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Flipping the classroom

What is flipping the classroom?

Flipping the classroom involves assigning web-based content as homework that replaces the traditional in-class lecture, making time and space available in the classroom for more inquiry-based projects. Professor Eric Mazur began experimenting with this instructional style at Harvard in the 1990s.  In 2004, the Khan Academy videos helped bring the classroom flip into secondary education.

There is a lot of controversy and passion surrounding the flipped classroom. Advocates of flipping point to many advantages including students learning at their own pace, availability of online lessons and time for real work in the classroom.  Opponents of flipping point to holes including student access to internet & computer at home, time constraints for students at home if all subjects are flipped and merely transferring bad classroom instructional practices from classroom to the web.

MentorMob, one of the tools highlighted below, has a very informative learning playlist about flipping the classroom. This playlist is also an example of one way that web-based content can be shared with students.

Why flip the classroom?

Effective classroom flipping is not as simple as the name implies.  It actually puts more responsibility on both the teacher and the student.  Jackie Gerstein describes the flipped classroom model as one initiated by the teacher with experiential engagement (in class) and concept exploration (online content) that leads to student-generated meaning, demonstration and application (project creation).  A flipped classroom experience has the potential to engage students where they are and with what they are interested in through a constructivist learning model.

The flipped classroom is but one model of blended learning.  Blended learning is defined as "a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction and in part at a brick-and-mortar location."  Instruction that makes use of technology, is not necessarily blended learning if it doesn't give the student control of time, place, path and/or pace.  

5 things you should know

John Sowash shares 5 things he wish he had known about, before flipping his classroom.

How to flip the classroom

There are many Web 2.0 tools and resources to help facilitate flipping the classroom.  This section highlights a few tools that enable an educator to provide experiential engagement and web-based content, but tools and resources are also required for students to create projects that make meaning and demonstrate understanding.  


Jing is free screencasting software available for Mac & Windows that allows you to create your own web-based content.


The goal of MentorMob is "to crowd-source the world’s knowledge so anyone can learn from it."  At its core, MentorMob is a content curation and sharing tool. Content curation is what you do when you gather a variety of digital resources around a specific subject area.  MentorMob provides a platform to turn this content into a learning playlist that can be shared with others.  MentorMob also comes with a built-in community of collaborators that can help improve your playlists.  Finally, you can create customized quizzes to incorporate some level of assessment into your playlists.

Basic MentorMob is free and also a work in progress.  A new site design was released in June 2012 to make creating and using playlists more intuitive.  There is a pro version for educators that allows teachers to track student use and creation of playlists. Eventually, there are plans to incorporate Mozilla's Open Badge System.

Here's the learning playlist I started creating in the video above.


TED recently launched TED-Ed, a resource for flipping video content.  There are actually two parts to TED-Ed: 1) custom TED-Ed videos that combine educator lessons and voices with animations and 2) a flipped lesson interface that allows you to flip any YouTube video adding your own content through questions and additional readings and activities.


Socrative is a student response system that lets teachers build multiple choice, true/false, short answer, exit ticket & race quizzes online. Teachers create a room and then create or import quizzes. Students log into the room from web-enabled devices. Once a quiz is complete, a report can be downloaded by or e-mailed to the teacher. Currently the service is free, with a limit of 50 students in the classroom at once.

Learning Catalytics

Learning Catalytics is the student interaction system designed by Eric Mazur for use in his university courses. It is a very robust system that can group students together to optimize discussion and can accept almost any type of input including graphical responses. Secondary education is probably not ready to take advantage of this system yet, but it would be wise to prepare and it would be a great tool for educators to use to make professional development activities more interactive.


WebQuests have been around since the mid-1990s and they aren't exactly a Web 2.0 tool, but more of a collaborative, inquiry-based lesson plan design philosophy.  However, it is a philosophy that covers the full picture of the flipped classroom model and takes advantage of Web 2.0 tools and web-based content.  There are typically six components to a WebQuest:
  • Introduction - a hook that captures student interest
  • Task - a short description of what the student can accomplish
  • Process - outlines the steps along the way
  • Resources - identifies web content that will facilitate getting the steps done
  • Evaluation - includes a rubric that students and teachers can use to evaluate their work
  • Conclusion - classroom reflection of the quest
Sample webquests:

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