Minot State University professor Linda Cresap provides real-world advice on how to successfully flip your classroom

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Linda Cresap, associate professor for business information technology at Minot State University in North Dakota, has always taught using an active learning format. “The term ‘flipped’ is just a new way of saying it,” she says. Cresap uses a 30/70 approach where 30 percent of the time is spent lecturing and the rest is applying the learning. But not everything Cresap tried has worked. Flipping the classroom is a learning experience, and at UBTech 2014, Cresap will share both her successes and failures with the audience.

A flipped classroom gives the professor flexibility in the classroom, says Cresap. “You can pull in something going on in the community and it makes it exciting,” she says. “It keeps the class fresh and the students retain the material better.”

Cresap has had students break into small group discussions, watch a video and do research on their smartphones. “We do team-building to help them see what kind of interactions they have to have in the workforce,” she says. She also encourages them to bring their iPads, smartphones and other technology to class and she incorporates it into the curriculum as much as possible.

However, it takes more time to plan your activities. “There are limitations to how creative you can be in the classroom. That becomes a challenge, but it’s a good challenge.”

She cautions not to make the flip all at once. “Students are used to being fed information. They’ve been told what they need to know their whole life. So they’re not ready for an abrupt change. You can ease into it, but you can’t go completely one way or the other.”

When preparing students for the flipped classroom, Cresap says you have to remind them how to read a chapter again. “Students today are used to reading tweets and texts. I teach them a method for going through their chapter and looking at headings and bold words and definitions. If they’re having issues with reading, they tell me and I guide them to other sources of expertise.”

Her approach is to say ‘we’re going to try this activity’ rather than ‘this is how we’re going to do it. “I don’t say I’m flipping the classroom. I tell the class my style is that we take notes and we work in teams. Next, I go into the writing and how to collaborate on that. So I prepare them throughout the class. It’s important to foster those skills that they will need to learn in life but maybe haven’t practiced.”

Does it work? “Recently, a student who took a flipped class with me last spring asked, ‘Are you going to do that assignment where you compared Microsoft and Google?’ Then he went on to tell the class in detail about the activity he did last year. I thought, wow, I didn’t even know he got all that. It was just a two-day activity, but he remembered it and promoted it. That wouldn’t have happened if he had just read the assignment out of a book.”

To learn more about Linda Cresap’s upcoming UBTech session, “My Flip Flopped! Lessons Learned Preparing Students for the Flipped Classroom,” click here.  

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