Is "Flipping the Classroom" New? What’s Good About It?

In this post on Tomorrow’s ProfessorMarilla Svinicki, University of Texas at Austin, asks “Flipped Classrooms— Old or New?” She describes the technique, notes its roots in conventional practices, and suggests three concrete benefits.

Flipped Classrooms— Old or New?

“So is flipping the classroom a new or old teaching strategy? The principles are old and valuable, but they haven’t been usable because of constraints of time and effort on the parts of both students and teacher. It is the possibility of implementing these key principles that is new, and often enabled by technology’s ability to capture their essence. Now we have to reframe the mindsets of both instructor and student about the role of face-to-face class time. Is it a time to receive information or to use it? I vote for the latter. That would be the new part. “

There has been a lot of buzz in higher education lately about the flipped classroom model for teaching and learning….

Perhaps the most important assumption of the flipped classroom … is the idea that learning is strongest when the learner is actively involved in the creation of understanding and the application of understanding to real problems….

Is it a new technique? Not really. Instructors have been assigning readings and asking questions in class for a long time. But the quality of work students can do and the ability to monitor the students’ actual outside of class learning has been greatly enhanced through technology….

Which leads us to the second idea of the flipped classroom – coming to the learning with a prepared mind. This idea derives from the principle of learning that having a preview of what is to be learned before attempting to use it makes for a much deeper level of organization in which to insert (or attempt to insert) new ideas and concepts….

One last benefit of the flipped class design is that instructor expertise is used in ways that are most valuable….

Author: Dan Ryan

I'm currently an Academic Program Director at I've been a professor at University of Toronto, University of Southern California, and Mills College teaching things like human centered design, computational thinking, modeling for policy sciences, and social theory. I'm driven by the desire to figure out how to teach twice as many twice as well twice as easily.

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