Jul 06 2015

A University's Success with Flipped Learning Began by Phasing Out Lectures

Leaders at the University of Adelaide see the future in online learning, not stand-and-deliver instruction.

While some universities are wondering how to integrate online coursework into their classes, Adelaide University is actively phasing out lectures.

The growth of online classes has been seen across nearly every higher education institution across the country. In a keynote session at EDUCAUSE in October 2014, Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen said online learning would fundamentally change the role of universities in the near future.

Despite the changes on the horizon, the structure of most college courses has remained the same: stand-and-deliver instruction, also known as lectures, can be found at nearly every university in the country.

But the University of Adelaide's vice-chancellor Warren Bebbington told The Financial Review that "lecturers are obsolete."

Starting in 2014, Adelaide began to slowly eliminate traditional lectures, replacing them with online materials and group work the university calls "small-group discovery experience." The result? Student retention has risen, along with overall satisfaction.

Many K–12 classrooms have undergone the same transformation, incorporating a teaching method known as flipped learning. In flipped classrooms, educators swap direct instruction time with homework and use class time to guide students through the new concepts learned outside of class.

The Financial Review reports that Adelaide invested in this coursework transformation by producing video content to bolster its flipped approach. It has also expanded its integration with Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s edX online coursework offerings.

By 2016, the University of Adelaide plans to implement online learning through the third-year undergraduate level. Honors and masters level courses will be integrated in 2017.

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