As we move forward into a new millennium and the landscape of higher education continues to change rapidly, there is a growing interest in using technology to improve the student learning experience. With the developing awareness of the science behind learning, an increasing number of higher education faculty and course instructors are looking for means to use their time with students more effectively, and see technology as a potential part of the solution.
The inverted (or flipped) classroom is a teaching approach in which students are introduced to the fundamental ideas of a course through pre-class activities that often involve the viewing of a short video. This enables the in-class time to be used for learning activities that go beyond traditional lecturing. In many ways, this is akin to the practice of requiring readings before
class and using class time for debate and discussion that is common in many humanities and social science courses and seminars. In some sense, the inverted classroom approach is an adaptation of this long-standing instructional method to courses, in such fields as engineering and science, for which readings before class are not typically required or completed. This approach has great potential to create a more student-centred environment that is more conducive to effective
learning. It can be used to support a number of fundamental principles of the science of learning that have been well established over the past 100 years. It enables students to engage in more active learning experiences, process the new material in meaningful ways and incorporate these new ideas into their own existing knowledge framework. It allows for enhanced student-faculty interactions and opportunities for prompt formative feedback throughout the learning process. As
well, it supports the instructor to scaffold the material appropriately, as there is a greater awareness of how much the students understand prior to and during the in-class experiences. Despite the strong theoretical reasons for use of the inverted classroom approach and growing interest in the approach, empirical studies that systematically investigate the effects of the approach on students’ behaviours, perceptions and learning outcomes are not often seen. Therefore, more empirical evidence is needed to support effective implementation of the approach.