AN EDTL APPROACH TO ‘FLIPPING’ THE CLASSROOM
“It’s about using your teaching time for guiding and consolidating learning, not using lectures for delivering content at students”
What problems were being addressed?
- Digital pedagogical capacity building
- Promoting effective use of synchronous/live teaching time through structured asynchronous engagement
- Enhancing student engagement in large-group teaching
Who was involved?
The EDTL Team at Trinity has evolved across the project, including academic staff, professional services staff and a range of student interns. Kevin O’Connor, Dr Jonny Johnston, and Asst. Prof. Julie Byrne have been particularly involved in promoting and using flipped classroom approaches in the Trinity context.
Why did you choose to address the challenges this way?
- Flipping adds a digital skin to an existing educational practice around ‘pre-reading’/‘pre-learning – it’s a digital enhancement of something many colleagues are already doing.
- Flipping takes the benefits of an interactive tutorial approach and scales them for larger-group lecture teaching
- Our approach supports experiential learning around preparing content for ‘flipping’ to enhance digital academic practice
- The approach taken is to promote teaching that enhances learning
How were the goals achieved?
The flipped classroom approach in effect says that supervised/interaction time between learners and teachers is important and should be used effectively. Rather than using lecture time to deliver content, consolidated by independent work, independent pre-work is consolidated under supervision during teaching time. For flipping to work effectively, links need to be visible between materials provided (e.g. with the content to be ‘flipped’); learners need clear and structured guidelines on how and why they are expected to engage with the flip; frequent and iterative formative assessment of pre-work is required to promote that supervised consolidation during live teaching time. It is important to recognise that flipping should not increase student workload or involve pre-recording full lectures, as content flip – structured engagement and structured materials are key for effective use of flipping.
One of the early EDTL outputs was the development of an in-person professional development module for staff, known as the Technology Enhanced Learning (‘TEL’) module. Led by Assistant Professor Julie Byrne working closely with learning technologists, Kevin O’Connor and David Hamill, the TEL module supported upskilling and afforded the opportunity to experiment experientially with flipped classroom approaches to 45 members of staff, embedding ‘flippers’ in Schools and Departments. Another EDTL output was a webinar led by Jonny and Kevin, directed to the DARIAH-EU consortium (‘Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities’), exploring how flipping could be used to support professional learning and development work. The consistent guidance of the EDTL team relating to flipping was:
- Keep the material to be flipped focused and realistic in size.
- Think about why and how you expect learners to engage with material/content.
- Be explicit in your expectations for content engagement – what should learners be focusing on during the pre-learning?
- How will you incentivise engagement with the flip – why should students bother engaging with material if it’s not used/explored during the live teaching time?
Not all flipped content needs to be video or multimedia based, although a lot of the literature on flipping does focus on video-content as a learning transfer tool. This can really drive the use of flipping with less upfront preparation time for the educator – and can be a real win for time-poor academics. A journal article, for example, can be easily ‘flipped’ and exploited as pre-reading during a live teaching session – students can be assigned a long piece of reading in advance of a session, set a series of interactive prompts to test engagement in advance of the session, and then provided with a series of prompt questions to work through in (small) groups during a teaching event – affording the lecturer the opportunity to really be aware of what the points of difficulty are for students in a specific content area.