Let’s be real – online classes can get dull. No matter how intriguing the topic, it can be a challenge to keep your eyelids from drooping when your professor is lecturing for two hours straight, especially for those of us who have already worked an eight-hour work day. Or those of us who may or may not have brought a glass of wine to class…
Luckily, a new approach to online learning will have you flipping out (pun intended) about your next class. In the flipped classroom setting, students view lectures and complete readings in preparation for each week’s class ahead of time. When students join the class, they are already familiar with the week’s topic and have had time to compile thoughts and questions; class time is then spent discussing or completing activities related to the week’s materials. Students are given the opportunity to control the direction of the class and to interact with materials in a way they would not have the opportunity to in a lecture style classroom.
Last summer I took a course on administration and management of libraries that utilized the flipped classroom method. In this course, the professor began the class with a quick overview of the week’s theme and then asked the class as a whole for any questions. Following this class discussion, we spent most of the class period flip-flopping (another pun, I couldn’t resist) between small group conversation and discussion with the whole class. Our professor would drop in on our small group chat rooms periodically to check on us and make sure the discussion was on track.
This style of learning was especially suited to this course because it explored issues of leadership, employee relations, and other ethical dilemmas that do not have an easy answer. For example, one discussion involved resolving issues of bullying in the workplace. The small group dynamic was excellent because we all viewed situations differently, leading to some great interactions and revelations. Personally, I felt more engaged with the material and challenged in whole new ways by my classmates who viewed things in ways that may not have occurred to me.
Another thing I enjoyed about this course was the ability to move at my own pace. My professor generally assigned less than an hour’s worth of lectures and they were broken down into small segments, usually three twenty-minute recordings. I chose to space out viewing the lectures so that I had time to absorb and think about the material before moving on. As someone who needs a good chunk of time to mull things over before expressing my opinion, this dynamic worked great for me.
If you can, try to check out a course that uses this method or suggest that your professors try out this flippin’ awesome approach to online learning (last pun, I swear). Designer Librarian also pointed out an awesome tool called Knowmia that helps instructors design flipped classes, in case you’re interested in using this method to teach a class or workshop.
For more info about flipped classrooms and workshops, check out ALA’s guide to flipping and the ACRL Instructional Technologies Committee’s report on the flipped classroom.
Have you taken an online class that used the flipped classroom method? Tell us what you thought of it!