember that you’ll need to spend more time and thought outlining how you’ll structure the lessons you’ll be sharing.

Plan to experiment and iterate

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When you begin planning the content for your flipped course, it may not be obvious which topics would benefit most from the flip, which activities students will find most engaging, which content should be developed from scratch and which should be curated, how to pace your material, and how to structure pre-class and in-class assessments. As with any change to your pedagogical approach, experimentation and iteration will be critical. This is particularly the case with the flipped classroom, an approach that introduces new complexity and is highly people-dependent. Chances are, things won’t go perfectly on your first iteration. That’s okay. If you review each activity and content block, eliminating things that don’t work, trying new approaches, and mixing up your content sources and delivery styles, you’ll see improvements with each subsequent iteration. 

Engage teaching assistants

Should you be fortunate enough to have the support of a student working in a teaching assistant or graduate assistant role, take time to walk that person through your plan for flipping, and what their role will entail. Because the in-class lecture will be minimized or eliminated, the TA should expect to take a more active role during class time, engaging with students in problem solving, discussions, and labs. Outside of class, TA participation can take many forms, from recording mini-lectures to assisting in the coordination of the digital classroom.

Find a champion in IT

While an increasing number of technologies give you the power to flip your classes independently, it’s also important to know how to get technical support when it’s needed. Your academic technology team can help. From setting up a computer for recording your videos to integrating them into your school’s LMS, having a solid relationship with someone in the technology department will make it easier to fully explore the potential of the pedagogy.

If you want to read the rest of this article, which covers how to prepare your students and how to prepare your institution to take advantage of the flipped classroom approach, you can visit the Panopto website: https://panopto.com/blog/preparing-to-flip-a-classroom-heres-what-to-plan-for/. You will also be able to download Panopto’s new flipped classroom e-book directly from this page. 

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