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The Flipped Classroom

All summer long we will be exploring the topic of flipped classrooms through a series of posts here at TeachOnline. These posts will serve as a how-to guide examining different approaches you can take to easily begin to flip your classroom. We will identify common challenges instructors face when flipping their classrooms and provide information about readily available resources and technologies that can be used to create amazing content and activities.

Part 1: What is a flipped classroom?

A flipped classroom is a model of instruction that moves the transfer of knowledge outside of the classroom and uses in class time, along with the instructor’s expertise, to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge in the classroom.

But flipping a classroom is more than just posting video lectures online.  It is a comprehensive approach that blends direct instruction with constructivist methods, increasing students’ engagement with course content and improving their conceptual understandings. It is a holistic approach that, when implemented successfully, will support all stages of a learning cycle.


When a lecture is delivered online, class time is freed up to allow you to facilitate student engagement in active learning through questioning, discussions, and applied activities that foster the exploration, articulation, and application of ideas.

Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, two chemistry teachers at Woodland Park High School in Woodland Park Colorado, coined the term “Flipped Classroom”.  Bergmann and Sams realized that students who missed class struggled to keep up.  In effort to assist these students they stumbled upon something pretty remarkable; flipping the classroom allowed them to focus more attention on each student’s learning individual needs.

When we use the term “Flipped Classroom” we should note that many similar models of instruction have been developed under different names. Peer Instruction (PI) was developed by Harvard professor Eric Mazur and incorporates a technique called “just-in-time-teaching” as a supplemental element to the flipped model.  Just-in-time teaching allows the instructor to receive feedback from the students the day before a lecture so that he or she may prepare to focus on any deficiencies that may exist in the students understanding of the material.  Mazur’s model focuses heavily on conceptual understanding, and while this is not a necessary component of the flipped classroom, we strongly encourage its adoption.

We look forward to exploring this topic with you this summer!  If there is an area of particular interest you would like us to cover, or if you already have some experience flipping your own classroom, please share with us in the comments section.

Dig Deeper

Want to get a jumpstart on flipping your classroom?  Mia MacMeekin has 27 bite-sized ideas to help get you started.