We’ve talked about flipped classrooms in this space before. In a nutshell, flipped classrooms involve taking the regular lecture style content out of the classroom and assigning it as homework prior to coming to class. The majority of the time, this involves having the students watch videos, often created by the instructor, to prepare for class.
Recently I came across the Open Learning Initiative (OLI) and have considered how it would couple with a flipped classroom. The Open Learning Initiative “is a grant-funded group at Carnegie Mellon University, offering innovative online courses to anyone who wants to learn or teach. [Their] aim is to create high-quality courses and contribute original research to improve learning and transform higher education”. These online courses on the OLI site cover approximately 20 topics right now, many of which are at the first-year university level. The approach that each course takes in its delivery is quite varied:
- The Chemistry course I explored has videos, text, multiple-choice quizzes, and a virtual lab.
- The French language course I explored was based on listening to a series of audio excerpts and answering questions related to them.
As you can imagine, these online courses have the potential to deliver a wealth of content before students set foot inside your classroom.
Instead of just setting students free on these online courses, you as the instructor can set up your own versions of these courses and choose which materials students will see and complete. If you take this step, you will also get to see your students’ results on the assessment pieces.
“This [assessment] information helps instructors to tailor their classroom lectures and activities to the topics with which students are struggling. Use our Learning Dashboard tool to see student progress on a class-level, by student, and even by individual activity in the course” (Learning How OLI Helps Educators).
That is where the flipped classroom fits in. By freeing up your in class time from delivering this factual, lecture-style content, you can walk into your classroom with this rich information about your students in your hands prepared to engage in active learning to explore the topics that they are struggling with. You can become an adaptive and responsive teacher, which is a truly a wonderful thing!
One thing you may be thinking as you are reading this post is that you already have access to these sorts of resources and tools through your textbook publisher. That may be the case, but some benefits of using OLI is that it is free and will be available to you and your students if you change to a different textbook or if you adopt an open textbook. The resources are also being developed in conjunction with some of the best learning scientists in North America—the addition of hints and real-time feedback to students is thorough and impressive.
Feel free to explore these possibilities on your own or contact us at the GMCTE—we would love to work with you on implementing this in your course. Also, if you have used OLI or similar resources in the past, please share your experiences with us in the comments below.