Using a flipped classroom to teach a technology class

Flipping the Classroom, a recent post at Tech&Learning, excerpts a tiny portion of the book Flip Your Classroom by Jorgmann and Sams. In this excerpt Bergmann and Sams present several reasons for using this method. Before coming upon this list, I had basically decided to use this approach for the class I am developing here at Ross.

Here are the reasons that spoke most strongly to me along with my reaction to them:

Flipping helped busy students
As far as I can tell, no one is busier than the students in my classes. They have group projects in 4-5 classes, they have homework in those classes, they have clubs & sports teams & fraternities & sororities… Oh yeah, and class to go to. Having much of the material for the class online (lectures, exercises, assignments) provides an added bit of flexibility for the students (and for me, if I’m going to be truthful about it).
Flipping helps students of all abilities to excel
Students coming into any technology-related class that I teach always seem to have a huge variety of backgrounds and related skill. Some students barely need my lecture, some think they don’t need my lecture but realize later that they do (this is the group that I’m most excited about potentially reaching), and a final group knows that they need my lecture but need to listen to different parts of it at different speeds.
Flipping increases student-teacher interaction
I always enjoy working with students who want to learn. It’s easily the best part of my job. Anything that potentially increases the amount and/or quality of this part of my life is a good thing. I’m not looking to get out of having class, but I am looking to stop students from feeling like they have to come to class if they don’t want to. I have always thought of class time as the limiting resource when designing a class. I know that I only have X amount of hours for a class; the major question is “how should I spend this highly valuable time?” Well, if I can allocate more of it to working directly with students who have chosen to come to class so that they can work with me on a problem personally important to them — I can’t ask for more than that.
Flipping changes classroom management
As I have written about before, I have quite a history working with flipped-like classes so I have seen this in action. Classes run this way are so exciting, so energetic. Students get engaged with the material, with each other, and periodically with me. It is exhausting and invigorating to be a part of. I definitely did have to roam the class to periodically remind students to get back on task — they are kids, after all — but it’s nothing like having to wake the kids up who are sleeping during a lecture because of boredom.
Flipping makes your class transparent
I am very much looking forward to letting the public (parents, other professors, other students, legislators, executives) in on the exciting things we are doing in class. Just like when we published the blog for a class I taught last semester, it got the student’s attention and gave them a sense that what we were doing was “real.” It would also be great if the videos ended up getting comments and feedback from beyond our classroom walls. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

Do you have any words of warning or encouragement for me? Am I being too naive about this? What do you think?

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