What is a flipped classroom?

The flipped classroom is a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed.

Students view informative video lectures in their own time before the class. In-class time is devoted to exercises, projects or discussions.

The video element is seen as the key ingredient in the flipped model. They are created by the instructor and posted online or are selected from an online resource repository.

The focus of a flipped classroom is to draw more attention to active learning, student engagements, hybrid course design and course podcasting. The value of this method is to make the most of class time where students can inquire about the content, test their skills and interact with one another in hands on activities. Class time allows instructors to function as coaches or advisors, encouraging students in individual inquiry and collaborative effort.

Many educators argue that the flipped classroom model is not new. Noting similarities with existing strategies where students are expected to prepare before class and engage in active learning while in class.

The key purpose of the flipped classroom is to engage students in active learning where there is a greater focus on students’ application of conceptual knowledge rather than factual recall (See Diagram 1).


Diagram 1: Learning opportunities of the flipped classroom (adapted from Gerstein)


Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction

Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction suggests there are certain mental conditions that must be present in order for student to absorb and retain knowledge. They are based on the internal and external cognitive functions required, to contribute to learning.

Internal factors are the learner’s prior knowledge. External factors are the outside stimuli such as the form of instruction.

1. Gain attention.

It is important to gain the attention of the learner immediately. Begin with an introduction that will get them curious and motivated about the topic. Some examples of this include stories that pull on the heartstrings, a question that surprises or shocks them, audio, animation or graphics.

2. Inform learners of the objectives/ direction.

Always state objectives so that your learners know WHY they need to actively participate in the learning. State them as if you were face to face with the learner and tie them into real-world applications and benefits. If learners know they will take something valuable away from this learning experience they are more likely to engage in the learning process.

3. Stimulate recall of prior learning.

Recalling and applying knowledge they have previously acquired gives online learners the chance to commit it to long-term memory, rather than forgetting it a second after they’ve read it.  It is important to let the learners know what skills or knowledge they will need to apply to the learning activity before it begins. You must also include how the subject matter is connected to information they already know.

4. Create goal-centred content.

Each activity, exercise, and piece content should tie in directly to the goals and objectives. In fact, it’s best to group information and concepts together based on the specific goal. For example, an online lesson or module should focus on one core objective, which allows the learner to master that topic before moving onto the next.

5. Provide online guidance.

Learners must have the coachingthey need to develop favourable online learning behaviours, or else they might be committing incorrect information to their long-term memory. A good example is a simulation. Whether a software sim or a soft skill branching sim, it should have sound instruction/directions and feedback for incorrect choices or answers.

6. Practice makes perfect.

Repetition is key to absorbing and retaining new knowledge and skills. The inclusion of opportunities for your learners to apply the knowledge they have acquired so far and try out behaviours that can help them in the real world is key. Offer thembranching scenariosand simulations that give them the chance to see where their decisions lead them, as well as the rewards and risks involved that come of their actions.

7. Provide feedback.

By giving your learners timely and constructive feedbackthey have the power to improve learning behaviours and identify their weaknesses and strengths. Offer personal feedback so that every learner knows which steps they must take in order to reach their goals.

8. Assess performance.

Assessing your learners not only gauges their progress, but also gives you the opportunity to identify weak spots in your learning strategy. For example, if a vast majority of your learners are struggling with one particular module, you may want to re-evaluate its content and activities. Thisalso offers you the ability to identify the knowledge gap; what they already know versus what they still need to learn in order to achieve objectives.

9. Enhance transfer of knowledge by tying it into real world situations and applications

Learners must always be aware of how they can apply what they have learned once they step out of the learning environment. As such, you should include real-world scenarios, stories, and other interactive learning activities that show them the applications of the information and skills they’ve worked so hard to develop.

Malcolm Knowles’ 6 Adult Learning Principles

Malcolm Knowles’ 6 Adult Learning Principles

Principles of adult learning have been examined extensively. Malcolm Knowles defined the term andragogy in the 1970s as ‘the art and science of helping adults learn.’

From Knowles 1984, he identified the six principles of adult learning:

Adult Learning

1. Adults are internally motivated and self-directed

Adult learning should be self-directed. Adult learners make choices relevant to their learning objectives. They also direct their learning goals with the guidance of their mentors. Students need to be given the freedom to assume responsibility for their own choices. This is a major principle of learning.

The Learning Process

2. Adults bring life experiences and knowledge to learning experiences

The learning process is about experience. Educators encourage learners to connect past experiences with current knowledge and activities. Educators must know how to relate the sum of the learners experience to the current learning experiences.

Adult Education and Goals

3. Adults are goal oriented

Adult education is about goals. Adult learners aim to acquire relevant and adequate knowledge and for this reason intended learning outcomes should be clearly identified. Once the learning goals have been identified, educators must align the learning activities such that these objectives are fulfilled within a certain period of time.

Instructional Design and Relevance

4. Adults are relevancy oriented

Instructional design should focus on developing relevance. Adult learners benefit by relating the assigned tasks to their own learning goals. If it is clear that the activities they are engaged into, directly contribute to achieving their personal learning objectives, then they will be inspired and motivated to engage in projects and successfully complete them.

Adult Learning is Practical

5. Adults are practical

It is very important for educators to identify appropriate ways and convert theoretical learning to practical activities. Work placement is a way for students to apply the theoretical concepts learned inside the classroom into real-life situations. Learning is assisted when appropriate ways of implementing theoretical knowledge in real life situations is made clear.

Respect for Adult Learning

6. Adult learners like to be respected

Adult learners thrive in collaborative relationships with their educators. Learners become more productive when they’re considered by their instructors as colleagues. When their contributions are acknowledged, then they are willing to put out their best work.

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy in the classroom

Originated by Benjamin Bloom and collaborators in the 1950’s, Bloom’s Taxonomy describes six levels of cognitive learning. By creating intended learning outcomes using measurable verbs, teachers are able to indicate exactly what the student must do in order to demonstrate learning. It was revised in 2001 by a group of cognitive psychologists.

The original taxonomy included:

Knowledge – information gathering

Comprehension – confirming knowledge and use of knowledge

Application – making use of knowledge

Analysis – taking apart

Synthesis – putting together

Evaluation – judging the outcome


The revised framework follows, with examples:


  1. Remembering: Students will recall the spelling of a word.

Verb examples: arrange, define, duplicate, label, list, memorize, name, order, recognize, relate, recall, repeat, reproduce, state


  1. Understanding: Students will predict the meaning of the word based on its use in the text then clarify it’s meaning with the dictionary definition.

Verb examples: classify, describe, discuss, explain, express, identify, indicate, locate, recognize, report, restate, review, select, translate


  1. Applying: They will implement it into a sentence showing that they know how it’s used.

Verb examples: apply, choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, practice, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write


  1. Analyzing: Students will distinguish its use by seeing how it’s used as an adjective, adverb, and noun.

Verb examples: analyze, appraise, calculate, categorize, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test.


  1. Evaluating: Students will judge whether or not the word is used correctly within a given text.

Verb examples: appraise, argue, assess, attach, choose compare, defend estimate, judge, predict, rate, core, select, support, value, evaluate


  1. Creating: Students will construct their own sentences (or paragraph or story for more words) using the word correctly in its three different forms.

Verb examples: arrange, assemble, collect, compose, construct, create, design, develop, formulate, manage, organize, plan, prepare, propose, set up, write

Bloom’s Taxonomy can be represented in a pyramid form with simple knowledge-based recall questions at the base. As you move up the pyramid, teachers ask students increasingly challenging questions to test their comprehension of given material. With the increase of critical thinking questions, students are able to develop all levels of thinking. They will improve their attention to detail, and aid problem solving skills.




Understanding Learning Behaviours with Merrill’s Principles of Instruction

Instructional Design is the process of understanding learning behaviours. This guides our choices of instructional sequences and strategies to meet the needs of the learners and the desired learning outcomes.

David Merrill, an education researcher reviewed instructional design theories to identify common principles.  He devised the following five principles.


  • Problem

Student learning is promoted when they are engaged in solving relevant real-world problems.

  • Activation of prior experience or knowledge

Asking students to think about the existing knowledge they have of the subject area.

  • Demonstration of skills or knowledge

Connecting that knowledge to the central problem to increase relevance – this can be done through testing.

  • Application of skills or knowledge

Planning how to guide the students to use their skill or knowledge to assess and finally solve the problem.

  • Integration of skills or knowledge to the real world

Identifying ways the students can integrate what they are learning into what they do in the real world and inviting them to do it.

It is important for teachers to consider these principles to increase and enhance the possibility of learning. We use these principles to acquire knowledge and skill in a more efficient, effective and appealing manner. Merrill’s principles of instruction encourage the engagement of learners so that they learn faster and gain deeper levels of understanding.