Education 2.0 - Flipping the Classroom

Technology is at it again! The modern classroom is witnessing yet another evolution from the traditional model of classroom instruction to what is being referred to as the flipped classroom.


WHAT:  all instructional content is delivered online, through online lectures, videos, and discussions, whereas the physical classroom is then utilized as a place to complete homework, discuss the concepts in detail, and receive in depth feedback over completed work.  The flipped classroom enables for a more personalized interaction between student and teacher and is praised as created an environment ripe for active learning, student engagement, hybrid course design, and podcasting courses to a broader audience.  Class time is, in essence, re-purposed into a homework study, lab, or workshop that allows students to thoroughly inquire about the content through interactions with the instructor and their peers.
For your visual learning pleasure, I have included a short video discussing the flipped classroom.
Title: What is Blended Learning?

HOW: the way to create a successful flipped classroom is still in its infancy, but the common focus is to make the content available online to be viewed prior to attending the in-class portion, which is set up with questions, problems, discussions, and projects (individual and group).   Many instructors are utilizing CMS (course management systems) such as Moodle and Blackboard to facilitate this type of blended learning.

WHO:  It appears that several institutions of higher education are utilizing this method to some degree, either with creating fully flipped classrooms or allocating certain periods of time in the course to complete a unit or project online.  The principle itself has been largely attributed to the key contributions of Eric Mazur who referred to this instructional strategy as peer instruction, and as early as 1993, papers were being written on the importance of shifting instructors from the lecture podium to the students' desks (King).  

SIGNIFICANCE:  During lecturing, students must grasp what is being said instantaneously without time to truly question, reflect, and comprehend, especially if they are trying to take notes during the presentation of the new information.  In the flipped environment, students are able to watch videos or review the lecture in their own time, where they can stop and rewind when necessary. 
This is, without a doubt, a great benefit for all students.  As a student for many years, I remember the frantic feeling of trying to take notes as my professors spoke at what sounded like a mile a minute.  For me, the courses that placed their lectures online through a CMS allowed me to go home and review, which was particularly useful before exams.
Furthermore, this mode of instruction provides so many more options for students with learning challenges, as well as those who are unable to attend class regularly because of geographical or personal reasons.  
Lastly, by focusing class time on solving programs, completing tasks, and working on projects, instructors can focus on detecting "errors in thinking," especially those that are "widespread in a class"  (Educause, 2012).  Detecting problems can also go beyond the instructor to include student peers who can leverage each other's varying skills in comprehending concepts.  


  • digital divide between instructors and their students, as well as between students from different socio-economic backgrounds. The fear?  Placing undue pressure on families as they struggle to provide their children with the necessary technological resources outside of school hours.

SOLUTION?  Flipped schools must provide students with a learning space for those who cannot accomplish the tasks at home.  However, again, this raises issues of funding and supervision before or after school hours

  • a high expectation on student autonomy and personal responsibility in order to accomplish this self-directed learning.

SOLUTION?  Although Distance-Ed and blended learning classrooms have been increasingly available to students at the college and university level since the early 2000s, preparing students to become autonomous, self-directed learners needs to begin at the youngest of ages, in segments or sessions, when they are best equipped to acclimatize to this new learning environment and integrate the routine into their daily learning and living habits.  

  • for a generation that already spends an excessive amount of time on the computer, this would result in simply adding more computer time to their daily schedule.

REALITY:  Students will continue to spend progressively more time on their digi-devices, so flipped classrooms may actually result in shifting that often aimless cyber time of youtube videos and instragram shuffling to actual productive learning objectives.  

  • instructors are expected to produce high quality videos and e-lectures that take a significant amount of time and effort outside of regular teaching functions.

REALITY:  again, funding is key - funding to create suitable training programs for teachers on how to create flipped classrooms, to employ resource personnel and departments to assist instructors in this endeavor, and to ensure that the material is meeting the necessary criteria on content and format.  In an age when funding for education is often being cut (especially at the primary and secondary levels), this last concern is certainly the most detrimental to the realization of the flipped classroom.


  • as more and more tools emerge for mobile devices, students will be able to hold a growing number of rich educational resources in the literal palms of their hands in environments that are convenient and customized for their learning needs.
  • the training of instructors will incorporate a significant focus on properly designing, developing, integrating, and assessing these tools and blended learning environments, which will allow us to professionally grow and stimulate innovation.

Now, how to I personally feel about this environment?  As a student who took full advantage of blending learning environments throughout my academic career, I believe that it will equalize learning among students who cannot attend a traditional classroom environment as a result of personal, socio-economic, and cultural reasons. 
And your opinion?
For those who are still unsure about the changing role of the instructor in the modern teaching environment, I have included a video highlighting an instructor's experience with the flipped classroom.
Title: The Flipped Classroom

Educause. (2012, February).  7 things you should know about... flipped classrooms.  Retrieved from
King, A. (1993). From sage on the stage to guide on the side. College teaching, 41 (1), 30-35.
Nicol, D.J., & Boyle, J.T. (2003). Peer instruction versus class-wide discussion in the large classes: a comparison of two interaction methods in the wired classroom. Studies in Higher Education, 29 (4), 458-73
Mazur, E. (1997). Peer instruction: A user's manual series in educational innovation. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Nielsen, L. (2012). Five reasons I'm not flipping over the flipped classroom. Retrieved from
Rosenberg, T. (2013, October 9). Turning Education Upside DownNew York Times.
Turpen, C. & Finkelstein, N. (2010). The construction of different classroom norms during Peer Instruction: Students perceive differences. Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 6 (2), 020123-1 - 020123-22.

Katina is currently working as one of the Tutoring and Learning Center Advisors at George Brown College.  She has a B.A., an M.A., and TESL Ontario certification, and has been working in the teaching and tutoring field for the past 12 years, working in colleges and universities, public elementary and secondary schools, and private academies in Canada, South Korea, and China. Prior to working at George Brown College as the TLC Advisor, she worked as an English Language Trainer (ELT) at Acces Employment, where she facilitated an intensive 140-hour Business English and Canadian Culture course focused at preparing new Canadians to succeed in the Canadian workplace. Her teaching strengths lie in preparing students for conversation or public-speaking based tasks, including developing behavioural interviewing and presentation skills. Prior to joining the exceptional TLC team, Katina worked as a part-time Assessment Advisor and Proctor at all three George Brown campuses, where she was responsible for administering, assessing, and advising admissions' and placement students on their academic next steps.

- Written by Katina Deichsel,