The Flipped Classroom Approach: A Conduit for Effective Online Teaching

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Listen and learn : Snapshot

Snapshots are a pairing of two 20 minute presentations followed by a 5 minute Q & A.
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Other presentations in this group:

Brandon Bush  
Dr. Amanda Hurlbut  
Sarah McMahan  

Learn about the use of a flipped-classroom approach in higher education blended courses or as a way to transition online mid-semester. This approach includes: creating engaging teaching content; assigning low-stakes, incentive viewing tasks; formative assessment; and classroom application. Screencasting tools and in-class activities will be shared.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Teacher education/higher ed faculty
Skill level: Intermediate
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: None - reliable data plan or wifi connection
Topic: Distance, online & blended learning
Grade level: Community college/university
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
  • Explore and apply instructional design principles to create innovative digital learning environments that engage and support learning.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

As thousands of administrators, teachers, parents, and students wait to see what the fall semester unfolds as far as K-12 schooling in the midst of a pandemic, there is one thing that is almost sure to be certain: online education in some form or fashion, whether it is the driving force or the back-up plan, is part of the 2020-2021 school year.

Higher education went online a while ago. Online classes became a staple of college offerings in the early 2000s. While many college instructors navigate these waters and come out stronger on the other side, many in higher ed still have no clue that online classes need to be taught with a different design mentality and a different pedagogy altogether. Some are successful and some are not. According to recent statistics regarding enrollment in online and distance learning courses, approximately 33% of undergrads and 38% of post-baccalaureate students participate in at least one online course (Education, 2020). Online learning has yet to catch fire in mainstream K-12 public school settings.

The pandemic created an immediate shift and reliance to online learning where no niche yet existed in K-12. Districts scrambled to select a learning management system. Schools scrambled to provide devices for students. The community scrambled to ensure that low-income students had access to the internet at no extra cost. Teachers scrambled to put together lessons that were somewhat meaningful, but wouldn’t create an endless email chain of questions and confusion from parents and students. It was a lot of scrambling, but not a lot of prepared planning. There just wasn’t time. Online learning was only a distant possibility, but never a reality for schools charged with teaching K-12 learners…until now.

In online instruction, teachers do not have a captive audience, nor the luxury of using classroom management skills to help focus students in the same way that they do in face-to-face instruction. Additionally, there is not a wealth of research on how long or how much time K-12 students stay engaged in live or recorded online content. Much of the research in online instruction focuses on the higher education audience. And this research shows that when using pre-recorded content, many learners tend to tune out after about six minutes! (Buchner, 2018; Gruber & Buchner, 2017; Guo, Kim, & Rubin, 2014; Thomson, Brigestock, & Willems, 2014). We assume that college students have longer attention spans and more practice with study skills to limit distractions. But how much practice has a typical eighth grader had in these environments? Or a kindergarten student? It must be concluded that the attention span of these learners might be even less which means that virtual content must be concise, to the point, and focus on the absolute most important elements that need to be learned. This also means that any and all instructional activities should be purposefully aligned to the overall learning goal. Teachers can only identify the absolute most important content by using a backward mindset lens approach toward planning. We also believe that there needs to be a balance between asynchronous and synchronous access to content that only a flipped classroom approach to learning can provide.

A common error when designing online learning experiences is that teachers will attempt to replicate F2F learning by simply copying the instructional sequence and learning activities done in a classroom environment to an online one with relatively little modification. This is not feasible because of the limited captive audience issue mentioned earlier. But this is also an issue due to the difference in the instructional setting. There are two ways in which virtual learning is primarily delivered:

Asynchronously. Teaching content is pushed out via pre-recorded teaching via screencasts or podcasts, through supplementary resources such as YouTube videos and other media content, or in the form of articles and textbook reading. Students then complete activities (i.e. guided practice or independent practice) such as answering discussion board questions, taking quizzes, or writing reflections at their own pace. Work is submitted and then graded by the teacher later.

Synchronously. Teaching content is pushed out via live video conferencing tools such as Zoom, WebEx, or Google Meet that allows the teacher to communicate and teach to students similar to a F2F setting via a computer screen. In this form of online instruction, the teacher structures the lesson very similarly with students participating at the same time.

In a traditional F2F lesson, teachers will tell you that one of the top assessment strategies to determine if students understand a concept is via classroom questioning. Teachers ask questions, students answer the questions, Teachers probe, students elaborate. When students can’t or don’t answer a question, teachers can immediately conclude that students have not yet arrived at some connection and intervene with more instruction. However, this is not a practical way to check for understanding in asynchronous learning environments. Since content is pushed out in the form of recorded videos, articles, and other content for students to work on at their own pace, live elements of a classroom setting such as a question and answer sequence cannot be used. Students can always respond to written questions but feedback is almost always delayed (if given depending on the teacher).

Which means that in an asynchronous approach to online learning, teachers need to become well-versed in how to anticipate common misunderstandings so as to prevent possible misconceptions. But it also means that learning activities and assessment evidence used to gauge student understanding must be specifically tailored to an environment in which feedback is sometimes delayed. An additional implication is that assessments will need to be designed so that teachers can assess potential errors or misconceptions in a different way.

We believe that teachers can overcome this issue by using a flipped classroom approach to learning that can be used in blended and 100% online environments. Tenets of the flipped classroom approach include:

Step 1 - Teachers create or use high quality teaching content in short spurts and assign this content for students to view and access OUTSIDE of the classroom, preferably before showing up to class. These are often created in teacher-made teaching videos and cover foundational or basic aspects of a lesson.
Step 2 - Teachers assign a short, low stakes viewing proof assignment that goes with the content. This serves as proof that the student interacted with the content and to check for initial understanding of the concept. The activity is usually low-stakes in that students get a completion grade for turning it in.
Step 3 - Checking for understanding activity. When students come back to class (or meet online) the teacher rather than starting out with the lesson, checks for initial understanding and student mastery. The lesson picks up from where this content left off and can typically go to higher levels of learning.
Step 4 - The teacher provides hands-on engagement and in-class application (either face-to-face or online, virtually via Zoom synchronous platforms) to go deeper with the content and engage the learners further in the content rather than sticking to basic foundational skills pushed out in step 1.

Our presentation will focus on the practicality of using this method in both blended (virtual and F2F) environments AND in 100% online environments via asynchronous and synchronous platforms. Furthermore, we will model a typical lesson sequence while engaging our learners in a complete flipped classroom cycle including recorded content, viewing proof activity, checking for understanding, and in-class applications. Suggestions for tools to create teaching video content will also be discussed in addition to the research on this area.


Activity 1 - Introductions & watch introductory video on the flipped classroom (8 minutes). Complete short Google form as the viewing proof activity as part of phase 2 of the flipped classroom model.

Activity 2 - Discuss flipped classroom applications to virtual learning environments. Discuss asynchronous vs. synchronous learning. In a blended environment the class would meet F2F. In a virtual environment the class meets on a Zoom platform (8 minutes)

Activity 3 - Model synchronous in-class application activity using Google slides and notecards. Attendees will read statements pre-written and will make predictions based on background knowledge about the flipped classroom. A structured discussion on the implications will be held. If F2F, the activity will be posted at the front while attendees work in partners or groups to discuss. If virtual, attendees will use color coded dots on Google slides to make predictions in break-out sessions. This part of the activity has two purposes: 1. To engage learners in discussion about learning design and 2. To model in-class application activities in either environment - F2F or virtual as part of the flipped classroom model. (10 minutes)

Activity 4 - Discuss methods for creating quality screencasts & teaching resources. Final presentation Q&A (4 minutes)

Supporting research

Brame, C., (2013). Flipping the classroom. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. Retrieved from

Buchner, J. (2018). How to create educational videos: from watching passively to learning actively. R&E-SOURCE. Retrieved from

Gruber, H., & Buchner, J. (2017). How to create inverted classroom videos for teaching and learning music outside and within the classrooms. Presented at the 25th EAS Conference and 6th European ISME Regional Conference, Mozarteum University Salzburg. Retrieved from:

Guo, P., Kim, J., & Rubin, R. (2014). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of mooc videos. In Proceedings of the First ACM Conference on Learning at Scale Conference (pp. 41–50). Retrieved from:

Hattie, J. (2018). Visible Learning Framework. Retrieved online from

Thomson, A., Bridgstock, R., & Willems, C. (2014). ‘Teachers flipping out’ beyond the online lecture: Maximising the educational potential of video. Journal of Learning Design, 7(3). Retrieved from:

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Brandon Bush, Texas Woman's University
Dr. Amanda Hurlbut, Texas Woman's University

Amanda Hurlbut, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction in the Teacher Education Department at Texas Woman's University. She has served in public education for over 15 years as a teacher, administrator, and professor. Her primary research interests include practice-based pre-service teacher education, authentic field experiences, formative assessment for learning, and technology integration in K-12 and higher education settings. Dr. Hurlbut holds Google 1 educator certification, has a certificate in effective teaching practices from the Association of Colleges and University Educators, and has a certificate from the ISTE course in Mobile Learning practices.

Sarah McMahan, Texas Woman's University

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