Tag Archives: online learning

The Flipped Classroom: Trends in Higher Education

Photo of man flipping pancakes.In the world of higher education there is a trend towards a flipped classroom. In this educational model, prerecorded lectures are viewed or heard before coming to class. The actual class time is spent on group projects and interaction with the professor. The learning and testing takes place outside of the classroom, and the lecture hall or lab is used for reflection, discussion, and hands on learning. I want to explore how we use a flipped learning style in AIM and where I think the concept is headed. Is it a fad or is it here to stay?

Flipped Online

Because the AIM program is online, we have no physical space. We prepare lectures and readings ahead of time and those are available to students at their convenience. That part is similar to an onsite flipped classroom environment. We differ from a traditional flipped classroom because our discussions and meetings are also online, enabling us to maintain our “anytime, anywhere” learning model that fits the schedules of working adults who are distributed around the world. The discussion topics are designed to be relevant to the lectures of the week and useful to students in their present careers. In courses I teach, we often end up discussing details of particular tools that are effective to each student or management techniques that students might be struggling with. Because my students are all mid-career professionals, they share experiences that can help other students; the students get not only my expertise and experience but also that of other professionals. Being able to apply this wisdom could be worth the price of the course in saved consultant fees. Of course, we sometimes veer off topic a bit, like the time we had a lively discussion on who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman. There must have been a Hollywood executive in that class, as evidenced by the new film that asks the same question.

New Classroom of the Future

Unlike AIM, many classes still meet in a traditional classroom or large lecture hall. If flipped learning becomes standard, how would you design the next generation classroom? No longer will you have all 20 or 100 or 500 students focused on one lecturer. You need a space where teams can work and individuals and groups can move about from one station to another. With the lecture they have already viewed in mind, the students are ready to discuss the topic and debate and explore available options, whether they are in earth science or information technology. The classroom can become a rich environment for exploration and testing of new ideas. The instructor now becomes a facilitator instead of the lone knowledge keeper. Large theater style lecture halls are not conducive to this new flexible learning so we need to start rethinking the layout and flow.


One of the great things about flipped learning is that it gives a student time to process and ponder new knowledge and consider how they can personally apply that information. They can then test their thoughts with others who have come up with similar—or wildly diverse—ideas. Together they learn and grow as a team and as a class.

Let me know your thoughts on the flipped classroom. Is it here to stay or is it just a fad?

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

Opening the Walls of Academia

Open book in a field.I am just finishing the second in a series of three open courses in computational statistics and machine learning. I wrote earlier about various forms of education delivery but I want to concentrate this week on what is becoming known as open education or open learning. This type of learning goes beyond the traditional university structure to bring knowledge to many more students through nontraditional means.

The Walls of Academia

Aristotle founded the Peripatetic school in the Greek Lyceum in 335 BCE to teach principles of math, philosophy, and rhetoric. A peripatetic school is a strolling school. It is thought that Aristotle walked the grounds discussing philosophy and other subjects with his students. There was a gymnasium for exercise, but learning for the most part took place in the open among the trees.

I get the sense that we are slowly returning to the early days of the lyceum, if only figuratively. We are opening the walls of academia to allow for learning beyond the traditional campus and sharing our expertise and wisdom with a larger audience. The physical campus will continue to be relevant, but successful universities will embrace education beyond the classroom. We have had traditional Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for several years, but consider these other developments.

Beyond the Walls

The Open University was founded in 1969 in the UK to provide postsecondary education to more UK citizens. This nonprofit school was built on the principles that there would be no formal entry requirements and education would be provided on campuses and through nontraditional delivery. They started out teaching some courses through television programs and now reach a worldwide audience. There are campuses outside of London, in Northern Ireland, The Republic of Ireland, Wales, and Scotland and serve students outside of the UK through their OpenLearn arm, MOOCs, and YouTube lectures.

Open Curriculum

MIT Open Courseware is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. This is free and open to the world through a Creative Commons license. Anyone can watch recorded lectures, read lecture notes, and access the full syllabus complete with readings and required texts. I am working through an introductory quantum physics course right now, which is fantastic. Students can get an introduction to a topic or fill gaps in their knowledge and university instructors can gain insights to help freshen their course. The introductory freshman level courses could also be valuable to high school teachers of advanced classes. High school students can use them to get a feel for university courses and also to advance their high school knowledge. This site has a number of corporate sponsors whose employees could benefit from new skills learned in the courses as well.


These are just a couple of examples of how education and knowledge are moving beyond the walls of traditional colleges and universities. More people than ever have access to higher education thanks to technology and enlightened thinking from the institutions. This can only benefit us as individuals and as a society if we are willing to take advantage of these opportunities. My challenge to you this week is this: if you are not already engaged in full time or part time studies, find a topic that interests you and explore the many resources that are open. Let me know what you find and what you learned.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.