Faced with teaching a particularly challenging course – drug therapy – to students who sometimes struggled to keep up, Julie Hanson wondered if there was an effective way to help students work their way through often complex pharmacological concepts. ‘I was aware that students found the fundamental concepts in pharmacology difficult to grasp and even after a lecture the tutorials often turned into mini lectures having to go over some of the scientific concepts again.’
So how could she help this varied cohort ‘get it’? The notion that Julie initially turned to was Blended Learning.
Julie explains that Blended Learning is a combination of face-face teaching, mixed with online learning and the best of what Bloom (Cited in Anderson & Sosniak, 1994) terms higher-level learnings [see Figure 1]. Examples include incorporating case based learning, simulation, and discussion, each of which encourages students to move towards knowledge application and creation. The beauty of Blended Learning is that it frees up learners to be able to learn at their own pace, and to go back and revise as many times as they want.
Julie decided to research this somewhat novel approach further and what she discovered was the idea of the Flipped Classroom.
The Flipped Classroom initiative [see Figure 2] takes Blended Learning one step further – to blend technology with face to face learning AND emphasise the students’ engagement in learning prior to class contact, thanks to the technology. In this approach, students view an electronic or e-Lecture (complete with questions to answer) prior to the physical lecture; they then attend class, complete a quick quiz and together the educator and students engage in case-based learning. This moves learning beyond just knowledge acquisition, towards application, a higher order of thinking.
According to Julie, ‘the eLectures have received very positive feedback. A survey reports this approach takes thinking to another level, [with] increased engagement and increased confidence.’ To date, students have made comments such as ‘inspiring’, ‘passionate’, and ‘incredibly intelligent’. What has been successful then is an ‘ability to explain difficult concepts in a way that [students] can understand’, through ‘pacing the lectures’ and ‘applying concepts to clinical practice with authenticity.’
[Figure 2 Julie’s approach to the flipped classroom]
Julie states that for the Flipped Classroom approach to be effective, ‘students need to make a pedagogical shift from passive to active learners and be encouraged to take ownership of their learning and you [the educator] may experience some resistance to this. It is important to be explicit about how you plan to teach your course and the expectations that you have of students.’
Watch the video and join in the discussion by answering questions below, or put your own point of view forward.
Julie’s presentation is a good example of a professional and engaging presenting style. What aspects about her style would you say are praise-worthy?
One of the audience members, Suzie, raises a good point towards the end of the seminar. She said that this kind of learning builds interaction between students. Considering figure 2, what cognitive skills, that Bloom and others have identified, do you think could be developed using this approach?
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Brookfield, S.D. (2005). The Power of Critical Theory Liberating Adult Learning and Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Johnston, A., Massa, H., Burne, T. (2013). Digital lecture recording: A cautionary tale. Nurse Education in Practice, 13(1), 40-47.
Kiteley, R.J., Ormond, G. (2009). Towards a team-based, collaborative approach to embedding e-learning within undergraduate nursing programmes. Nurse Education Today, 29(6), 623-629.
Lameras, P., Levy, P., Paraskakis, I., & Webber, S. (2012). Blended university teaching using virtual learning environments: Conceptions and approaches. Instructional Science, 40(1), 141-157.
Boyer, A. (2013). The flipped classroom. Teacher Learning Network, 20 (1), 28-29.