Diverse Learners Awareness Week: Benefits of a flipped classroom

On Wednesday, Dr. Cheryl Pinzone, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at CU Boulder, delivered a presentation on her experiences as an educator using the flipped classroom model in her General Biology class.  Titled “Making a Flipped, Active-Learning Based Course Accessible,” the session focused on the technological tools available to educators to ease the transition from a conventional class to a nontraditional setup. The event was part of CU’s 2017 Diverse Learners Awareness Week.

Rather than the standard classroom setup which involves a teacher lecturing their students as a way of communicating material, a flipped classroom involves students learning material on their own time and at their own pace. After they are first exposed to the content at home, through captioned videos and audio recordings, they then go to class prepared to apply and synthesize the subject matter through “active learning” activities, like the use of case studies or group and individual work.

“It allows students to have more control over their learning,” Pinzone said of the primary goals behind this model.

With content that can be delivered through various media types, it better caters to various modes of learning, such as auditory, visual and tactile.

The flipped classroom proves especially helpful for students whose first language is not English or those who struggle with the pace of a traditional classroom, according to Pinzone. Many of her classes have been composed largely of international students and students on academic probation who experience greater flexibility within a flipped class.

“It’s important to identify the different starting points that people have to be more compassionate of the different privileges that people have,” Pinzone said regarding the “myth of meritocracy” that prevails in conventional education models.

Similar sentiments were shared by audience member Anna-Elise Smith, a student fellow with ASSETT in the Office of Information Technology.

“I think that it’s really important that everybody is able to have that accessibility,” Smith said in reference to the emphasis on the learning tools available in a flipped class.

Smith plans to deliver techniques from the presentation, such as how to create accessible materials, to OIT so that they can then be shared with other professors on campus.

Contact CU Independent News Staff Writer Heidi Harris at heidi.harris@colorado.edu.

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