Flipped Classroom: a Traditional Lecture Revisited

If you are looking for ways to use your lecture period more effectively, consider allowing the students to acquire the learning content autonomously in advance and use your lecture period for in-depth learning activities according to the flipped classroom model. 

What is a Flipped Classroom? 

In a flipped classroom, you entirely rethink the traditional way of teaching/lecturing. The students acquire the basics autonomously before class. During class, then, there will be room for in-depth learning activities,  (inter)action and discussion. The way in which you give content to the lecture may vary. You may e.g. choose to make time for questions and discussion, let students apply the theory into practice, let them solve difficult exercises, or have them prepare a project, etc. 

In a flipped classroom setting, you offer the learning content in advance via online or offline learning materials. Make it clear to the students that you expect them to be prepared when they come to class. This is a necessary condition for making optimal use of the lecture period.  

How to Use a Flipped Classroom? 

First of all, determine the content and competencies that are suitable for a flipped classroom. Ask yourself the following questions:   

  • which competencies can the students acquire autonomously (these are often competencies related to knowledge and understanding); 
  • what content do you want to spend more time on during class;  
  • what content do students often find difficult? 

Offer your students the learning content they have to process themselves in a structured way. Use knowledge clips in which you explain a specific core concept, give students a powerpoint presentation with voice-over, or let them focus on specific short lesson fragments. You can also ask students to read a scholarly article or a specific textbook chapter. Preferably also add a (small mandatory) assignment. You could e.g. add questions to the videos, ask students to prepare three questions and post them on the discussion forum, or ask them to complete a short test. By incorporating these small assignments, you can also immediately identify the students who prepared for the class and those who did not. 

We advise that you offer the learning content via an online learning path (= a sequence of learning activities that the students go through). In Ufora you can also create learning paths with release conditions. This enables you to set date restrictions on the release of new learning content, e.g. every week. You can also set restrictions based on student behaviour, e.g. by making new learning content available once the student has reviewed a particular text, posted a question on the discussion forum, etc... Students can then follow the learning path at their own pace and this way, you can bring everyone's prior knowledge to the same level. 

The next step is the lecture itself, which you can design in different ways. You could e.g. start the lecture by going over a round of questions the students had to prepare. Or you could start with a quiz, for which you may want to use digital voting systems. You could also start by dealing with a particular learning content that students find very confusing. Afterwards, you could divide the students into groups to work on a practical application of previously acquired theoretical concepts.  

Flipped Classroom: Points to Consider 

A Flipped Classroom is Not a Time-Saving Teaching Method. 

Whereas contact hours may be reduced when you devote yourself fully to the flipped classroom model, that does not mean you will save time as a lecturer.   Developing an online learning path and a corresponding lecture that is at the same time also a valuable learning experience requires careful preparation. 

Make sure that the workload and study time for students remains more or less the same. In a flipped classroom, alignment with the study programme (committee) is especially important. Introducing flipped classrooms must not lead to a situation in which students suddenly have to autonomously acquire the learning contents for all course units. In addition, the students also need sufficient preparation time. For example, it might be advisable to cancel a number of lectures to free up time for students to prepare. 

Make Sure the Students Prepare 

When your students come unprepared, your flipped classroom will serve no purpose. Therefore, look at these tips to get students to come to class prepared

Practical Examples of Flipped Classroom 

Sofie Hondeghem – Faculty of Economics and Business – English for Economics II 

In 'English for Economics II', Presentations Skills and Essay Writing Skills are taught. The pilot project Ufora was seized as an opportunity to make the transition to a flipped classroom model, in which students prepare for class by reviewing the theory with videos and exercises. The class then becomes an interactive workshop in which students give peer feedback about their own work and ask the lecturer questions. 

For more information, look at the powerpoint presentation 'Innovation on your Plate: Flipped Classroom in Ufora' (in Dutch). 

Prof. dr. Veerle Fack – Faculty of Sciences – Algorithms and Data Structures 

'Algorithms and Data structures' is set up as a flipped classroom. The students are asked to look at a number of video classes in advance. During the course, students can use self-assessment combined with feedback to check whether they have understood the content. The lecturer has the opportunity to give extra explanations to whoever needs it. The lecturer can also use these exercises as a test, to determine on which part of the content more focus is needed in a response class.  

For more information, look at the powerpoint presentation 'Ufora as a Tool for Activated Learning' (in Dutch). 

Stefaan Cottenier –  Faculty of Engineering and Architecture  –  Nuclear Methods in the Learning Material and Computational physics 

Prof. dr. Cottenier offers the courses 'Nuclear methods in the learning material' and  'Computational physics' entirely according to the flipped classroom model. He does so to increase the students' learning efficiency. He posts a new learning path with videos, text material, a series of questions and a corresponding assignment every week. The students are asked to submit their assignment online every week, 24 hours before start of class. In class, the lecturer discusses misunderstandings that have arisen from the assignments, and he takes time to address difficulties. The students also are free to decide whether they want to attend class in real life or by using live stream, or by looking at the recordings at a later stage.   

Professor dr. Cottenier invested a lot of time redesigning these two course units. He started a year in advance. As a first step, he divided his existing slides into time blocks of 5-10 minutes. He then used this new layout in his traditionally-taught classes, while at the same time recording those classes. Then he edited those recordings into short (interactive) videos. As a final step, he came up with assignments to accompany the recordings and incorporated them into the online videos.  

More information can be found in the (Dutch) video or in the corresponding  powerpoint presentation

Want to Know More? 

Read the sources on which this education tip is based: 

UGent Practices

Last modified Jan. 13, 2021, 10:52 a.m.