Time-shifting instruction: flipped classroom and teaching

What is flipped instruction?

At its core, flipped teaching (also called flipped classroom, flipped instruction, vodcasting, educational video-on-demand) is a format for removing some of the lecture-based lessons from classrooms and giving students the ability to learn that content in their own time at their own pace. This is done through recording video-based lectures* [editor note: flipped philosophy has moved away from requiring video – see this article for more information. 4/25/2012] and posting them online for students to engage and respond to.

There are several advantages to this model of teaching.

  • Flipped teaching means that an educator doesn’t need to guess at what speed to deliver content – with students watching lectures at home they can move at their own speed and review concepts as necessary.
  • Without large portions of classroom time spent lecturing, educators can use that time to see students working through projects and assignments that would have previously been done in isolation at home:  break out sessions can occur spontaneously, students can work in mentor-based groupings, jigsaw opportunities, supplemental support, etc.

Jon Bergmann, Jerry Overmyer and Brett Wilie outline some other benefits in somewhat of a flip model manifesto published at The Daily Riff: ((Bergmann, Overmyer and Wilie http://www.thedailyriff.com/articles/the-flipped-class-conversation-689.php))

  • A means to INCREASE interaction and personalized contact time between students and teachers.
  • An environment where students take responsibility for their own learning.
  • A blending of direct instruction with constructivist learning.
  • A classroom where students who are absent due to illness or extra-curricular activities such as athletics or field-trips, don’t get left behind.
  • A class where content is permanently archived  for review or remediation.

How is flipped instruction different from other educational movements?

Flipped classroom isn’t the first time that technology has been held up as a solution for the worldwide challenges that are occurring in education, and it won’t be the last. However, the focus of flipped teaching is different from other examples in that the technology itself is simply a tool for flexible communication that allows educators to differentiate instruction to meet individual student needs and spend more time in the classroom focused on collaboration and higher-order thinking. The technology solutions are varied and don’t rely on a single vendor to implement. Flipped teaching is a great example of using technology with intention.

The evolution of flipped instruction

This educational practice has been around for over a decade, but visibility in educational circles is increasing as the cost of implementation goes down and also through Bill Gates’ endorsement of Salman Khan. Khan takes both praise and criticism from teachers, media, education departments and business on a global scale.

Educators critical of Khan’s model point out that his lecture-respond model does nothing to inspire students and furthermore just encourages the “drill and regurgitate” learning that is built for standardized tests. Frank Noschese eloquently elaborates in his article Khan Academy: My Final Remarks:

[W]e should be inspiring [students] to figure things out on their own and learn how to create their own knowledge by working together. For example, instead of relying on lectures and textbooks, the Modeling Instruction paradigm emphasizes active student construction of conceptual and mathematical models in an interactive learning community.

Ramsey Musallam is working with the flipped model to address Noschese’s observation and push the practice into a more constructivist experience.  His graduate work at the University of San Francisco focused on the cognitive psychology behind time-shifted instruction. Based on his research, Musallam adds a few best practices to the flipped model; ones he believes enhance student retention and understanding:

  1. Musallam always introduces a new skill or concept IN THE CLASSROOM with open exploration. Students learn through true trial and error and make their own explorations prior to being exposed to the theory behind the experiments.
  2. Students completed a 5 sentence typed recap of each lesson while watching the lecture.  This immediate typed response forces student to recall and synthesize information, responding in their own words.
  3. Musallam uses the same visual procedure every time when explaining a concept. This allows students to become familiar with his process so that they can begin to predict and hypothesize  as they watch.
  4. Musallam limits viewer input to one channel at a time. Visual and auditory channels of information delivery are alternated to avoid information overload. Furthermore, Musallam’s screencasts are as simple as possible – typically white background with text and simple diagrams.

Ramsey Musallam’s dissertation outlines the specific value of how video instruction supports effective learning by reducing cognitive load by controlling distraction and sensory input.

Some examples

Ramsey Musallam of Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory lectures on molarity using time-shifting technology:

Stacey Roshan of the Bullis School uses a vodcast to solve linear equations by graphing:

Troy Cockrum of St. Thomas Aquinas School uses flipped classroom concept to introduce students to the parts of a 5 paragraph essay:


Where to begin

John Sowash offers 6 steps for trying a flipped classroom model with your students in this presentation:


The Flipped Class – 3 part series by Jon Bergmann, Jerry Overmyer and Brett Wilie for The Daily Riff.

Review of 4 screencasting Apps for iPad.

Ramsey Musallam offers a comprehensive list of technologies and supporting software from concept all the way to publication on his website.

The Flipped Class Network – a Ning group devoted to sharing best practice.

Flipped Teaching overview as it pertains to learning cycles by Jackie Gerstein at User Generated Education.

Read a teacher’s reflection on one full year of flipped instruction at Mister McIntosh’s post, Preseason Thoughts and Reflections for 2011.

Mace Mentch gives a full overview with examples at Western Case University (May 2010)

29 thoughts on “Time-shifting instruction: flipped classroom and teaching

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  5. I’m excited to try flipping a couple of assignments in the coming weeks – and so are my students. I’ve never had such an enthusiastic response to the word ‘homework’ before!

    Thanks for the tips.

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  9. I’m eager to learn more about flipping a classroom. I’ve already begun networking with other language teachers who have flipped. Technology with intention is my goal, and if the result is an engaged learner, I’m all in!

    1. Hi Patsy,

      Glad to hear you have a strong PLN to support your endeavors. Start small, a lesson here and there, and share your resources with other educators.

      All the best.

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    1. Classroom lectures are passive as well. Video has the following advantages. Here a just a few:

      1. It allows a school staff to share in the creation of content.
      2. Its available 24/7
      3. Can be repeated and reviewed without interrupting
      4. Consistent
      5. Measurable

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  22. Very Interesting and very informative, I learn from this page as i m very new in teaching although I m working as principal and teacher from last 23 years, But I think it is very fabulous website for the teachers community.
    Thank you so much for publishing such a nice work.

  23. Thanks for this informative text. I realized I’ve been flipped teaching for a year, but I haven’t been aware of the term 🙂

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