Flipping Your Remote Classroom

With the shift to remote teaching, instructors may want to build different elements into classes and offer asynchronous and synchronous components. Flipping your class is one way to approach this.

What is a “Flipped” Class?

Flipping the classroom is a pedagogical approach where students first explore new course content outside of class by viewing a pre-recorded lecture video or digital module, or completing a reading or preparatory assignment. In-class time is organized around student engagement, inquiry, and assessment, allowing students to grapple with, apply, and elaborate on course concepts. In-class sessions typically entail collaborative coursework and use of active learning strategies, including case studies, problem sets, or structured discussion.

There are a number of reported benefits to implementing flipped classrooms, including:

  • More individualized help during class time, as an instructor can be “guide on the side”, rather than “sage on the stage.”
  • More opportunities for deliberate practice and increased support for students as they grapple with higher order disciplinary concepts and problems. 
  • More opportunities for students to interact with their instructor as well as peers.
  • Student control over the pace of lectures: if providing video lectures, students can watch, rewind, and fast-forward as needed. 
  • Resiliency: since the lecture-style material is pre-recorded, in-classroom activities are flexible, and classes are less likely to fall behind if technology or life circumstances interfere with a synchronous course session. Depending on the content, out-of-class materials can also be used in future semesters.

Recent studies suggest that the benefits of flipped classrooms are due, in part, to the incorporation of in-class activities, collaboration, and active learning strategies that have been shown to enhance student learning (see, for example, DeLozier & Rhodes, 2017; Jensen et al., 2015; Means et al., 2009).

Models of Flipped Classrooms  

Standard flipping

Lectures are recorded (either as video or as narrated screencasts). Students are required to watch these lectures as homework and then spend class time to do problem-solving or other highly interactive, structured activities, usually in groups and with guidance from instructors and GSIs.

One-day-a-week flipping

If a standard flip seems overwhelming, or not appropriate for your class, try flipping one lecture a week. UCB Chemistry instructor, Michelle Douskey, has done “Flipped Fridays”, where she recorded a short lecture video, which students watch to prepare for class. During class students worked in groups to complete tasks where they were solving real analytical problems; answers were presented in class and students were asked to correct their own work and reflect on their understanding. (See Michelle's presentation on this at the 2016 Showcase of Teaching Innovation and Reinvention (STIR))

Selected-content flipping

Lecturing does not have to be completely eliminated from your class time. Instead, be selective and strategic about what you record for students to watch in advance. You might record only a subset of lecture materials, and reserve some of your class time for lecturing on advanced topics. Are there particular topics or concepts on which students routinely get stuck? Try designing in-class activities around these ideas or concepts. Or, consider recording lectures that cover content that’s likely to be reusable in future semesters, and plan on some in-class microlectures covering “hot-off-the-presses” topics, leaving plenty of time for active learning. 

Flipping without recording video lectures

It’s a common misconception that instructors can only flip if they pre-record their lectures, which admittedly can be a time-consuming process. Instructors can, instead, find other ways for students to get content that might typically be delivered in a lecture: readings can be used, as well as other content such as powerpoint presentations, podcasts, or videos or animations that others have recorded.

Full hybrid flipping

Eliminate some in-class lectures completely and replace those in-class hours with time students are expected to complete online activities, typically watching the lecture. (Note: switching an existing class to a full hybrid flipped course requires approval from Committee on Courses of Instruction, COCI; see https://academic-senate.berkeley.edu/coci-handbook for more information.)

 How Do I Flip in a Remote Teaching Context? 

In the context of remote instruction, all aspects of our courses are online. In this case, the “flipped” portion may be a synchronous, or live, class session held via Zoom. It could also include time allotted for students to engage in remote collaboration through other platforms. Consider trying:

For additional collaborative learning ideas, see: Barkley, Elizabeth F., K. Patricia Cross, and Claire H. Major. Collaborative learning techniques: A handbook for college faculty. John Wiley & Sons, 2014. (Digital copies available through the UC Berkeley Library; includes adaptations for online courses)

Things to Keep in Mind…

Experiment and Iterate

  • Flipping a whole class is no small endeavor. Consider the multiple forms of flipped classes (see above) and start with small, strategic changes. As you become more familiar with the tools and approaches, explore ways to expand time spent in class on collaborative and active learning.

 Tips for Videos (see Brame, 2016)

  • Aim for multiple short videos rather than one long video -- this will help to ease the technical work for instructors and better align with student attention and learning.
  • Draw attention to or highlight important ideas or concepts.
  • Complement videos with guiding questions, interactive elements, or reflective components.
  • For more information about creating video with Zoom see the DLS Zoom Quick Guide.

Remote Group Work, and Collaboration 

Thinking about Flipping Your Class?

The Center for Teaching and Learning is offering virtual consultations via Zoom. CTL staff can answer your pedagogical questions, serve as thought partners, and share resources as you determine learning goals, content, teaching practices, and assessments for your course. To request a consultation, please visit the CTL consultation calendar or email teaching@berkeley.edu with "Teaching Consultation" in the subject line.

Additional Resources

Flipping Your Class, University of Michigan Center for Research on Teaching and Learning

Flipping the Classroom, Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching

Flipped Classroom Field Guide, Weber State University

Flipped Classrooms, Educause Library

Curious about what active learning might look like in a classroom?


Brame, C. J. (2016). Effective educational videos: Principles and guidelines for maximizing student learning from video content. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 15(4), es6. (See also: https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/effective-educational-videos/)

DeLozier, S. J., & Rhodes, M. G. (2017). Flipped classrooms: a review of key ideas and recommendations for practice. Educational Psychology Review, 29(1), 141-151.

Jensen, J. L., Kummer, T. A., & Godoy, P. D. D. M. (2015). Improvements from a flipped classroom may simply be the fruits of active learning. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 14(1), ar5.

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K. (2009). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. US Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development.

Raygoza, M., León, R., & Norris, A. (2020). Humanizing online teaching. http://works.bepress.com/mary-candace-raygoza/28/

See also:

Barkley, E.F., Cross K..P, & Major C.H. (2014). Collaborative learning techniques: A handbook for college faculty. John Wiley & Sons. (available online via UC Berkeley Library/Oskicat).

Crouch, C. H., & Mazur, E. (2001). Peer instruction: Ten years of experience and results. American journal of physics, 69(9), 970-977.

Deslauriers, L., Schelew, E., & Wieman, C. (2011). Improved learning in a large-enrollment physics class. Science, 332(6031), 862-864.

Kerr, B. (2015). The flipped classroom in engineering education: A survey of the research. In 2015 International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning (ICL) (pp. 815-818). IEEE.

Lage MJ, Platt GJ, and Treglia M (2000). Inverting the classroom: A gateway to creating an inclusive learning environment. The Journal of Economic Education 31: 30-43.


Graphical representation of the difference between a flipped classroom and lecture-based approach.

Figure: Flipped Classroom Introduction, UMichigan CRLT