Flipped Classrooms

Building Community in Flipped Classrooms: A Narrative Exploration of Digital Moments in Online Learning Wendy Barber University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, Canada

[Full Text available through MyGTCS/EBSCO]

Online learning and flipped classroom models provide pedagogical challenges to instructors in developing a sense of community within digital learning environments. Although technology has made learning increasingly accessible, educators often struggle to find new and innovative teaching strategies to develop and sustain these flipped and blended digital communities.

Flipped classes refer to providing students with work to do prior to the class session in order to familiarize them with the content, and then they are prepared to do collaborative work during class time. Following this preparation, the face to face classes enable students to work collectively to analyse and synthesize their understanding of the content. The development of meaningful collaborative learning environments in flipped, asynchronous and blended classes provides unique pedagogical challenges.

Further to this, the term “online learning” has increasingly divergent interpretations, and may include MOOCs, synchronous, asynchronous and many other modalities. With the emphasis on Personalized Learning Environments, educators are challenged to create digital pedagogy that allows for individualized learning, while facing the very real possibility of isolation and alienation from a distance learning community.

This paper is a qualitative analysis of the development of these flipped collaborative learning environments in four undergraduate courses. The courses are delivered using a blended model of three hours flipped video podcasts and one hour synchronous Adobe Connect sessions. Adobe Connect is a video web-based tool where students have virtual classes using webcams in synchronous real time tutorial sessions. This paper chronicles how students from a variety of backgrounds developed meaningful learning relationships with one another. Based on principles of problem-based learning, students were challenged to build professional and personal connections with colleagues using predominantly a flipped, asynchronous classroom. Flipped classroom models provide accommodation for anywhere, anytime learning, and also can provide a greater selection of high quality courses, as well as the emergence of more engaging learning management applications. This qualitative, narrative inquiry clearly demonstrates the powerful use of “Digital Moments” to inspire creativity, empowerment and a sense of community in digital learning environments.

Many thanks to Fearghal Kelly for sharing this resource.

2 thoughts

  1. It is vital that in a changing technological society that we take the time to understand and embrace,where useful, what is technologically possible. During a 2 year trial in providing online music lessons from the Western Isles we have found the barrier is not evident in the recipient of online education but the vehicle in which is controlled and conveyed. Skepticism and fear play a big part but also the perception of poor quality and lack of time to understand. Those with open minds and the time to accept and use resources available to them can and do considerably benefit. Schools in remote areas of Scotland, if they have broadband, should look at what is possible to bring in improved resources and not fear the unknown because the Internet has brought enormous opportunities to learn.


    1. I often wonder what the timescale is for the adoption of a new approach or a new technology in the classroom. Somewhere – I’ll find the link – there was a researcher suggesting that the embedding of the ‘new’ can take up to ten years and that’s not practical given the nature of change ‘out there’ in relation to digital technology.


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