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It’s a time-honored tradition in teaching: Stand in front of a classroom and deliver a lecture, students transcribe furiously, homework is assigned to give students a chance to apply what they’ve learned. Rose-Hulman professors have defied this tradition for many years by including active learning and minimizing notetaking. Now, there’s a growing movement to make in-class experiences even more engaging.
   The concept, known as the “inverted” or “flipped” classroom, is really pretty simple. Lectures happen online, not in the classroom, and students watch them on their own time before class. Then, there’s
more time in the classroom to apply concepts in individual or group projects,
while the instructor is available for one-on-one and group sessions with students.
   “There are some activities where it makes sense for both the students and me to have a two-way conversation,” says Mechanical Engineering Professor David Fisher, PhD, who has “flipped” a mechatronics class. “There are times information needs to be conveyed and one-way lectures are appropriate. In those cases, we don’t have to be in the same room at the
same time.”
   Fisher, a 2000 mechanical engineering alumnus, has posted lectures on the
Internet. Then, students are given a quiz over the video to ensure they are getting basic educational concepts, and Fisher spends the rest of class working with students and answering questions.
   These enhancements to the classroom experience are key to the inverted
classroom concept, says Phil Cornwell, PhD, vice president of academic affairs.
He notes how the institute supports excellence in teaching, innovation and intellectual growth—in and out of the classroom.
   “If there is a passive portion of a class, that’s an ideal opportunity to post it
online and better use the time in class for

more engagement,” says Cornwell, adding that the concept builds nicely upon Rose- Hulman’s emphasis on applied learning.
   The unflipped method essentially assumes that students have little background information before walking into the lab or classroom. “You pretend they know absolutely nothing, you lay the groundwork, and by the time you get there it seems like there’s not enough time in class to take on another example,”
where students are asked to pause the recording and try working out a problem. Students can also work at their own comprehension level. “The video lecture is perfectly paced. You’re never waiting, and you’re never rushed,” he says.
   Many students appreciate the opportunity to adapt online learning to their
schedule, and they’re familiar with online technology. “You learn the material better,” says Max Eboch, a senior in mechan-
dependent.” Professors at Rose-Hulman have long been encouraging students
to pick up information outside of the classroom, then bring that knowledge for interactive learning and discussion. “I could lecture to you about this scientific
article, but instead I will aske you to read it on your own at home, look things up, and talk to other students. Then in class, we can argue, debate, and see if we can design the experiment better,” Dee says.
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observes Ed Doering, PhD, professor of electrical engineering and computer engineering. He has been producing videobased materials for more than a decade. The approach for the videos is, “Let’s lay the groundwork, so that when you come to class you can hit the ground running, and we can move into a more immersive example.”
   Posting lecture-type materials online offers the chance to enhance understanding of that content too, Doering says. “With an asynchronous learning model, they can pause, replay, and try to study a certain area so that it makes more sense.” Fisher’s online lectures have places
ical engineering and former student in Fisher’s mechatronics class. “There’s a lot more direct questioning going on. The time you get with the professor is more focused on what you need to learn.”
   It’s even useful to flip a class meeting that doesn’t have a regular lecture in the first place, such as a chemistry lab. Kay C Dee, PhD, associate dean for learning and technology, says it’s not uncommon to spend a fair amount of time going over lab instructions and safety procedures—time that could be better spent collecting and analyzing data. 
   Dee adds that “the fundamental idea of the flipped classroom is not technology-
“We’re all intellectually engaged, and that makes it a flipped classroom.”
   Flipping by using high quality online resources can enhance learning. “Technology has advanced to the point where we can get students information
outside of class in new and exciting ways,” Dee says. “Learning is about remembering a fact and fitting it into all sorts of things you know about how the world works. I think you get to a much deeper level of learning when you can engage with the material on multiple levels.” 
Steve Kaelble is an Indiana-based freelance
writer.