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Flipping For Education

More and more these days, talk in academia centers on the idea of online learning or the flipped classroom that inverts traditional teaching methods by delivering lectures or instruction online and moving “homework” into the classroom. So Laura Doyle, civil engineering academic year adjunct lecturer, jumped right in.

“I’d been hearing about flipping the classroom from my friends who teach at the high school level, and then at the School of Engineering faculty retreat last fall, Dean Mungal raised the issue of hybrid education, indicating an interest in having us experiment. Since then the topic has pretty much been in our faces, so I decided to try it for my statics class since it doesn’t have a lab, but has a lot of material to cover.”

Laura Doyle (second from right) enjoys “mixing it up” in the classroom as well as in the lab.
Photo: Able Hsu '14

Using Doceri, an interactive whiteboard app for iPad, Doyle recorded a lecture and posted it online in SCU’s file sharing forum. Students were assigned homework of watching the lecture and taking an online quiz. At the next class meeting, they solved problems relating to the video. “My goal in doing this is to acknowledge that every student learns differently,” said Doyle; “some like to solve problems on their own, others like to work in groups or with the teacher. Flipping the lesson gives them that opportunity and forces them to work together on problems.”

In the future, she plans to expand the number of lectures students watch at home and do more lab-type work in class. “I think we have to recognize that students are coming from high schools where they use iPads everyday; they are used to learning with technology in hand—this is how they’ve learned to learn. So when they come to college and are back to using books, it feels a bit like they are moving backwards. We need to approach this issue head-on and bring new styles of learning to the college level.”

Oddly enough, this “new” style of teaching was lauded by a parent who happened to sit in on one of Doyle’s flipped classes as “…a reincarnate Socrates would recognize as great pedagogy.” Not a bad teaching model to follow!