Today’s universities are focused on creating innovative forward looking education environments that prepare students for the 21st Century workplace. Part of this is shifting the traditional lecture based courses and moving more towards a blended learning environment. A final objective could be to flip the classroom. The flipped classroom supports a focus on effective use of technology innovations, pedagogy and best practices for fostering an inclusive learning environment to improve student learning outcomes. To achieve this, both blended learning tools and faculty support need to be in place for successful implementation.
These universities often share the same story. Some classes are held in an auditorium space with 150 + students and are reporting a decline in student attendance during the lectures. Student surveys reveal that access to lecture captures and lack of engagement being part of the reason they do not attend. One way to approach these issues is to introduce blended learning applications and redefine the traditional classroom. Blended learning can be described in part as delivering content and instruction through a variety of mediums and give more control to the students. An example of this strategy could be successfully implementing the following tools:
- Course Management System (CMS) - allows 24/7 access to course materials that are provided in multimedia formats. The CMS also includes assessment forms, discussion forums, quizzes and a grade book.
- Lecture Capture- lectures are videotaped an uploaded into the online course materials so students can use as a resource and access 24/7.
- Formative Assessments using an online assessment tool - specifically intended to generate feedback on performance to improve and accelerate learning. This strategy empowers students to be self-regulated learners that include student’s individual goals where their performances can be compared and assessed. Formative assessments can be a tool to do this.
Faculty and student support should be embedded alongside these initiatives. Success is highly dependent upon an institution’s ability to support the blended and flipped classroom instructional model and the existence of a high quality well designed and supported faculty development program. With blended learning tools in place and a high rate of faculty confidence built in using the tools, curriculum can be re-designed so students are working in the classroom, verbally and with the online assessment tool, to solve problems, develop critical thinking skills and work in partnership with their peers to evaluate and answer high-level challenges. In the flipped classroom, the lectures and readings could be done outside of class so that the valuable classroom time could be devoted to faculty interacting with students via the online assessment tool and supporting the learning.