Flipping the Classroom

Martin Wielemaker prepares video learning objectsThe classic classroom model of long lectures and assigning homework, while popular, can be monotonous. While many professors break up lectures with short discussions and activities, Martin Wielemaker, UNB professor in the Faculty of Business Administration, chose to flip the entire concept around.

The “flipped classroom” as it’s called, is just that. Instead of spending the class lecturing to students, professors produce lecture videos for students to watch outside of class. Class time is spent working on more difficult problems, with the professor around to help students.

Many students, especially those enrolled in higher-level classes, enjoy the model, says Wielemaker. “…it gives them lots of flexibility and has the benefit of being able to re-watch [the lecture].” The videos are also more concise than a lecture. By removing pauses and filler, as well as using a script, Wielemaker is able to keep the videos short and to the point.

One of the key points of the flipped classroom is keeping students interested and motivated. One of the best ways to do this is through quality, well-produced videos.  Wielemaker hand-draws most of the elements in his videos on an iPad, and shoots them in a green screen studio.

However, there will always be students who have trouble keeping up with the online content. To counteract this, Wielemaker uses a set of incentives to keep students involved. Online quizzes and feedback in addition to using Socrative (app-based clicker for phones) in class keep students motivated and engaged through the class.

While the flipped classroom may not be for all learning types, it can be a refreshing way of looking at the classroom experience, and an especially useful tool in classes with older, self-motivated learners.

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