Because the concept is relatively
new and still evolving, little research
is available to guide best practices.
There are a number of questions
that you might explore.
The hour-long lecture block, for
example, is an artifact of scheduling.
Videos developed for flipped classrooms typically cover a particular
concept and often are 5–10 minutes
long. This potentially allows students
to review them at separate times rather
than in a single session. A considerable
body of research suggests that distributed learning can contribute to more
meaningful learning than massed
practice. Whether students will take
advantage of new options to study
the material through the week rather
than in a single session just before an
assignment is due remains to be seen.
However, it is now possible to track
use of this type of supplemental material to determine how students use it.
Use of the medium in this way will
permit instructors to conduct assessments with greater granularity. Teachers can embed questions throughout
materials to determine when and
where students begin to struggle,
rather than waiting for an assessment
at the end of a unit.
Digital equity is one issue that
educators must address during implementation of flipped classrooms. A
survey by the Pew Foundation Internet and American Life project in 2012
reported that differences still exist
in high-speed internet access among
demographic groups. Bergmann and
Sams addressed this issue in their
classrooms by providing students
who did not have adequate internet
access outside school with instructional materials on a CD.
This year we collaborated with a
teacher who provided students with
video and other instructional materials on an iPod touch. Several non-profit organizations have begun collecting recycled smartphones for use
by schools. Users now upgrade phones
every 18 months on average, and just
10% of used phones get recycled, so
this is potentially another untapped
resource to ensure equitable access.
Students could download materials at
school to view offline at other times.
Another strategy involves development of lower-bandwidth delivery
systems for video. PrimaryAccess, a
tool that we developed to allow history students to combine their own
text, primary source images, and audio narration to create short online
documentary films (see L&L, February, 2010, page 36), makes use of this
technique. Moore’s law, in concert
with technological advances, may in
time reduce the bandwidth required
and provide more equitable access to
The flipped classroom concept
opens the door to exploration of many
instructional approaches and formats.
Interactive video is evolving rapidly,
offering access to primary source documents, new types of visualizations,
and innovative instructional strategies. At its heart, the flipped classroom
lies at the intersection of emergent
technologies, novel approaches
to content enabled by new affordanc-es, and new pedagogical strategies
facilitated by both. Ongoing research
on best practices related to these new
capabilities will provide guidance on
ways of facilitating student learning
in the most effective manner.
Glen Bull is co-director of
the Center for Technology
& Teacher Education in the
Curry School of Education
at the University of Virginia.
Reach him at gbull@virginia.
Bill Ferster is a research professor at the University of Virginia. His research focuses on visualization and innovative uses of digital video. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.