Flipping Learning

By Dean Pearman and Sam Griffin

“Universities were founded in Western Europe in 1050 and lecturing has been the predominant form of teaching ever since,” says biologist Scott Freeman of the University of Washington, Seattle. But many scholars have challenged the “sage on a stage” approach to teaching science, technology, engineering, and math courses, arguing that engaging students with questions or group activities is more effective. Aleszu Bajak, Lectures Aren’t Just Boring, They’re Ineffective, Too, Study Finds, http://www.sciencemag.org/

A focus in teaching Year 12 Visual Communication Design is to really listen for learning and provide feedback for learners, teachers included. This is somewhat difficult as we are trying to see learning from the eyes of our students that inform what we do next. In doing this it allows us to know where each student is in their own journey and how we can change the learning to suit each individual context through feedback. Students in 12 Visual Communication Design have been inherently exploring a ‘self’ directed form of learning, where the classroom is ‘flipped’. The lecturing actually occurs at home and key questions are then asked when students return to class the next day as pointed out by Bajak in the reference above. There are a number of ways in which the classroom is ‘flipped’, allowing for students to work at their own pace, accessing the material multiple times if necessary and freeing up lessons for more valuable learning experiences:

  • An extensive, media-rich, interactive iBook which contains all assessment tasks, examples of previous student work and short interviews with previous students which were recorded during course milestones last year.
  • A range of lectures recorded using apps such as Educreations that have been uploaded to our class LMS platform, Schoology.
  • A number of discussion forums within Schoology which enhance communication between peers and teachers, making student learning visible and encouraging ownership of learning. Schoology also houses all assessment rubrics and support material, which students can access at any time, from any device.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 7.45.03 pm

An iBook functions as the springboard of all content knowledge that students access at home.


In a ‘flipped’ classroom it’s what happens after the lecture which is important. Our design students’ learning is self paced and directed by each student allowing for timely feedback to be given at various intervals of learning. They respond to each task individually due to the understanding that the learning is specific only to them. It’s a little bit like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Students choose their path based on prior contextual learning and knowledge. Each path is informed by what learning occurred in the previous stage, drawing parallels to video gaming.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 7.48.18 pmDuring lessons students post examples of their learning that informs what the next class will look like. This provides feedback to me as the teacher in developing projects that dig deeper in class and extend students skills towards mastery

‘Gamification’ is a new buzz word in educational technology, it utilises the complexity of video gaming architecture in engaging the learner with tasks, using gaming to learn. In this sense as Professor John Hattie describes “In a video game, the game actually knows your prior achievement. It knows what you did last time, also how to set a target sufficiently above that to entice you to beat it. And it gives you a tremendous amount of feedback in the process of beating it.”  Our learning environment is a little like a video game, we work collaboratively as a group in understanding each others’ learning and provide timely feedback to each other. Students are pushed to beat their learning from various forms of feedback. This feedback is from student to teacher, teacher to student and student to student. Listening for learning and making learning visible is key in understanding and providing students with strategies that move their learning forward.

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