Flipped, hybrid classes to be showcased at Nov. 19 event

Assistant professor of kinesiology Laura Ellingson sought a way to break up a daunting three-hour weekly lecture format for a 400-level elective course. Ecology, evolution and organismal biology professor Arnold Van Der Valk wanted more activity (and less time lost to preparation) during a three-hour 300-level ecology lab and standardized lab materials for students across all 18 lab sections.


Thursday, Nov. 19, 2:30-4 p.m.
MU Campanile Room

Both faculty members received grants last winter to "flip" class content – in which students study readings, videos or other academic content before class, typically online, in order to use class meeting time for more active learning options. Their projects were two of 22 announced last February, supported by $262,000 in awards from the office of the senior vice president and provost and assistance from learning design specialists in the Online Learning Innovation Hub, a service unit of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT). The program's primary aim was to improve students' learning experiences. It also helped a broader effort to ease scheduling demands for classrooms. The program assisted more than 60 faculty working on about 80 courses.

Ellingson, Van Der Valk and faculty from the 20 other flipped or hybrid class projects will be the focus of a showcase event on Thursday, Nov. 19 (2:30-4 p.m., Memorial Union Campanile Room). All are welcome.

Flipped class
A teaching model that flips the traditional instructional format. Students view lectures and other academic content (could be online) prior to class. Class time is used for active learning activities such as discussions, problem solving, projects and further explanation of materials.

Hybrid course
A specific fraction of a course's meeting time is replaced by online instruction. For example, in a three-credit course, one of the three weekly class sessions is replaced with an online session.

Ralph Napolitano, professor of materials science and engineering and CELT associate director for online education, said the projects raised awareness and "paved the way" for nontraditional teaching options.

"The participating faculty have realized their objectives and seen the potential for alternative teaching styles," he said. "This [flipped classes] is just one example of the opportunities when you step away from the traditional lecture system."

What they did

Ellingson developed a series of online lectures (PowerPoint slides with voiceover) and quizzes, and selected readings and videos her 45 students study online. Her goal was to push one hour of material online, preserving the now two-hour class period for discussions about concepts and strategies and team work involving case studies. The change compelled her students to "engage with the material" at least two times a week instead of one and has made class time more interactive, she said. The shorter meeting time allowed the class to be scheduled in the late afternoon rather than its previous 6-9 p.m. slot.

Van Der Valk developed about 10 online modules to prepare hundreds of students for their ecology labs with higher consistency. The modules contain original videos, scientific papers, quizzes and links to relevant videos created by others. He also moved some lecture content into the modules, opening class time for discussion. Students receive the same lab preparation, regardless of their teaching assistant, he said, and come better prepared for the labs, many of which are outdoors.

Nov. 19 showcase event

The 90-minute event features a 45-minute program followed by a poster session and reception. The program will include a five-minute video overview of the grant program, project highlights from three participating faculty and a short panel discussion by three undergraduates enrolled this semester in courses with flipped content.

Asked to focus on outcomes and the impact on student learning, the three faculty presenters are:

  • Jackie Baughman, senior lecturer in mechanical engineering, who developed online instructional and assessment modules for use across a four-course engineering design sequence (100- to 400-level)
  • Autumn Cartagena, academic adviser in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who developed online components and redesigned in-class activities for a one-credit orientation course (LAS 101) required for all open-option and pre-professional students in the college – approximately 550 students each year
  • Locke Karriker, associate professor in veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine, who developed a series of multimedia clinical cases for use in eight courses, one of which will use the case studies as the basis for in-class discussions with lectures posted online

Another round?

The provost's office is in the early stages of gathering faculty feedback on the flipped class grant initiative. If there's still a significant amount of demand for creating flipped or hybrid classes, the provost would consider continuing the program, said Rob Schweers, director of communications for the office.

Related story:

Grants will help 'flip' 80 courses Feb. 19, 2015