Flip, flap flop, flipping the online classroom

Flipping the Online Classroom

If I asked you the question, “how has the college classroom changed” what would you say?

Probably, you would say, “the speed of technology has changed the way I learn and teach”. This isn’t surprising, technology has burst into the classroom and changed everything and we as educators are still struggling to integrate the wealth of apps, devices and ideas into the learning experience.

Education is seen by many as the last institution to embrace the new paradigm of technological evolution (Blin & Munro, 2008; Christensen, C., Aaron, & Clark, 2002; Christensen, 2002; Magid, 2013). Why is that? Is it because we don’t get the support? Do we find it difficult because that’s not how we were taught? Is technology a barrier between the student and the teacher? To some degree the answer is yes to all of these questions.


But maybe we are trying to reinvent the wheel with new technology, perhaps we should build on that face-to-face lesson that we know works and integrate technology into this learning experience. The Flipped Philosophy may help us to incorporate technology into our pedagogy.

We have all heard about the flipped classroom model and how it can help to create classrooms that are more interactive and engaging. Online class can be improved through the use of the same techniques. The flipped classroom is about reversing what happens “in” and “out” of the classroom. Therefore, that video you were going to show in class is now watched at home and the discussion that you were going to assign as an essay is now completed as an engaging problem solving analysis in class.


But what happens when we flip the online class? There is no longer any “in” class and “out of class”. At the centre of the flipped classroom is the idea that we change the focus from the lecturer to the student. So what does this mean in the online line classroom? You need to create engaging activities that relate the concepts in a context and focus on the learning outcomes (Honeycutt & Garrett, 2013), with this technique then, we concentrate on how students construct their own knowledge and how they connect with their critical thinking skills and reflect about their own learning.  The flip is not about “where” or “when” the learning takes place but, by how the learning is focused on the student.


Here are three flips to think about:

1. Create a scavenger hunt. In the first week it is important that the student understands how the LMS works, but it’s not about Blackboard, it’s about the student’s experience of Blackboard, so, create a scavenger hunt through Blackboard. This is a great way to engage the student without any of the pressure or confusion associated with the first day of class. Students could find important information, announcements, or deadlines. Gamefi the experience with prizes for teams and individuals.

Why it works: Students are actively finding information and building their own mental sketches of the course rather than you telling them, again and again and again.


2. Use social media. Engage students with twitter #hashtag and encourage them to make a repository of course-related materials. Make sure the hashtag is unique to your course. Get students to review each other’s ideas and share them with the entire class.

Why it works: Students are building relationships and actively taking-part in conversations, by sharing resources and information they find, not just storing the information.


3. Encourage self-reflection and analysis. Ask students to reflect on their own learning in the online environment before the course starts. This will make students think about their online learning actively and help them to prepare for the online space as they analyse their strong points, flaws, problems, etc. Make this activity private between you are the student but, then post an overall response to all the students afterwards.

Why it works: Students have to critically look at themselves which can help build their ability to improve their higher levels of critical thinking.


These are flipped approaches because they change the focus from the lecturer to the students; they are active rather than passive; and, they engage the student’s creativity and evaluative skills rather than just basic recall of information; they all should work in the online environment.

Now it’s your turn to tell us what flipped strategies you have tried or would like to try. How do you get students engaged in the online environment.


Blin, F. & Munro, M, (2008). Why hasn’t technology disrupted academics’ teaching practices? Understanding resistance to change through the lens of activity theory. Computers and Education. Vol. 50, Issue 2. pp. 475-490.


Christensen, C. (2002). Improving higher education through disruption. Forum Futures. Available online: http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ffp0201s.pdf


Christensen, C., Aaron, S., & Clark, W. (2002). Disruption in education. In M. Devlin, R. Larson, & J. Meyerson (Eds.). The internet and the university: forum 2001. Available online from Educause: https://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ffpiu013.pdf


Honeycutt, B. & Garrett, J. (September 2013). The flipped approach to a learner-centered class. (whitepaper). Magna Publications.


Honeycutt, B. & Glova, S. (2013). 101 Ways to Flip Your Online Class. Flip It Consulting & Reify Media. Raleigh, NC.



Magid, L. (February 26, 2013). Can technology disrupt education? Forbes. Available online:



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