Skip to content

Flipping the classroom

Traditionally, instructors have used class time to introduce new content via lecture, and then left students to practice and apply that content by themselves in homework exercises. A flipped classroom model “flips” this use of class time.

In a flipped model, instructors typically introduce new content through pre-recorded lectures (using technology such as Panopto) and/or assigned reading. This homework prepares students to come to class ready to engage in activities that promote higher-order thinking, such as analyzing or synthesizing information through discussion, hands-on work, and collaboration – activities which have been shown to increase students’ learning and academic performance.

flipped classroom diagram

Allowing students to engage new ideas asynchronously has a lot of benefits. Shifting your lecture from an in-person lecture to a video lets students watch (and rewatch) the information at any time, pausing when they need to. This benefits all learners, but is especially helpful for learners who are slow notetakers or for whom English is an additional language. This also frees up in-class time for deeper dives into the content – students are then in a better position to ask questions, work together, and wrestle with complex concepts.

How to flip your class

Step 1: Identify the information students will need to learn and to participate in class

Flipping a class begins with your learning outcomes. What key concepts do you want students to be able to know and what skills do you want them to be able to demonstrate as a result of taking your class? Once you have these in mind, determine what information or preparation students will need before coming to class so that they can work on applying the concept or skill while in class.

Step 2: Develop resources and homework assignments that introduce key concepts and prepare students to participate in class

Once you’ve identified what information students will need before coming to class, determine what resource(s) would best give students this foundational knowledge (e.g., video lectures, assigned readings, animations, diagrams, etc.). Create or find these resources and share them in your course’s Canvas site. To ensure that students come to class ready to participate, you might also ask them to complete simple assignments that allow students to check their comprehension (e.g., practice quizzes, short reflections).

Step 3: Develop in-class activities that ask students to apply concepts introduced in the homework

Now that you’ve shifted the introduction of new content to pre-class homework, you can focus your class time on digging deeper and helping students apply concepts. Think about what sorts of activities would help students deepen their understanding of the material. Consider asking students to work together on a problem or set of problems, apply a concept to a scenario, or connect a concept to their own experiences. Learn more about active learning strategies.