Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Is flipping an online course possible?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 14th, 2015


I am emerging from a self-imposed blog exile that happened because of the usual end-of-semester chaos, plus the fact that I am currently teaching my very first online course — a fully online version of our standard Calculus 1 class. Being new to online teaching, designing and building the course was a major time investment. The class has turned out to be a microcosm of everything I have tried pedagogically in the last several years: it uses a lot of technology, it uses specifications grading, and it’s flipped.
That last part, about being flipped, has been a fascinating and perplexing problem. Flipping a fully online class challenges all the usual assumptions about the flipped classroom that we make. Our language about flipped learning is rooted in the concept of “class time”. Students gain first contact with new material “before class”, then there is some work on more advanced and creative applications “during class”, and then students do even more advanced work “after class”. Even my go-to operational definition of flipped learning avoids the idea of “class time” and instead refers to “group learning space” and “individual learning space”. But what if there are no synchronous class meetings whatsoever? Is it even semantically possible to flip a class that never meets — or rather, a class that always meets?

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