Blog Entry

Hands-on Work Face-to-Face; Lectures Virtualized


At the recent SIDLIT conference, Tracy Newman ( presented on “Mobile Learning and the Inverted Classroom, Not Just for Hybrid Courses.” She was highlighting a recent phenomena to improve blended learning by having students use their online time to experience pre-recorded lectures and virtual experiences; face-to-face time with the instructors would be used to apply that learning in various types of discussions, games, laboratory experiences, and hands-on applied learning practices.

As a matter of fact, many are going to online sites that do excellent jobs of teaching concepts and information and innovating on their own hands-on teaching. One example of such a site is the Khan Academy (, with Salman Khan’s originally reaching out to his cousins to help them learn math and evolving now into a world-renown non-profit organization offering quality teaching materials. Further, the Khan Academy now has learner analytics in the background to enhance the learning experience. It analyzes the amounts of time that people spend on particular activities, and it tries to address those learning boondoggles that would be enhanced with more explanation or review.

Some Benefits of Self-Paced Lectures

This “flipping the classroom” enables the experiencing of self-paced lectures at home. Learners may play and replay lectures for clarity—assuming that these were designed to be sufficiently complete the first time. They can pause the lectures at any time. They can learn without the pressure of a live classroom situation where an instructor is asking if they get it. (That said, they cannot ask a real-time question for a subject matter expert—but they can save the question for the in-class time.) Khan, in one video, explains that this flexibility can take away some of the “dehumanizing” aspects of being lectured to. Using some pre-recorded contents may enhance the learning by making it more engaging and active—in the sense that the real-time learning then becomes more about tailoring the learning to each learner.

Further, various social technologies like wikis and blogs may be used for asynchronous interactive learning in between the various lectures and face-to-face meetings.

Actual Preparation for Class?

In real-time and real-space, the learners are supposed to go through guided practice. The system, of course, breaks down if people did not prepare. Other activities that may be applied during class include experiments, collaborations / group work, clicker-based interactivity, student re-teachings, debates, Socratic seminars, interactions with primary source documents, and other projects, according to Newman. There can also be one-on-one tutoring.

One instructor in the audience described how he designed a range of “activity pickups” for when students arrived to have them practice their newly acquired skills before class started.

Some Articles

Newman cited some information on the Web that might help those interested in pursuing the flipped classroom. She cited Derek Bruff’s “Mobile Learning and the Inverted Classroom”;
Greg Kulowiec’s “Flipping a History Classroom”; Eric Mazur “Farewell, Lecture?”; and Robert Talbert’s “Inverting the Classroom, Improving Student Learning”.

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