Design courses to pull out lesson content rather than push it in

I am taking a course now where we talk about the lesson content ahead of the two-week module, which resembles a lecture-style approach to teaching. The instructor gives an overview and offers activities on information that we may or may not be familiar with. In the synchronous sessions, I get a sense of what is to come in the week ahead but I am not as engaged as I could be if the content were being reviewed rather than being introduced. There are a few students who do read ahead, and they dominate the activities. In every session I think to myself how much more engaged I and other participants could be if we had all read the content, participated in the discussion forums, and then attended the session. I feel a deeper knowledge of the topics could be produced if the synchronous session where at the end, rather than giving me a taste for what is to come.

What would happen if you just put your synchronous session at the end of week rather than at the beginning? This simple shift tends to naturally create a flipped classroom rather than a lecture. Have students read, watch, discuss (add your verb here) then meet synchronously to solidify the content and create new understanding from that content. Simple, right?

As most of can agree, in flipped classrooms there is a greater opportunity for students to engage in the content and practice what they have learned, and instructors are pulling out what knowledge students have picked up. Whereas when instructors lecture, they are simply pushing in content that will be pulled out in a testing environment. Lecturing does not promote learning, nor does it prepare them for the workforce.  How do you shift from lecture to flipped? Put your synchronous session at the end of your module.

We’ve seen numerous articles on the benefits of a flipped classroom, such as how they lead to more student participation, how they better achieve learning outcomes, and how they better prepare students for the workplace (whatever that may look like in the years to come). You can google “flipped classroom” and find the hyperlinks I could have added above. How this relates to your course design may elude you, but shifting your synchronous session to the end of the module(s) or week(s) will naturally promote this learning approach.

If you are looking to flip your online classroom simply try this, hold your synchronous session after your weekly/module content so students have read the content, engaged in discussion forums, perhaps cleared up any misconceptions and then they are ready to climb Bloom’s pyramid and create new knowledge with other students who have (I know, hopefully) done the same pre-activities before joining the synchronous session.

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