College of Business hosts ‘Demystifying the Flipped Classroom’

Every day is “opposite day” in a number of BGSU College of Business classrooms. Students are doing their homework in class after viewing their lessons at home. And their homework does not look anything like the traditional sort. Instead, they are working in teams to solve problems based on what they learned at home, with assessment activities built in and educational technology on hand for sharing their solutions.

What’s going on is the “flipped classroom,” a new, highly energetic, active learning style of teaching that is enriched by technology. The College of Business has embraced the concept, and about a dozen of its faculty are piloting the deep learning methods in their classrooms.

The college will host an innovative teaching summit, “Demystifying the Flipped Classroom,” on Nov. 5 to introduce and share flipped learning with the rest of the University community and others. The daylong event will include breakfast and lunch and sessions for beginning and advanced users and those completely new to flipped learning. Attendance is free but reservations are required. Email Sandy Salenbien at ssalenbien@bgsu.edu. Visit the conference website for full details.

Featuring a keynote address by Dr. Jose Bowen, president of Goucher College, on “Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your Classroom Will Improve Learning.” The author of “Teaching Naked,” which refers to the face-to-face interaction between faculty and students, Bowen believes that technology is best used outside the classroom to enrich student preparation and engagement between classes and leave more time in class for the important dialogue that makes a traditional college education worthwhile.

He will speak at 10 a.m. in 101 Olscamp Hall during the main event of the teaching summit. Prior to his keynote, Bowen will lead a small group session called “Flipping 101: Designing Assignments and Activities for Massively Better Classes,” from 8-10 a.m. in an active learning classroom. The intensive workshop is designed for intermediate and advanced users of interactive learning technology.

In the main event, a student panel will share their perspectives and experiences with the new classroom format. A Best Practices Showcase will provide attendees the chance to hear from faculty about what they’ve learned in implementing the flipped classroom, tips for managing the classroom environment, developing effective assessments, setting expectations, and other pertinent information. Follow-up group discussions will allow for deeper exploration.

The day winds up with small group discussions. After the conference, participants will receive a book of learning and resources they can use to develop their expertise.

Attendees may come to either or both of the sessions.

“Our goal is to be a leader in using diverse technologies to create deep, collaborative learning,” said co-organizer Dr. Steven Cady, an associate professor of management. Cady and other faculty have committed to implementing the active-learning format after participating in the College of Business Learning Technology Task Force about two years ago that began the process. “Our flipped team in the college has done a commendable job this year in updating and transforming their classes. They exemplify lead users in education. We want to build on our strengths.”

“The College of Business wants to be a model among business schools for providing this type of learning to our students,” said Dean Ray Braun. “We plan to hold other learning events both for our faculty and for the University to engage others in this important pedagogy.

“Studies have shown a significant improvement in student achievement in two key areas, English and math, in flipped classrooms, as well as a sharp decrease in disciplinary cases. We feel that the strong engagement that comes with active learning leads to much greater student success.”

Alumni Mike and Mary Lee McGranahan, class of 1980, feel so strongly about the value of this kind of learning that they have contributed financial support to promoting both the conference and the development of the initiative in the College of Business.

"It’s a compelling case. We all learn better in highly interactive, dynamic environments,” Mike McGranahan said. “Students today are learning more and more off of flat screens. With the emerging power of technology, we need to make the best use of the student’s and the faculty’s time in the classroom and use it in the most engaging and effective way we can. Plus it’s more fun and more in keeping with the way students are and how the world works today.

“By offering this kind of differentiated environment, Bowling Green can attract and retain the brightest, most committed and engaged students. Part of that equation is providing support for faculty on the journey by giving them the tools to help them develop their knowledge and the insights. In business today, you’re in a dynamic environment where you have to contribute and participate fully to be successful.

“We want to help make sure students have the learning outcomes they need to be successful.”

It’s a big commitment on the part of the faculty that requires a lot of work and preparation on the front end. Classes are also flipped in the sense that the faculty must become learners in order to deliver rich-media content.

“You have to provide content in diverse ways,” Cady said. “You have to be your own production crew, script writer, graphic designer and media specialist.

“Students might watch an online lecture, work with an interactive infographic, read text, or practice concepts through gaming.  They might have a Google hangout to discuss and solve problems. The key is they are assessed on core foundational concepts before they ever walk into class.

“Once they’re in class, they solve problems by working in teams, first submitting their initial, individual perspective to the team and being assessed on that and ultimately combining solutions, which they upload and submit before the end of class. I might take one group’s project and bring it up on the screen so others can dive in and help one another. Then the teams get back to work. It’s called double-loop learning.”

Cady noted that today’s wired generation is already coming into college with the expectation that technology will be used and taught. “It’s a challenge, and we want to give them the learning skills they need to get their dream job,” he said.