The flipped classroom approach, heavily reliant on technology, may have reached a level of acceptance in higher education that makes is no longer experimental.


Educators say students’ attitudes improved in flipped classrooms.

Once pushed by higher education’s tech savviest educators and policymakers, the flipped model — which has students watch online lectures outside of class and complete homework in class — is now used, or will be used, in half of college lecture halls and classrooms, according to a survey released Nov. 19.

The survey, conducted by webcasting company Sonic Foundry and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), found a growing acceptance of the once-cutting edge flipped classroom approach, with eight in 10 respondents saying “improved mastery of information” is the top benefit for college students.

Eighty-four percent of educators said the flipped model was a “better learning experience” for their students.

Ralph Welsh, a public health sciences professor at Clemson University, said that while there were more high marks on end-of-semester student evaluations, there was also a jump in low marks. This, Welsh said, showed that the flipped model had at least some polarizing potential.

“Most students want the recorded lecture, but if the tradeoff is not seeing the professor face to face, it might not be worth it for all of them,” said Welsh, who has experimented with the flipped classroom. “They liked it, but they still wanted to see the professor face to face in the classroom.”

Some low student evaluations in flipped classrooms, Welsh said, could be related to inevitable technical glitches in the viewing of online lectures. Still, the model has become popular across higher education.

Eighty-six percent of faculty who responded to the survey said the flipped model has helped improve student attitudes.

“There is an imperative to increase the real-time and real-world value of college degrees in order to meet the rising costs of higher education,” said Sean Brown, senior vice president for Sonic Foundry.  “Despite the investment of time and effort required to implement the flipped classroom model effectively, the approach is clearly delivering key benefits to both students and faculty and will continue to see increased adoption in the coming months and years.”

It has been common in recent years for professors to view the flipped model with some skepticism, as student evaluations went a long way in determining who received a pay raise from administrators.

The Sonic Foundry survey results should go a long way in allaying those fears, Welsh said.

“If I’m not sure it’s going to work then I’m going to stick with what I know and what I have, since there’s no compelling reason to change,” he said.

Educators can join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #eCNFlippedLearning

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