Here’s a thought that I am kicking around for one of the chapters in the book on flipped learning that I am currently writing. I am trying to address the question: Why would a college/university professor invest the time and energy into taking a pre-existing class that he or she has already been teaching in a traditional format (group space used for initial contact with information and basic learning tasks) and convert it into a flipped learning environment (initial contact and basic learning tasks moved to the individual space, and group space used for higher-level tasks)?

I have not done any research on this – maybe I should – nor do I know of any research on this, where for example flipped learning instructors have been interviewed and the responses codified and so on. But it seems to me there are three big reasons:

  1. The argument from pedagogy: We use flipped learning because it puts the best-known/best-available practices for teaching and learning in the spotlight, including active learning of all kinds, student-centered instruction, constructivist techniques, differentiated instruction, spaced repetition, Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development idea, self-regulated learning, and the like. Whereas these things can be featured in a traditional classroom but it feels unnatural, like the wrong tool for the job.
  2. The argument from logistics: We use flipped learning because it aligns the logistics of course design with the needs of the learner. Specifically, in a face-to-face in-seat course you have a ton more time to spend on active learning because the lectures have been moved to the individual space; simple tasks like delivering lectures are automated which frees up time; there’s greater and better access to direct instruction via rewind/replaying videos; there is more flexibility in the group space for “agile teaching”, to adapt instruction in the moment to the specific needs of learners; there is a permanent repository of course materials; and so on.
  3. The argument from relationships: We use flipped learning because it is a more humane, and more human, approach to teaching and learning. Students have more choice in how they are instructed and assessed; there is a focus on building a “learning culture” where learning is valued and practiced by all as active participants; there is a focus on connecting one-on-one with students and between instructors (in person, on Twitter, etc.); it promotes a healthy client-consultant relationship where the student and instructor work together; and so on.

These are not disjoint. Your choice of pedagogy in a class reflects your beliefs about relationships with students and has an impact on your logistical choices, for instance. But the main reasons professors use flipped learning do seem to tend to fall into those three categories.

What are your thoughts on this? Are there more reasons than just these three? Fewer? Or what?