A Lens On… Flipped Learning

In this series of articles, the Educational Technology team will be providing an insight into existing practice using technology for learning and teaching at Falmouth University and various projects being undertaken within the sector.

The flipped classroom is not a new method for learning, and actually refers to techniques that have been used for a while now. You may or may not realise that you’re using these techniques in your teaching. If you’re not, then the best reason for adopting a flipped approach to teaching and learning is that it offers pedagogical advantages. Within this post I am going to focus on a few different ways that learning can be flipped.

Knowledge transfer → knowledge assimilation, and just in time teaching


CC-BY-NC 2.0 licensed image by Derek Bruff

From the image you can see that Mazur proposes is that knowledge transfer should be covered prior to attending class, and that the class time be used to help students assimilate what they have read or watched prior to coming to class. The ‘flip’ is simply that knowledge transfer happens outside class, and knowledge assimilation happens in class.

Mazur puts emphasis on the assimilation of knowledge within the classroom through peer interactions. Content and readings that the students need to receive are disseminated prior to a class based session and students are expected to engage in that transfer of knowledge. Within the class he then poses questions and problems and polls students on their answers (so they commit to an opinion). Once that is done the students discuss between them and the ones that understand articulate it to the others. The questions and problems that are asked during the class time are usually based on results of quizzes that students are asked to complete before the lecture. This type of learning is referred to as ‘just in time’ teaching as the schedule and questions for the class session are often not determined until very close to its delivery.

Blending ‘just in time’ teaching and peer instruction are not the only approaches, and whilst there is no one correct way of doing things it’s probably safe to say that an approach which sees the students actively engaged in class, rather than passive, is likely to lead to them learning more. A visual idea of how the flipped classroom could work based on the above, is given below:


Farmer, 2015

This brings me onto Experiential Learning. This certainly isn’t a new idea, and was first talked about in the early 1900’s by John Dewey:

“The Teacher and the book are no longer the only instructors; the hands, the eyes, the ears, in fact the whole body, become sources of information, while teacher and textbook become respectively the starter and the tester.  No book or map is a substitute for personal experience; they cannot take the place of the actual journey”  (Dewey, 1915, p74).

Fast forward 100 years, and the same things are being discussed, just in a slightly different contexts. Technology is now part of the delivery of a flipped environment, using tools to engage the learner with materials and activities outside of the classroom, allow synchronous and asynchronous discourse, and acquire knowledge.

There is a lot of overlap in the phrases used for things like experiential, active and flipped learning. There are differences, but the general consensus is that getting students to access content and engage in activities designed to develop their understanding before class, and then using the class time to discuss and engage in depth brings issues, ideas and questions to the surface. The pre-class content and activities develops their knowledge and understanding more effectively when discussed and reflected on in class (Farmer, 2015).

Flipped learning offers the best of both online and face to face learning. In a similar vain to the message in the Lens on… Blended Learning post a while back, flipped learning should offer a seamless transition between the students’ own learning environment and the classroom. Each should compliment the other, with purpose and meaning being paramount. Students should be able to have the opportunity to experiment with ideas to learn through doing, in a supported environment where they learn from everything they do, apply their knowledge into problem solving, and assimilate their knowledge to develop it into concrete experience (Kolb, 1984).

Whilst researching for this blog post, what I didn’t find is much research about flipped learning in arts and creative subjects. There is a lot of information about the marked improvement of results and performance in science, technology, engineering and maths areas. It would be interesting to work up reasoning behind the lack of literature around flipped learning for creative subjects: is it because the nature of these disciplines is already experiential, and active? Engagement within a class environment is participative, and less didactic?

Educational Technology are very interested in learning more about how you engage your students inside and outside the classroom. Do you encourage a dynamic environment within your teaching spaces? How do you think it improves what you do and how your students learn?

Comment below or get in touch to tell us more 🙂


Dewey, J., Dewey, E. (1915) Schools of To-morrow. New York: E.P. Dutton & Company.

Farmer, R., (2015) ‘What is the Flipped Classroom?’. LearnTech blog, [blog] 16 Jan 2015, Available at: http://blogs.northampton.ac.uk/learntech/2015/01/16/what-is-the-flipped-classroom/ Accessed [24 March 2016].

Kolb, D. A., (1984) Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

A Lens On… Course Design

In this series of articles, the Educational Technology team will be providing an insight into existing practice using technology for learning and teaching at Falmouth University and various projects being undertaken within the sector.

Designing a course or module that encompasses and considers activities and aspects beyond your subject is a task that is required of academics. Bringing in elements of digital interactions with your students is expected: students are arriving at University with wide ranging digital practices. The Institution requires that part of your course is delivered in a blended or online fashion.

According to the King’s College London/QAA Student Expectations and Perceptions of Higher Education report (Kandiko & Mawer, 2013) students prefer adequate face to face time, and institutions are urged to be cautious in their implementation of technology as a tool to replace face to face interactions.

The report also says that “no students mentioned pedagogical uses of digital technologies” and that students perception of technology in their academic lives is simply a means to access information. This is rather a contradiction to what perceptions we have of students when they arrive at University, and to what some researchers of effective pedagogies have said (check out Re-thinking pedagogy for the digital age, Beetham & Sharpe, 2013)

When you really think about it though, if technology is used well then it is not viewed as a separate element of the students’ learning journey. If it is used as part of that journey (an embedded, invisible practice) – instead of something that sits alongside or even outside of the delivery of learning – then technology can be a tool to enhance what students are achieving, rather than as an annoyance that limits their attention on subject and forces focus to remain on the process of using it.

By following a course design process that facilitates:

  • innovative practice, both digitally and physically
  • flexible, seamless transition between the physical and digital space
  • recording the learning journey to allow for informed reflection
  • constructive alignment of materials, outcomes and assessment


  • both physical and digital interactions that transcend their platform

it will enhance your practice and your students’ learning.


Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/epublicist/8718123610/

Course design processes exist in many HEIs (e.g. Oxford Brookes, Northampton, Ulster, Leicester) and are successfully participated in to create some great programmes of study. Most are based around a team based approach that enables the teaching team to work with facilitators, support staff, and students to build a course/module that includes all the elements mentioned above. The great thing about them is that because the processes are not subject specific, a consistent experience can be created.

The processes are pure design – it is down to the subject specialists to decide what direction they take. Constructive alignment, interactions (both online and face to face) and assessment can be scaffolded using planning and storyboarding techniques. Materials and delivery are designed alongside librarians, technologists, students and technicians.

It’s no secret that the EdTech team have experience in pedagogic design and its integration of technology. We can facilitate the course design processes and are happy to help with the design of your module. Get in touch to learn more.

A Lens On… Learning Analytics

In this series of articles, the Educational Technology team will be providing an insight into existing practice using technology for learning and teaching at Falmouth University and various projects being undertaken within the sector.


Learning Analytics utilises the data that passes through University systems and can be used as a powerful tool for learning about students and their achievements. It is used to collect data to measure learning and the contexts in which learning takes place. This data is then analysed and put to use to optimise interactions and opportunities; improving engagement, experiences and ultimately results.

It cannot be as simple as throwing data into some predictive software and asking it to tell you what it thinks though; analysts/experts are best placed to interpret the data, who know what they’re looking for, and align results with the institutional, teaching and student priorities.

An example of analysing an element of learning is measuring engagement. Overall there are three levels that can be measured.

Students who are behaviourally engaged would typically comply with behavioural norms, such as attendance and involvement, and would demonstrate the absence of disruptive or negative behaviour.

Behavioural engagement can be measured by recording attendance at face to face sessions and access to online materials. This can be relatively easy to achieve as long as the monitoring tools are in place.

Students who engage emotionally would experience affective reactions such as interest, enjoyment, or a sense of belonging

Emotional engagement is more difficult to measure. Some activities that facilitate tracking include online discussion, interactive activities

Cognitively engaged students would be invested in their learning, would seek to go beyond the requirements, and would relish challenge

Cognitive engagement is even more difficult to measure. Extra curricular activities and ‘extra credit’ work can shed some light…

Activities, systems and mechanisms need to be in place to ensure that the right level of analytics can be performed, and measurements can be determined. This is why smaller pilots should be carried out with tasks designed with analytics in mind; so that settings and specifications can be refined.

There are other reasons to implement Learning Analytics including (but not limited to):

  • Identify students at risk so as to provide positive interventions designed to improve retention.
  • Provide recommendations to students in relation to reading material and learning activities.
  • Detect the need for, and measure the results of, pedagogic improvements.
  • Tailor course offerings.
  • Identify teachers who are performing well, and teachers who need assistance with teaching methods.
  • Assist in the student recruitment process.

Jisc cetis Analytics Series (2012)

Learning analytics has a strong link with pedagogy, and consideration needs to be taken into how the institution would like to improve pedagogically, and consider the method of implementation of a learning analytics process to ensure that it will not hinder, but enhance the direction of its learning and teaching strategy.

The sector has looked at learning analytics over the last few years as a tool to achieve better experiences for students. The realities of using the huge amount of data that institutions collect is shrouded in ethical and legal issues but luckily, the good folks over at Jisc have done a lot of the leg work and developed a Code of Practice for learning analytics as part of their ongoing Effective Learning Analytics project. This code of practice is in place to advise UK HEIs about the legal and ethical considerations that need to be included in the implementation of a learning analytics strategy.

See some of Team ET’s previous work on Learning Analytics with the Jisc Learning Analytics Network and its pre-project work.

A Lens on… Blended Learning

In this series of articles, the Educational Technology team will be providing an insight into existing practice using technology for learning and teaching at Falmouth University and also at projects being undertaken within the wider HE sector. Our previous articles have looked at the process of Feedback, Open Education, Assessment and Digital Literacy.

The term ‘Blended Learning’ is interpreted in various ways depending on the practitioner that you are talking to. A good definition is that it is learning that takes advantage of the best of both physical and digital learning environments. As a result, open-ended activities take place which engage the learner and enables them to control their own learning in a directed setting, alongside face-to-face interaction with their tutors and peers, and structured activities which are focused and purposeful (Schmidt, 2007).

There are a lot of pedagogic and instructional models and theories of learning that are adapted to describe teaching and learning processes and facilitate ‘blended learning’. Applying these into the process of designing learning in both digital and physical environments results in excellent learning experiences for your students.

It isn’t always as simple as that though. There are many modes of learning when you consider mobile, social and personal, synchronous and asynchronous, online, face-to-face etc. Sometimes the student’s learning preference doesn’t co-exist harmoniously with the style of teaching; so formalising, or structuring the delivery of teaching and combining it with a flexible approach to learning gives the student the flexibility to learn in a way that is effective for them; but be guided by purposeful and meaningful learning activities.

If your course/module is due for a re-design, or yet to be designed, then we would recommend that you talk to us about good practice that is already proved to be highly effective in the field.

The Hybrid Learning Model developed by the University of Ulster combines events that take place during the learning cycle and suggests a clear approach to applying each event into practice. The model brings together 8 learning events model developed by LabSET, University of Liège (Verpoorten et al, 2006), and Sue Bennett from the University of Wollongong’s 30 verbs, to focus the mind on the human element of learning and teaching and the interactions between participants in the learning process.


The CAIeRO process, used as an essential part of validation and periodic subject review at the University of Northampton, takes teaching teams through a set of six stages (listed below). The workshops are participant-centred, and are facilitated by Learning and Teaching experts.

  1. Blueprint: for the course or module – a revised and agreed spec.
  2. Storyboard: The storyboard incorporates any face-to-face and online components (synchronous and asynchronous), aligned to the learning outcomes and assessment.
  3. Prototyping: We design specific elements of the storyboard. Not content, but what learners are expected to do with it (activities and assessments).
  4. Reality checking: Students are invited to review the team’s work and feed back any changes.
  5. Review and adjust: We take those suggestions on board and modify things accordingly.
  6. Action Plan: Participants commit to specific actions by certain dates, which will be reviewed at the follow-up session.

Institute of Learning and Teaching, University of Northampton, 2015

Take a look through participants’ reflections on the CAIeRO process at Northampton on their LearnTech team blog.

Embedding the Hybrid Learning Model into CAIeRO (mashed up with other teaching and learning models throughout the six stages) is a great way to make sure that those excellent learning experiences I mentioned above are created, and that they are delivered in a blended environment.

So, essentially, Blended Learning is mixing two or more modes of learning together – like face-to-face sessions and an online lecture – and designing an activity that will help the student to take part in them, create meaningful pieces of learning that they can digest, and can reflect on to consolidate it all.

The CAIeRO model’s early days actually started as the Carpe Diem model from University of Leicester (now called the 7Cs of Learning Design Workshop). CAIeRO has been adapted over a number of years, and successfully used in a variety of disciplines ranging from hands on sciences, health and education to fine art and performing arts (plus many more!). During the research for this post, I discovered that the original Carpe Diem model was used at Falmouth with MA Professional Writing back in 2008 as part of the original CHEETAH project with Leicester and 5 other UK HEIs.

The Educational Technology team are here to help you with the design stage of course development, as well as implementing it into the Learning Space, or the most appropriate technology to facilitate it. Get in touch to have a chat about setting up a session for your course or module.


Verpoorten, D., Poumay, M., Leclercq, D. (2006), The 8 Learning Events Model: a Pedagogic Conceptual Tool Supporting Diversification of Learning Methods. Interactive Learning Environments [e-journal] 15(2). Available at: <http://hdl.handle.net/2268/10129>

Schmidt, J.T. (2007), Preparing Students for Success in Blended Learning Environments: Future Oriented Motivation and Self-Regulation. Ph.D, LMU München: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences. Available at:  <https://edoc.ub.uni-muenchen.de/6561> [Accessed 16/10/2015].

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